About Us


Pufferbellies is owned and operated by us — the mother/daughter team of Susan Blanton and Erin Blanton. It was our dream to work together, and what could be more fun than a toy store? Susan, a former children’s librarian, handles the book ordering. Erin, a former editor, is in charge of the toys.


Pufferbellies is the largest independent, specialty toy store in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Plus, we have the best selection of children’s books in town.


Our store is:


1. Fun. We have lots of games to try, plus multiple play tables and ride-on toys to enjoy. 

2. Friendly. We never say “don’t touch.”

3. Approachable. We have something for everyone. 


In the summer of 2008, we carefully restored our storefront at 15 W. Johnson Street in Staunton’s historic Wharf District. This building is one of the few in downtown Staunton with original, c.1900 (not reproduction) street-level doors, window frames, moldings and trim. We did much of the work ourselves (with help, as always, from Susan’s husband – Erin’s dad – Kelley Blanton. Lucky for us, he’s a professional woodworker. It helps to have one of those in the family when you take on the kinds of projects that we do!


In the spring of 2008, we helped Nick Blanton (Erin’s brother and Susan’s son) open his wildly successful gelato shop, The Split Banana, Co., right up the street from Pufferbellies. Together, Pufferbellies and The Split Banana have turned downtown Staunton into a true family destination.


Why “Pufferbellies?” People ask us this all the time! A pufferbelly is a little steam train. The term was made famous in a children’s folk song that goes like this:


Down by the station, early in the morning
See the little pufferbellies all in a row
See the station master pull the little handle
Puff, puff! Toot, toot! Off we go.


Since Pufferbellies is close to Staunton’s historic train station, the name seemed like a perfect fit. Plus, it’s just so darn fun to say.