Susan Dobroski drives Toybrary lending service

Susan Dobroski and the Toybrary of Asheville
BUS FULL OF JOY: Susan Dobroski had the Toybrary of Asheville wrapped in bright turquoise, with branding created by one of her sons. Photo courtesy of Dobroski

After raising two boys, Susan Dobroski knows that sharing toys is the key to sibling harmony. But on a larger scale, she also believes that toy sharing supports community sustainability. Enter the Toybrary of Asheville, a mobile toy exchange she launched in August based on her family’s experience with the idea in Rochester, N.Y.

“When I moved here in 2014, I was stunned to find that no one in Asheville had even heard of toy libraries,” Dobroski recalls. That realization, combined with a desire to put her environmental education degree and professional therapeutic recreation experience to new use, eventually led her to make a late-night web search for “mobile toy unit” — yielding a customized van stocked with high-quality early-childhood toys being sold by a nonprofit in Joplin, Miss.

Dobroski had the toy-mobile wrapped in bright turquoise with branding created by one of her sons, a move that succeeded in catching Asheville’s eye. On her first test run to a Whole Foods parking lot, she says, “so many people wanted to see inside I was there for an hour.”

But Dobroski welcomes the curiosity. “The average family spends well over $1,000 a year on toys,” she points out. “A Toybrary lets you check out three toys at a time for a couple of weeks — it saves money and keeps toys out of the landfill.”

Editor’s note: As part of our monthlong celebration of this region’s commitment to sustainable ways of living and working in community, Xpress is highlighting some of those who are making a difference by taking action on a variety of creative and inspiring initiatives.


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About Kay West
Kay West was a freelance journalist in Nashville for more than 30 years, contributing writer for the Nashville Scene, StyleBlueprint Nashville, Nashville correspondent for People magazine, author of five books and mother of two happily launched grown-up kids. To kick off 2019 she put Tennessee in her rear view mirror, drove into the mountains of WNC, settled in West Asheville and appreciates that writing offers the opportunity to explore and learn her new home. She looks forward to hiking trails, biking greenways, canoeing rivers, sampling local beer and cheering the Asheville Tourists.

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