The Toy Book (TTB): How are Learning Express retailers engaging consumers in-store to drive sales?
Sharon DiMinico (SD): Every month, our stores publish a full calendar of events to draw people into the store. We engage, we entertain, and we have product demonstrations. We also offer classes, costumed character appearances, and featured guests (silhouette artists, musicians, authors, etc.). We learned early on that customer-centric services and the “wow” factor would be the only way to compete with buying toys online from the comfort of your home. [Read more...]
The 2012 holiday season marks an important milestone for specialty toy franchise, Learning Express Toys. Founded by CEO Sharon DiMinico in 1987, the Massachusetts-based company is currently celebrating its 25th year at play. Originally started to raise money for a local nursery school, the franchise is now 135 stores strong and spread across 28 states. Despite its growth, Learning Express still maintains its identity as a genuine neighborhood toy store.
The franchise will be debuting a new website in the coming weeks, and creating online communities through social media platforms has become a priority on both the local and corporate levels. Most recently, the company released an online Skill Building Toy Guide for Children with Special Needs to help parents and caretakers find appropriate toys for the children in their lives.
Learning Express‘ 2010 convention has changed venues this year due to extensive flooding in May that closed Nashville’s Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center, the original venue, indefinitely. In support of those whose homes were destroyed during the flooding, Learning Express plans to donate vendor-contributed toys from the convention, which typically exceed $25,000, to Nashville children.
After witnessing pictures and video of the devastation, Sharon DiMinico, Learning Express founder and CEO, says she was “shocked” in a press release sent out today. “We hope these toys will spread a little joy in what must be a terrifying time for so many families,” she continued.
The new convention will be held in Orlando, Fla., at the Omni Orlando Resort at ChampionsGate from June 28-30. Attendees will include Learning Express corporate staff, owners of more than 140 Learning Express toy stores, and more than 100 invited toy vendors.