About Us: Vermont Wooden Toys
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Vermont Fine Hardwood Toys
Our all American made wooden toys are constructed of the finest quality Vermont hard rock maple accented with occasional contrasting tones of Pennsylvania cherry, birch, oak, and mahogany. They are finished with our own special nontoxic blend of hard-drying stains and sealers which protect and enhance the natural beauty of the woodgrain. In the past, our toys have been displayed both in toy shops and in galleries, and recommended by respected books and periodicals which cite our creations' furniture-quality craftsmanship and durability within the playspace. Our toys have been acclaimed both in museum exhibitions and art festivals for their originality and integrity of design. Many of our toys are designed to be ridden and all are created to endure the rugged play of several generations of children, age-graded for children above the age of 3.
Vermont Wooden Toys in 2010 celebrates 37 years of toymaking, beginning in 1973 as "R. Voake, Toymaker", & now over the last 15 years or so, adopting a perhaps more descriptive name as "Vermont Wooden Toys". We enjoy the continued endorsement of our efforts from repeat patrons, as well as recommendation from teaching and childraising professionals such as the noted child psychologist and author, Dr. Fitzhugh Dodson. Come and visit our Norwich workshop and store on-line as we carry on the Vermont folk art tradition. Choose from the categories offered below to browse through our workshop and examine our creations up close.
If you wish to place an order with us, click here for ordering options, shipping charges, & other information. We accept your personal check, money order, or credit card (Mastercard, Visa, or Discover). We ship FedEx, UPS, & USPS. Satisfaction is always guaranteed.
Vermont Wooden Toys offers 125 varieties of fine wooden toys. We feature wooden toy trucks, wooden toy trains, rocking horses, wooden building blocks, riding toys, wooden toy boats & airplanes, wooden pull toys, doll furniture, doll cradles & doll carriages, wooden Noah's arks, unit block sets, and much more.
If you wish to visit our workshop, call for directions: 802-738-5266
Every toymaker should make a wooden boy. To the right is ours, simulating the size but not the energy of a healthy 16 month old youngster. We use him to help parents visualize their youngster on our rideable toys.
Satisfaction & Return Policy: Your satisfaction is guaranteed. If you are unhappy with your order for any reason, call us at the number below and we will tell you how to return an item. We will refund the full purchase price of any item returned in original condition. We do not refund shipping charges on items. There is no handling or process fees for returns.
Shipping Information: We normally ship UPS. If you would prefer to have your order shipped via USPS or if you have other specific delivery needs, just indicate in the "Special Instructions" box on the order form. Let us know if you need delivery for a specific date and we will respond whether we can accommodate your wishes. Shipping charges are:
|Merchandise Total (each address)||Shipping & Handling Charges|
|Up to $60.00||$15.95|
|$60.01 - $95.00||$19.95|
|$95.01 - $144.00||$28.95|
|$144.01 - $158.00||$38.95|
|$158.01 - $350.00||$47.95|
New York Times:
By KATIE ZEZIMA
Published: December 23, 2007 (excerpt)
Or visit: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/23/us/23toys.html?_r=1&th=&adxnnl=1&oref=slogin&emc=th&adxnnlx=1198433086-YwyHceipEObWbtjrawZm6Q
to see full article, or paste above link into your browser.
NORWICH, Vt. Ron Voake has spent the last few months in a blur of wood, wagons and widgets, trying to keep up with demand for the toys he makes...
Ron Voake, 61, a toy maker who works alone in his shop in Norwich, Vt., said he had been deluged this holiday season with orders from customers leery of buying toys from China. This year stacks up as preposterous, Mr. Voake said.
Mr. Voake, the owner of Vermont Wooden Toys, has been deluged with orders from customers leery of buying toys made in China after millions of toys manufactured there were recalled this year because they have lead paint.
Every time there was a story about a toy recall, I got flooded with orders, Mr. Voake said. This year stacks up as preposterous. Ive never had a year like this, and I hope I dont have another one.
Mr. Voake said he had made more toys this season than at any other time in his 34 years in the industry. Some holiday orders will not be ready until March.
Theres so much too much business, he said. I can only make so many things.
Mr. Voake, 61, who works in his shop with a springer spaniel named Snifflefarg, never thought there would be such a clamor for his products, which include arks, doll carriages, blocks, trains and other toys made from hard maple.
All his wood is bought from dealers in Massachusetts and Maine, and he finishes his products with a hardening oil and nontoxic stain.
Mr. Voake started woodworking in the early 1970s. He started making toys for his wifes classroom. When the couple moved east in 1973, Mr. Voakes wife took a teaching job, and he decided to make toys full time.
I wanted to see if I could get away with doing it because I liked doing it, Mr. Voake said. Vermont was the right place. He first sold his wares at the Vermont State Craft Center, and branched out to phone and Internet orders. He taught himself how to make more complicated pieces by experimenting and adding details. He also had three sounding boards his daughters, who are now in their 20s, and were never shy about telling Mr. Voake which toys worked and which did not.
