Q&A with Imelda McCain, owner of Playing Mantis

Imelda McCain had a mission to introduce children to natural wooden crafts before they pick up the electronics and plastic toys so in 2006 she opened Playing Mantis, at 32 North Moore St. The store carries handcrafted toys and collectibles made from wood and recycled materials. “The population of kids playing with non-electronics are getting smaller and smaller; I want to show this kind of toy exists and it can let them be creative and inspire them,” she said. McCain says a lot of her products come from places like Peru and Kenya, and are socially and environmentally connected to their places of origin.

Why did you choose TriBeCa?

There’s a sense of community here, people help out each other and support the businesses around the area. In TriBeCa everyone is creative; they respect freedom and the imagination.

What do you think makes TriBeCa unique?

If you want to buy brand names go to the mall. If you want to find something special, turn a corner and find something no one else has, TriBeCa is the place to go.

How does your business fit into the neighborhood?

The energy has shifted since I opened; there are a lot more younger families now and they come into the store even if it’s just to read books and play with the toys.