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Visit edplay at ASTRA booth #1127

For People Who Sell Toys

May/June 2018

Go for the

Razzmatazz! ASTRA’s Show in New Orleans in this issue HOT NEW PRODUCTS COOL TOY TRENDS

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Plus

KIDS are crazy for KATTYWOMPUS

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wordPlay

Gone, Baby, Gone by Kevin Fahy

Like a lot of people my age, I spend a lot of time in Florida in the winter. Mostly I just want to escape the harsh Upstate New York weather and get outside in the sunshine, but it’s also important to me to get away from my daily routine. One of the things I try to do while in Florida is to unplug. Not completely, of course, I still use electric lights and I do have a television, but to the extent possible I stay away from computers, tablets, smart phones, et al. First thing in the morning, I read the print version of the local newspaper, which is something I haven’t done up north in more than a decade. I know it sounds morbid, but one of the sections I always check out is the obituaries. It’s hard to miss, because obits cover pages 2 and 3, and I have the feeling that I’m not the only person in Florida who pays close attention. It also seems to be one of the few newspaper features which has not migrated to the internet. Print is somehow a more dignified and respectful way to speak of the departed. When I look through the obituaries, I am especially interested in people who were in their mid to late 90s, because they represent the rapidly disappearing remnants of the

World War II generation. Most of the men and some of the women served in uniform, and virtually everyone assisted in the war effort in some capacity. Their survivors are proud of that service, as the obits often devote a lot of space to what was, in years, a small part of a long life. In March, I read the obituary of a 94-year-old man named Charles, who had been an army cryptographer during the war. That had to be fascinating work, and critically important to the cause, but after the war Charles returned to the relatively mundane task of running the family bicycle shop in Washington, D.C. Charles was a sharp guy, however, and an ambitious one. He saw the huge wave of servicemen returning home and realized that the next big spike in demand would not be in bikes, but in cribs, cradles, high chairs and strollers. To go along with the furniture, Charles gradually added baby toys to the business, which he renamed “Children’s Bargain Town.” Eventually, Charles realized that there was a limitation to the growth potential of children’s furniture. Parents would buy things for their first child, but then simply pass the stuff along to any number of subsequent siblings. Toys, on the other hand, (continued on page 4) May/June 2018 • • • • • edplay.com 3

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wordPlay

(continued from page 3)

VISIT ASTRA BOOTH #507 Ask about our ASTRA Special!

Each bank includes:

Helping Kids Get Smart About Money® For more information: 800.413.0073 x203 Sales@moneysavvy.com

4 edplay.com • • • • • May/June 2018

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were usually purchased new as gifts for each child, and also tended to wear out. For those of you who haven’t yet guessed Charles’ last name, I’ll give you one more hint. He flipped the two Rs backward in Children’s Bargain Town, to make it look as though a child had written it. In 1957, when Charles Lazarus opened his first toys-only store in Rockville, Maryland, he named it Toys “R” Us, partly as a play on his own name. It was modeled on Korvette’s, a supermarket-style department-store chain in the New York City suburbs. Timing is everything, and Toys “R” Us grew with the baby boom generation for which its merchandise was intended. Throughout the late 1950s and early ’60s there were more than 4 million births in the U.S. every year, and Toys “R” Us grew by an annual rate of nearly 20 percent. The birthrate finally dropped off in 1965, and the following year Mr. Lazarus, not coincidentally, sold his business to the Interstate department store chain. He stayed on as head of the toy division, and when Interstate went broke in 1974, Lazarus took it over as an enlarged Toys “R” Us. Once again, Charles Lazarus’ timing was spot-on. In the late 1970s the birthrate started to pick up again, as 75 million baby boomers reached their prime child-bearing years. Social scientists referred to it at the time as the “echo boom,” but nowadays it is generally called the “millennial” generation. Toys “R” Us rode the new

wave as it had ridden the old one. By 1987, Charles was the highest-paid executive in America, according to Forbes magazine, at $60 million a year. Shortly thereafter, though, the company became a victim of the same monster it had helped create. The big-box superstores, led by Lazarus’ old friend Sam Walton, began to eat away at Toys “R” Us (and every other toy store) with more leverage, more shelf space, more advertising, more everything. Lazarus was famous for playing hardball, but so were these guys. Had that been the only blow to the Toys “R” Us business model, Lazarus’ toy empire might have survived, but there was another one gathering strength right behind it. Everyone saw it coming; they just didn’t know what to do about it. The worst thing you could do about the online threat was to launch your own ecommerce site prematurely, which is precisely what Toys “R” Us did. Its failure to deliver gifts on time for the Christmas season in 1999 was catastrophic for the company. Unfortunately, its response to that debacle was another blunder. In 2000, Toys “R” Us signed a 10-year contract to serve as the exclusive toy supplier for Amazon.com. Along the way, Amazon reneged on the deal by letting other retailers sell through its site as well, claiming that Toys “R” Us didn’t carry an adequate selection. TRU sued Amazon in 2006 and eventually won in court, but by that point Amazon had taken clear control of the online marketplace. If you think the (continued on page 7)

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2018 5/4/18 11:07 AM


For People Who Sell Toys

May/June 2018 Volume 25, No. 3

16 3

Wordplay

Gone, Baby, Gone by Kevin Fahy

30 34

Eight Tips for Effective Team Meetings from Cathy Wagner, retail coach and founder of RETAILmavens

10 What You’ll Learn in New Orleans 12

Schedule

15

Visit the booths of edplay advertisers

16

Setting You Straight About Kattywompus

36

ASTRA members discuss “purpose beyond profit” and the many ways they support their communities

40

Cindy Ranger and her sisters run a toy/music/gift/play oasis in Old Town Monrovia, California

22

Counting Down the Hits

“Girl Empowerment” joins Sandy Ruben’s toy-trend list

26 retailers recommend

What Does Your Store Stand For?

How to Reach Those Disenfranchised Shoppers

36 42

New & True Products

48

Industry News

52

For Your Business Information

60

Index of Advertisers

With Toys “R” Us out of the picture, specialty toy retailers need a strategy for winning over its customers

62

Endcap Picking Up STEAM

STEM becomes more well-rounded

Fabulous Products

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wordPlay

(continued from page 5) whole episode sounds a lot like Aesop’s fable about the frog and the crocodile, you’re not alone. Of course there were other contributing factors in the decline of Toys “R” Us beside the big boxes and the internet, not the least of which was the way that the current owners piled it up with debt. And even so, there were probably a number of stores among the 800 U.S. locations that would have been profitable as standalone businesses. I find myself identifying in a small way with the story of Charles Lazarus, and I’m sure many of you do as well. When I started my own business 34 years ago, my partner and I were baby boomers who were well aware of the echo boom, and hopeful that it would put some wind at our back. It did, for a number of years. The big-box trend hurt us by hurting our readers, and the internet was worse. It hit our readership, but it also hit the magazine business in general. Yet we persevere, as you do. Ironically, Charles Lazarus died on the very day that Toys “R” Us began to liquidate its stores. He led a remarkable life, and I don’t feel sorry for him. For the rest of us, maybe a little.

You can e-mail Kevin at kfahy@fwpi.com. May/June 2018 • • • • • edplay.com 7

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A brand of Fahy-Williams Publishing Inc.

Visit edplay at ASTRA booth #1127

Fahy-Williams also publishes PUBLISHER J. Kevin Fahy kfahy@fwpi.com

EDITORIAL Tina Manzer, Director tmanzer@fwpi.com

ADVERTISING DIRECTOR Tim Braden tbraden@fwpi.com

Rebecca Carlson Assistant Editor rebecca@fwpi.com

ADVERTISING SALES Todd Crayton todd@fwpi.com

ART Mark Stash Production Manager mstash@fwpi.com

Darlene Ryan Darlene@fwpi.com E-NEWLETTER & ONLINE ADVERTISING Rick Kauder rkauder@fwpi.com MARKETING DIRECTOR Amy Colburn amy@fwpi.com SUBSCRIPTIONS Tricia McKenna trish@fwpi.com

Maia VanOrman Designer maia@fwpi.com Cody Brackett Designer cody@fwpi.com EDITORIAL OFFICES PO Box 1080, 171 Reed St Geneva, NY 14456 800-344-0559, 315-789-0458 FAX: 315-789-4263

Toy Times the magazine of the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association The Decorative Painter for the Society of Decorative Painters decorativepainters.org Educational Dealer educationaldealermagazine.com Life in the Finger Lakes lifeinthefingerlakes.com

Art Materials Retailer artmaterialsretailer.com ROBEX for the Rochester Builders Exchange Gradient the magazine of the Association For Creative Industries craftandhobby.org

About EDPLAY Launched in 1994, edplay became the first successful publication to focus on “specialty” toys and the needs of small, independent retailers. As the industry evolved, complete with its own trade association (ASTRA), edplay became a bimonthly print publication. Later, a website and monthly enewsletters helped to provide advertisers with seamless, year-round promotional opportunities. More than 20 years later, edplay remains the favorite among manufacturers and publishers who advertise; and the people who sell toys who tell us they read every page.

