Making a Simple Store Area in the Playroom

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We’re in full planning mode for the play spaces in our new home and I wanted to highlight one of my favorite projects from our time in this house. This play area sadly did not survive the introduction of two baby brothers but for a while it was such a great place to play together, especially since Eva was just starting to really “get” cooperative play when we built it. I wish I had more video of her selling us the little fruits and vegetables because she always needed to weigh them and check them for spots before putting them in the cart.

Play kitchen and pretend market shop. See more photos here:

The store was created to go with the Red Retro Kitchen that her grandma bought as a surprise. Such a good investment – it still gets a place of honor at the new house!

Red retro play kitchen toddler height. See more photos here:


Red retro play kitchen doors for storage. See more photos here:

The market was made out of IKEA shoe shelves and a $6 piece of wood, cut down for back supports and shelves along with $8 worth of L brackets and $10 worth of trays and baskets from the thrift store. It’s not the fanciest but it gave her lots of room to play around and certainly did the trick.

Originally I was going to make a little awning, but I was worried that it would be too much for the dining room so she has a sign made out of a dollar set of flashcards instead.

DIY play food market that is simple to make. See more photos here:

The cash register was a contribution from her dad, who popped her down to the toy store as soon as I had the play market up. I wasn’t thrilled with it at first because I had visions of one of those vintage tin registers with the big buttons and the numbers that pop up, but this one has been surprisingly lovely. Eva has a lot of fun swiping her credit cards and scanning the food, so I think makes more sense to her than an older register would have. (Note: I did originally have a money jar full of money because I thought she could have a little hippie co-op and practice counting. Yeah, that’s the fastest way to get small pieces of plastic and paper all over your dining room.)

Simple play cash register for pretend market. See more photos here:

The Melissa & Doug Shopping Cart is sort of what started this whole thing. It’s just Eva’s size and has some great safety features, so it won out over other ones that we looked at. I got lucky and picked it up at a sidewalk sale for $30 when I was pregnant. Score!

Metal shopping carpet for kid pretend market by Melissa and Doug. See more photos here:

As for play food, I still have quite a bit from when I was little, but I picked up some plastic bread, fruits, and veggies from Toys R Us because they were a realistic size and not very expensive. We’ve also had a lot of fun with a set of Learning Resources 1 to 10 Counting Cans that we got her for her birthday. I think it’s supposed to be an educational toy for homeschooling, but the foods are cute and I like that we can talk about the colors and numbers when we’re “shopping”. Her Hide N Squeak Eggs are another education matching toy, sent in as a big sister present from my friend Margi.

Play food for pretend market shelves. See more photos here:

Thrifted/Hand-me-downs: wooden shelves, dishes, assorted play food, baskets, trays

Purchased/Gifts: Red Retro Kitchen, lumber and brackets, Hide N Squeak Eggs, 1 to 10 Counting Cans, Melissa & Doug Shopping Cart, Melissa & Doug Fridge Food Set, play food and cash register from Toys R Us

Vintage red play kitchen. See more photos here:

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