Toy World Magazine December 2020

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Retail Profile

Mastermind Toys

Mastermind Toys Holiday shopping

all wrapped up Mastermind Toys started out as a single 300 square foot store in 1984 selling educational software for home computers; nowadays, it proudly calls itself ‘Canada’s Authority on Play.’ It’s the nation’s largest specialty toy and book retailer, with 68 locations coast-to-coast, and this year has been nominated for a TAGIE award in the Most Innovative Retailer category. Rachael Simpson-Jones spoke to CEO Sarah Jordan about how the Canadian toy market is faring as we enter December, how Mastermind Toys has adapted to the challenges of Covid-19, and what kind of holidays the country expects this year. toy industry will indisputably play a huge role in bringing joy to kids and families across the globe this festive season.


ith the UK reporting increased toy sales of +6% YTD, and the US revealing +19% growth in the first three quarters of the year, it’s little surprise that the Canadian toy market is also faring well, with sales up +12% from January to September despite Covid-19 disruption and lockdown restrictions. The 2020 holidays will arguably look quite different for many this year, depending where they are in the world and their country’s coronavirus measures, but the

Heading into December, Sarah tells me, there can be no denying that 2020 has been a difficult year, but at Mastermind Toys the message is very much one of cautious optimism and positivity. “We take play very seriously, because we deeply believe that play is kids’ work, and that the world is better at play,” Sarah explains. “Mastermind Toys’ ‘Why Kids Play’ model provides the foundation for curating every toy, game, puzzle and book we sell in our stores and online. However, we’re also so much more than a childrens’ toy and book store; we’re a place of discovery for kids, as well as kids-at-heart. This year, families have spent more time together, new traditions have been created, and communities have come together like never before.”

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Mastermind Toys continues to look for ways to provide a shopping experience that’s both safe and fun. Sarah joined Mastermind Toys as CEO in January with the intention to tell the retailer’s story and purpose, highlighting to Canadians exactly what it is that makes it so special. She explains: “It’s in our DNA to be the best toy curator out there, not only because we have the best products but because we believe play is essential. We get precious few years in which every day is an opportunity to discover something new, so everything we do aims to create a twinkle of wonder. At Mastermind Toys, we know that childhood only happens once, and the years go by fast, so we sweat the details to make sure every toy and book we offer counts. Our curators are industry leading merchants, and follow our ‘Why Kids Play’ model to select products based on age and stage. They represent the leading