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21Country: Meet the Silver Lake couple making wooden toys

SILVER LAKE, Ind. (WPTA21) - "Ever since March it has been super, super busy."

Teresa Martin-Gay and her husband Darren Gay have been making toys for several years out of their Silver Lake home, and shipping them across the country.

They started My Unique Wooden Toys in 2006, an online business, retiring from their previous work as a dairy farm.

A few years after their initial launch, they started to pick up business.

And in 2020, after the pandemic hit, demand for their products only went up.

The couple believes parents want to direct children away from plastics and technology.

"There is a desire to get away... from the world of computers, electronics," they told us, "a lot of parents are tired of that type of thing. They want their kids to be creative."

Toys include wooden toys for infants, fishing poles, stick horses, guns, and marble rollers.

They're all made in the lower level of the couple's home.

Darren works to perfect the craft he started as a hobby in the 7th grade: woodworking.

"When you live upstairs and you come to your business downstairs, and you don't have to go anywhere?" he told us, "it's nice."

He continued, "In my dreams, I never would've thought I would be a toymaker but it turned out to be a pretty good thing."

Though customers are going to Teresa and Darren for wooden toys, they've been indirectly impacted by the pandemic's toll on businesses in the U.S.

Stores in New York and California that purchase My Unique Wooden Toys to sell, haven't been open.

Thankfully, the couple continues to receive plenty of purchases, and plan to be busy making toys long after the holidays.

"We always say, bring out the creativity in your child with a unique wooden toy," Teresa said.

"You know, I have our - my kids tractors, the big barn their dad made for them - that stuff is still played with. So there's a thing where if its a plastic toy, its not going to be there for the next generation, and that's just the way it is."

You'll find a lot of scraps in Teresa and Darren's workspace, but none of it ever goes to waste.

"Bloopers", toys that have mistakes, go upstairs in their home for the grandkids to play with.

Remaining wood pieces that can't be salvaged for other products are used in the couple's fireplace to heat the home.

And sawdust is collected to use for their livestock.

For more information about My Unique Wooden Toys, you can visit them on their website or Etsy.

Author Profile Photo

Daniel Beals

Daniel Beals is the producer of the ABC21 feature franchise “21Country”. He is constantly on the lookout for ideas that capture the “people, places, things, and history” that makes Northeast Indiana unique. Feel free to reach out: dbeals@wpta21.com.

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