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Articles by Julia Ann Charpentier


Learning on the Fly (9/1/2006)
Today, knowledge can be acquired almost anywhere.

Game and Toy Creation - Part 3 (9/1/2006)
After protecting your concept and making the decision to launch your own company, promoting and marketing your invention is the next step

Game and Toy Creation - Part 2 (8/1/2006)
Before bringing a new toy or game to market, legal protection in the form of a copyright, patent and/or trademark is essential ...

Personalized Plush Boosts Sales (8/1/2006)
Custom plush products have found a front seat on retailers' shelves.

Fiesta Sees Growth in Plush Manufacturing (8/1/2006)
Fiesta Toy's growth in the amusement, gift and toy industries may be attributed to the popularity of plush, but the experience of the company's president Michael Lauber along with the dedication of long-term employees has brought this manufacturer high sales.

Game and Toy Creation, Part I (7/1/2006)
Nine entrepreneurs shared with TDmonthly Magazine their process of moving from dream to product.

Stained Glass Construction … Or Is It Art? (7/1/2006)
Systems engineer Jay Simmons discovered that the television screen is like a tapestry with rows of colored dots, and PixelBlocks was born.

Red Racer Studio Plays It Safe (7/1/2006)
Succeeding as a toy designer takes more skill than climbing a cliff without equipment.

Little Tikes Promotes Active Play (6/1/2006)
The problem with kids today may be that they have forgotten to play with their bodies as well as their minds.

Merrick Mint Moves From Coins to Candy (5/1/2006)
The Merrick Mint has earned status as a licensed sports coin company.

Toy and Pet Industries Meet (5/1/2006)
Luxury for pampered pets along with games and gifts with an animal theme may be a retailer's best bet in stocking shelves this year.

When Does Humor Drive Customers Away? (5/1/2006)
Novelty retailers in particular need to know which controversial products mean high sales and which could draw protest signs.

Noodle Head Thinks Beyond Activity Kits (5/1/2006)
Today, Noodle Head expands beyond travel accessories and activity kits into celebrity-themed plush products and pretend play items.

Palms Trading Company: A Native American Showcase (4/1/2006)
Though the Palms Trading Company in Albuquerque doesn't sell toys, this Native American crafts store still reflects what it takes to expand a retail operation.

Little Kids Duplicates Success (4/1/2006)
James Engle, a Hasbro veteran, established Little Kids in 1989, with 12 years experience in sales and marketing.

The Good Old Days (4/1/2006)
Specializing in classic pedal cars for little kids, American Retro offers a unique selection of ride-ons.

Internet Toy Retailers Share Secrets (4/1/2006)
Although some online retailers may be fly-by-night, outstanding numbers have flourished.

The Art of Dollmaking (4/1/2006)
R. John Wright Dolls has been making hand-crafted collectible dolls since 1976.

Skullduggery Digs in Deep (3/1/2006)
Skullduggery emerged as a mail order company in 1978 to fill a niche for educators and collectors, specializing in museum-quality fossil replicas.

Romancing the Past With Dolls (3/1/2006)
Carpatina Dolls are meticulous creations that showcase president and lead designer Mihaela Hinkle's talent.

Steve Spangler Science Has the Magic Touch (3/1/2006)
Steve Spangler, Emmy Award-winning television personality, “teacher’s teacher” and authority on “inquiry-based learning” (not to mention toy maker) came upon his love of science via … magic?

The World of Fascinations (3/1/2006)
Fascinations, a manufacturer of high-tech novelty gifts and toys, has adapted to a constantly changing industry.

The Nursery as Gallery (2/1/2006)
Laura Hescock attempts to mirror children’s vivid, complex and imaginative thoughts in her unique artwork for children's rooms.

Biggles Toys Relies on Providence (2/1/2006)
Cory Johnson took a little Manhattan savvy, added a cuddly teddy bear, and Biggles Toys was born on November 1, 2005, in a city with a promising outlook in the midst of revival.

Aurora World USA Makes Plush Irresistible (1/1/2006)
How does a company expand its horizons without taking a financial plunge?

Secrets of Success (12/1/2005)
Founded by two self-proclaimed "Bohemians" in 1989, Enchanted World of Boxes started as a small business in Cambridge, Mass., that was supplied by Poland’s cottage decorative box industry.

Traveling With Lewis and Clark (12/1/2005)
Painted Pony Press creates and distributes history games that cater to the educational and museum store market.

The Doctor May Be In (12/1/2005)
British popular culture has had a tremendous impact on America. Many of our science fiction and fantasy films originate in the United Kingdom, such as the "Harry Potter" series and "War of the Worlds." These days, "Doctor Who" is re-taking the nation by storm. American retailers would do well to pay attention to the BBC as it reintroduces well-loved shows of the past.

One Odd Bird of a Store (11/1/2005)
Lark in the Morning, a successful West Coast music store chain, has survived in a peculiar niche because its owners care about musicians and the instruments they play.

LeapFrog Enterprises: Self-Investment Pays Off (11/1/2005)
In 1994, Mike Wood left his successful law practice to invent the prototype for what has become a multimillion dollar product: the LeapPad Learning System.

Motion Picture Marketing: An Interview With Jeff Walker (11/1/2005)
One of the owners of The Thinking Cap Company, a former licensing business, Jeff Walker is now a prominent consultant in Hollywood with a marketing company that specializes in science fiction films. In his own words, Walker describes his diverse career creating and promoting licensed products

Xtra Fielder: A Safe Way to Learn Baseball (11/1/2005)
For parents and educators tired of seeing kids injured by baseballs while squabbling over a referee's calls, the Xtra Fielder Backyard Net System from Xtra Fielder LLC brings fun back to outdoor play.

