When we started carrying Keva Planks in 2007, they were a “local” company (Winchester, Virginia…so a bit more local than Hamburg, Germany). They were developed by a couple of young fellows who attended Bridgewater College and started the company by going to the furniture manufacturers and working out a deal to get all of their scrap maple lumber–the stuff that would have been hauled off to the local landfill. We would call up, chat about the shared weather, and place our order. Until they were sold to Mindware, you could buy Keva Planks in two places (museums and the Cambria Toy Station) in Virginia. Periodically, we would check their website for locations…lots of museums and us. To be honest, given that they are the coolest thing since sliced bread, we couldn’t figure why more places did not have Keva Planks on their shelves.
Part of the answer lies in how we approached setting i[ the Cambria Toy Station in the first place. When we started, neither of us had experience in the toy business, although Carol had, at least, worked retail. I had worked as a county planner, taught at universities, and bartended…not a shred of retail experience. When we decided to open a toy store, we knew we wanted to focus on educational toys and avoid plastic if possible. Carol researched wooden toys and toy safety; I looked at museum gift shops online and noted which companies were being carried by places like the Chicago Art Institute, the Exploratorium in San Francisco, the New York Museum of Modern Art, and the Smithsonian. I found Keva Planks on one of the museum websites.
What are Keva Planks?
Keva Planks are the simplest and most complex of building sets. They were identical, precision cut maple planks measuring 1/4″ x 3/4″ x 4 1/2″. Mindware has added a lower priced pine version in the past few years, but we do not carry the pine planks because they do not hold up as well as maple. Pine is more affected by the oil from your hands than is maple and is more likely to be affected by climate (humidity), so the maple planks are the superior choice in terms of quality and durability.
Keva Planks come in sets of 50, 200, 400, 800, and 1000 planks. While we keep the 50 and 200 piece sets in stock, you can special order a larger set. They are not blocks; they are planks (there actually is a difference) and are suitable for everyone in the family (kids, teens, parents, grandparents, the neighbors, you name it). While younger children (5 to 7) might build fairly simple structures, the complexity of the structures increases with age. While the initial investment may seem a bit expensive ($89.99 for a 200 piece set), you will find that they may be the most cost effective building set you will ever purchase.
Keva Plank Products
From Simple to Complex!
And a cool video