Puzzle Zoo has been entertaining kids and adults of all ages on Melrose Ave. for six years. The location is one of five in the Southland, owned by toy collector and entrepreneur Jay Demircift. Once, Demircift sold only puzzles, but while the store still carries a significant puzzle selection, it now stocks so much more than that.
Manager Jesse Cruz has been helming this Melrose toy wonderland for three years. “Our most popular items are Legos and vinyl figurines from Funko,” he reports. Funko makes a wide variety of character-based figures, including characters from Dr. Who, Batman v. Superman, Bob’s Burgers, and Captain America, among many others.
“I’d have to say our most popular right now would be from Games of Thrones, Star Wars, and the Marvel movies,” Cruz says.
This is no ordinary toy store – it’s packed with fun collectibles, toys, puzzles, and games that appeal to a large group of players, two players, and single players.
“We are constantly looking for something different and appealing. We bring in new items every week. When it comes to the vinyl figures, there’s always something new, and we try to keep a large amount in stock, so that popular items are available. The bottom line is that we keep our eyes open, looking for new products all the time and bring them in as soon as possible,” Cruz attests.
The store stocks nostalgic items, arts and crafts, and of course, a wide variety of puzzles. From mini-Lego sets designed to create beloved Disney figures, to table top air hockey and intricate games likes Spin Master Games’ Star Wars Death Star Perplexus, the shop’s selection is packed with fun.
“The toys and games we carry cater to as many different age groups as humanly possible,” Cruz laughs. “We try to accommodate and appeal to young, old, men, women, and just about any demographic you can think of.”
And of course, the store lives up to its name and features cool puzzles among its broad selection. The most popular puzzles in the store range from scenic vistas of different cities and locales to licensed comic book puzzles.
“I have one area that is completely devoted to puzzles. We have three large shelf spaces that are
completely stocked with puzzles from top to bottom. It’s the same thing with games. There are sections of the shop that are just devoted to games and arts and crafts activities.”
And it’s not just the toys and games Puzzle Zoo carries that make it a shopping adventure. The store offers a hands-on experience for both buyers and browsers, making it an interactive spot to enjoy and explore.
“We’re one of the few toy shops out there that let people look at, test, and play with our games and toys. We often open a sample game or toy and we encourage people to try them out. We want people to find what they’re most interested in buying,” Cruz says. He and his staff are also very informed about the products the shop carries, so they can answer customer questions and make recommendations for personal use or gifts.
“We always try to give the best answers we can, and we have a lot on display here that customers can be interactive with. We make sure people know what they are buying and what they will really enjoy,” he attests.
From glittery sand-sculpting sets to Futurama action figures, soft and cuddly plush, mini-Lego Star Wars sets that charm, and a cool new Tokidoki Mermicorno figurine, there’s plenty to see – and play with – at Puzzle Zoo.
Puzzle Zoo is located at 7547 Melrose Ave, and is open from 11-7, seven days a week.