Come Along to My All-Time Favorite Places to Find Miniatures!
Let’s face it, therapists… finding materials, games, and toys can sometimes be a little too easy (ex. my empty bank account after binging on Black Friday deals)…
But finding the perfect miniature is often a more challenging task. I mean, most places don’t have a sign labeled “miniature section: for sandtray therapy nerds ONLY”. Bummer.
So, I decided to go on a little scavenger hunt and bring you along as I search for the best and most comprehensive places to find those elusive minis.
As I search, I’m looking for miniatures that check all those category boxes that our clients will need… nature/greenery, animals, transportation, people and families, fences, fantasy miniatures, and abstract themes to fit those metaphores that may arise in the tray.
Ok are we ready? Let’s Go!
(Quick note: There are a ton of great resources online, but for the purpose of this post we are only discussing brick-and-mortar establishments). Also, I receive no financial compensation for sharing my opinions regarding these establishments)..ok now to the good stuff!
1. The Dollar Store
I don’t know about you, but I don’t have a TON of extra cash laying around for miniature acquisition. So, my first stop is the handy-dandy dollar store to see how much we can find on the cheap!
Most dollar stores have similar layouts and products, and I was able to find miniatures in the craft, toy, and party sections.
The craft aisle typically has tea light candles and candle holders, seasonal figures, rocks/stones, flowers, and sometimes even bird-nests and houses! These can all be awesome for curating your abstract miniature section.
Moving on to the party section, there is typically some table decor for various parties (think tiny rattles, pacifiers, and strollers for baby showers, wedding cake toppers, mr. & mrs. cupcake toppers, etc). All of these celebratory materials could be utilize by clients to symbolize milestones or important events in their lives.
Finally, the toy aisle. This is a treasure trove of miscellaneous items. I have found doll house furniture, tiny people figures, vehicles, helping professions toys (police, doctor, ambulance, fire fighter, military, etc), and packs upon packs of army men, bugs, snakes, animals, and dinosaurs. All of these could be beneficial and cost efficient for outfitting your miniature collection.
Oh, and don’t forget about the seasonal aisles! They often have a ton of random goodness that could be used in the tray.
2. Hobby Lobby (or other craft store)
Hobby Lobby has to be one of the all-time MVPs for sandtray enthusiasts. Here you can find literally every theme under the sun. They have doll houses/furniture, packs of animals and dinos, jewels, gems, stones, and greenery of every kind, wooden boxes, party favors….literally every aisle could have something special you could add to your shelves.
But the major draw of this type of store is the seasonal section. In the fall/winter months, we have the Christmas section. Here you can find ornaments and figures representing literally anything you can imagine – pregnancy, careers, special interests/hobbies…Santa Clause bass fishing…I mean, you name it, they probably have some cheesy representation of it, which translates nicely for the unique things that might come out in the tray for our clients.
The Spring/Summer Shop is also not to be missed. Here you can find figures of frogs, bugs, flowers, light hearted/beachy sayings on signs and stones, and tiny buckets, shovels, rakes, and other play items that are essential for our youngest sandtray clients.
And finally, my personal fave, the Fairy Garden section! This is where I have found my most loved and most used stone walkways, fences, and wishing wells. You can never have enough of these items, so I tend to wait until the end of the season and stock up when they go on sale!
3. Flea Markets and Garage Sales
You never know what you’re going to find at a junk sale. I have come away from some of these places with absolutely nothing, BUT sometimes you find the perfect, unique miniature to round out your collection.
I have foud one-of-a-kind treasures such as seasonal decor, figures/sculptures, christmas ornaments, literal treasure chests, and all kinds of knick-knacks that could be used to represent a variety of metaphors for our adults in the tray…and they are usually super inexpensive!
4. Colleagues and Friends
Some of my favorite miniatures have come from friends and other professionals. Once you embark on your sandtray journey, it’s infectious…you’re so excited and you just can’t hide it (sorry, had to).
Scouring for epic miniatures just becomes a way of life, and your friends and colleagues can become great resources and allies for mini-hunting. Have your pals keep an eye out for unique minis on their travels across country or abroad, when they go antiquing, or initiate a miniature swap with your colleagues every so often when collections need thinning.
Join a group of like-minded sandtray nerds, and you’ll never be more than a mouse-click away from a wealth of info and ideas. Your resources are only limited by your imagination when you have a community as awesome as this one!
Ok guys, those are my favorite, tride-and-true miniature hot-spots… Now, go forth and hunt for those minis, and keep us updated about your epic finds!