February 2008 | Vol. VII - No. 2
TDmonthly’s Top-10 Most-Wanted Arts & Crafts
Alex and CFK Demonstrate That Creativity Pays Off
With additional reporting by Sheila Coyle, Virginia Davis, Laurel DiGangi, Ingrid Floyd, Terri Hughes-Lazzell, Christine Lebednik and Brenda Ruggiero
TDmonthly Magazine spoke with 62 retailers about their success with arts-and-crafts products. While the amount of each particular product sold varied, one thing was consistent: retailers overwhelmingly named Alex-Panline USA Inc. — 40 percent — and Creativity for Kids — 25 percent — as the leading manufacturers of arts and crafts products in their stores.
Joyce Matthews, owner of Just for Fun in St. Simon’s Island, Ga., told TDmonthly that Alex-Panline products are so popular that her store sells “at least one a day.”
Other manufacturers who are winning over the creative hearts and minds of kids are Melissa & Doug, Klutz Inc., The Orb Factory and Peaceable Kingdom Press.
Who needs needles, stitching or stuffing? Kids can make a giant 36” by 48” quilt in just a few hours by knotting fringed squares together into a colorful pattern. The kit includes 48 9” squares of fleece in six bold colors.
— “We’re out of Alex’s Knot-a-Quilt — we just can’t keep them in stock,” Kits & Kaboodle Owner Teneen Dobbs in Carmel, Ind., told TDmonthly.
— “Alex’s Knot-a-Quilt and others…we sell it everyday,” Sharon, manager of Creative Kids in Columbia, S.C., concurred.
— Ten percent of retailers singled out this kit as their best-selling arts-and-crafts item.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 10401 (added 12/5/2006)
The craft kit includes plastic stencils that allow kids to easily trace perfectly proportioned pants, purses, skirts, scarves, sweaters and shoes, and then embellish their designs with sequins and ribbons. The creations can be hung or mounted onto greeting cards, gift bags, lockers and more. This product is a Parents’ Choice Gold Award and National Parenting Center Seal of Approval Award winner.
— Laura Pearson, manager of The Durango Kid in Durango, Colo., said her store sells “100 to 200 [Klutz kits] a month.”
— The Three Bears' Manager Ms. Rene, in Ruidos, N.M., told TDmonthly that when it comes to Klutz, her store sells “about 100 per month.”
— Over 13 percent of retailers told TDmonthly that Klutz Inc. products are their best arts-and-crafts sellers.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 17054 (added 1/16/2008)
Anyone can make beaded jewelry using this jewelry-making kit. A beading tray, two multi-functional tools, ribbons, cords, clasps, findings, a tape measure and over 3,000 beads are among the pieces included in the jewelry case. The case comes with a handle, making it great for travel.
— Mollie Mullen, owner of Twirl in Ranchos de Taos, N.M., told TDmonthly that her store sells an average of 20 Alex kits per month.
— Playville Owner Stephanie Dupuy in Covington, La., shared that of all the arts-and-crafts lines available in her store, the “most popular is Alex Toys.”
— Twenty-four retailers named Alex-Panline USA Inc. as the leading arts-and-crafts manufacturer in their store.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 15701 (added 10/11/2007)
Each set comes with a special keepsake and plenty of materials to decorate and personalize the mirror. Kids can decorate their mirrors with hearts, jewels, glitter glue, ribbons and more. The entire set is organized neatly in a handy wooden case.
— LB Toys Owner Jamie Burdette in Media, Pa., told TDmonthly that Melissa & Doug’s decorate-your-own kits are so popular that her store sells “40 to 60 per month.” Sallie Kashiwa, owner of Timbuk Toys in Denver said in July 2008 that her store sells 15 to 20 units per month of the Princess Mirror.
— Lyn Copeland, owner of Copelin’s Toy Zone in Norman, Okla., said that when it comes to Melissa & Doug items, her store sells “over 100 per month.”
— More than 13 percent of retailers told TDmonthly that Melissa & Doug’s arts-and-crafts products are their best arts-and-crafts sellers. In addition to this item, bead and magnetic dress-up sets by Melissa & Doug were also named as popular gifts for girls in a summer 2008 survey of 66 retailers.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 17056 (added 1/16/2008)
The Glow-in-the-Dark PlayFoam activity set includes five bricks of GlowFoam, glowing antennas, eyes and other glow-in-the-dark craft accessories that allow kids to make the coolest creatures ever.
— “Creativity for Kids’ glow-in-the-dark set is most popular,” Dennis, owner of The Toy Store in Atlanta, Ga., told TDmonthly.