Business has not always been great, and there have been a few bumps like when Mr. Voake sliced off the top part of his right middle finger with a saw.
Mr. Voake said he thought the reasons he had been able to make toys for so long were that he truly enjoyed it and that not many products looked like his. I dont make anything that can be manufactured, he said. It has a different look that you cant get by slapping things together.
Standing in his workshop, which is decorated with decades-old pictures of toys and princesses drawn by his daughters, and filled with saws and sanders and littered with sawdust, Mr. Voake wiped a nontoxic finish off a doll carriage as Snifflefarg vied for his attention.
Apart from the few orders that will not be shipped until March, nearly all the Christmas orders have shipped, and Mr. Voake is putting the finishing touches on toys for some local residents. He has absolutely no inventory this year, because things are bought as soon as they are made.
Press / MSNBC Story: "Recalls Spur Demand for American Playthings"
Published: October 12, 2007 (excerpt)
Or visit: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21267584/
to see full article, or paste above link into your browser.
Small local companies swamped as many grow wary of toys made in China
Ron Voake, 62, owner of Vermont Wooden Toys, says his orders have nearly doubled from a year ago and he can't make his wooden playthings fast enough to keep up.
As consumers look for alternatives to Chinese-made toys following a series of recalls this year, dozens of small toy companies are struggling to meet surging demand. Some owners report online sales up as much as fivefold from last year. They're hiring extra workers, expanding warehouses and adding extra assembly shifts.
Experts say the boutique American toy boom won't last beyond the recalls, which started this summer. So far, more than 21 million toys made in China from Baby Einstein Discover & Play Color Blocks from Kids II Inc., to Thomas & Friends Wooden Railway by RC2 Corp. have been found to contain excessive levels of lead paint, tiny magnets that could be swallowed or other potentially serious problems.
Retailers such as FAO Schwartz Inc. and Toys "R" Us Inc. downplay the recalls, saying they aren't likely to dent holiday sales or significantly change their orders. About 80 percent of toys sold in the United States are made in China.
Executives at Mattel Inc. which has had 20 million toys recalled are touting improved manufacturing standards. Safety experts say American toys aren't necessarily safer than those made in China; Europe has the highest standards, but even there quality varies from factory to factory.
Experts say even if Americans produce several hundred thousand more U.S.-made Little Tykes, K'Nex or Rainbow Creatures, China will retain manufacturing dominance in the $22.3 billion toy industry.
"It's a blip," said New York-based toy consultant Chris Byrne. "In the fourth quarter, a lot of purchases are made based on supplications to the North Pole and the phrase 'country of origin' isn't in the vocabulary of children writing to Santa."
But boutique toy makers are thankful for any advantage, however ephemeral. They've been unable to compete against low-cost manufacturers on mass-produced items, often settling for niche markets with limited potential organic-fabric dolls, wooden animals, special-educational toys. Now they're enlarging their "made in USA" labels, bringing photos of their manufacturing facilities to toy fairs, and placing ads in industry publications.
"I get calls from people who are absolutely panic driven," said Ron Voake, 62, owner and sole employee of Vermont Wooden Toys. Voake hand-makes wooden trains, arks, animals, ferry boats and other toys. Prices can exceed $175 for large models, which he builds by hand in the basement workshop of his Norwich, Vt., home. Orders are nearly double what they were a year ago, and Voake who cranks out less than 200 toys a year can't keep up.
"Usually I have the summer to stock up for Christmas, but I'm already behind," said Voake, a former middle school teacher who began making toys 30 years ago. "This is actually an aggravation we are so busy here, and it's just me and the dogs. I don't have any help."
Abby Reyes, a 34-year-old San Francisco resident, appreciates their labors. While attending a country fair last weekend in Waterford, Va., the environmental and social justice lawyer purchased a $20 rattle and a $12 wooden acrobat toy for her 5-month-old son, Kiran.
Plastic, Chinese-made equivalents would have been a fraction of the price, but Reyes was happy to pay in part because she met the makers, Don and Dawn Shurlow, owners of Rhodes, Mich.-based Toys From Times Past. She hopes the recalls get other parents thinking about the potential consequences of their purchases.
"The question isn't whether I'd shell out a bit more for these well crafted toys rather than going the cheap and easy way," Reyes said. "The question is whether I'd feel queasy about going the cheap route, and the answer is unequivocally yes."
