Go Big or Go Home! A specialty retailer’s view of Toy Fair

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Christine_Osborne (3) Global Toy News is the outlet for toy industry many diverse voices and opinions.  We noticed that we had not yet had the opportunity to hear from a specialty toy retailer.  That is why I am very pleased to share with you the Toy Fair experience of Christine S. Osborne, the owner of two Wonder Works stores in Charleston & Mt.Pleasant, SC. Her third store will be opening in June 2011. Her stores feature thousands of what she refers to as ‘wonderfuntastical’ specialized toys, gadgets, gifts and books for all ages of imagination.  Her company supports many worthwhile organizations and non-profits and is a proud member of Lowcountry Local First.   She is as exuberant in her writing as she is in person.  Hold on and enjoy her view of the toy world.

This year marked my 22nd time at the Toy Fair but I still found that many things continued to excite me. The items that I was really excited about were super, new, cool toys with open-ended play possibilities such as Can You Imagine's Color Changing Noodle for the pool. These items seem to fall at my feet at a faster speed than other years, but everywhere I looked… companies were thinking BIGGER and BETTER!……BIG displays, like Wild Creations' Dino Stan, which towered over the bottom floor of the Javits… (Perfect display for us to borrow for the Charleston, SC Fall 2012 opening of the new Southeast Creatures of the Past Dino/Sea Museum). Safari got into the act by taking their popular Good Luck Minis and building a large tower for it, where one fills your own pouch. They even did this for their museum quality toob figurines, where you fill your own toob from a tower of product….HOW COOL!!! (I can see the children clamoring for just the right animals for their toob).

Also another surprise this year was meeting companies such as Summit and Wild Creations. These companies were not only willing to send promotional products, but they are planning to come to our store(s) with 3 cases of each new item and help host a SUMMER FUN EXTRAVAGANZA!

Inventors galore were around…proud to show off their new ideas and products. One BIG idea was the WIDE IDEAS 4' Rope Swing.  It's like a daybed for lounging (my management team did not want to leave it). So now our store ceiling joists will accommodate this company's products for all our customers to try for themselves. 

The "ART" section of our stores will be taken to the next level with ALEX offering planogramming and set-up of in-store ALEX BOUTIQUES. Talk about going BIG!

LARGE floor decals were provided by Cloud B to show off their new product lines.

From floor to wall to ceiling….my stores easily were taken to the "Next Level". 

Finding that next level, that niche, for your store can be about NEW products, NEW displays, or NEW promotions. But it can also be about discovering what your store can do FOR your community, such as my  gathering up 7000 toys for our local children's hospital's Toy Cart via extra toys in our warehouse, asking our customers to drop off new  toys in a special bin,  or asking longstanding vendors to donate some of  their stock.  When you are approached for a certain donation that tugs at your heart……GO BIG….not just one or two toys…….make a TRUE DIFFERENCE…….give 100…then build on it..and soon it will grow, along with your business. You will be amazed! When you GIVE, it comes back tenfold to your business! It has with mine!!!

2 thoughts

  1. Ditto to Kathleen McHugh’s comment, Christine. It is easy to see why you are a success. Glad to hear about all the cool new toys you found at Toy Fair!
    We are gathering stories about toy industry philanthropy to retell in the media, and will capture yours for sure.
    Kind regards, Carter

  2. Congratulations Christine on your new venture out of the store and on your new store! A better voice for specialty toy stores can not be found. Can’t wait to read your next article.
    All the best, Kathleen McHugh, ASTRA

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