CHATTING WITH THE INDUSTRY and Happy Salmon, showing signs of popularity. The wider your game selection, the better your profits. Do you enforce a minimum advertised pricing (MAP) policy? How and why? Quartin: Yes, we do. Our MAP policy was created to ensure a level playing field for all participants and we continually strive to enforce it in order to protect both the integrity of our products and our products’ margin for our retail partners. Enforcing our MAP policy is a full-time job, and we regularly monitor pricing trends of online marketplaces. Everyone on our team is tasked with watching for violations, documenting, and following up as necessary; any retailer who is found to be in violation runs the risk of being denied supply of some or all of our products. In addition to our internal tracking efforts, we also sincerely appreciate the efforts of our valuable retail partners who take the time to bring specific violators to our attention.
community and familiarizes our customers with new products. This is, of course, only economically feasible because of the generous contributions from manufacturers such as PlanToys, Aquabeads (from International Playthings), and SmartLab Toys. I also have an indoor play set by CedarWorks. There’s a birthday party area within the indoor play set with tables and a projector, allowing us to use the space for birthdays or community activities. Because the space features a play space and demo toys, kids and weary parents and grandparents often escape the heat or rainy doldrums in my store without an event. Most end up making a purchase, even if it’s small. It adds vitality to the store and has become a destination
Folkmanis: Yes, with difficulty and while using an outside agency. We’re learning to navigate this subject and it’s not easy—there’s always a new offender just when you think you’ve cleaned it all up. But it’s extremely important in order to stay competitive and be fair to our retailers and also to preserve and maintain our brand. Fisher: We aggressively monitor and enforce a MAP policy, all in an effort to support specialty retailer profitability. If a consumer is standing in a specialty store and pulls out a phone to compare pricing with online sellers, we want the pricing on our products online to be the same as they are in the store. It simply makes for a more level playing field. We therefore do not sell our products to third-party sellers or “Fulfilled by Amazon” (FBA) sellers. How do you keep customers returning to your store? Clark: Social media allows us to quickly blast last-minute sales or activities on weekends. Usually, we offer at least one or two free one- to two-hour activities for children every month. It establishes goodwill in our
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in Mobile on its own. It also allows for some relatively kid-free parental shopping time! Kienzle: I strive to really have a “curated” store. It’s the compliment we get most often and I do believe it brings people back. We rotate merchandise regularly to keep things fresh, and we’re always on the look out for something that’s new or a little different. Outside of the standard “complementary gift-wrapping” we try to go above and beyond in other ways. We deliver to local customers, offer shipping for people who live far away, and do weekly events at the store. Clower: Much of our business is from out-of-town visitors (probably 70 percent),
so it’s tough to plan on those customers returning. The best we can do is to ensure that they have a really good experience in the store, that they play a lot, and hope we can establish a basic relationship through conversation. We know that some of our out-of-town guests are regular visitors to our town, once or twice a year. Many have told us that they make a point of visiting our store when they are in town. As for our local customers, we maintain a loyalty program that keeps many of them coming back, along with the fact that we have established personal relationships with many of them. Osborne: Providing an experience like none other! We thrive off of making every customer at home when they come in the store, giving them a magical experience, and inspiring even the big kids to play and have a good time. The No. 1 reason why parents shop in specialty stores is because their children love the store. Providing customers with additional opportunities to come into our business is also key to increasing our customer base. We are expanding our in-store offerings to include birthday parties, and invite community instructors to offer classes and camps such as Kindermusik, Lego building, STEM, and arts and crafts. Our newest location features a room with barnyard doors that houses these activities. Promotions are created around hot and trending products. Very Fairy Fridays with fairy activities/raffles are currently being held to promote the Fairy Door trend. Wonder Works continues to host Wonderfest and Elfstravaganza, two large community-wide events that each bring in 7,000 to 8,000 attendees and feature children’s charities, children philanthropists, children entrepreneurs, and national toy manufacturers with their wonderful hot products. Wonder Works also hosts a loyalty program. Every time a customer shops they earn points. For every dollar spent, you earn one point. Once the customer reaches 200 points, they receive a $10 coupon. Customers love this program, and are always eager to know how many points they have earned.
Many of us are traveling to Denver for the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association’s (ASTRA’s) Marketplace & Academy trade show, and in...