Interview with French Toy Store : My Bulle Toys

"Where can we find French books and French toys for children?"

This is a question I get ALL the time. In Canada, we tend to have more options than the U.S., but they can still be very lacking! The good news is, I met Nicolas, owner of “My Bulle Toys” a French toys store in Florida, US and they ship to America, Canada, and have mentioned catering to other countries as well! 

Learn more about how Nicolas and his family came to open up a French toy store in Florida by reading our interview below:

Bonjour! Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with our 123 Petits Pas community. To start, can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your family?

Photo of the inside of a French toy store for kids

We are a family of 4: Fanny, Erika, Liam, and Nicolas. Erika is almost 16 years old, Liam is 12 years old, and Fanny is nearing 40, while I have already passed it!

We left Paris at the end of 2015 for Florida and now live in Boca Raton. Fanny and I used to live on the same street and have known each other for several years. The children were born in France and were educated in the French school system.

Upon arriving in the USA, we chose to enrol them in a Franco-American school so they could read, write, and speak French. It is important for us to be able to communicate in the long term with the rest of our family living in France.

Fanny is a French Kindergarten teacher, and I am the manager of ‘My Bulle Toys’. With her experience in immersion, Fanny advises me a lot on the products to buy and promote. I handle the commercial and financial aspects thanks to my experience as an entrepreneur in France and the USA.

Why did you decide to open your shop? What did you do for work prior to opening the shop?

We decided to open My Bulle Toys out of a personal need. When we arrived in the USA, we immediately felt a lack of French educational support and educational products in general. Leaving France made us lose our bearings, causing some discomfort in how we educated our children. To help with this, we would send our relatives long lists of products to bring us whenever they visited. The same happened during our annual trips to France, with suitcases full of books and educational items, the very brands and publishers we currently offer in our store!

Our past experiences are closely connected to the My Bulle Toys environment. I have a background in digital printing and printing presses, and I value “paper” a lot. I love beautiful packaging, books, and the tactile experience… I always analyze the manufacturing and packaging of a game, the finishing of books, and how they are designed… I have a technical eye for these products, and I believe it’s a way to appreciate them.

Fanny, on the other hand, comes from a medical background and obtained various diplomas and certifications upon our arrival in Florida. She initially taught French through private lessons to an American family, and after completing her training, the French school in Boca Raton offered her a position, and now it’s her 7th year! She also did many internships in nurseries in France, which gave her a certain ease in her approach with children.

French Toy Store Owners of My Bulle Toys

Here in Canada, there are many families who speak French since it is our second official language, what is the French community like where you live? Are there many French communities or enthusiasts in the US?

The French community is growing rapidly in Florida, particularly in Boca Raton, where two French schools are located almost side by side. Americans generally appreciate France, especially its culture, history, and language. The locals want their children to be exposed to another language, and there are many Francophile Americans. While Spanish and Portuguese dominate here, Florida has also experienced a significant migration of Haitians, French-speaking Canadians, and French nationals. So, I believe we truly belong here and can meet the needs of the local community. Additionally, we are fortunate to serve all of the USA and Canada through our website.

The USA has around 55-60 private French schools, but there are numerous schools with French immersion programs. In fact, I organize private book fairs throughout the year in any school that wishes to participate. It’s a free service, and we even donate 10% of proceeds to the participating schools.

Playroom for children in French toy store

Do you have any favourite French books/toys for children that you think our 123 Petits Pas families would be interested to learn more about?

Indeed, we have the very important T’choupi! He’s our little hero loved by all children. My own kids have also grown up with T’choupi. It’s the story of a little boy (a penguin) discovering daily life through the eyes of a child. But we have books for all ages, like classics from “École des loisirs” such as “Chien bleu” or “Petit-Bleu, Petit-Jaune”. We also adore the “Monsieur Madame” (Mr. Men and Little Miss) series, which we’ve read to our son for a long time.