RESERVE AN AD IN EDUCATIONAL DEALER Issue

Mails

Deadline

July/Aug

July

June 8

Sept/Oct

September

August 3

Nov/Dec

November

September 29

Jan/Feb 2019

January

November 21

Mar/Apr 2019

March

February 1

Copyright © 2018

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June 10 through 13 (pre-conference training begins on June 8) Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, New Orleans by Tina Manzer

“E

ducation is the fire that fuels innovation, collaboration and change,” says Ahren Hoffman, ASTRA’s director of education and training. To help attendees of its annual tradeshow better understand and absorb the ideas being discussed there, ASTRA is presenting some of them in specific learning styles. That way, attendees of Marketplace & Academy can learn in the style that’s most effective for them. “When we play to the learning styles that fit our personality, we learn more efficiently,” Ahren explains. With so many topics and speakers scheduled throughout the three-day show – and even before it officially begins – attendees will need to be efficient. They won’t want to miss a thing. Here are the three learning styles ASTRA has identified. 1. Deep Learners, who are intellectually curious and immerse themselves in new knowledge. 2. Strategic Learners, who focus on results and action items to implement. 3. Surface Learners, who prioritize learning baseline information and superficial ideas. Although in-depth certification training begins on Friday, June 8, Marketplace & Academy officially starts on Sunday, June 10, with a day full of education sessions and networking opportunities. “The Changing Toy Market: Who’s Buying & How to Reach Them,” “Strategic Planning Made Simple,” and “Navigating Industry Consolidation Beyond Big Retail: What a Look at the Independent Toy Industry Over the Past 15 Years Tell Us About Its Future” are just some of the topics being offered. Pre-conference workshops will appeal to Deep Learners The Certified Play Expert Workshop gets underway on Friday. It provides attendees with the research, language and tools needed to support the science behind play. In return for that deep learning,

attendees receive their Play Expert credentials. The Certificate in Social Media Management Workshop on Saturday will teach attendees how to plan, implement, manage, and report all aspects of an organization’s social media strategy. Deep Learning and Surface Learning at the Opening Ceremony The format is new: experts will launch attendees into learning by discussing play, financials, trends and marketing; pointing out how each one affects their toy business. Their brief previews of the breakout sessions will help retailers, reps and manufacturers select sessions that best meet the needs of their business. Surface learners will enjoy new OpenSpace Sessions This unique series of mini-discussions facilitates multiple, candid conversations and connecting with colleagues. The goal is to generate communication and collaboration while helping participants develop solutions to challenges and business problems. Lightning Learning is designed for Strategic Learners Concise content in 15-minute intervals will be presented at the My ASTRA Center on the Marketplace floor. The short bursts of information will provide key content and help participants prioritize ideas. Each session will be followed by an optional 15-minute question-and-answer period. One-on-one consults for Strategic Learners New “Consultation Stations” at the Industry Service Pavilion on the Marketplace floor will provide customized content for participants who want to implement ideas immediately. Thirty-minute appointments are available with a variety of business-support experts.

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Good advice from a disruption advocate While consumers shake their heads and ask, “Where will we buy our toys if there’s no Toys ‘R” Us?” and specialty toy retailers beg, “Choose us!” it’s obvious we need help handling the disruption. That’s one of the reasons ASTRA hired speaker Peter Sheahan, author of the book Matter: Move Beyond the Competition, Create More Value, and Become the Obvious Choice. Peter’s keynote, “Fl!P: Proven Strategies for Turning Challenge into Opportunity,” will be presented on Wednesday, June 13. What’s happening with us is a great example of an industry in disruption, and the demise of

the mega toy-store chain is just one of many disrupters. Retailers, for instance, have been dealing with issues that range from online competitors to new consumer payment options. “Toys” as a category is itself a disruptor as it continues to fight for attention in a field that includes computers and other forms of electronic entertainment. Today, disruption is happening faster and coming from totally unexpected sources, says Shearon. It can be scary. “Fear tends to drive protectionist behaviors, which only slows your ability to leverage and capitalize on change,” he said in a 2016 interview for The Huffington Post. “Leaders are taught to defend a

market position, not to explore new frontiers. The more success, the more there is to lose by innovating. Most organizations are more comfortable playing defense than offense.” So what do we do? Among other ideas that we’ll discover during his ASTRA presentation, Sheahan recommends leaning directly into the disruption – specifically the complexity of it – instead of running away. He advises business leaders to ask, “What is the opportunity here? What can we learn to enhance and augment our products? What other problems could this disruption help us solve? “The optimism of companies (continued on page 14)

ASTRA #838

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Schedule Friday, June 8 8 a.m. to 5 p.m....................... Workshop: Certified Play Expert Day 1

Saturday, June 9 8 a.m. to 5 p.m....................... Workshop: Certified Play Expert Day 2 8 a.m. to 5 p.m............Workshop: Certificate in Social Media Management 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.............................................. Registration Open 1:30 to 5:30 p.m.... Mighty Together Volunteer Program: School Clean Up 6 to 8 pm.............................................................. Welcome Pool Party

Sunday, June 10 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.............................................................Registration 8 to 8:45 a.m......................................................Continental Breakfast ................................ New Member and First-Time Attendee Breakfast 9 to 10 a.m............................................................ Opening Ceremony 10:15 to 11:30 a.m........Expert-Led Workshops and OpenSpace Sessions 11:45 a.m. to 12:45 p.m........................... Networking Lunch & Learn 1 to 3:15 p.m.......................................................... Breakout Sessions 3:30 to 4:30 p.m..................................................OpenSpace Sessions 3:30 to 5:30 p.m.................................................... Try Out New Kits! 7 to 10 p.m.............................................................Opening Reception

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Monday, June 11 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m...........................................Registration Open 7:30 to 8 a.m......................................................Breakfast Buffet 8 to 9:30 a.m....................................... Annual Business Meeting 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m........................................... Trade Show Open 10 to 10:15 a.m.............................................Lightning Learning 10 a.m. to 4:15 p.m........Consultation Stations (Appointment Only) 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m..........................Lunch in the exhibit hall Noon to 3:15 p.m............................ Lightning Learning sessions 5 to 8:30 p.m........................................................... Game Night

Tuesday, June 12 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m......................................Registration Open 8 to 9:15 a.m..................... Continental Breakfast; Share the Fair 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m........................................... Trade Show Open 10 to 10:15 a.m.............................................Lightning Learning 10 a.m. to 4:15 p.m......Consultations Stations (Appointment Only) 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m..........................Lunch in the exhibit hall Noon to 3:15 p.m............................ Lightning Learning sessions 4 to 5 p.m................................................................. Happy Hour Wikki_EdPlay_Best_TravelToy_PRNT.pdf

1

4/13/18

Wednesday, June 13 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m......................................... Registration Open 8 to 8:30 a.m........................................... Continental Breakfast 8:30 to 10 a.m..... Keynote Presentation by Peter Sheahan: “FL!P: ...........Proven Strategies for Turning Challenge into Opportunity” 10 a.m. to 4 p.m............................................ Trade Show Open 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m........................ Lunch in the exhibit hall 3 to 3:30 p.m........................................... Raffle Prize Drawing For more information, visit marketplaceandacademy.org

12:40 PM

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(continued from page 11) who accepted the challenge of disruption enabled them to positively respond, and re-imagine their business in the process.” Mighty Together Volunteer Program lends a hand in New Orleans Hands-on volunteer activities will be a prominent feature of ASTRA’s 2018 Marketplace & Academy. Attendees are invited to participate in one project to beautify a local school, and another to fill back-to-school backpacks for students. In addition, New Orleans’ organizations will receive toys that manufacturers donate, and

the extra food from ASTRA meal functions. “These charitable activities are an extension of what our members are doing in their own communities,” notes Kimberly Mosley, ASTRA president. “ASTRA members are leaders who have a positive influence on the economy, culture and creativity of the communities they serve, and we want to reflect those same values at Marketplace & Academy.” (To read about ASTRA member stores and their involvement in their communities, see the article on page 36.) The school cleanup project, sponsored by Alex Brands, will

See Our Award-Winning

take place Saturday afternoon, June 9. Backpack stuffing, sponsored by Crayola, will take place on Monday and Tuesday, June 11 and 12, at the My ASTRA Center booth 919 on the exhibit-hall floor. All donations will be accepted after the trade show ends, then distributed to local charities. The Ernest N. Morial Convention Center will manage donations of extra meals in partnership with Bethel Colony residential substance-abuse treatment programs. For more information or to register for the school cleanup project, visit marketplaceandacademy.org.

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14 edplay.com • • • • • march/april 2018

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Visit edplay Advertisers at ASTRA Marketplace American Jewel Booth #1818 See ad on pages 32-33

Money Savvy Generation Booth #507 See ad on page 4

Blue Orange Games Booth #1111 See ad on page 51

MukikiM Booth #246 See ad on page 53

Brybelly Holdings Booth #1704 See ad on page 4

Noochie Golf Booth #423 See ad on page 60

EDC Publishing/ Usborne Booth #1329 See ad on page 52

North Star Games LLC Booth #1333 See ad on page 23

Endless Games Booth #924 See ad on page 25

Paper House Productions Booth #656 See ad on page 24

Fairy Finery Booth #1454 See ad on page 15

Playmonster Booth #1518 See ad on pages 2 and 9

Fat Brain Toy Co. Booth #1219 See ad on page 64

Scholastic Booth #1345 See ad on page 12

FireFox Toys LLC Booth #940 See ad on page 54

Sentosphere Booth #526 See ad on page 61

The Good Toy Group Booth #1131 See ad on page 41

Small World Toys Booth #808 See ad on page 21

HABA USA Booth #1307 See ad on page 18

Tangle Inc. Booth #1700 See ad on page 29

Identity Games Booth #1140 See ad on page 55

Teacher Created Resources Both #1711 See ad on page 14

Kala Brand Music Co. Booth #1401 See ad on page 59

Time Timer Booth #1343 See ad on page 38

KETTLER International Inc Booth #437 See ad on page 23

Two Bros Bows Booth #838 See ad on page 11

Koplow Games Booth #447 See ad on page 35

Uncle Bubble Both #1624 See ad on page 38

The Lazy Dog & Co. Booth #943 See ad on page 41

USAopoly inc. Booth #1301 See ad on page 49

Lee Publications Booth #1154 See ad on page 37

Valtech Booth #626 See ad on page 20

Looney Labs Booth #654 See ad on page 50

Wikki Stix Booth #1412 See ad on page 13

Magformers Booth #1631 See ad on page 27

Wrebbit Puzzles Booth #726 See ad on page 17

MindWare Wholesale Booth #928 See ad on pages 5 and 19

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Clockwise from top left: music, and ways to create it, is a prominent theme at the store; Jennifer Ranger – musician, children’s book creator, and cookie-baking entrepreneur – is the family instigator; Tutti; Pam Ranger accepts a citizenship award. “Pam’s the boss,” says sister Cindy, who manages the store; the sidewalk out front is always busy with children’s activities.

