Meet The Merchant: Go Bananas

Posted December 1, 2015
  This month we talked with Anne and Dana Barnes of Go Bananas’ toy store about this season’s hot toys, how families are combating smartphones with family time, and what they love about their work.
Go Bananas Toy Store: Shopping in Northern VA

What do you like best about the Brambleton/Ashburn area?

Anne: Well, when we came here there were hardly grocery stores or stop signs. But now we have a booming little economy in Ashburn. It is very family oriented. The schools are some of the best in the country. We have raised all four of our kids here. It is just a wonderful community.

What made you want to set up shop in Brambleton Town Center?

Anne: Dana has been in the toy industry since 1984. He started off as a Sales Manager and went on to his own sales and marketing company, High Five, which I help him with. Dana was actually working with Mary, the original owner of Go Bananas, and one day she asked if we knew anybody that would like to buy a toy store. One thing led to another and we decided it would be a good thing for us personally, and professionally it would be a segue from what Dana did as a sales rep. It was just the right thing to do at the right time!

And in your own words, what is Go Bananas?

Anne: Go Bananas is Loudoun County’s best toy retailer. It’s a fun place to go! We have a play area, we have high-quality toys, and we support the community. Combined, all of that makes it one of the best retailers in Loudoun County. We are fortunate to have had it literally fall into our lap as the result of the relationship Mary and Dana had.

What do you guys love about your work?

Anne: It is a fun industry!  It can be very hectic, as you can imagine this time of year is a little bit nuts. The people are wonderful and actually, when you go into the store and you see all of these kids running around saying, “I want this and I want that,” it is a lot of fun. My kids range in age from 10 to 23, so obviously the 10-year-old has been a huge benefactor of the store (laughs).

What do you see as the hot toy this holiday season?

Anne: I am going to let Dana answer that one. 

Dana:  This year, there doesn’t seem to be any real hot item. Over the last few years it was Frozen — which had a little bit of a monopoly — and Rainbow Looms the year before that. The Emoji category is very strong right now. They have pillows and key-chains and stickers for all things emoji. In particular, the number one emoji out there is the poop emoji, which speaks to the fun that people like to have in this business.

That is too funny.

Anne: It is kind of fun to see that puzzles and games are coming back too. Everybody is kind of hooked on their phone and TV and that sort of thing, but we have had a lot of interest in puzzles and games. This is especially true with some of the younger families — to have a game instead of TV to keep them family-oriented. It is actually kind of nice to see that parents want to keep that family time. They don’t want that interference from electronics. They are sticking with the classics, like Clue, Monopoly, and Operation.


What is your favorite product at Go Bananas?

Dana: I like a lot of the family games. I do play a lot of games. We sell strategic single player games from a company called “ThinkFun.” GameRight has a game called Spot It, which is a really fast paced matching game that young kids and adults can play. And the older the players are, the more physical the game becomes.

Anne: For me, I am kind of a girly girl. I like the Beanie Boos.

What’s unique about Go Bananas that parents and kids love?

Anne: Go Bananas has what we call the Birthday Vault, which is almost like a birthday registry. A child can come into the store and pick out items they would like for their birthday so mom and dad and birthday party guests can see what toys they want and purchase them here at Go Bananas.. We also do similar concepts for the holidays called our Holiday Mailbox to Santa and our Hanukkah Wish List. Kids can come in and write their wish list, and then their parents and family can come and see what they want.


What keeps you busy when you’re not working?

Anne: Our kids have always been involved in sports, so with the oldest being 23 and the youngest being 10 we have been doing that for a long time. Dana has always been a soccer coach for the girls. Our youngest is on a pretty intense travel soccer team and I’m the team manager so that keeps me busy. We kind of throw ourselves into the kids and the teams during our downtime, if you want to call it downtime!

If you could tell the Brambleton community anything what would it be?

Dana: I would say thank you for being so supportive. It’s interesting that the Brambleton Town Center is very unique in its philosophy that it doesn’t want all national chains and it supports local businesses. I think that the community in turn supports that and just as long as everybody is engaged in working together, giving back to the community and supporting local businesses, it will be a really strong and vibrant community for years to come. I would just like to thank them for everything that they do.