Biz Beat

There's more to explore at Hands-On

When it comes to helping children with their educational development, using a hands-on approach is usually the best way to go. But finding the right tools to enhance such efforts can be a challenge for those such as parents and grandparents, who aren't professional educators. Fortunately, Debbie Robillard, the owner of Hands-On School Supply Store, and her staff are around to lend a hand.

Robillard has two outlets in the Northern San Joaquin Valley. She has operated the Hands-On store at 815 E. Main St. in Turlock, near Canal Drive, for 20 years. She opened her second store about three years ago in McHenry Village. The store in the Modesto shopping center was so successful, she decided to move four doors away to a larger space that formerly housed Sweet Dreams children's store.

The bigger McHenry Village store allows Robillard to provide more merchandise for her growing base of customers to get their hands on. They will find workbooks on all kinds of school subjects, from spelling to math, and for all ages, from elementary to high school. There are science kits, chemistry sets, reading aids, instructional CDs and literature, and school supplies such as pens, pencils, construction paper, stickers and more.

The store also carries items for preschoolers and even infants. There are puzzles, toys and gifts by Melissa & Doug, Thomas & Friends, Bob the Builder, Rock N Learn, Calico Critters, SmartLab, Lamaze, Sassy, Gund and Shining Stars -- because everybody deserves a star, I guess.

Hands-On also has dollhouses and accessories.

Robillard is seeing more demand for educational materials, and for toys and gifts grandparents can give infants and small children, especially at her Modesto store. She's working overtime to make sure it's filled with the kinds of items that not only will entertain, but also educate. After all, who says learning can't be fun at any level. It's just a matter of getting ahold of the right tools.

For more information, contact the Modesto store at 491-2937 or the Turlock store at 632-5101.

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Have an item for Business Beat? Send it to David W. Hill, Business Editor, The Modesto Bee, P.O. Box 5256, Modesto 95352; or