I love going into toy stores, particularly the little ma and pa stores, and I am always delighted when I stumble upon them in my travels. I can’t wait to get in and see what they have – to look at everything, touch everything, pick up, rattle, examine, and marvel at everything!
A good toy store is a riot of color, shape, texture, things that make sounds, things made of wood, plastic, or fur, with eye candy and finger candy everywhere. It is a little bit of Willy Wonka and Disney World just off the sidewalk and through the door.
A toy store is an entertainment destination, not just a shop for selling toys. If stores could capitalize on the entertainment facet of their business, if they could be more entertaining still, they would draw more customers in, much like FAO Schwarz or the legendary Safe House in Milwaukee, where they have perfected the art of dining as entertainment.
Yet I realize that operating a small toy store must be a hard row to hoe at times. Making a toy store more entertaining would cost money, but that investment might pay off many times over, and over, and over with an increase in visitors. More people will come, and surely more toys will be sold.
What can smaller toy stores do to capitalize on the entertainment value of the store as a destination? How can they make the space more entertaining and therefore draw more people in? What have you seen done? Please raise your hand and everyone will get a turn to be heard.
And don’t get me started on toy departments in big box stores. THEY are not so fun.