Setting You Straight About

by Tina Manzer

W

hen Dollmakers’/Kattywompus opened in Monrovia, California, in 1991, it sold high-end handmade dolls to collectors, but today it is not a doll shop. Nor is it a doll hospital – although at one time it was rated among the top 10 doll-repair shops in the country. It’s also not a pet store, but its famous pet, Tutti the Dust Bunny Dog, has become a public figure. Everyone attends his birthday bash each year.

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Kattywompus is a specialty toy store that focuses on retro and classic toys, but it also sells gifts and baked goods. And, if you want to learn how to play the guitar, ukulele, hammered dulcimer, banjo, or fiddle, you can buy your instrument there and take lessons. If you’re more of a visual artist, needle felting classes are available there, too. The business was the brainchild of two professional product-designing sisters, Pam Fitzpatrick and Jennifer Ranger. Their work includes the original Batman doll from Applause, and the Fancy Nancy doll and Discovery Kids items from Jakks Pacific. In 1997, as the collectible doll market declined, the store’s inventory evolved from dolls to toys. “Kattywompus,” also the name of the family’s band, was added to the sign. Middle sister Cindy Ranger left her job as a licensed daycare provider

and came on board as store manager. A self-avowed toy fanatic, she does the buying, merchandising, and event planning, and runs the register seven days a week. “It was a natural fit for me – I think I spent most of my daycare profits on toys anyway.” There are no other employees – Cindy believes the customers prefer it. “They call me ‘Miss Cindy’ and the kids think I’m their grandmother,” explains the 65-year-old. “They like that a grandmother invites them in to play and helps them select toys. One young customer calls the store ‘Cindy’s house.’” The center of the store is a play area and it’s always busy. Everyone is welcome to play, whether they make a purchase or not. Passersby are encouraged to come in and just enjoy. “The experience we create is memorable, so they’ll remember us first when they need a birthday gift or a toy for their kids,” says Cindy.

Visit us at

ASTRA MARKETPLACE New Orleans

BOOTH #726 Toll Free: 855-787-8842 sales@wrebbit3d.com www.wrebbit3d.com

©2018 Wrebbit

May/June 2018 • • • • • edplay.com 17

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The perfect location Kattywompus is not the only Ranger family-owned retail store in town. Around the corner is Wil’s, their bait-and-tackle store. Both are located in Monrovia’s Old Town, a charming, old-timey downtown not far from Los Angeles with historic buildings, boutiques, and a diverse selection of restaurants and cafes. “A lot of filming takes place here because it could be Anytown, USA,” Cindy says. “There was a time when Monrovia was not necessarily a nice place to visit,” she adds. “When my sisters first leased

their space, the city was just starting to change for the better, thanks to the hard work of our mayor and the community. “Today, Monrovia is very welcoming to all ages and races. My sister Pam was instrumental in that effort, and in 2015 she received the Iris Award from the Chamber of Commerce, the equivalent of ‘citizen of the year.’ In 1995, Monrovia was named an All-America City by the National Civic League.” Dollmakers opened in a vintage 900-square-foot brick building not far from its present location. “Then we had an earthquake. Afterward, an inspector came in and told us he

was surprised to see the building still standing since it hadn’t been retrofitted. We got out of there pretty fast,” Cindy relates. They moved to another Old Town spot where they remained for seven years. When a 2,200 square-foot storefront became available next to a 12-theater metroplex, they jumped on it. With the help of family, friends, and even customers, they loaded their merchandise into wagons and carted it the few blocks to the new location. A mix for all ages Kattywompus is open a lot: each day from 10 a.m. to at least 9 p.m. and ’til 7 p.m. on

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Sundays. Friday nights are special. From 8:15 to 10:15 each week, the streets close for a giant festival – a farmers market on steroids. On the sidewalk in front of Kattywompus, the family band performs multicultural folk music and blue grass. “We hold a dance contest with the kids and it’s really fun. You should tune in to our live podcast!” says Cindy. Customers include a large “grandma” market, young mothers and their children, and visitors from the surrounding communities. There is/was a Toys “R” Us nearby “but we never tried to compete with them,” explains Cindy. “We look for the toys from small companies; the kinds of toys you won’t find anywhere else. We want an ‘Ooooooohhh’ factor. “We specialize in the unique and we carry something for all ages,” she continues. “We have a wall of weird and ridiculous socks that adults love. I say we carry mostly ‘retro’ toys – jump ropes and toy trains – but traditional Teddy Bears are too old-school anymore. Kids want the big-eyed, anime-looking animals from Ty, and any plush that’s aquatic: sharks, octopi, etc. “When we first starting selling trains, kids wanted the ones with faces on them – Thomas and Chuggington – but today they seem to want more action, so we are selling a lot of Brio trains and accessories.” Ideas for new products to bring in come from reps and from ToyFest West. Cindy will start ordering for fourth quarter when she returns from that show because in August, “our customers will start shopping for Christmas and put their purchases on layaway.” Kattywompus sells a lot of Melissa & Doug. “Right now our biggest seller is their play food,” Cindy says. “Our customers also love the big-ticket items – we have their Star Diner and Grocery Store set up as play stations in the store. It seems like whatever I put out sells. Target carries the Star Diner, but it’s in the box; never out for kids to touch and feel and play with. I wonder how they do with that …”

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As Cindy says, retail is tough these days, but Kattywompus is doing just fine. “Customers like our free giftwrap. They like calling ahead to have me pick out a birthday present for them and that it’s ready for them to pick up on the way to the party. We’ll continue to do what we’ve been doing – it must be keeping our customers loyal, because we’ve been around for 27 years this June. Now we’re starting to see the second generation of shoppers!”

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Girl

Counting Down the Hits philosophersguild.com

Empowerment Joins the List

by Sandy Ruben

Here are the top 10 most popular toy themes based on our most recent survey. 1) Unicorns 2) Narwhals 3) Sloths 4) Llamas 5) Mermaids 6) Avocados 7) Princesses 8) T-Rex 9) Fairies 10) Girl Empowerment

quartoknows.com

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ne of the fastest growing themes, especially in stores in big cities, is Girl Empowerment. Among the top-selling items related to that theme is the book Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls from Timbuktu Press. A huge hit at specialty toy stores; it contains 100 illustrated stories of “real women of the past and the present who have achieved incredible results, despite all odds.” Among the women profiled are Jane Goodall, Maya Angelou, and Serena Williams. In keeping with the theme is the increasing admiration among kids for the life and work of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The children’s book from Simon & Schuster called I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark, famously inspired an 8-year-old to dress up as Ginsburg on her school’s superhero day. “People love anything that has her picture on it or depicts her,” notes Karen Leppman, owner of Finnnegan’s Toys and Gifts in Portland, Oregon. Ann Kienzle, owner of *Play in Chicago agrees, and recommends bringing in the Ruth Bader Ginsburg finger puppet from the

Unemployed Philosophers Guild. Ann also recommends three Girl Empowerment-themed books that sell well in her store: Little Leaders – Bold Women in Black History from Hachette, the “Little People, Big Dreams” series from Quarto, and the “Little Feminist Board Book” set from Mudpuppy. Sales of STEM products designed specifically for girls are also on the rise. Customers at Finnegan’s are fans of Tegu’s Blossom set and science products from local company Yellow Scope. Begun by two moms who are also scientists, Yellow Scope’s two chemistry sets help get young girls excited about science. But while the Girl Empowerment theme is growing, there has been a steady decline in interest in both fairy- and princess-related items. Both are still in our top 10, but just mudpuppy.com

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barely. The biggest drops in our bimonthly survey have occurred with robots (dropping from seventh place to 22nd in just four months!) and superheroes, which are officially off of our top 10 list. “Toilet-related” items – a theme so hot it shot to #4 on the survey we conducted right after Toy Fair – have also moved on, to #12. I don’t know why, exactly, except that my daughter says I’m a jinx. She thinks that an item is doomed once I start talking about it. We are keeping our eye on the flamingo theme. We still don’t have enough information to tell how strong a trend this will be, but three retail survey respondents place it in their top five. So, what is #1, according to our survey of 15 specialty toy retailers? Again it’s unicorns, with no decline in their popularity at all. As a toy theme, it will probably continue to be extremely Special thanks to the wonderful retailers who helped create the Top 10 list. 5 Little Monkeys in California Finnegan’s Toys and Gifts in Oregon Big City Toys in Alabama Kid Stop in Arizona Hollipops Greenville in South Carolina Learning Express Alpharetta in Georgia Learning Express Lake Zurich in Illinois Nana’s in Florida Piccolo Mondo in Oregon Play in Illinois Shenanigans in Virginia Stamford Toys in Connecticut Totally Thomas in California Toy Maven in Texas Wonder Works in South Carolina May/June 2018 • • • • • edplay.com 23

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strong throughout the summer. Many of you will be surprised at our second most-popular theme – narwhals! Worth noting is the fact that, unlike a unicorn, a narwhal is not a fantasy creature. It is a medium-sized toothed whale that lives in the Arctic. Another theme that’s becoming more and more popular is llamas. Back in December, they were not even on our top 20 list, but today they are #4. And don’t forget the underdog in our survey – if unicorns weren’t so popular, sloths would probably be #1. They have just narrowly missed the top spot in each of our past surveys. Their popularity is resilient.

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Sandy Ruben is owner of Sandy Ruben and Associates, a rep group in the Southeast. When he’s not out selling toys, he loves to compile “Top 10” lists. If you, or someone you know, would like to participate in this bi-monthly survey, please drop him a line at sandyrubeninfo@gmail.com, or call 843-696-4464.

