Onkel Philipp's Spielzeug Werkstatt

Onkel Philipp’s Spielzeug Werkstatt

Growing up in West Germany, Philipp Schlünemann (above, left) dreamed of owning his own shop. As a boy, with a model storefront built with his father, Philipp tried to entice visitors to buy his wares, usually made up of whatever he could find lying around the house.

In 1997, Philipp realized his dream, opening Onkel Philipp’s Spielzeug Werkstatt (Uncle Philipp’s Toy Workshop). “I called it a ‘workshop’ because I wanted people to understand that this was not just the average toy store.”

Combining his love for toys and his interest in the environment, which he studied at university, Philipp developed the unique idea of recycling old toys. “Too often people simply throw away toys they no longer want or think are broken.”

Recycling not only keeps plastic and electronics out of landfills, but also provides inexpensive toys to children who normally couldn’t afford them.

Philipp found himself aggravated by how quickly East Germans were discarding their childhood toys for the more brightly colored and enticing Western toys. “People simply threw away not just toys, but aspects of East German history. So I decided to collect them.”

In 2002 Philipp opened a museum: the first German Democratic Republic Toy Museum.