A Yankee Way with Wood, "From Philosophy to Toy Wagons" (Chapter 13), by Phylis Meras, c. 1975
The New England Handcraft Catalog, page 262, by Kenneth A. Simon, c. 1983
Kids: day in and day out, A parents' manual, pages 452-453, by Elisabeth A. Scharlatt, c. 1979
How to Grandparent, Listings for recommended toys, by Fitzhugh Dodson, c. 1982
Vermont Life Magazine, A Trio of Toymakers"; Winter, 1997, pages 12-17
Valley News, assorted articles: 1975-2007
Hi! I just received the blocks I ordered! They are gorgeous! I can't believe how nice they are!! Thank you so much. I wanted a set of blocks that could be played with by generations of children-like we did at my grandmother's house. I'm a new grandma and I am so pleased with the blocks!
Thank you, Joni R. (RI)
Dear Mr. Voake,
I received your toys and I am overjoyed! They are beautiful and I wanted to tell you how much I admire your craftmanship. You are very talented & I do appreciate your dedication to your craft. I can't wait to mail them to my grandson! I will also share your website info with my friends and family.
Thanks so much!
Have a great day!
Thank you so much! The cradle is absolutely beautiful and the
Hi! Received the blocks yesterday.Beautiful! Now that's a set of blocks! Love the Logo on the one block.....very clever.So glad I found you. Have a Great Holiday!
The train arrived today. It is even more impressive than depicted
website. As my grandson is 2-1/2, you will be hearing from me again. I
appreciate quality work, made in USA. Thank you.
Thank you for shipping my order. My grandchildren play with
your toy trains that are 25 years old!
Just to let you know that i received my order (very quick) and i just love the rocking horses! I will have to send you a picture of them as the centerpieces for the shower! Thank-you again! You do beautiful work!
Our truck arrived - it is BEAUTIFUL!!! THANKS SO MUCH.
I am very excited and pleased that my order has already been filled. I must admit I was not sure how ordering via email/internet would be, but you and your company have made it not only convenient. I could not be more pleased with my experience thus far. I am sure I will be just as pleased with the toys when they arrive.
Thank you so much!
The wooden airplane arrived yesterday and we are absolutely thrilled. My husband does a lot of wood work himself and he could not believe the quality of your workmanship. I am sure our grandson will get a lot of use of the rocker and wheels and will be passed down to future generations. It is so wonderful to receive such a fine product.
The riding truck we picked up on Friday was a huge success with our grandson! He hopped on it immediately and made truck sounds. His parents loved it too. Bob and I greatly appreciated you making the two trucks so quickly, in time for the birthday party. We loved visiting your shop and meeting you; it's a special place.
We're enjoying our truck too!
Thank you again,
Judy and Bob P.
Just a quick note to tell you how pleased we are with the order
place with you prior to Christmas. Everything arrived promptly and the
workmanship exceeded our expectations. We look forward to our son
passing these toys down to sons and grandsons of his in the way off
Katie and Pat A.
The wagon and blocks just arrived. We are extremely pleased!
beautiful! Thank you so much.
We received our order and they are beatiful toys. Many friends
ask us where we bought them. Lease send three brochures to:
Hi, We received the firetruck well in advance of our son's first birthday. Thanks for being so timely. The firetruck is a beautiful piece of work! You are very talented! The truck was such a speical gift for his very first birthday! It is a special keepsake and we hope a family heirloom! Thanks for your work! Jennifer P.
*** Over the years we have not received any emails from unsatisfied customers. However, during the last 35 years I can recall 4 phone calls or phone messages from customers or recipients of gifts bought from us concerning things about which they were not happy. One customer from New York simply stated that she imagined the truck she ordered would be larger than it actually was. Another lady from Utah found the item she ordered not as expected. A woman from San Francisco found the noise from the doll carriage on her hardwood floors to be a problem for the tenant downstairs. In all cases, the items were either exchanged for other items or a refund was issued. The fourth complaint was from a gift recipient who either did not see or ignored the "Open other end" admonition on the outside of a box containing a Pull-Cart & 50 Kindergarten Blocks. He was left with a large pile of styrofoam peanuts on his rug, & I was left with an angry phone message about the mess & the recycled box in which the toy was shipped. Nothing was mentioned about the toy, but there was not a request for return.
Please bear in mind that we do use recycled packaging materials whenever possible. If this is a problem, it is probably best to purchase elsewhere or to pick up something in person.
|Pull-Carts & Unit Block Sets||Kindergarten Blocks||Traditional & Big Size Wooden Toy Cars & Trucks||Riding Size Wooden Animals & Kiddie Cars|
|Doll Strollers, Cradles, & Beds||Wooden Toy Train Sets||Riding Size Cars, Trucks, Trains, & Biplanes||Wooden Toy Airplanes, Helicopters, & Biplanes|
|Wooden Rocking Animals, Biplanes, & Trucks||All Pull-Carts & Circus Wagons||Pull-Toys: Animals, Carts, & Circus Wagons||Ferryboats|
|Noah's Arks||Wooden Rolling Animals of Various Sizes||Vehicles of Various Size||Farm Set & Nursery Room Decor|