While the big guys like Walmart, Toys R Us, and Target are having an all out price war, don’t forget your local mom & pop toy stores. It’s true that none of these stores can compete on price for mass market products–but that’s only part of the story. Small toy stores tend to offer toys that are available only to the specialty market. Some of our favorite toy companies have made the decision to stick with the independent toy stores rather than compete for shelf space in a big box store. So there are toys here that you won’t find elsewhere. The other major reason to shop in a small store is service.
When Joanne and I are going through toy fair, we always marvel at the toy buyers who not only have to look at all the new toys (which sounds fun, but gets physically draining after a day or two) –but they have to put their money on the line. Most aren’t part of big chains but individual store owners that have come to know what works and what doesn’t. They tend to really know their product line and since they want to build a relationship with their customers, will not push something just to move it out. That kind of relationship at retail is becoming a rare commodity.
So with that in mind, this Saturday ASTRA (the American Specialty Toy Retailers Association) is holding a nationwide Neighborhood Toy Store Day. You can check on their website to see what special events your local toy store is hosting. Sounds like fun.