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February 2008 | Vol. VII - No. 2
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Retailer Spotlight: Clever Kids Toy Shop

Small Store Finds Big Success With Careful Selection


“I have never been to a major toy market.” Michelle Beyer, Clever Kids
A good number of businesses are started by everyday people who see a need and decide to fill it. Such was the case for Michelle Beyer, owner of Clever Kids Toy Shop in Rochester, Minn. While taking time off from her job as a school psychologist to focus on being a full-time mom, she realized there was a dearth of good toy stores.

OPENING FOR DISCOVERY

“There was a need for a toy store that encouraged kids to be creative, imaginative and to discover,” she told TDmonthly Magazine.

The store she opened, first known as Creative Kids, began as a shopping center kiosk in Farmington, Mo., in 2001. Two years later, when the family moved to Minnesota, Michelle decided to transfer the business into a building, which proved to be a good decision.

Within 30 days, business had grown so much, she said, “I sold more in one day in the store than I did in the kiosk for a month.”

The store expanded to a second location two years later and exists in nearby locations, across the street from and attached to the world-renowned Mayo Clinic. Michelle counts the smiles from chemotherapy patients among her biggest successes.

CHANGING PLACES AND NAMES

There have been obstacles, though. There was not enough traffic in the store’s original location near Mayo Clinic, but patience and a move around the corner helped, putting the store directly in a high-traffic area underground, where people often walk to restaurants and other destinations.

Later, an independent toy store with “Creative” in its name demanded that she change her store’s title. So, Michelle said, her store became Clever Kids and continued to thrive.

“We are small, but mighty,” she told TDmonthly. “Some have walked in and said, ‘This is the best toy store I have ever been in.’ Our space is very limited, so we very carefully select our merchandise.”

FINDING TRUSTWORTHY TOYS


When it comes to selecting the right products, Michelle noted that she finds TDmonthly a great resource for research.

“You can find a lot of information about product lines there,” she said. “I look up things on the Internet [while] at home in my pajamas. I have never been to a major toy market.”

Michelle has learned that she has to make a statement with items if she wants to sell them.

“We have taken risks, and the majority of those have paid off,” she noted. “I have had people come in and say, ‘I know that whatever my child wants, if it is in your store, then it is good.’”

See Clever Kids’ most popular items in My Best Sellers.



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Brenda RuggieroWriter's Bio: Brenda Ruggiero is a freelance writer from western Maryland. Read more articles by this author

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