Web store Bella Luna Toys opens Rockland location
Rockland — Although it's been a thriving online business for a decade, Nov. 10 marked the first time Bella Luna Toys opened its doors in the Rockland Industrial Park.
Bella Luna Toys specializes in natural toys that are not made out of plastic and do not run on batteries, in keeping with the Waldorf approach to childhood education.
Owner Sarah Baldwin, a 10-year teaching veteran of the Ashwood Waldorf School in Rockport, said that Waldorf education's emphasis on imaginative play informs what items Bella Luna Toys carries.
"The imagination is paramount, because [Austrian philosopher and Waldorf education founder] Rudolf Steiner...believed that imagination was the key to creative thinking later in life," Baldwin said.
Bella Luna Toys was originally the brainchild of Waldorf mother Miaja Rocciola, from whom Baldwin purchased the business in 2009. Baldwin first ran the business from her home, and moved operations into a warehouse in April 2011, acquiring the current location and storefront in June 2012.
Baldwin said she chose to open a physical storefront in response to feedback from area customers. "I had so many requests from local people, and we have a lot of local customers who knew about us, who would go to our warehouse.
"It's off the beaten path, it's not on Main Street, but people know we're here," Baldwin said, adding, "I'm always on the lookout for toys made in Maine, trying to keep it local to support our local economy and to reduce our carbon footprint."
Bella Luna Toys underwent what Baldwin called a "pretty rigorous screening test" in order to become a Green America-certified business, verifying where and how the items are made as well as ensuring that all craftspeople are paid a living wage.
Other eco-friendly practices Bella Luna Toys employs include using packing peanuts from the Good Tern Co-op and recycling shipping materials.
According to Baldwin, most of the items sold at Bella Luna Toys are sourced from Europe, northern New England, and Vermont. Baldwin has also designed several toys herself, and engages local craftspeople to construct them.
"We don't have many toys made in China, because those are available everywhere," Baldwin said. "We really specialize in unique and hard-to-find and one-of-a-kind toys."
Baldwin hopes the community knows that "there's a source here for eco-friendly and unique, safe, natural toys that aren't available everywhere else. They are available online, but now local customers can come in and save on shipping, and we're looking forward to serving the community that way."
Courier Publications reporter Bane Okholm can be reached at 594-4401 ext. 125 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.