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Retailers: do you have a hot seller to share? Tag edplay in your Instagram posts or use #edplay

retailers recommend

Fabulous Products by Rebecca Carlson

Megan Hursh from GrandRabbits Toy Shoppe in Boulder, Colorado, on Instagram “With The Bath and Body Box by Klutz (1), kids can make their own bath products to add a whole new level of fun to the tub! “Retro Toys by Schylling (2), like The Bubble Blaster and Skipping Rope, fulfill the needs of customers looking for simple and classic fun. And, they appeal to all ages! “Slick Tricks bubble trick sets by Little Kids (3) are perfect for any magician looking for some new tricks, or someone who just wants to be entertained by bubbles for a couple of hours. They make seemingly impossible bubble tricks easy to learn so that any kid can become a bubble master! (continued on page 28)

1

scholastic.com

3 littlekidsinc.com

2 schylling.com

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retailers recommend (continued from page 26)

4 squeezamals.com

Rick Derr from Learning Express Toys in Lake Zurich, Illinois, on Instagram “My favorite part of Squeezamals from The Beverly Hills Teddy Bear Company (4) is their texture. They’re squishy on the inside, plush on the outside, and have a sweet smell. They also have a perfect price point so they’ve been selling really well for us. “Insect Lore’s Butterfly Garden (5) is set up in our store right now. It’s a hands-on way for kids to learn about science and nature. “I love the customization that Chatty Snaps buttons (6) provide. You can just snap your expression on a tale, lanyard or pouch to promote interactions. “The MakeUp Eraser (7) has helped raise the customer age range in our store. It’s a cloth that removes makeup from adults or face paint from kids using only water. “New to our store are Animoodles building toys from Portola Plush (8). A magnet is embedded inside each body part of the plush animals (a unicorn, sloth, lion, frog, and orangutan), so you can mix and match the parts and have them strike unique poses.” (continued on page 30)

5 insectlore.com

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theanimoodles.com

8 7 makeuperaser.com

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retailers recommend (continued from page 28)

9 fatbraintoys.com

10 fatbraintoys.com

11 hearthsong.com

Christine Osborne from Wonder Works in Charleston, South Carolina “Roll Again from Fat Brain Toys (9) is a whole different kind of ball run with new and innovative play patterns. No batteries are required; simply lift the ball from the switch at the bottom and all the other balls go rolling down one level in unison. “Dimpl from Fat Brain Toys (10) contains brightly colored pillows of silicone. Babies can push them in and out for hours of entertainment. It encourages fine motor skills, sensory exploration, and cause-effect learning. “Enjoy art anywhere, especially outdoors, with the heavy-duty vinyl Inflatable Easel from Hearthsong (11). Kids can paint (or finger paint) right on it. Hose it off, and it’s ready for another masterpiece. Includes four paints, four shape sponges, and a paintbrush. “Kid Slider (12) is our number-one body board. Kids can run, kneel, skim, and slide along the shoreline, in tidal pools, in puddles, and on grass – and even on level snow surfaces! Easy for kids of all ages to use; optional pull-strap makes sliding easy for little ones. “The Swurfer Kick from Flybar (13) was engineered to provide more power, stability and range of motion. Made from durable plastic, it was designed for the smallest riders but can accommodate people up to 150 pounds.” “The Waterfootball by Waboba (14) features a special UV print that changes color in the sun. The Lycra cover provides added grip when the ball is wet. “The LED lights on Micro Kickboard’s Maxi and Mini (15) take these multi-award-winning, three-wheeled scooters to the next level. The motion-activated light-up wheels are powered by inductive charge, so no batteries are required.”

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CHECK OUT OUR NEW COLLECTION

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Come by the American Jewel booth for your free gift and our Show Special

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Wardrobe Wardrobe by by Mod Mod GirlGirl

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www.americanjewel.com • 844-539-3533

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Eight Tips

for Effective Team Meetings

by Cathy Wagner, RETAILmavens

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got an email from Seth Godin, bestselling author, entrepreneur, and agent of change. He asked, “Can your next meeting (not conversation, not presentation, but meeting) pass this test?” What followed were these criteria. • There’s one person responsible. • The time allocated matches what’s needed, not what the calendar app says. • Everyone invited is someone who needs to be there, and no key party is missing. • There’s a default step forward if someone doesn’t come. • There’s no better way to move this forward than to have this meeting. • The desired outcome is clearly stated. The organizer has described what would have to happen for the meeting to be cancelled or to stop midway. “This is what I want to happen, and if there’s a ‘yes,’ we’re done.” • All relevant information, including analysis, is available to all in plenty of time to be reviewed in advance. “If you score a seven, count me in,” he concluded. I thought, “Count me in, too, Mr. Godin, because that meeting is going to be efficient, informative and worth my time to attend.”

Just last week, a storeowner told me that staff meetings were a waste of time. I was shocked. I have heard many excuses why retailers don’t have meetings, but I never heard anyone say that they weren’t worth doing at all.

I asked what led to that opinion and out spewed all the reasons. Some, I thought, were valid but some were not. I also thought that one of the biggest problems was the retailer’s perspective on the people who work there; and specifically calling it a “staff meeting.” I never had a staff. Ever. I always had a team and we had “team meetings.” The difference between the two is huge and I could write a whole other article on that alone! Just trust me when I say that what you want is a team! Meetings are worth having if they are productive, but I can come up with a long list of counterproductive practices that can throw the intended outcome off course, fast. Because I don’t want you to make these mistakes, I’ve listed my top eight here. 1. Going longer than one hour. The brain can only absorb what the butt can withstand – usually about an hour of sitting. It’s crucial to keep meetings short and sweet, so give them a time limit. 2. Feeding your team during the meeting. It’s a business meeting, folks, not a party! I never provided food – only drinks. I wanted everyone to focus on the content, not on licking their fingers. If you feel you must feed everyone, do so afterwards. 3. Not having an agenda. You are paying for your team to show up, so you owe it to them to be as productive as possible. You

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Standard & Polyhedral Dice 17

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Cathy Wagner is a former retailer and founder of coaching and consulting firm RETAILmavens in Elgin, Illinois. The company helps independent retailers become more profitable with proven programs that drive foot traffic and move product. For more information visit retailmavens.com or call 847-622-8382. Take her quick quiz at retailsuccessquiz.com to see how you compare to the top 1 percent of retailers.

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6. Allowing the discussion to turn into a whining session. Simply don’t allow whining, and reiterate that the purpose of the meeting is to share information and build skills that

8. Giving the impression that team meetings are optional. Make it clear during the hiring process that attendance is mandatory and nonnegotiable. Prepare a meeting schedule to give to new hires that covers at least the next four months, if not the next year. It makes it easy for them to attend and, in the long run, will reduce any objections.

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5. Covering too much information that takes too much time. It is a common mistake. After you’ve planned a few team meetings, you’ll learn how much content is too much. And if you’re meeting with your team regularly (this list ought to help you do that), you can spread topics out over several sessions.

7. Ignoring the fact your team members are salespeople. Without exception, every team meeting should include time dedicated to improving sales skills. As the leader, you are responsible for giving them the tools they need to do the best job that they can. A good way to accomplish this is to ask one team member at each meeting to role-play a common objection that he gets from customers. The exercise gets everyone involved and addresses the real situations that they face each day.

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4. Not using a “Parking Lot.” If someone brings up an issue that is not on the agenda, tell her that it will be put into the Parking Lot – a holding place, per se, of topics that will be addressed later. Look her in the eye and tell her that you will get back to her within 48 hours with a time and a place to meet and discuss the concern. Emphasize the need to follow the agenda, and be proactive about staying on topic. Write down the issue or question so you won’t forget it!

will result in growth. Explain that you care about their jobs and respect their time and attention. Yes, you want to know about their concerns and are recording them in the Parking Lot, but team meetings are a No-Whining Zone. I believe that your entire store should be a No-Whining Zone.

<

should not only have an agenda, you should stick to it! Be the boss and keep everyone on track.

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TOYS

TOYS

TOYS

TOYS

TOYS

What Does Your Store Stand For? by Kimberly Mosley, President the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association

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ate Noreen, owner of MudPuddles Toys & Books in Sherwood, Oregon, and member of ASTRA, is clear about what she wants her store to mean to Sherwood. “I want MudPuddles to play a vital role in nurturing the children of our community,” she says. “I want MudPuddles to be a fond memory for the kids raised in this area, and a shining example of a business that cares deeply about outcomes for children. That’s why we build relationships not just with our customers but with our fellow business owners and our local schools and library.” What Noreen is saying is this: MudPuddles stands for more than selling toys. Knowing that her store makes a real contribution to the healthy development of children in Sherwood, “is why I get out of bed in the morning.” Purpose beyond profit: it’s good business. It’s also good business to have a purpose beyond profit, according to a 2017 study by Cone Communications. Owners of small companies like ASTRA stores may not think of themselves as players in the corporate social responsibility (CSR) realm, but your customers do. Eighty-seven percent of consumers say they consider a company’s ethical practices and support for good causes when they are making purchase decisions. Ninety-one percent say they are more likely to switch brands if they have an option for purchasing from a socially responsible business. Seventy percent believe companies have an obligation to take actions to improve issues that may not be relevant to everyday business operations, and 88 percent claim they would be more loyal to a company that supports important social or environmental issues. Another point: don’t even think about exaggerating your claim to social responsibility. Two-thirds of consumers check it out for themselves,

Scott Friedland at Chicago’s Timeless Toys strives to make his store stand for educational standards, service, and community.

and millennials – a prime target audience for toy stores – are even more concerned about authenticity, with over three-fourths likely to research the authenticity of a business’s stand on a range of social or environmental issues. Standing for playfulness, joy, and more Perhaps relationship-driven neighborhood businesses like ASTRA stores have a head start when it comes to standing for something beyond profit. Independent toy stores are all about developmentally appropriate products, happy kids and families, and the community. “Because toys are fun, our vision and mission can easily be focused on joy, discovery, and gift-giving,” says Sarah Fowles of Ruckus & Glee in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin. “We stand for playfulness, quality products, and a kid-centered experience. In a larger sense, we stand for a commitment to our community and demonstrate it many ways – starting with showing up for our local schools and giving support to them.”

