Landis' Labyrinth Toy Shop opened their first set of doors in January 2009 at 140 N. Larchmont Blvd, Los Angeles. But, like all good stories, it was more than just throwing some Legos on a shelf and putting up a sign. Landis' Labyrinth was the brainchild of Devoney Wolfus, who along with Timothy Corrigan sought to bring back a classic toy shop to Larchmont Village.
When Devoney was 9 her mother, Chris Wolfus, was discussing with Bob Landis who came to her in hopes she may have an interest in continuing on Landis General Store to serve the neighborhood after his 50+ year reign on the boulevard. A deal was made and Landis General Store was moved across the street to 142 N. Larchmont and Hancock Savings and Loan Bank was opened by Devoney's father, Dan Wolfus, and this was where Bob happily spent the rest of his working days greeting customers at the bank. This bank has not only been Cal National Bank, Federal Bank, but now our current USBank.
While in her teens, Devoney, a Hancock Park native, worked both at her mom's shop learning how to ring up customers by longtime employee, Bridget Varadi, who stayed with Landis during it's move across the street thru the ending changes in 2010. Devoney also was learning the ropes at Pumpkin Toys that was located at 138 N. Larchmont Blvd. After high school, Devoney devoted herself to studying a wide range of subjects including interior design and business, and on her breaks away from class she traveled around world and volunteered her time at local village schools in Africa. From her travels she gained a sense of seeking out unique and thoughtful attributes, something which came in quite handy when assisting her mom with the product buying at Landis General Store.
More changes and expansions came to the Landis General Store Corporation. An expansion into the shop next door at 140 N. Larchmont became available a few years later and so Landis grew to help the ever growing need for not only sewing supplies, office supplies, cards, wrap, Vera Bradley bags, clothes and gifts. People were now looking for personalized stationery. Edie Frere, Chris' neighbor had a knack for the stationery side of the business and began to manage this side of the shop. They even did their own stationery in the shop, on site! Oh how things have changed.
With health concerns to Renee Scherrer, owner of Pumpkins and a wonderful mentor to Devoney, Chris was working with Renee to help save the shop from having to close by renting out part of her space, but the time had come and Pumpkins Toys had to sadly close its doors. Devoney then focused mainly working with her mom and when 138 N. Larchmont was available for lease they decided to continue expanding Landis and Landis Gifts & Stationery was moved into the 138 N. Larchmont location and Landis at Home came to life at 140.
After many successful years of Landis being on the boulevard starting in 1933...things were changing. Buildings were being bought and longtime local merchants losing their businesses to the rise of rents and having to leave, including our beloved and much needed Hardware shop. Times were also changing in Landis. It was time for Chris Wolfus to throw in her own towel as Bob Landis had and live out her life doing what she loved as well, to travel. While discussing this change with Devoney and Edie, it was time for Edie to take over the reigns of Landis Gifts & Stationery and make it her own.
Meanwhile, Devoney and her mother Chris had made the back card room at 142 a room full of toys for children and this was starting to spill out into the rest of the shop. The time had now come to re-sign a lease for the spaces on Larchmont, Devoney & Timothy Corrigan had an idea of what to do to help Chris spread her wings and fly out of the country but continue to serve the community, but they needed reinforcement from the customers. What do our customers want? With all the horrible changes occurring on the boulevard, what business do they wish was opening up? After taking a poll from customers and looking over the sales from the toy section it became clear that Devoney & Timothy's notion of creating a toy shop separate from the General Store was a sure-fire winner! And thus Landis' Labyrinth was born, taking over 140 N. Larchmont and becoming its own shop separate from Landis General Store in January 2009. As you can tell, even before Landis' Labyrinth was Landis' Labyrinth, customer feedback is key (interestingly enough, the second most wanted new shop on Larchmont was a pub).
So, after 18 days of painting, pulling up carpet and building a custom wall from good friend and local artist, Bruce Tunis, and placing their first own toy orders, Devoney and Timothy opened up Landis' Labyrinth at noon on a Sunday on January 18th 2009. Now even though we knew what toys were selling at Landis next door, those orders were placed so a shop could open, it was now time to give the customers what THEY want in THEIR toy shop. You will be the ones shopping here, so they felt you should have a say in what was going to be ordered at the next toy fair, which was only a month away. So, again, page after page of suggestions and free beanie baby giveaways to the children who made suggestions, Landis' Labyrinth has become the shop it is today because of the customers feedback.
Having always encouraged our customers to speak up for what they want to see in the shop, and now with three locations, we can carry nearly everything we and you want!
In 2011, Devoney was in Manhattan Beach and noticed the lack of an independent toy shop in the area, she again, asked passers by while walking around is there a toy shop and would they like to see one? With the small community feel similar to Hancock Park, Devoney decided that we wanted to open a second location there and did just that in October of that year. Landis' Labyrinth Toy Shop in Manhattan Beach was born. However, this story would not be accurate if more names were not mentioned and thanked. The becoming of the Manhattan Beach location was very serendipitous, and as to not make the story any longer, please ask Devoney or childhood friend and manager to the Manhattan Beach location, Maya Muckelroy, this story. But in short, it is all owed to Maureen McBride, owner of a fabulous shop called Tabula Rasa located 2 doors down from the Manhattan Beach shop which hit a soft spot when it was a all to similar reminder of Devoney's mothers shop Landis. Another thank you to longtime friend and business associate, John Burke for bringing the two together.
During this time, our original location was becoming overwhelmed with demand and underwhelmed by our lack of space. In May of 2012, 144 N. Larchmont became available, and, that's right, you guessed it, our third location. We split the categories at 140 in half, with developmental and creative toys at 144 (art, puzzles, music, puppets, learning, books, baby-toddler, and Playmobil), and the more classic play toys at 140 (classic/gag toys, teen/adult, boardgames, superheros, dolls, dress up, backpacks, Lego, etc.). Our goal was to have something for nearly every age at either shop, and to make knowing which shop to visit for a gift simple to remember. So far, it seems to have worked! We're proud and honored to have become a part of so many peoples' routines in Larchmont Village and Manhattan Beach, and we hope that we can continue to be a part of these neighborhoods' histories for many years to come :)