— Laura Pearson, manager of The Durango Kid in Durango, Colo., told TDmonthly that when it comes to Creativity for Kids (CFK), “We sell approximately 100 a month.”
— When speaking with TDmonthly, 15 out of 60 retailers named CFK as their leading arts-and-crafts manufacturer.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 15169 (added 9/17/2007)
Decked out with designs of pets, fruits, stars and flowers, this bag, measuring 14” W x 11” W x 4” D, allows kids to custom-color to their heart’s content. It is large enough to carry school books and binders, and comes with six permanent markers in a pouch. This product was named one of Dr. Toy’s 10 Best Creative Products and 100 Best Children’s Products.
— “The Color-a-Messenger Bag from Alex is a good one for us,” said Emily Bieritz, manager of My Favorite Toy Store in Downers Grove, Ill., of the strongest-selling items for girls in her store in summer 2009.
— In late 2007, 40 percent of retailers singled out Alex-Panline USA Inc. as their best-selling arts-and-crafts manufacturer. Two of 47 retailers told TDmonthly in June 2009 that the Color-a-Messenger Bag is a best-selling gift item for girls.
— Ken, working manager at Toys Unique in Dallas, Texas, told TDmonthly previously that his store does well with Alex’s Color-a-Messenger Bag, selling just under 50 per month. Explorations Inc. Owner Chuck Harper in Granger, Ind., had named this item as his store’s best-seller.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 16026 (added 11/5/2007)
Kids can paint with sweeping gestures when they use this generous-sized easel. One side is a chalkboard, the other´s a dry-erase board. Load a piece of paper into the paper holder and kids can paint and scribble to their heart’s content. Each side of the easel features a colorful tray that can hold paints, cups, chalk, erasers, clips and more. “Our Deluxe Easel has become one of our best-selling items because of its great value, high-quality construction and versatility,” said Rick Davis, part of the marketing team at Melissa & Doug. It has two adjustable boards that allow children of all sizes to enjoy painting and creating, and the easy-to-clean trays are removable in seconds.”
— This product has been making the TDmonthly Best-sellers lists since 2005.
— As of 1.06.2011 this product had 4.5 out of 5 stars from 647 reviews on Amazon.com and was No. 18 on the top 100 bestselling toys and games. Pros: Double Sided; easy to clean. Cons: Supplies must be purchased separately.
— "The Melissa & Doug Easel, hands-down, beats everything in terms of dollars. It's well-made and good value," was the praise given by David Campbell, owner of Amazing Toys in Great Falls, Mont.
— “Our easel, from Melissa & Doug, just blows out of here,” said Nishan Shepard, owner of Rockridge Kids in Oakland, Calif., in early 2010.
— Seven of 48 retailers named the easel as their top-selling art item in January 2010, reporting average sales of three per month.
— This easel has been a consistent best seller for Jillie Beans Toys & More of Westminster, Colo., since the store opened in 2006. (April 2010)
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 4844 (added 9/29/2005)
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This designer-set features a mannequin, sewing materials, a sketch book, yards of fabric, a swatch booklet, trims, a satin dress form, a garment bag and a design manual. Kids can decorate the dress included or create their own dream designs. “This product taps into the energy generated by television shows, such as ‘Project Runway,’ and excites tweens to try out their fashion design skills. The thoughtfulness that went into the selection of materials in the kit makes it ideal for the specialty market,” Lisa Ritchey of Faber-Castell told TDmonthly. Launch date: May 2007.
— Terry Meyers, owner of Kaleidoscope Toys in Round Rock, Texas, told TDmonthly that her store “sells several dozen” of this item each month.
— “They're all inclusive and that's attractive to customers because they don't need to go out and buy a whole bunch of other supplies,” said John Goehring, owner of The Toyworks in Santa Rosa, Calif., of his top-selling Creativity for Kids crafts in late 2008.
— Thirteen percent of 44 retailers listed fashion-related kits as top-selling crafts in fall 2008.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 15519 (added 9/28/2007)
The kit consists of 90 reusable stickers that can be arranged and rearranged on three backgrounds: “The Cat in the Hat,” “Green Eggs and Ham” and “One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish.” The tote makes the entire kit convenient for on-the-go fun anywhere. Launch date: December 2007.
— Pamela Byers, owner of The Ark Toy Company in San Francisco, Calif., told TDmonthly that her store sells “about 60” Peaceable Kingdom sticker totes per month.
— Over 20 different sticker-activity tote themes are available in Peaceable Kingdom Press’s Sticker Activity Tote line, including The Little Farm, Knights & Dragons, At the Ballet and Fire Station.
— Five percent of retailers told TDmonthly that sticker kits are their best-selling arts-and-crafts item.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 17055 (added 1/16/2008)
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