By Molly Snyder Senior Writer Published Nov 29, 2007 at 10:33 AM

I had a great experience at The Learning Shop last night while shopping for holiday gifts for my boys. I had never been there before, and wrote it off in the past as being a place that was too expensive for our budget, but I found the prices to be fair, the stock amazing and the staff extraordinarily helpful.

There are six Learning Shops in Wisconsin: Appleton, Madison, Wauwatosa, Brookfield, Greendale, and the one I went to in Fox Point. I went in search of Playmobil sets, which are similar to Fisher Price Little People, but geared towards slightly older children since they have a lot of small pieces.

Playmobil, headquartered in Germany, offers a farm, airplane, hospital, castle, pirate ship, police station and many other themes. For each set, you can also buy extra pieces and mini-sets to further complete the scene.

A fair share of parents told me about the imaginative wonders of Playmobil, and I was psyched to throw down some cash and expose my boys to these quality toys. My husband and I looked at a lot of different Playmobil sets, and started to realize all of the Playmobil people were Caucasian. There were dozens -- yes, dozens -- of different sets, and we only found one Playmobil person -- a pirate on the $100 pirate ship -- who was brown.

So, I asked salesperson about it, trying to sound light and not condemning, and she was very understanding. I told her that my son was Hispanic, and I didn’t want to make a big deal out of it, but it would be nice to have a Playmobil person of color to throw in the mix. She said we were not alone in questioning this and urged us to send an e-mail to Playmobil. She then gave me a catalog with the Playmobil Web site and a phone number.

She and I paged through the entire catalog, searching each set for African-American or Hispanic Playmobil people. We found very few. Finally, the saleswoman went in the back room, and came back with a bag of Playmobil people who were light brown and labeled “dwarfs.” At first that seemed odd, but Playmobil offers a lot of magical sets -- castles and whatnot -- so they probably originally went with one of those sets. This gesture inspired me to buy a couple of Playmobil products.

This blog was not intended to harp about the lack of diversity in the Playmobil community, rather to point out a salesperson at the Learning Shop who listened to me, empathized with my situation and provided a solution. This is a rare and awesome experience in the world of retail.

Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.

Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.