I first met Caity Barton at Devil’s Food over coffee to discuss her toy shop, Where the Sidewalk Ends. It was about 30 seconds in to our meeting that we became instant friends. Her warmth and kindness, combined with her determination, makes her a woman to know and love. Her shop is brimming with the most unique and inclusive gifts we’ve ever seen.

Let’s start at the beginning of your journey. How did you go from The NY fashion scene to owning a small business in Denver?

They are two very different worlds for sure! I worked as a Merchant and then Buyer for two large fashion brands. My husband Alex and I had been living and working in NYC for 8 years and realized if we were going to leave, the time was now. We both had stressful jobs and worked nonstop. Alex grew up in Denver, and when deciding on where to move I convinced him that it was the best place for us to go. You can’t beat the weather and the work-life balance. 

After moving I worked for a woman’s sportswear company in Boulder, then left that position and moved to an outdoor company as a Product Line Manager. When my daughter Chloë was born, I decided to stay home with her. 

About 3 years ago I started a retail consulting company, working with small businesses in Denver and Boulder. That ended when the pandemic started. Once my daughter was back in school the fall of 2020, I was starting to think about a new business venture. A Wash Park ice cream shop had a retail space open next door and I thought that would be a perfect place for a toy shop. Realizing it wasn’t the time to open a brick-and-mortar location, I opened an online shop. Fast forward to Oct 2021, my friend Mia Sorenson (owner of Mia Sorenson Esthetics) offered space in her studio for a holiday pop-up. It was a success and I loved having a physical location. Next to Mia’s studio is a very small space occupied by a Realtor. I mentioned that I would love to open a shop there, but it didn’t seem likely that it would be vacant any time soon. By March Mia told me the space next door was vacant and she’d already spoken with her landlord. I signed the lease 3 weeks later and opened the shop two weeks after that. I feel it was meant to be because it is right across from an ice cream shop!

Seeking out toys that are representative and inclusive is just one of the many elements that set you apart. Can you talk to us a bit more about this mission of yours?

I believe very strongly in Maria Montessori’s philosophy that play is a child’s work. It is how they learn to make sense of the world and their place in it. If they can’t find toys that look like them and their families, how can they see they are an important part of society?

When I first started to put an assortment together for the shop, I knew I wanted beautiful open-ended toys that spark a child’s creativity. Toys that they would love playing with, and their parents would like having in their home. As I looked for dolls, I noticed that it was very easy to find dolls with a light skin tone, and fairly easy to find dolls with a dark skin tone, but other skin tones were almost impossible. I found the same problem with doll house dolls. Most doll house dolls are sold in sets, mom, dad, boy, girl, all the same skin tones, with the same hair and eye color. That is not how most families look. I spend a lot of time looking for dolls that represent all skin tones and all families. I was also able to find diverse blocks, plush dolls and peg dolls. It is so fun to watch what dolls children choose on their own when they’re given the option. Some choose the dolls that look like them, some choose the dolls that look nothing like them. In the shop they have options, and that makes me very happy!

Can you give our audience a glimpse into what they can find in your colorful shop?

The shop is TINY, about 200 square feet so I have to be creative with merchandising. I love color and the shop has a lot of it! I have merchandised the shop by category to make it easier for visitors. The front table changes theme based on holiday or season. I am getting ready to put out all of the fun outdoor toys, perfect for summer! Come spend some time in the shop, there is a lot to see in the small space. Over 80% of the brands we carry are women-owned businesses. Most are made either in the US, Europe and one of my favorites is from Japan. I also have several Colorado brands. I love a brand that gives back, so I support them as much as I can.  I make sure to have a good range of price points. We have toys that can keep a child’s interest while waiting, and also have toys that make a perfect special gift.

You are one of the very brave souls who opened a brick and mortar during a pandemic. How has business been so far?

I am happy to say that it has been going very well! The neighborhood is amazing and so many people have stopped by to welcome us. Some shop, others chat, and I love both! The start of the farmer’s market has also been wonderful. I feel very fortunate to be in Denver, everyone is so supportive of a small, local business! 

What advice can you lend other working mothers?

I have been very lucky to take a break from working to be with my daughter, when she was a baby, and then start working again when she started school. There are so many different situations that working mothers are in, but we are all working hard and trying our best and our children are seeing that and learning from it.

You are an extremely supportive of shopping small and local. What are some of your favorite local spots?

I love to shop local! I come from a family of small business owners and I have seen the impact that has on a community! I have so many favorites! Some that pop right into my mind are Second Start to the Right, Broomtail, Five Green Boxes, Ruffly Rose, Tokyo Premium Bakery, Mia Sorensen Esthetics, Artisans Center, Maria Empanada, and Hinman Pie.

When you’re not navigating life as a new business owner, how do you spend your free time?

My family loves to travel, so we do that when we can. You can find me at school quite a bit in the drop-off and pick-up lines, or volunteering. I have several organizations that are special to me, and I volunteer for. I love to walk around Wash Park whenever I can. 

What can we expect from you in the future?

One goal I have is to start programming for both children and parents in the shop where they can learn and grow from experts on different topics involving play. I want the shop to become a gathering place for the community. I am always looking for new and unique toys, so the assortment will continue to evolve!

We can’t wait for you to see this sweet shop in person. Go say “hi” to Caity at 1887 S. Pearl St. across from Sweet Cow. Or visit them online at wherethesidewalkendshop.com.