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July 2007 | Vol. VI - No. 7
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Good Co./Bad Co. – Those Love/Hate Relationships

Bad Policies and Good Products Sometimes Even Out


With additional reporting by regional correspondent Dennis Furlan

Although TDmonthly Magazine’s recent survey of 129 specialty toy and gift retailers yielded black-and-white lists of “good” and “bad” suppliers, it also left a few in the gray.

At least six companies, outlined below, incited both praise and criticism from a host of store owners. Read on to see what retailers thought we should know. (Some respondents requested anonymity. Percentages are rounded to the nearest integer.)

Melissa & Doug
Fair: 29 percent
“I think by far the most fair and accommodating company to work with is Melissa & Doug. They give you credit for items that you buy to use as a display and you can return items that do not sell for you for a full credit!” enthused Susan LaBree of Tea Time Fun. “Their customer accounting department is friendly, courteous and understanding!”

Unfair: 4 percent
Tom England, owner of Dancing Bear Toys & Gifts in Frederick, Md., feels very strongly about not carrying Melissa & Doug. “What they do is produce an inferior product and sell it as a quality product and rip off the ideas of small companies. They have tried and tried to get me to carry their stuff. I’ve told them why I won’t,” he said. “You can make wooden junk, too, and that’s what that is.”

International Playthings

Fair: 8 percent
“International Playthings is the best company to deal with,” said one southern retailer. “They understand that we are business people and sometimes overbuy and have issues with timely payments.”

Unfair: 1 percent
“International Playthings drives me to not carry some of their items because it all comes in cases of six, and [they] are sometimes so large that I do not have the room for six at one time,” said Patti Tepper-Rasmussen of Learning Tree Toys in Oklahoma City, Okla.

RC2

Fair: 4 percent
“RC2; that’s our major vendor. Part of it is because of their website. You can order online,” praised Lisa Pippin, manager for Action Toys in Billings, Mont. “They're good about products that have been damaged.”

Unfair: 2 percent
“Learning Curve/RC2 are always raising prices, minimums and special amounts,” said Bill of Tutoring Toy in Salt Lake City, Utah. “Almost as if to say, ‘We don't really want the specialty business.’”

Educational Insights
Fair: 2 percent
“Great customer service department. When I call, they always respond and can deal with any situation,” Nellie Fais, owner of Toy Magic in Bethlehem, Pa., told TDmonthly.

Unfair: 1 percent
Linda Angel of Kidoodles Toys in Norman, Okla., loves their products but said the company’s policies can be irritating.

Small World Toys

Fair: 4 percent
Three retailers said that Small World Toys is one of their favorite vendors.

Unfair: 1 percent
“They request $500 initial order and $500 reorder,” said Diane Vatca of D.D.’s Gifts in Waterford, Mich. “I don't mind an initial order being $500, but not for reorders. $100 to $150 for a reorder, to me, is reasonable.”

Alex
Fair: 3 percent
Alex has “gone the extra mile” for her, Roberta Edwards of Wishes Toys & Gifts in La Quinta, Calif., assured TDmonthly.

Unfair: 2 percent
One retailer said, “Alex will break packs, but other than that, they are difficult to deal with.”

As in all human relations, imperfections abound. If the product’s worth it, take a deep breath and get ordering. Also see How to Manage a Monster Hit in an upcoming issue of TDmonthly Magazine.



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