Christine S. Osborne, owner and founder of Wonder Works, shared multiple predictions about where toy retail is headed in the Toy Book’s annual State of the Industry Q&A.

What are your predictions for the state of toy retail this year?

  • Those who recognize the need to change and have the ability to take risks will thrive. This involves families we serve, vendors we partner with, and other toy stores we collaborate with.
  • Consumerism, parenting, education, and tech are all changing — and will continue to. The way we live (minimalizing), the number of children per household (increasing from 1.88 in 2010 to 2.5 in 2018), and work schedules becoming flexible, all play a part in this ever-changing world we provide for.
  • The product mix is now changing from all toys and books to include a 10%-20% gift. Specialty toy stores are the one location an entire family can shop, experience, play, and spend time with their neighbors outside of church, school, and neighborhood functions.
  • Toy stores provide a safe haven for family events, character meet and greets, create-and-take classes, holiday extravaganzas, and collectible trading days, to name a few. Our stores are no longer just for kids; … parents yearn to be included. Fathers are increasingly involved in purchasing gifts and are participating in Wonder Works events with their kids, such as Pokémon card trading. Adults want products to buy, services provided (wrapping, delivery, coffee), and to socialize, all while they shop and their kids experience wholesome fun.
  • Vendors need us to take risks to help them test concepts, such as Melissa & Doug Play Zones, Mattel store-within-a-store concepts, Fat Brain Toy Co. wooden stands, and more. No longer can a toy store only cater to children, sell only toys, and not share their ideas. Testing new products and providing real-time feedback to vendors is crucial.
  • This year will be all about expansion, growth, and change. Specialty toy store owners should expand their product categories to include gifts, kids’ clothing, and more. Expand your communication and participation with vendors, creating win-win partnerships. Expand your services (coffee, delivery, free toy closet for kids with cancer, etc.). Customers with different needs will walk into your stores every day, and it is up to you to develop a response to broaden your business and meet their needs.
  • Collaborating with other toy store owners is a must. We all learn from each other. Sharing helps our stores, vendors, and our communities by sustaining the industry and taking it to the next level.
  • In all of this, don’t forget that there are constants in our business: families, birthdays, and holidays. They are not going away. Taking a risk to adapt to our ever-changing environment is now a must for any toy store business owner. Those who are willing will succeed.

This State of the Industry Q&A response originally appeared in the February 2020 issue of the Toy Book. Click here to read more!