To the Moon
Moonshot Toys Opens in Downtown Noblesville
Writer / Jon Shoulders Photographer / Amy Payne
Moonshot Toys, which opens on March 1 on Conner Street in downtown Noblesville, is the latest brick-and-mortar offering by Owner Jayson Manship, who operates two Moonshot Games locations in Noblesville and on Mass Ave in Indianapolis, both of which offer board games, puzzles, specialty game products like “Magic: The Gathering,” and more.
“Our new Moonshot Toys location is almost exclusively toys, while our Moonshot Games stores continue to offer board games and now puzzles, and a lot of pop culture-type stuff,” Manship explains. “Moonshot Toys is a specialty, experiential toy store, and it’s intended to be like an FAO Schwarz where there are going to be some hands-on things that kids can touch, feel and see inside the store. There are also some collectibles in there too, for the kids in all of us, like the old Spider-Man figures that adults collect.”
Manship adds that Moonshot Toys carries many popular toy products like Play-Doh, Barbie dolls and Hot Wheels, as well as custom toys only available at the store.
The new store acts as a complementary business to Moonshot Games, specializing in toys for youngsters of all ages as well as collectible items for teens and adults.
Manship says having multiple store locations within a block of each other offers customers a variety of shopping experiences.
“There aren’t any 20,000-square-foot options in downtown Noblesville, and to serve our customers well, we felt strongly that we could have different experiences in different locations, but keep them close enough that you could park and walk to all of them,” Manship says.
Manship opened Moonshot Games in Noblesville back in late 2017 and saw instant success, even in the midst of the pandemic-related shutdowns last year when he added puzzles to the store’s inventory and sold $10,000 worth of puzzles in a single weekend.
From October through December of last year, Manship and his team put together a pop-up toy store at 9th and Logan streets in the old Key Bank building, as an entree to a possible permanent toy store presence elsewhere.
“We weren’t sure a toy store would work in downtown Noblesville, so we listened to both the sales data and the community and challenged the local community through social media as to whether it’s something they would want permanently,” Manship says. “I explored places we could potentially put the toy store and had a couple landlords on the square reach out and say they wanted us in their location.”
Manship and his staff are implementing sanitization protocols at the Moonshot Toys and Moonshot Games locations to provide a safe shopping experience for all ages.
Originally from Pendleton, Manship attended Ball State University, where he studied something he was already relatively experienced in – entrepreneurship. He opened a candy store in Anderson at age 16, and during his college years launched an internet marketing business that handles high-level web development and consulting for social media marketing, e-mail marketing and e-commerce.
“After years of doing the web development business I thought, ‘Why don’t we build our own business instead of selling our skills to clients?’” Manship says. “We decided to create a board game business, and Moonshot Games was born. We started with brick and mortar and didn’t have the capacity to do online very well right out of the gate.”
Manship always intended to eventually build out a Moonshot Games web presence, and he says COVID-19 expedited the process. As soon as the pandemic took hold in the U.S., Manship unveiled an e-commerce site in 48 hours.
“We had planned to do the online store within six months, but COVID really forced our hand,” he says.
In the month of March, Manship also plans to open Moonshot Labs, on the opposite side of the downtown square, which he describes as a retail store experiment.
“The vision there is that we don’t necessarily know what our customers want in a topic or category, so we’re creating a storefront where we’re going to try a bunch of things and let our customers guide us in what they want to see,” he explains. “It’s taking the concept of community decision making and putting it into an actual retail store.”
The first batch of products Moonshot Labs is rolling out centers on outdoor toys and games, including American Ninja Warrior rope courses, John Deere wagons and more. This fall the store will carry products related to science, technology, engineering and math. Manship will choose the store’s long-term inventory based on customer response.
“I think we’re seeing a resurgence in folks wanting to shop local and support the businesses around them,” Manship adds. “At the same time it has to make sense to the customer too. We’ve worked hard to be competitive with Amazon and Walmart, while offering that local, get-to-know-your-neighbor experience. We know we can’t fully compete with those big stores on convenience, and what we hope to do is play in their ballpark so to speak, but really win on the experience and the service side. Moonshot Toys and Moonshot Labs is the latest in our effort to do that.”
Moonshot Toys is located at 996 Conner Street in Noblesville. For more info, go to moonshottoys.com.