Longtime locals opening Lego store in city after persistent, passionate pitch to corporate office

Almost everyone has fond childhood memories of stacking Lego bricks to craft things like vehicles, buildings, spaceships and even entire cities. Now, with the opening of Bricks & Minifigs Monroe, Lego enthusiasts young and old will have a place to shop for one of the world’s most popular toys.

Owned by Monroe residents Steve and Sharon Jensen, Monroe’s Bricks & Minifigs store will host its grand opening celebration at 10 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 5.
The soon-to-be open Lego toy store is one of only two Bricks & Minifigs stores in Washington, and one of only 25 in the United States. The idea behind Bricks & Minifigs is to rebuild, reuse and reimagine, as it offers new, used and retired Lego sets, along with loose bricks and other Lego pieces that can be purchased in bulk.
In addition to buying and selling Lego pieces and kits, the store will feature a party room for birthdays and other celebrations.
Bricks & Minifigs will be open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday. The Jensens are looking forward to celebrating their grand opening with people from all over Snohomish County.  
“We have little minifigs for the first 100 people through the door,” Sharon said. “They were custom made for that day.”  
Bricks & Minifigs will feature new and used kits — some assembled, some disassembled — collectables, new products in boxes, as-is used kits and “certified used” kits, which means the Jensens have verified that all components of that kit are present. Basically, the store celebrates all things Lego, Steve Jensen said.
Families with Lego sets tucked away in basements, closets and attics are welcome to bring them in for purchase or trade, he added.  
“We’ll buy it, we’ll trade it in if you want something knew, and of course we’ll sell you the stuff we’ve got here,” Steve said. “We’ll have quite a selection here that you won’t find at other places.”
Built to endure, Lego bricks are meant to be part of a universal system. Because of this, all Lego pieces built in 1958 or later are fully compatible with Lego pieces released today. Based in Denmark, Lego was founded in 1932 as a way to provide an interactive way for kids to be creative during play. The company rolled out minifigures — the small Lego people that lock into the Lego system — in 1978 as a way to introduce role play into Lego activities.
Bricks & Minifigs Monroe will feature an entire display dedicated to creating custom minifigs, allowing customers to craft their own minifigs from a variety of pieces. In another area, already-put-together minifigs will be available for people to browse and purchase.  
Lego was among the first batch of toys to be inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame, which was founded in 1998. Today, the Lego group remains the second-largest toy manufacturer in the world by revenue, with Mattel in first.
Both Lego enthusiasts, Sharon and Steve are excited to bring a store as unique as Bricks & Minifigs to Monroe.
The Jensens moved to Monroe nearly 20 years ago, when their daughter was about 5 months old. A career software developer and tester, Steve worked at Microsoft for many years, so accessibility to the Redmond area was a top priority. They didn’t want to be too far out, Sharon said. Eventually they stumbled across an advertisement for housing in Monroe that touted being just 14 miles from Kirkland, and the two ended up settling in the Fryelands.
“I love our neighborhood,” Sharon said. “It was cool to be in a brand-new neighborhood, at the time, because all of our kids have grown up together.”  
The Jensens are both involved in the Monroe community. Steve has served on the Monroe Planning Commission for nearly four years, and plans to seek reappointment at the end of the year. He is a familiar face at Monroe City Hall during council meetings, often providing public input on local issues. Sharon was involved at Chain Lake Elementary School when their daughter was young, and helped found the Fryelands Elementary School PTA when the school first opened in the mid-2000s.
The two had entertained the idea of opening their own business off and on, contemplating both a florist and a donut shop. It was just a dream at that point, Steve said, but the idea of opening a Lego store had great appeal. They especially wanted to incorporate a party room for kids, since the Lego and hobby stores they visited didn’t seem to include that feature.
When they were traveling to Eugene, Oregon, for a memorial service in May, the Jensens decided to visit the Oregon Lego store. Steve tasked his wife with locating the shop on a map. She hopped on the internet to see what she could find.
“I plugged in Lego and it brought up not just the Lego store but three Bricks & Minifigs,” Sharon said.
The two were intrigued. They visited the Bricks & Minifigs website and discovered that not only was it a franchise, it was ranked number 37 on Entrepreneur Magazine’s 2016 list of top new franchises. They decided to detour through Canby on their way back to Washington, to have a look at the company’s flagship location.
They arrived after hours, but peered through the windows to discover a Lego enthusiast’s paradise, including a vast area filled with Lego toys and the very party room they had envisioned.
“It was exactly what we were looking for,” Steve said.
Within a week of returning home they were in correspondence with the company, even taking a trip back down to Canby to discuss the business opportunity in person. Everything started to line up, Sharon said.
“It just felt like it was the right thing to do,” she said.
They began scouting for a store location that met the Bricks & Minifigs criteria, which requires a minimum of 2,500 square feet of space. Initially they contemplated downtown Monroe, but the lack of parking disqualified that area, Steve said. They were drawn to the Kelsey Street location because, along with adequate parking, there were two side-by-side units available, meeting the minimum square footage requirement.  
The company encouraged them to search communities with larger populations than Monroe, so they looked in Woodinville, Bothell, Mill Creek and Everett.
Nothing was quite right, they said, so they sold Bricks & Minifigs on the idea of opening in Monroe.
“We wanted to be in Monroe, and everything pointed us to being in Monroe,” Steve said. “They asked us to look outside; we tried that, and everything pointed us to Monroe.”  
“They went ahead and approved it because of our enthusiasm,” Sharon said.
Sharon is excited to serve her friends and neighbors in the Monroe community, and is looking forward to meeting new people from across Snohomish County. The only other Bricks & Minifigs store in the state is in Ridgefield, just north of Vancouver, so the Monroe store will serve the entire Seattle region.  
Bricks & Minifigs is located at 14650 N. Kelsey St., Suite 102, in Monroe. For more information about Bricks & Minifigs, visit www.facebook.com/BricksMonroe.