This afternoon my youngest two sons and I visited The Dino Store in South Bend this afternoon. At our weekly nature preschool, we've been studying about fossils and dinosaurs recently. I realized we were just a few blocks from the store, so thought we'd stop in.
I found an article about The Dino Store online. The owner of the South Bend Chocolate Company, Mark Tarner, is an amateur paleontologist, though the whole family is involved in the hobby. This article mentioned the family has been going on excavating trips since the 90s. They do this instead of Disney! I was very impressed to read about the daughters that were interested in science and natural history. Part of the hope of the store is to get more children interested in science. I heartily applaud this mission!
The store is very small, but is a good showcase for the Tarner family's collection from excavation sites. It offers several items I know my older children would want to buy, plus a few things (like actual dinosaur bones) that I would be interested in. I have a slice of a dinosaur egg in my collection, but it's always neat to collect other items, such as the fossilized dino poop which is for sale. Actually, I should have picked some up as it would go great with the upcoming Nature Club for 6-9 year olds at Woodlawn Nature Center on fossils and dinosaurs. For a child to hold actual scat (fossilized and sterilized) from a dinosaur in his/her hand--that's pretty special! I just told my oldest I held some today . . . and he said, "What, you mean like dino scat? AWESOME . . . and gross! What did it look like?" We might have to make a trip back!
I've always loved Safari products. There is a good selection of their dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals in the shop.
Various fossils and artifacts are also on display. Many are for sale, though as these are real artifacts some are a little on the pricey side as they should be for an item of this caliber.
There are still many affordable items for children. My oldest would love collecting gems in a bag. My three-year-old wanted the candy, of course.
We settled on a Mystery Bag . . . I always loved getting grab bags as a child and wondering what might be inside.
Some items are sold by the pound, such as petrified wood or these geodes. The geodes were from Indiana! It's neat to see geology in our own backyards!
I wouldn't necessarily call this a "destination" store; however, if you have a dino lover or are in the area, it's certainly a neat place to check out! I might combine this with a trip to the South Bend Chocolate Cafe for a bite to eat and to play in the play area. My kids still keep asking me to take them back to play! While not right there, a tour of the South Bend Chocolate Factory is pretty neat--it walks you through the natural side of chocolate. Where does it come from, how is it made, etc.? The tour ends with a sweet treat!
Enter The Dino Shop through the Made in Michiana store--another delightful afternoon treat!
Thanks for sharing your passion for science, fossils, and dinosaurs, Tarner family! We'd love to hear more about your digs!