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Scott Friedland, owner of Timeless Toys in Chicago, has a similar concept for his store. “I think our customers would say that we stand for educational standards, service, and community,” he says. “I consider us to be the kids place in Chicago’s Lincoln Square neighborhood, and at the same time, we are all over the community at local festivals, farmer’s markets, and schools. More than half the staff lives in the community,” he continues. “Without the community, we are nothing.” The why versus the what Standing for something, of course, starts with the hopes and dreams you have for your store. It’s critical to have a vision and philosophy beyond selling toys, argues Friedland. “That vision is the basis of your store’s existence, and without it, all you are is a big-box store. Giant online or bricks and mortar stores pretty much try to get the hottest items to consumers as cheaply as possible. In contrast, ASTRA stores are about what’s right for the child, not what’s the coolest toy this week.” Noreen believes too many small businesses focus on the what when they should be addressing the why. “Selling toys is what we do but helping a grandparent express her love to a grandchild by picking a toy that will blow the child’s mind when he opens it … that’s the ‘why.’ Believing in the power of play is why I own a toy store. When I send out emails or write our social media, it’s not always about what we sell or how we sell it, it’s telling our audience why.” May/June 2018 • • • • • edplay.com 37

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Putting together your package of commitments Standing for something is a whole package of commitments: to your community, your customers, your employees, and your vendors. It’s a combination of your business philosophy, your vision, your core values, your store’s culture, your brand promise, your products, your service, and your hiring/ personnel practices. How do you shape a store that stands for something in your community? As an independent toy retailer, you probably have most of the pieces in place already. Here are ideas for putting all the pieces together. • Step back and think about it. Making your store a meaningful community citizen starts with the vision and commitment of the owner. Five years, 10 years, a generation from now, what do you want children and families to remember about your store? How do you want your business to impact your community? Why will it matter that you were there? • Communicate the vision. Your driving philosophy, your concept for your store, your values … if these live in your head and not where your whole team can see them, understand them, and embrace them, it’s time to share. Write them down, engage your team in creating or updating or improving them, and talk about them. All of you will have a greater stake in making your store stand for something. (continued on page 57) 38 edplay.com • • • • • May/June 2018

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A Classic Swing

AdventurePARKS.com

A Classic S wAi n g Classic Swing EPY_03_MayJune_2018.indd 39

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How to Reach Disenfranchised Shoppers by Phil Wrzesinski

I

t was September of 1993 when my dad got the call. I had started working full-time at our toy store in Jackson, Michigan, just a few months earlier, in April. We had heard rumors of a big store coming to Jackson in the fall. Most people speculated it would be Walmart, but at the start of the fourth quarter, they announced the impending arrival of Toys “R” Us. While we had been hearing talk about TRU, we never expected it to move into our market. We were too small – the company always said it wanted locations in markets that served 250,000 people or more. The population of our entire county was only 150,000. I was standing in my dad’s office when the reporter from the local newspaper called. She asked, “You’ve heard about Toys “R” Us?” “Yes, I have,” my father replied. “So, when do you think you’ll close?”

She didn’t ask if we would close. She asked when. My dad’s response was classic: “I don’t know. I just turned 50 and don’t have any plans to retire soon. My son just started working here a few months ago. Maybe you should ask him.” That Christmas season, Toys “R” Us took a chunk out of our sales at Toy House and Baby Too. We were expecting that. By March, our sales had returned to pre-TRU levels, and we never looked back. From that story, you could surmise that Toys “R” Us had its customer base and we had ours and never the twain shall meet. The reality was that their customers were quite similar to ours. The real culprit While the general public believes that Walmart and Amazon caused TRU’s failure, and that most of its customers will go to those two outlets, you and I know that the real culprit was the huge debt load.

Last year, Toys “R” Us was actually profitable, but nowhere near profitable enough to pay the huge interest payments on their debt, unfortunately. They did more than $7 billion in sales and recorded more than 100 million transactions! That is a lot of customers who didn’t choose Walmart or Amazon. Let’s face it: Walmart was already cheaper than Toys “R” Us. Everyone knew it. Amazon was mostly cheaper and had a wider selection. You didn’t have to leave home. All the same, 100 million-plus people chose Toys “R” Us. They did so because of Selection and Experience. The “Selection” Crowd Sure, Amazon has a larger overall selection of toys, but browsing toys on the Internet is nowhere near as fun as seeing them in a store. In a store, actually, you see things you would never imagine searching for online. In the store, you get to

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touch and feel and see how things look in person. Toys “R” Us drew customers who wanted to browse the aisles, look for hidden gems, discover new and unique items, and touch and feel the merchandise. Those customers weren’t concerned as much with price as they were with getting the wrong item. They believed Toys “R” Us had the largest selection they could view under one roof, and they went there to be inspired. You can win these customers over by showing off your fun, quirky, hand-selected, well-chosen, curated, unique, diverse selection, and highlighting the way your store also contains hidden treasures, plus amazing tools for development and toys they never knew existed. You can win these customers over with your hands-on demonstrations and samples, and by urging them to try out your toys themselves. Ask them, “Where else can you play with toys before you buy them? Where else can you touch and feel them, see how they work, and learn how to play with them?” The answer today is, “Right here in a specialty toy store.” My grandfather ran an ad back in 1955 that encouraged people to “Come in for a looking trip!” In other words, come in and play, even if you don’t expect to buy. He knew that if he could get shoppers in the door, he could wow them with his selection. You can win these customers over by showing them how your knowledgeable and well-trained staff helps them navigate your aisles to find the right products to meet their needs. (If they didn’t want help exploring and discovering, they would already be on Amazon.) You can win the “Selection” crowd over without having to change your store’s selection! Those customers weren’t going to TRU because of a particular product or brand it carried. The customer who knew exactly what she wanted was more likely to go to Walmart for price or Amazon for convenience. The Toys “R” Us Selection crowd went for the exploration, believing they could choose from a variety of options. Show them your variety of options and explain why you chose them. They won’t want to shop anywhere else. The “Experience” Crowd If you read any of the comments after the recent articles about Toys “R” Us, you would find that they fell neatly into two categories – 1. TRU was over-priced and the stores were a mess and 2. “I loved taking my kids there and will miss having that experience.” The first group had already left Toys (continued on page 58) May/June 2018 • • • • • edplay.com 41

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New True Fractiles encourages STEM skill-development for all ages. Create unlimited, unique, sevenfold geometry designs of starbursts, spirals, butterflies and more. Fractiles sets come in three sizes of diamondshaped magnetic tiles, and two sizes that contain an activity board. fractiles.com

My 1st Career Gear Toddler Doctor Top is an easy-on shirt that looks like scrubs. The pink fabric features a printed stethoscope, thermometer and other medical tools. (For children ages 18 to 36 months.) info@aeromaxtoys.com, aeromaxtoys.com

The Wikki Stix Fun Activity Book is perfect for travel or summer downtime. It includes 28 pages of activities that keep kids engaged. The activities also provide school readiness skills. wikkistix.com

Spoolz from Fat Brain Toy stack from big to small or small to big for endless possibilities! Build into any configuration you can imagine. Spoolz are bursting with stunning hues and finished with a uniquely soft texture. fatbraintoyco.com

The unique 3D PRO Printing Pen from Small World Toys is a tech device that acts as 3D printer. Children can use it to create flat pieces on a transparent sheet, and then connect the pieces for a 3D design. Each box comes with the pen, eight different cords, and templates. Available in four different “studios”: Aerodynamics, Automotive, Fantasy and Jewelry. smallworldtoys.com

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Scholastic Flash Cards give children a head start in reading and math. Each set includes activity cards with helpful tips and suggestions for making learning fun. Series includes multiplication 0-12, Sight Words, Colors & Shapes, Alphabet, Addition 0-12, and Numbers 0-100. scholastic.com

Get the MacGuffin from Looney Labs is a fast and fun elimination game for players ages 8 and up. It’s pocket-sized, so you can play in the car, a friend’s house, a restaurant ... looneylabs.com

Happy Bunny from Blue Orange games is a cooperative game that teaches teamwork and simple counting, and helps little hands develop fine motor skills. Kids work together to help the bunny pick the best carrots to bring home to his family. blueorangegames.com

The Money Savvy Pig is a bank for the 21st century. The unique four-chamber design helps kids understand they have four choices for their money – save, spend, donate and invest. They have fun setting and reaching their goals. moneysavvy.com

The Greatest Dot-to-Dot Adventure Book 3 from Monkeying Around updates a classic family pastime with new ways to “connect the dots.” Watch as each image appears like magic, and then color them for hours of fun. 800-553-4300, monkeyingaround.com

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New True

From USAopoly, Tapple is an award-winning and fast-paced word game that gives players a rush of excitement as they compete to beat the timer. Pick a category and come up with words that fit the remaining letter. The last person standing wins! usaopoly.com

New from HABA USA is the Little Friends Bride and Groom set. The three-piece set includes a green archway and bendable Little Friends figures. habausa.com

The Classic Moonjar Moneybox is made of durable tin with an acrylic lid. It inspires and teaches children to save, spend, and share wisely for a lifetime. Moonjar Moneyboxes include a Family Guide to encourage goal setting. moonjar.com

The Air Pogo from Adventure Parks is “The Most Awarded Swing Ever!” With a 2-1/2 foot bounce, it swings, twists, twirls, flies, floats, jumps, and springs above the rest! adventureparks.com

New from Valtech is the Magna-Tiles House 28 Piece Set, designed to promote open-ended dramatic and imaginative play. It comes with reusable themed stickers. magnatiles.com

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Uncle Bubble’s Bubble Tricks Starter Kit is a skill-based game designed to teach the art of making bubble sculptures. Make a bubble caterpillar, carousel and even a cube. unclebubble.us

Tangles enhance learning and creativity, and the soft rubberized bumps of BrainTools Think and BrainTools Imagine offer a unique tactile experience unlike any other. tanglecreations.com

Write-On/Wipe-Off books from Teacher Created Resources are engaging, versatile learning tools. Each book is geared toward helping children develop and master basic skills. Durable pages allow for easy erasing, offering endless opportunities for practice and learning fluency. teachercreated.com

The John Deere Repair Station from Kettler USA gets little ones building and learning with interactive tools and a put-together tractor toy. Need to saw some wood? Utilize the adjustable vice to hold the lumber and grab your handsaw! kettlerusa.com

The new sleek and sturdy caddy from Romanoff features six colorful and removable storage cups to tote small items. Remove the cups at a work station for shared play, and then pop them back in to the caddy for easy cleanup. romanoffproducts.com, 1-800-828-9587

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New True Animatables are an exclusive Harper Toy line. They are made entirely of wood in the USA. Build a figure and then animate it by turning or repositioning the ball components. Completed sculptures can be posed in many expressive positions for extended creative play. 812-212-9674

