Shopping in this Richwood toy store just feels good.
There’s an astonishing store in Richwood—the only toy store in Nicholas County, in fact—and you’ll discover so much more than toys there. It’s a gathering place where people go to shop, sure, but they also go for advice, for support, and to make a difference. Ben’s Friends opened to the public in 2019 and is a business concept inspired by Amanda Herbine’s experience finding care and resources for her autistic son, Ben.
The pair moved from Pittsburgh to Richwood in May 2019 when Ben Herbine was just 4 years old. In Pittsburgh, the Herbines had access to a vast network of speech, occupational, developmental, physical, and behavioral therapies and in-home services. Herbine assumed access to those services would continue in West Virginia. She was wrong.
“We came with his diagnosis, medical records, therapeutic recommendations, and his IEP,” Herbine says. “We established a pediatrician, but we quickly realized we would have to drive several hours every week for any of the therapies we had access to in our home in Pittsburgh. I realized the desperate need of these services in our area. My son is not alone. There are nearly 6,000 children in West Virginia with developmental delays who are not receiving the services they need.”
Ben’s Friends is a nonprofit, and its proceeds go toward autism research and local community projects. The inventory includes educational and therapeutic learning toys aimed at developing gross and fine motor skills and problem solving. You’ll also find sensory weighted stuffed animals, blankets, and vests, language building cards, sound reduction tools, and special-needs car seats. The prices can’t be beat: One car seat, for example, retails for $900, but has a $200 price tag on it. It’s brand new—Herbine just knows that the people who need it can’t necessarily afford the retail price. It’s just one example of her generosity and good will.
Plenty of the toys in stock at Ben’s Friends will please any child on your gifting list this year, and the prices for popular brands like Melissa and Doug are hard to beat, too. Herbine’s continued contributions to the field of autism research and to her small community of Richwood are reason enough to make the trek to town for a bit of feel-good holiday shopping. 577 Richwood Road, Richwood, “Ben’s Friends Charity—Autism & Sensory Store” on Facebook