Bright splashes of color, a decorative tiled ceiling, themed play areas and the laughter of children can all be found at 226 Kings Highway in Fairfield.

Giant Steps, a toy and baby retail store, is a new addition to Fairfield. This community-oriented store includes sections of play areas, features free events geared toward children and their parents, and sells products from a myriad of brands.

"It's a fully interactive store with no pressure to buy," said owner Howard Greenspan.

Giant Steps is a tight-knit, family-run business. Greenspan is the owner, and Sheila Greenspan, his mother, is the manager, while his sister, Shelley Greenspan, a licensed teacher, helps to organize and lead some of the store's events.

Greenspan is also the owner of Gaming Etc. Inc., an online gaming products store based in Stratford. The idea behind Giant Steps was to take his online business and transfer it into a store to provide a fun-filled environment for kids, while offering families boutique and high-end manufactured products at reasonable prices.

"You pay fair prices while getting the products you want," Greenspan said.

And, according to the store's website, www.giantstepstoys.com, "Giant Steps prides itself on its fair, mass-market pricing model, so you will never have to feel victim to overpaying again."

The 4,500-square-foot space is designed so that it can accommodate a variety of age groups and interests. The play areas are labeled with "explore," "perform," "pretend," "build," and "imagine."

And children are encouraged to do so with the variety of toys found throughout the store. Toddlers can explore a giant tree house, a giraffe slide, and 3-D puzzles. For girls, there are dollhouses, play kitchens and dress up clothes. For boys, there are jungle gyms and "Thomas the Train" track complexes. Older children are also invited to join in the fun with a stage for singing and dancing, along with a TV monitor to view their performances.

"Parents shouldn't worry. Nothing is designed that the kids can destroy. There are places where kids can have a fun time and the parents can talk and shop in peace," Greenspan said.

In addition to the themed areas, the store is also community oriented. The ceiling features artwork made as part of the art curriculum at North Stratfield Elementary School. More than 250 third, fourth and fifth grade students from the school painted custom-ordered tiles with creative designs.

"The children let their imagination go wild as they drew images of outer space, city blocks, favorite animals and breathtaking landscapes," Greenspan said.

Aside from the play-friendly layout of the store, Giant Steps offers free weekly events, including Lego building contests, B.Y.O.B. (bring your own Barbie), a baby signing class, which is a class for exploring pre-oral communication, Mommy & Me story time, and Baby & Me fitness.

The store also strives to maintain an eco-friendly environment on both the inside and the outside of the building. The Giant Steps signs in the front and back of the store use low-wattage LED technology and the interior has 100 percent eco-recycled flooring, and low voltage and energy efficient lighting, set to timers in order to maximize efficiency.

According to Mark Barnhart, Fairfield's director of community and economic development, Giant Steps' intention of being family-friendly will enhance their business.

"This is a very family and community

-oriented town, so I think they'll be very nicely received," Barnhart said.

Giant Steps is open Monday through Friday, from 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, call 203-873-0754 or visit www.giantstepstoys.com