The EcoTruck Cargo Truck is a simple 3-D puzzle that becomes a truck. Made in the USA with eco-friendly materials – no paint or glue. lukestoyfactory.com

Brain Train, a new addition to Mukikim’s Happy Puzzle line, is the world’s first mathematical railway! Use math to select connecting tiles to solve the puzzle. When each puzzle is completed correctly, the wind-up train runs along the tracks. info@mukikim.com

Easily turn any mobile device into a powerful microscope with the STEM Starter Kit from C & A Scientific. The My First Lab kit includes the best-selling cell phone microscope, the Smartphone Inspector, and 15 amazing 3-D specimens on prepared slides. myfirstlab.com

The Noochie Golf set contains four track pieces (a green, obstacle, dogleg and fairway), one putter and two Noochie Golf game balls. Child centered, imagination driven, and quality assured, the set lets children design their own mini golf set. Made of durable plastic parts, it is engineered to withstand the high demands of active use. noochiegolf.com

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The award winning Time Timer PLUS is a high contrast visual timer line now available in a 5-minute version. It includes a protective lens, on-the-go handle, volume control dial, easy to read numbers and has no loud ticking. support@timetimer.com

My Fairy Garden Unicorn Paradise by Play Monster is a playset and a real, live garden. While caring for the garden, kids can play with adorable fairies, woodland friends and accessories. For ages 4 and up. playmonster.com

The new Playhouse Wonder Woman diary from Paper House keeps thoughts, drawings, dreams or secrets safe. All diaries come with a lock and two keys This sturdy hardcover diary contains 216 lined pages, with glittering holographic foil accents on the cover, and is acid and lignin free to preserve your secrets paperhouseproductions.com

Clockwork Dreams from The Lazy Dog Company is a new line of whimsical toys that feature moving cams, gears, and ratchets. Designed by artists, they have an intricate toy top and exposed mechanisms in the base. Once assembled, turn the crank to make the models come to life! 201-771-0039, info@thelazydog.co

The Floor is Lava is a brand-new game where players must imagine the floor is hot lava, while spinning and jumping along foam game pieces to reach safety. The Floor is Lava is a family game of physical activity, imagination, and pure fun! Remember, DON’T TOUCH THE FLOOR! endlessgames.com

North Star Games has launched a new line of games called Happy Planet. Joining the TOTY Award-nominated Happy Salmon are The Funky Chicken card game with funky dance moves; and Monster Match, the screaming-fast game of catching donut-eating monsters. northstargames.com

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industry news

Basic Fun!, the Florida-based toymaker behind brands such as Uncle Milton, K’NEX and CakePop Cuties, has entered into an agreement to acquire Geoworld and its brand Dr. Steve Hunters, which will become part of the company’s Uncle Milton STEM business. Geoworld is an authentic

line of excavation and discovery toys, including paleontology and archeology sets designed and developed by geo-paleontologist Stefano Piccini, Ph.D., company president. Product design and development takes place in Italy. “I’ve been looking for the right partner to help me build a stronger global brand and expand our distribution more broadly in the U.S. market,” explains Dr. Piccini. “This opportunity will free me up to pursue my scientific activities and develop content around the Dr. Steve Hunters’ character.” He will assist in the transition and help expand Basic Fun!’s Uncle Milton STEM business. For more information, visit BasicFun.com.

The New England Confectionery Company (NECCO), makers of the iconic Valentine’s Day Sweethearts conversation hearts, may fold as soon as NOW unless someone buys it, or its former CEO raises $20 million. The Revere, Massachusettsbased company employs nearly 400 workers. In addition to the hearts, NECCO also makes Clark Bars, Mary Janes and Sky Bars, along with Candy Buttons, Squirrel Nut Zippers and Necco Wafers. Food & Wine magazine reports that upon hearing about the company’s financial trouble, “People freaked.” Sales of Necco Wafers on candystore.com spiked 150 percent, leading the online candy shop to blog, “People Are Panic-Buying Necco Wafers.” This despite the fact that their

flavors (chocolate, wintergreen and licorice) have been described as “tropical drywall” or “plaster surprise,” reports The Wall Street Journal. “The wafers are both storied and divisive, known for their unusually long shelf life and a recipe that’s been unchanged since the days when the indestructible candies fueled Union soldiers during the Civil War,” says the Washington Post. Al Gulachenski, CEO from 2011 to 2015, has launched a crowdfunding campaign to make a bid for NECCO. If he reaches that mark, he will donate an additional $5 million to $10 million “to do this right.” It’s a tall order, Gulachenski admits, but candystore.com is helping promote the fundraising effort with the social-mediahashtag movement #SaveNECCO.

In honor of Earth Day, Hasbro launched a pilot toy-recycling program on April 16 in partnership with TerraCycle, an innovative company that specializes in hard-to-recycle materials. During the program, consumers in the contiguous U.S. can collect and send their Hasbro toys and games to TerraCycle for free, where they will be recycled into materials that can be used to construct play spaces, flower pots, and park benches. “As a company, we know consumers share our commitment to taking care of our planet for future generations, and we see this as an exciting step in our sustainability journey,” says John Frascotti, Hasbro president.

After participants sign up on terracycle.com, they can box up their Hasbro toys and games, print out a free shipping label, and send the boxes to TerraCycle. All Hasbro toys and games, including face-to-face games, plastic and electronic toys, action figures, dolls, plush and more will be accepted. The program is the first brand-sponsored national recycling program in the industry, says Tom Szaky, TerraCycle CEO.

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industry news Edushape Toys is celebrating its 35th anniversary this year. Founded in Israel in 1983 by Alon Zitelny, the company was built on the strategy of seeing the world through the eyes of children. As a result, its toys have high educational value, and support the healthy social and emotional development of young learners. Coinciding with the anniversary was the launch earlier this year of a new, multifaceted branding effort that includes a new logo, slogan and packaging. Erez Zitelny, who joined the

company in 1991, runs Edushape North America. He says, “In addition to great colors, textures and shapes that young children gravitate toward, each Edushape toy also reinforces specific skills – both physical and intellectual – that are necessary building blocks in a young child’s development. For example, the small motor skills that are necessary to place the marbles in our Marbulous Marble Run are the precursors to holding a pencil and learning to write.” Versatility is another important component, he adds. “With our Magic Brix in Motion, a 3-year-old can construct a recognizable shape such as a box or a car – or she can

build a bridge to the sky or a googly-eyed monster!” Each toy is created by a team of designers, psychologists, teachers and, occasionally, parents. Safe and durable materials are a must since the toys must withstand days, months and even years of play in classrooms. Ensuring that a toy can occupy a child’s attention is an even bigger challenge, notes Zitelny. Among the new products unveiled this year was the innovative Geostacker. It has squeezable sensory-play pieces that can be stacked in different see-through tubes. To find out more about Edushape, visit edushape.com.

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The ABC Spring Educational Conference & Trade Show, sponsored by All Baby & Child, will be held May 22 through 24 at the Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando. The conference is the only one of its kind for the juvenile products industry, and offers learning, networking and purchasing opportunities for juvenile specialty stores and their key suppliers. Products exhibited at the trade show include baby furniture, infant gear, baby-care products and layette, maternity supplies, nursery décor, and more. Among the presentations will be an eight-person

Millennial Consumer Panel designed to help attendees better understand the millennial market. Panel members will discuss purchasing behavior, product research and the impact of social media on purchasing decisions. Also scheduled is a group panel discussion between retailers and exhibitors that will cover issues that affect both groups. Its purpose is to come up with reasonable solutions to help retailers and manufacturers thrive in the industry. Speed Networking and Training Workshops, designed for attendees to meet the most people in a short amount of

time, are 15-minute-long sessions with companies like Locally, a service that connects online consumers to nearby purchasing options; car-seat company Clek; and custom marketing and rewards platform App Card. For more information, visit allbabyandchildsec.com.

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for your business information Digital Adds Flavor to Play, Says Panel Child development and digital media experts, convened by The Genius of Play at the Consumer Electronics Show in January, discussed the benefits of letting kids play in today’s digital playground. Digital play is sometimes dismissed as empty time that doesn’t engage kids, but it does have its advantages if it’s balanced with traditional play, and involves parents along with the children, they said. The panel’s findings are included in a new report called, “Why Play is the Secret Sauce for Raising the Next Generation of Digital Innovators, A Special Report by The Genius of Play.” It can be downloaded at thegeniusofplay.org. “Kids learn and develop crucial skills through all types of play – structured and unstructured, as well as traditional and digital play,” said Ken Seiter, The Toy Association’s executive vice president of marketing communications and the panel’s moderator. “It’s important that parents understand that screen-based

or online play does not have to be an all-or-nothing experience.” The panel, which included Sara DeWitt, vice president of PBS Kids Digital; Dr. Jodi Sherman LeVos, director of child development & learning at Mattel; and emotional dynamics expert Dr. Erik Fisher, explored the evolving nature of play in today’s world, and sought to provide parents with guidance on how to incorporate all types of play into a child’s daily routine. T he experts’ consensus? When it comes to digital play, experiences that have a clear learning intent combined with parental engagement are paramount. Here are some of the panelists’ insights. • Play exists in a variety of arenas and forms. • Opportunities for play are everywhere: at home, in school, in stores, at amusement parks, etc. Kids get the most benefit when traditional and digital play exist simultaneously in a balanced environment. • The best kind of digital play is high-quality

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content that’s designed with clear learning objectives. • These objectives should include improving cognitive thinking, building language skills encouraging social skills, and/or promoting creativity. • Technology gives kids a variety of perspectives on the world. • Technology supports traditional play by reinforcing key values and adding another dimension to the play experience. For instance, apps and gameplay can bring unique worlds to life and allow children to explore these worlds in a new way. • Technology can also help drive the benefits of play by emphasizing personalized and adaptive learning. • The best kind of high-tech play involves quality engagement in short bursts that engages kids while extending their knowledge in other areas. For instance, if a system can detect a child struggling with a particular concept, offering tutorials or prompts is

an area where technology can really help kids learn. • Parents are highly encouraged to participate in their child’s digital play, and ask questions. • Implementing this type of interaction at an early age builds on communication skills between parent and child, develops trust, and prepares children for more serious talks about internet safety as they grow. The Genius of Play, spearheaded by The Toy Association, is a national movement to raise awareness of play’s vital role in child development. Deeply rooted in research and facts, it is a leading resource on the physical, cognitive, social, and emotional benefits of play that serve children throughout their lives.

