Thursday, August 30, 2007

Wait a minute, mister postman

We recently discovered this fabulous kids mail kit made of felt at the Bubble show in New York. And then, to our great pleasure, it appeared in Cookie Magazine this month!

This homespun package is sewn with care right here in the US of A, and it has a real 'cottage industry' look. Your kids will love the felt postcards, felt envelopes, felt stamps with Velcro and more. Then into the mailbox, put up the flag, and wait for your mail carrier!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Bienvenue Les Deglingos!

Yes, we really are so bad at this! Oh, well. No apologies - i just won't quit my day job and start blogging for a living.

We would like to announce our latest and greatest find - The Deglingos! They are a band of colorful, cuddly critters with their own unique personalities. The fabrics are really eye-popping, and both our customers and our kids agree that they are something special! There are six styles of Deglingos available right now, with four more to come this fall. We even here they might get a feature in Cookie Magazine, so keep your eyes peeled.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

we're so bad at this

Wow, am i a bad blogger. Life is just to busy. New products, new ventures, new store manager, and, unfortunately, new snow! Spring just refuses to come to Lakeside.

We are hard at work on revamping our shop spaces for Kids on Third and Home on Third as we get ready for a new summer season. Also, we have just completed our move to a new off-site warehouse for all ecommerce shipping. The times they are a-changin! Hard to believe that 4 years ago, we had never even thought of opening a toy store. More to come soon.

Monday, March 05, 2007

It's good to feel reinforced

We're working on our next video toy demo (which we promise will be of better production quality!), but today my eye was caught by an article in the Boston Globe on educational toys.

This article not only points out the supremacy of toys that don't "do" everything for the child (i.e., battery-operated toys), but also warns against toys that imply they will make your child smarter. Oftentimes I will not select a toy for the store simply because its name is something like IQ Baby, Baby Einstein, PlayQ, Brainy Baby, etc. Call me superficial, but I think these toys (and their packaging) send the wrong message to our customers. Thanks Boston Globe!

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Automoblox demo

Click to Play

Ok, this is our first attempt at a vlog toy demo. Please excuse the pitiful production quality! We have a long way to go, but you have to start somewhere and begin the learning curve.

It seems that while we can easily see online video reviews of technology, movies, and all sorts of other goodies online, there is nowhere (that we have found....please correct us if we're wrong) to see toys in action!

So, hopefully this is the first of many toy vlogs that can be the next best thing to being in our bricks and mortar store. Let us know if there are particular toys you want to see in moving pictures.

Click here to shop for Automoblox!

Monday, February 26, 2007

Thinking back on Germany

I'm still rolling over our German toy-buying trip. One image that comes to mind repeatedly is one of browsing through Obletter, a German toy store, and a small chain apparently. We visited one in Munich and one in Nuremberg. The store didn't bowl us over in terms of merchandising or overall aesthetic, but the selection was incredible. So many things that we had seen at the Nuremberg show that appear to be German toy 'staples', but that you never see in the U.S.

The most striking, thing, however, was a conspicuous absence of licenses. If you go into 90% of toy stores in the States, you are likely to come across merchandise plastered with Dora, Spongebob, Barbie, Bratz, Baby Einstein, and so on and so on, ad nauseum. But in this store, the only licensed goods to be found (with a few rare exceptions) were the diecast Mercedes, Volkswagens and other toy vehicles. It was so refreshing to see...well, just toys. Certainly, these toys may be the products of marketing and focus groups as much as many other consumer goods are, but they are, in the end, basic toys. But in America, we get these:

You even need a Dora shelf on which to store all of your Dora toys! What a marketing machine. We noticed, too, that the Pampers we bought in Germany, which in the U.S. would have Pooh or some other such character on them, had no characters save a little tiger or giraffe. And then there's the food -- using characters to market food to kids in Europe is illegal. Novel concept!
Unfortunately, the U.S. is exporting its demand for licenses to the rest of the world, and I wonder how long even the Obletters of the world will be able to stave off the onslaught.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Whirlwind tour back to home base

Well, sorry for the long delay in posting here. The last 10 days have been crazy ones with sporadic internet access. We will be brief, because it is 2:00 am in the time zone we are accustomed to, and the more I write, the less sense I will make!

So we stayed in Slovakia, interviewing great new employees for Kids on Third Street and Home on Third Street as well as for a friend's coffee shop and other business endeavors in Lakeside. Then, Ryan was off to New York for the NY Toy Fair, Feb 11th through 14th. Unlike last year, there were no piles of snow to contend with, mercifully. I have to say, after the energy and excitement of Nuremberg, NY was a bit of a downer -- a much smaller fair, though still huge. That being said, however, there were many worthwhile things to see. We continue to add 'big-name' lines to our store, and this year those new brands will include Steiff, Playmobil and others, so we reviewed those lines with eager eyes.

After NY, we are reconvened in Vienna for three days in that most civilized city. We happened to be there over the night of the grand Ball at the Vienna Opera House, so we had the fun of watching all of the grand dames arriving in their ball gown finery accompanied by their men in white ties and tails. Paris Hilton was invited that night, too, but thankfully we had to leave before her arrival.
From Vienna, it was on to Munich, and then to Frankfurt for our return flight to Detroit. All told, it was a very worthwhile trip. We have several great leads on unique product lines, including a couple that are very promising for us to be the U.S. distributor. Look for them in the coming months (hopefully including the funny little fellow pictured above)!

So, if you are looking for tips on places to stay in Frankfurt, Munich, Salzburg, Vienna, Trnava, Nuremberg, or surrounding environs, let us know! And we can now confidently say that international travel can be done with small children! We had heard from friends that it would be no problem, but had to experience it for ourselves. Hopefully this was the first of many such trips. Thanks for your interest and for following our progress.