For the Love of Fun and Science

Meet Liz Staples, Owner of Nature Calls/Bonkers

It all started with science kits, or more, a lack of science kits in the Upper Valley. Liz explains, “When my son was little I tried to find science kits for him, and I couldn’t find anything. The Montshire wasn’t what it is now. It was just a tiny gift-shop. So, I did some research and took money I had saved and just started the store.”

In June of 2000, Liz Staples opened Nature Calls in the Powerhouse Mall in Lebanon, NH.  

In 2002, Liz expanded her business when she opened Bonkers, an “educational toy store” after a previous toy store in the mall closed. She brought in toys that encouraged learning and educational development like Legos, Playmobil, Thomas the Tank Engine. “The big guns,” Liz laughs. “I think I just hit it at the right time. Retail was growing so rapidly at that point.” A year later, in late 2003, Liz ended up combining the stores into one.

While in her store, I watched people of all ages roaming around. Parents and grandparents with their kids, couples, people both young and old. I sat down with Liz to get a feel for how she runs her business.

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 Q: What do you think appeals to different ages to come in?

“I try to get something for everybody. And we try to concentrate on family time, unplugged time, no screens of any sort and as few batteries as possible.”

Q: What are your favorite products to sell?

“Science kits…and I love playing games. We’ve always been a big game family. When I go to the toy show in February I spend about two and a half out of the four days learning how to play games, because if I don’t like playing it I’m not going to buy it. It has to play well and it has to be adapted to a different age group. A good game you should be able to adapt to any age.”

Racks and Racks of Games

Q: What do you think makes your business so unique?

“There’s no batteries, there’s no screens and customer service… What independent retail can offer that’s so different is customer service, ‘cause we know our product lines. You can’t get that in Wal-Mart, you don’t get that on Amazon.”

Q:What is your favorite part of getting to own this business and shape it?

“I like finding new products. I LOVE doing the displays in the store… and it’s easy to sell the stuff in the store because it’s stuff I like. So, it makes my job very simple.”

Ironically enough her best selling items are Science Kits! “That’s why I love it,” Liz adds.

From a Mom who just wanted her kid to learn and have fun, to an owner of not one, but two businesses, Liz makes it clear that unplugging and having fun is her top priority.

Liz Staples, Owner


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