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for your business information Consumers Want to Pay You Their Way

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As payment methods continue to evolve, merchants must keep pace to meet consumer expectations, especially as the popularity of digital and mobile payment options grow, recommends Monica Eaton-Cardone, COO of Chargebacks91, a risk management company. Merchants could miss out on sales if they don’t accept consumers’ preferred payment methods, says Eaton-Cardone, an advocate for better chargeback mitigation and risk management. “Forwardthinking retailers understand that consumers want options. Dictating the ways customers can pay may hinder merchants’ ability to maximize revenue.” Eaton-Cardone counsels merchants to follow payment industry developments, expand their payment options and implement proven chargebackmanagement solutions. Here is some data that supports her payment advice. • 37 percent of North American merchants now accept PayPal and Apple Pay, according to a study by market research firm Statista. By the end of 2018, that figure will rise to 63 percent for Apple Pay, 51 percent for PayPal and 49 percent for Android Pay. • Mobile proximity payments are projected to be 33 times higher in 2018 than in 2014 – an estimated $118 billion this year versus $3.5 billion four years ago, notes Statista. It released the study’s results in February.

• More than 100,000 merchants worldwide now accept bitcoin including Microsoft, Expedia, Newegg, Overstock.com, Dish Network and Shopify stores, reports CNBC. • Consumer research shows flexible billing and payment options can account for 20 percent or more of total customer loyalty and satisfaction scores. Eaton-Cardone urges merchants to ask their payment processor about implementing digital options such as PayPal, Masterpass by Mastercard, Visa Checkout, and Apple, Android and Samsung Pay. If a processor doesn’t support these methods, she recommends exploring other providers to ensure merchants are able to meet consumers’ demand for alternative payment types. While bitcoin is not yet widely accepted, many merchants are intrigued by its promise of zero chargebacks and the possibility of reducing or eliminating transaction fees, reports Lifewire. Yet concerns persist over hacker heists and market volatility. In December 2017, the price of one bitcoin soared from under $10K to nearly $20K. By early February, it fell below $7K. “Though the verdict may still be out on bitcoin, its supporting blockchain platform offers limitless opportunities for future payment innovations,” says Eaton-Cardone. “We also could soon be seeing entirely new payment methods.”

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Trade War Threatens Growth at U.S. Ports Imports at the nation’s major retail container ports were expected to grow a healthy 5.8 percent year-over-year in April, according to the monthly Global Port Tracker report released by the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Hackett Associates on April 6. But if the developing trade war between the United States and China continues to escalate, future increases could be threatened. “If tariffs ultimately lead to a reduction in imports and exports, that will put dockworkers and countless others in the supply chain out of work,” says Jonathon Gold, NRF vice president for supply chain and customs policy. Ports covered by Global Port Tracker handled 1.69 million Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units (TEU) in February, the latest month for which after-the-fact numbers are available. (A TEU is one 20-foot-long cargo container or its equivalent.) It was down 4.1 percent from January but up 15.8 percent from a year ago, with the year-over-year number skewed because of fluctuations in the schedule of Lunar New Year factory shutdowns in Asia each year.

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March was estimated at 1.54 million TEU, down 1.2 percent year-over-year. April is forecast at 1.72 million TEU; May at 1.82 million TEU, up 4.1 percent; June at 1.83 million TEU, up 6.5 percent; July at 1.88 million TEU, up 4.5 percent; and August at 1.9 million TEU, up 3.9 percent. The first half of 2018 is expected to total 10.4 million TEU, an increase of 5.6 percent over the first half of 2017. The total for 2017 was 20.5 million TEU, up 7.6 percent from 2016’s previous record of 19.1 million TEU. Global Port Tracker, produced for NRF by the consulting firm Hackett Associates, covers the U.S. ports of Los Angeles/ Long Beach, Oakland, Seattle and Tacoma on the West Coast; New York/New Jersey, Port of Virginia, Charleston, Savannah, Port Everglades, Miami and Jacksonville on the East Coast, and Houston on the Gulf Coast.

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for your business information New Conference Focuses on the Evolving Grocery Market The team behind Shoptalk, the world’s largest retail and ecommerce conference, has announced the launch of Groceryshop, a new event covering the transformation of consumer packaged goods (CPG), grocery and related industries. Groceryshop will be held October 28 through 31, 2018, at the Aria in Las Vegas.

The event will feature more than 150 speakers; 1,000-plus attendees are expected. Groceryshop covers the evolution of grocery retailers, including supermarkets, mass merchants, convenience stores, drug stores, club/warehouse stores, discount stores and ecommerce players. It also covers the rapid changes in the production and distribution of fresh and packaged foods and beverages, along with beauty, personal care, household and health products. Groceryshop addresses the disruptive shifts in how consumers discover, shop and buy these products in an increasingly wide range of stores and online destinations. “Grocery is the last major category in retail to shift online,” said Zia Daniell Wigder, co-founder and chief content officer of Groceryshop. “When you look at the percentage of grocery sales that take place online in the U.S. today, it’s just 2 to 3 percent; significantly lower than

other categories like apparel or electronics, where ecommerce generates more than 20 percent of all sales. The percentage of ecommerce grocery sales in the U.S. is also lower than other countries, including the U.K. and China. “Groceryshop is designed to meet the needs of a sector on the verge of a massive shift,” she continued. “Over the next few years, new omnichannel offerings will emerge that will include new ways to order as well as more convenient delivery and pickup options. The result will be an increase in orders via digital platforms as well as significant changes in physical stores as they become a key part of order fulfillment. As in other categories, price, selection and convenience will ultimately drive consumers to embrace digital shopping. These changes and more are now inevitable in the grocery industry.” For more information, visit groceryshop.com.

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TOYS

TOYS

TOYS

What Does Your Store Stand For? TOYS

TOYS

(continued from page 38)

• Get your team on board. Your team brings the vision to life. They represent the core values of your store in their interactions with customers. Ask your employees for their ideas on how to do it better. • Make it real. Standing for something is not a sometimes, only-when-it’s-convenient thing. It’s how you conduct your business day in and day out. It’s the culture of your store that starts in your store and extends out into the community. Lead your employees by example and clear standards. Activities that demonstrate what you stand for ASTRA stores have always shown creativity in the ways they support their communities. Retailers who participate in ASTRA’s annual Neighborhood Toy Store Day on the second Saturday in November each year are encouraged to include a charitable component to their activities that day. From donating a straight percentage of sales, to entering customers in prize drawings if they purchase a toy for Toys for Tots, to giving products to local preschools, store owners shape their efforts to fit what works in their market. Some stores have year-round programs. Many retailers participate in ASTRA-wide charitable activities, like the Mighty Together Volunteer Program coming up at Marketplace & Academy, where ASTRA members will do a local school cleanup and stuff back-to-school backpacks for New Orleans children. Community support extends beyond donations of dollars and products. Fowles cites a list of ways her store engages with the community that telegraphs this message: her store stands for something beyond selling toys. “Each spring, our local schools invite community organizations and youth-serving businesses to teach short workshops on what they call ‘High Interest Days,’” says Fowles. “We do ‘Fun and Games’ workshops where we teach kids how to play simple games with dice, cards, and jump ropes. We also help introduce various games at Game Nights at local schools.” Fowles partners with the local library to give all kids who finish the summer reading program a TOYS free toy from the store, and they donate 10 percent of gross sales on the first Saturday in December to a local educational organization. Another big event each year centers on Halloween. “We collect unwanted

Halloween candy after Halloween and donate it to the troops through a local nonprofit,” says Fowles. “This year we collected multiple truckloads of candy.” MudPuddles works closely with other community organizations as well. Noreen is a member of her local Chamber of Commerce board (as is Friedland) and her Rotary Club. She and her staff participate in numerous volunteer activities sponsored by those organizations and others. Here are some examples. • Neighbor to Neighbor Day (helping seniors with light home maintenance) • Habitat for Humanity home building • Providing information on small business ownership to Girl Scout Clubs • Game nights at local schools • Crafts activities at public library story times • Local chess tournaments • Delivery of Meals on Wheels • Sponsorship of the castle-building contest at the annual Sherwood Robin Hood Festival • Local high school graduation night party A shining example As we consider the range of tactics ASTRA retailers use to make their stores meaningful beyond serving as a source for toys, it’s worth noting that operating an ethical business with strong values is a great example for our end users: the children in our communities. Even if they are a few years away from understanding the specifics, chances are kids know “a shining example of a business that cares” when they see it. Standing for something makes your store stand out. Having a clear vision and core values, says Noreen, guides you in your decision making so you’ll do right by everyone impacted by your choices. “It’s important to me to have the trust of my staff and my customers. Knowing what you stand for is important. It builds loyalty. We aren’t here to take advantage. We’re here to serve.”