We offer books with flaps and interactive elements like lift-the-flap books and Kididoc books that help children understand and explore their surroundings. Musical books are also very popular with families; with just a press of a button, the book sings their favorite nursery rhymes, a must-have that brings back memories of songs learned in kindergarten! Lastly, we haven’t forgotten older kids; our selection of “first reads” and “first novels” is extensive, allowing them to follow the adventures of their favorite characters, like “Mortelle Adèle,” which comes in about twenty books.

In addition to books, we offer a wide range of wooden toys, educational toys, craft kits, as well as strategy games and puzzles! All of these are from French or Francophone brands, and we strive to maintain our concept of offering products exclusively related to the French-speaking world. We have favorites like Moulin RotyJanod, and of course, Djeco, of which we carry nearly the entire US catalog. We haven’t forgotten the little ones and offer Sophie La Girafe sets, a classic gift for newborns! And of course, the traditional Corolle dolls, which smell wonderfully of vanilla, are present throughout the store!

French toy store with French books and toys laid out on display.

How do you find new French toys/books for your store?

We exclusively source books from France and have access to 100% of the French offerings, collaborating with all French publishers. In fact, we will soon have several exclusives for distribution in the USA. We supply several schools with their reading lists and fulfill personalized orders when needed.

Regarding toys and games, French brands have a few distribution channels in North America, but mostly, we maintain close connections with the brands in France.

Where do you ship to in the world?

By default, we ship to the USA, but we are gaining the trust of more and more Canadians. So, our website is configured for orders from the USA and Canada, but we can ship to other countries upon request. Recently, we have shipped to Eastern Europe, Israel, South America, the Caribbean, and have received several requests for Gulf countries.

I know you managed to keep your children’s French speaking abilities, can you share about how you manage to do so?

Absolutely, and we are very proud of it! When we arrived in the USA and our children started learning English, their desire to speak in English was very strong, I think for two reasons. Firstly, due to their 95% English-speaking environment, and secondly, as a source of pride to show us that they successfully met the challenge of learning a new language so well and quickly! Being a non-native French speaker myself, I know how fast one can lose their native language; it can happen within a few months!

So, we warned them that once they cross the threshold at home, it’s 100% French! They have always respected this rule, and honestly, if all Francophone parents did the same, 99% of the work would be done to preserve French. My children have French accents, a relatively rich vocabulary, and they can read and write French almost perfectly. We exclusively communicate in French while texting, and the spell-checker also helps them memorize the spelling of words. We have French TV at home, and all four of us often watch French movies, which our daughter particularly enjoys.

Family visits are very helpful, and our annual trips to France provide a great opportunity for complete immersion!

Ah yes! We are so looking forward to our trip to France for that reason!

What are your hopes for the future of your store?

Our dream would be to open more stores in major American cities and become the reference in the United States for French books and educational toys. Additionally, we have plans to develop our own products under our own brand, which we can distribute worldwide. We hope this will be a beautiful and long-lasting adventure that will be passed on to future generations!

French Toy Store: My Bulle Toys with books and French toys arranged on a counter.

That is SO exciting, congratulations, and I look forward to watching My Bulle Toys grow. 

Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?

My Bulle Toys is, above all, a community. We love our customers, our community, and especially appreciate the products we distribute.

My Bulle Toys also offers creative workshops every Saturday morning, led by Fanny and in French! We also organize private sales in schools (Book Fairs), participate in local French markets during the holidays, offer “Monthly Boxes,” and soon will have a product catalog with nearly 2500 references!

We communicate a lot on Instagram @mybulletoys.

We have a chat on our website https://mybulletoys.com/ and are highly responsive. We are located at Boca Raton FL 33433, 21073 Powerline Road Ste 51, and you can reach us at 561 576 5000 in French or English!

Thank you so much for sharing your story with our 123 Petits Pas community. I know we have a lot of French enthusiasts who will LOVE learning about your French toy store. Un grand MERCI et à la prochaine!

Madame Amy

Madame Amy

Founder of 123 Petits Pas Inc.
Fun French learning for families (anywhere / anytime!)