New Tahoe ‘wonder’ | Party planning, themed birthday business up and running
Special to the Sun
INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — Susan Goldenberg knows a thing or two about throwing the perfect party.
The surgical-technician-turned-whimsical-party-planner opened Mr. G’s Wonder Emporium only two months ago, and she’s already hosted a number of themed birthdays like Disney’s “Frozen,” Pokémon and Minecraft.
“I come from a big family and I was always the one planning the parties and get-togethers,” Goldenberg said while seated at a bright turquoise picnic table inside the new Incline Village party store.
Goldenberg’s brown eyes light up when she talks about the family energy infused inside the recently remodeled space — on the walls, in the name, and throughout the overall inspiration behind the business.
A FAMILY AFFAIR
Inside the circus-themed room, there is a floor-to-ceiling red stage curtain painted by Goldenberg herself, and surrounded by other multi-colored walls lined with costumes and party supplies.
Goldenberg — a lively, optimistic Los Angeles native — chokes back a tear as she explains the significance behind the bright red curtain on the wall.
“My brother and I used to play ‘circus’ when we were younger,” she said. “He passed away recently and we were really close — he was my biggest cheerleader — so this room is a tribute to him.”
Susan’s husband, Blake Goldenberg, owns neighboring Susie Scoops and Village Toys — and was groomed to enter the toy industry at a young age.
“Blake’s father owned 15 toy stores at one time in Southern California and they were all called Mr. G’s,” Susan said. “Since my husband decided to name the (ice cream) shop after me, I decided to name my store after him and his dad.”
DOCTORING UP AN ENTREPRENEUR
While some parents may agonize over the kids, cakes and chaos that surround a child’s birthday party, Goldenberg has the art down to a science, which only makes sense considering her previous career.
For 28 years, Goldenberg devoted her work to the medical field as a surgical and x-ray technician in Los Angeles, where she and Blake raised their four children, often bringing them to Tahoe for ski vacations.
“As soon as my kids were able to walk, I brought them to Tahoe and taught them how to ski,” she said. “I’ve always wanted to live here since I was a teenager, but I never thought I’d get my husband to move.”
That was until six years ago when Susan was offered a technician position in Zephyr Cove and managed to convince her husband to make the move.
“I just had this feeling about Tahoe that I couldn’t get rid of and my husband knew that, he would tell me I was always in great moods, but when we’d come to Tahoe, there was something about it that made me happier than I’d ever been,” Susan said.
They found the perfect house in Incline Village, and Blake relocated first while Susan wrapped things up in Los Angeles.
“It was hard for me when we moved because I have a big family and they wondered what was wrong and why I was leaving, but I’m just living my dream — some people don’t understand that, but you’ve got to just do it,” Susan said.
The time to settle in before his wife arrived gave Blake an opportunity to scope out the business scene, and that’s when he came up with the ice cream shop and toy store.
“I was hesitant at first, but that was the best decision he could have made because all of our stores really fit together now,” Susan said.
With the launch of both businesses, Susan opted out of the medical field to help her husband, but when the space adjacent to the toy store and ice cream shop became available, she jumped on the opportunity to expand their collection of specialty shops.
“I love to see a party come together, and when we walked in here, I knew I could turn this into something special,” she said.
LIFE OF THE PARTY
Although Susan admits to missing the medical world from time to time, she’s charging forward with Mr. G’s, bubbling with crafty ideas and ways to expand, like creating a mobile party experience where she will bring Mr. G’s — ice cream sundaes and all — into a client’s home, offering the same personalized birthday package you’d find at the store, and even taking the inevitable party debris with her when she goes.
“We handle all the details from start to finish so the parents can really relax and enjoy their child’s birthday without having to worry about providing the entertainment or dealing with the mess,” she said.
With a customizable photo booth, an arts and crafts supply, and a selection of gift ideas, the space is certainly not limited to birthday parties.
In fact, Susan plans to launch a few six-week craft courses for kids this winter, each week focused on a different art project.
“I’m flexible with just about anything, so the possibilities for what we can do here are endless,” Susan said.
Jenny Goldsmith is a North Tahoe-based freelance writer and a former reporter for the Sierra Sun and North Lake Tahoe Bonanza newspapers. Have an idea for a merchant to feature? Email her at email@example.com.