e

TOYS

TOYS

TOYS

TOYS

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(continued from page 39) “R” Us for Walmart and Amazon. The second group is now looking for a new place to have that experience – a place to go for the fun of it, for the exploration, for the memories. Specialty toy retailers know that group intimately because they are our customers, too. You and I can argue all we want to about whether the typical Toys “R” Us store was all that fun. It is a pointless debate. Most people were comparing the TRU experience to the one they got at Walmart, not at your store. What is important to remember is that nostalgia is a powerful ally in winning them over. Your store evokes the nostalgia of birthday parties and Christmas. Make sure you provide meaningful experiences for children picking out their own birthday gifts, grandparents with grandkids on a shopping spree, and new couples buying a basket of toys for their babies’ first Easter. Events like these evoke powerful, emotional images that cannot be experienced shopping with Amazon or at Walmart. Just invite them to all the events and activities you host – the story times, the game nights, the make-and-take crafts, the Neighborhood Toy Store Days and other special events. You may have to expand your marketing of them, but if you do I think you will

find plenty of new customers looking for those kinds of experiences. Reach former Toys “R” Us customers in a meaningful way If Toys “R” Us customers aren’t so different from your customers, why aren’t they already shopping at your store? Two reasons – 1. They don’t know you. 2. They think they know you. The first group just hasn’t heard of you yet. They had their toy store to shop in and they didn’t need someplace new. Your advertising never reached their eyes or ears. Maybe they just moved to town and went with something familiar, or maybe they never knew about independent toy stores when they were kids. This is the easy group to reach. Now that TRU is closing, they are looking for someplace new. Any extra advertising you do about selection or experience is going to resonate with this crowd. The second group is going to be tougher to convince. They believe four things about you: • you’re small with a small selection; • everything in your store is overpriced; • you only sell expensive stuff and • you only sell boring “educational” stuff. Rather than trying to win this crowd with traditional advertising they will never believe, enlist the help of your current customers to create powerful and positive word-of-mouth. The great things

they say about your store have the ability to straighten out misperceptions quicker than any other advertising method you could use. At ASTRA Marketplace & Academy in June, I will present a session called, “How to Generate Word-of-Mouth Advertising” with a specific emphasis on how to win over the Toys “R” Us customers. You’ll walk out of there with ideas you can use to get people talking the day you get back from New Orleans. Last year, Toys “R” Us had more than 100-million customers. About half of them were there for electronics. Another 25 percent were shopping for baby gear. That still leaves 25-million customers looking for a healthy toy selection and a shopping experience. Before the holidays hit, make sure they find your store.

Former retailer Phil Wrzesinski is a speaker, author and retail educator. For more information, visit philsforum.com or call 517-937-3213.

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Spread The Word!

(continued from page 62) Creative building Magic happens when artistry is combined with engineering and architecture. Here are some creative building sets that should be on your STEM recommendation list.

Adventure Parks............................................................................39.......................adventureparks.com Aeromax Inc...................................................................................24............................aeromaxtoys.com All Baby & Child............................................................................63................allbabyandchildsec.com American Jewel.............................................................................32-33................americanjewel.com

The OFFbits nuts and bolts characterbuilding kits from Fat Brain Toy

Blue Orange Games...................................................................51..................blueorangegames.com

Magna-Tiles 3-D magnetic building and design tile sets from Valtech

C&A Scientific Co Inc...................................................................62..................................myfirstlab.com

The award-winning Light Stax light-up bricks from The Lazy Dog & Co. Magnetic Magformers, Clicformers and Tileblox The wooden figures – fun animals and posable people – that can be created with ball-shaped blocks from Harper Toys. Music for fun and math skills Studies show that children who play instruments are able to complete complex mathematical problems better than peers who do not. Parents will thank you for pointing to the ukuleles in your store; the ones from Kala are fun, portable and high value. In March, Musical Merchandise Review referred to ukuleles as “diminutive fretted wonders” as it reported “there is no end in sight for the ukulele craze.”

Brybelly Holding...........................................................................4........................................brybelly.com DeLano/EPI Printing Inc.............................................................56..........................delanoservice.com Duncan Toys..................................................................................7...............................duncantoys.com EDC Publishing / Usborne........................................................52......................................edcpub.com Endless Games.............................................................................25.........................endlessgames.com Fairy Finery.....................................................................................15..................................fairyfinery.com Fat Brain Toy Co............................................................................64..............................fatbraintoys.com FireFox Toys LLC...........................................................................54..............................firefoxtoys.com Fractiles............................................................................................15.......................................fractiles.com The Good Toy Group...................................................................41.........................goodtoygroup.com HABA / Habermaass Corp..........................................................18................................... habausa.com Harper Toy LLC...............................................................................3....................................harpertoy.com Identity Games International....................................................55.......................identitygames.com Kala Brand Music Co................................................................... 59.................................kalabrand.com

e

Construct your very own mini golf course!

(480) 789-0429 joann@noochiegolf.com www.noochiegolf.com ASTRA Booth #423 60 edplay.com • • • • • May/June 2018

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Tell our advertisers you saw their products in edplay magazine

KETTLER International Inc.........................................................23..................................kettlerusa.com Koplow Games............................................................................. 35.........................koplowgames.com Learning Express Toys................................................................. 31........................www.bit.ly/leandme Lee Publications.............................................................................37............................leemagicpen.com Light Stax-The Lazy Dog & Co................................................... 41..................................lightstax.com Looney Labs Inc............................................................................50.........www.bit.ly/getthemacguffin Luke’s Toy Factory .......................................................................35........................lukestoyfactory.com Magformers LLC........................................................................... 27.............................magformers.com MindWare Wholesale................................................................. 5,19..............................mindware.com Money Savvy Generation..........................................................4..........................................msgen.com Monkeying Around.......................................................................20..............monkeyingaround.com

Visit us at ASTRA booth #526

Moonjar...........................................................................................56....................................moonjar.com MukikiM LLC..................................................................................53....................................mukikim.com Noochie Golf..................................................................................60.............................noochiegolf.com North Star Games LLC................................................................23......................northstargames.com Paper House Productions.......................................................... 24....paperhouseproductions.com PlayMonster LLC...........................................................................2,9............................playmonster.com Romanoff Products Inc............................................................... 55.................romanoffproducts.com Scholastic.........................................................................................12...................................scholastic.com SentoSphere USA.........................................................................61.......................sentosphereusa.com Small World Toys..........................................................................21......................smallworldtoys.com Tangle Inc........................................................................................ 29.......................tanglecreations.com Teacher Created Resources....................................................... 14................................... tcrdealer.com Time Timer LLC.............................................................................38..................................timetimer.com Two Bros Bows.............................................................................. 11...........................twobrosbows.com Ultra Pro International..................................................................37...................................ultrapro.com Uncle Bubble................................................................................. 38..................................unclebubble.u USAopoly Inc................................................................................. 49...................................usaopoly.com Valtech LLC.....................................................................................20................................magnatiles.com Wikki Stix..........................................................................................13.....................................wikkistix.com Wrebbit Puzzles............................................................................ 17..................................wrebbit3d.com

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by Tina Manzer

I

t’s safe to say that the majority of manufacturers and publishers in the toy industry offer at least one product that teaches children something about STEM. Lea Culliton explains HABA’s STEM stance this way: “We were early adapters in identifying the STEM play value of several of our toys. We consulted with an independent teacher group to identify which toys could be considered STEM and the reasons why. Today we identify those products with a STEM logo on the packaging and in our catalog. It helps make parents aware that children should get unplugged time to learn about STEM with hands-on play.” Some “toys” in our industry don’t need a STEM identifier, like the Smartphone microscope and 3-D slides from C & A Scientific, called the STEM Starter Kit. Others, like Tangles, may be less obvious. Their inventor, Richard X. Zawitz, is a sculptor and Asian art scholar who “was

looking for universality in form and symbolism and discovered a universal energy pattern in spirals and helio-concentric forms,” says tanglecreations.com. Voila! An effective and beautiful fidget. The world needs more Richard X. Zawitzes, according to today’s job recruiters. More and more of them want workers who have the “A” for art skills that makes STEM STEAM. In 2013, Google learned that expertise in science, technology, engineering and math was not the secret sauce of success for its best workers. In fact, STEM was the eighth most-important skill set based on the results of an employee study it conducted. The top seven were the following soft skills, the kind acquired by studying liberal arts. • being a good coach; • communicating and listening well; • possessing insights into others, including different values and points of view;

My First Lab®

-INSPIRED MICROSCOPES, SCIENCE KITS & SUPPLIES THAT SPARK INTEREST & CREATIVITY!

62 edplay.com • • • • • May/June 2018

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• having empathy toward and being supportive of one’s colleagues; • being a good critical thinker and problem solver; and • being able to make connections across complex ideas. When parents come into your store for STEM toys, point out items that are clearly STEM: Mukkikim’s new Jr. Engineer line, and the math and science games from Blue Orange, Endless Games International, Looney Labs, North Star Games and USAopoly, for instance. The 3D PRO Printing Pen from Small World Toys, a combination of tech and art, is another good choice. Don’t overlook science kits, but also add some creativity and art into the mix with products like these. Dress-Up sets Aeromax and Fairy Finery offer clothes for role play, and role play helps build confidence, creativity, communication, and problem solving in young children. What’s more, it encourages children to take risks and act out real-life roles and fictional performances. Art and pattern tools Children can learn from the patterns – and non-patterns in some cases – that are revealed by playing with Fractiles, bubble kits from Uncle Bubble, Monkeying Around’s amazing dot-to-dots, and even the Fun Forms Sticker Puzzles from Lee Publications. (continued on page 60)

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OCTOBER 9-11, 2018 LAS VEGAS CONVENTION CENTER | LAS VEGAS, NV

All baby & Child My Business. Full Page My TradeShow. 4C My Business is Retailing. My Show is 2018 ABC Kids Expo, where I get hands-on, personal access to the products, people, and retail strategies that will help me make better buying decisions, increase profit margins, and find broader selling opportunities.

W H Y SH OU L D I AT T E ND • Preview new products from over 700 manufacturers exhibiting in more than 1,600 booths, with innovative products ranging from gear, apparel, home furnishings, nursing, maternity, toy, gift and more • Get hands-on experience with the products and learn how to effectively use them

• Shop the trade show floor and enjoy show specials exclusive for this event

• Participate in ABC Exclusive LIVE Events:

– New Product Showcase and reception

• Discover more than 250 first time exhibitors, who may hold the key for exclusive products in your market

– Runway Show— The LIVE Event – Industry reception for all event participants

• Network with your peers, including more than 3,000 registered buyers and media attendees

– Buyers Lounge

Register today at www.theabcshow.com FOR FURTHER INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT: Zachary Leard • 210-691-4848 Ext.104 • zachary@theabcshow.com ATTENDEE

http://www.theabcshow.com/register.asp

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EXHIBITOR

http://www.theabcshow.com/exhibit.asp

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Profile for Fahy-Williams Publishing

Edplay MayJun2018  

Edplay MayJun2018