Local Business Update: Boomerang Toys

Boomerang Toys closed on March 22, when the state officially shuttered all essential businesses and when the idea of asking her nine employees to deliver toys around the neighborhood really started to weigh on Karen Barwick.

“None of us are essential workers and I decided my employees should not be on the trains anyway,” said Karen, who opened Boomerang with her husband, John, in 2002. Their family — including two boys in college — lives in Battery Park City. “My employees still wanted to work, and I wanted to pay them as long as I could, but we felt it was dangerous and not worth the risk.”

Photo by Claudine Williams

She was lamenting this with a fellow toy store owner — West Side Kids on 84th Street — when they hatched a plan: why not sell toys to local families, but deliver them to the kids living in the city’s homeless shelters? The pair got in touch with the Coalition for the Homeless, which loved the idea. Then they slapped together a website and a PayPal donation button, so families can — as of today — make a donation. Little Things Toy Store in Park Slope is also part of the plan.

The way it works is donations can be made at the brand-new Shelter & Play Toy Drive site or at Boomerang’s site. Once a week, Karen will take the money from the donations and shop her own store. The coalition will then pick up that stash and deliver it to shelters.

“We felt it was such a shame that we have stores full of toys and that there are all these homeless kids who are so vulnerable right now and also in need. Wouldn’t it be great if we could get the toys to them?”

It may also help the three businesses stay alive till the neighborhood is back. Right now her employees are furloughed, and she has applied for several loans from the SBA, including the paycheck program. But nothing has materialized yet. Her landlord, she said, has been reasonable and they are appreciative of that, but her inventory costs are very high, and that is the challenge: finding a way to pay those bills while closed at least, she figures, until the end of May.

“We thought if we could get our product to kids who really need it and at the same time try to pay some bills, we can actually come back when this is over,” Karen said. “I don’t know how much we will raise, but why not get this stuff to kids, rather than ask for donations for my business? All my staff is out of work, I am out of work — I want to make donations myself but I can’t. So this was a way I could help someone too.”



  1. love it! link to the site doesnt work though…

  2. Wonderful..love the ingenuity, it’s a great opportunity to help a neighborhood gem and vulnerable children ..