Toy Industry Provides Hurricane Katrina Relief (10/1/2005)
In the aftermath of one of the most devastating natural catastrophes in U.S. history, the toy industry has stepped up to help Hurricane Katrina survivors through fundraising and contributions.

Wild Planet Spies on the Future (10/1/2005)
Since the company´s inception in 1993, Wild Planet´s ability to tap into a thriving toy market with groundbreaking designs — such as Spy Gear — has brought them to the top.

Digital Dimensions Computes With Kids (9/1/2005)
As parents and teachers emphasize computer skills among preschoolers, the retail market is changing to accommodate the special needs of toddlers. Adult models are difficult, if not impossible, for a small child to use. One company has branched out and formed a special division to meet this growing demand.

Toypresidents Honors a Different Kind of Hero (5/1/2005)
Founded in 2003 by Jesse Combs, Toypresidents, Inc. has met with tremendous success crafting collectible, battery-operated talking president action figures. This year, Combs expands the concept to include other historical figures by opening Timecapsule Toys.

A Niche for Unique Action Figures (5/1/2005)
As a child, Clark Gray was a fan of G.I. Joe. Then came eBay, which renewed his collector’s spirit.

Picture Pretty Kites Still Pack the Power (4/1/2005)
When Charles Gorr was 8 years old, his father taught him how to make kites. He lived on a 15-acre farm in Omaha, Nebraska, so finding a private field where he could fly his creations wasn´t difficult.

These Aren´t Your Grandma´s Puzzles (4/1/2005)
For many, nothing could be further from hip than the time-honored puzzle. Yet, as consumers increasingly demand challenge and beauty, size and intricacy, a few leading puzzle makers have emerged, pushing the borders of puzzle design in their wake.

Stuff It! How a Simple Machine Changed the Toy Industry (4/1/2005)
It took a combination of forced air, white fluff, and imagination to change the teddy bear industry. Why settle for someone else’s design? Make your own.

High Fashion Haunting with InCharacter Costumes (3/1/2005)
In 2004, Chuck Martinez and Bob Pickens, two men with already long careers in the thriving Halloween industry, teamed up to launch InCharacter Costumes.

The Man Behind the Masks: Bump in the Night’s Chuck Jarman (3/1/2005)
Though some of his merchandise is tame, most of Jarman’s masks and puppetry are macabre and frightening. Vicious looking clowns, deformed heads, and rotten creatures add to an extensive selection of masks, displays, and puppets not intended for the faint-of-heart. To learn about the man behind the masks,

The Art of the Mask: An Interview with Lookinglass Owner Louis Klaitman (3/1/2005)
With a background in retailing Louis Klaitman began recycling clothing for wholesale in 1972. Today, he sells under the Cabaret brand name to international clients. He supplies Halloween retailers and party planners of special events and Mardi Gras.

Children´s Music: What´s New for 2005 (2/1/2005)
The savvy children´s music retailer in 2005 knows that cassettes are out, and CDs are in. Videotapes are nearing extinction, and DVDs are multiplying.

Selling Music for Children (2/1/2005)
For a new store owner thinking of specializing, music for children is a lucrative, fulfilling possibility. From a monetary and artistic perspective, this is a rewarding retail niche.

Musical Furnishings: Handcrafted Instruments (2/1/2005)
Tor Clausen, an artist based in Olympia, Washington, started Musical Furnishings with intent to succeed, but some thought he was nuts.

Rivanna Music: Soothing Children with Lullabies (2/1/2005)
Children´s lullabies are a worldwide tradition. When Cathy Bollinger was in college she met Zane Apprey, a dedicated music therapist who served as her mentor and taught her that opportunities to use music to nurture and inspire surround us.

AnimeCollect: Online Source for Anime and Manga (2/1/2005)
AnimeCollect, an online anime and manga store in Monrovia, Calif., is a collector´s paradise. Eric Canlas carries everything from DVDs and CDs to books and apparel.

TDmonthly's Top 10 Most Wanted Board Games (1/1/2005)
The lasting appeal of board games makes them a profitable item for retailers to have in stock.

Jay and Silent Bob´s Secret Stash: Kevin Smith Opens Westwood Store (1/1/2005)
Bob Chapman, co-owner of the new Jay and Silent Bob´s Secret Stash in Westwood, Calif., has worked with cult figure and partner Kevin Smith for the last six years on movie licensing. He produces T-shirts and toys for the comic book market with Graphitti Designs, a business he started in 1982. Though he has friends in the retail business, Chapman never thought he would open a store.

Getting the Word Out: Advice from MouseShoppe (1/1/2005)
MouseShoppe is an Internet-based store that carries low-end licensed Disney mechandise, while its physical counterpart, CharmingShoppe, is a brick and mortar store that sells high-end Disney collectibles. Strategically located near Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif., Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix may have an edge on her competitors, but even this experienced retailer must advertise to draw sales.

Todd McFarlane Opens Showroom and Store in Tempe, Arizona (1/1/2005)
In October 2004 Todd McFarlane, who has an 11-year history in the sports and movie licensing markets, held the official grand opening of a showroom and store in Tempe, Ariz. With Phoenix the hub of his business and his family living in the outlying area, Tempe seemed the most logical location.

Monogram International: Batman Begins to the Future (1/1/2005)
Monogram International is known for movie collectibles; everything from items based on animated tales to their newest licensing contract with Warner Brothers for the live action film “Batman Begins.”

RobotiKits for the Robot Generation (12/1/2004)
OWI, Inc. is famous for their consumer and educational products. Known for durability and reliability, the company would seem a natural for producing robots.

Meltdown Comics: Selling To Collectors (12/1/2004)
Known as the West Coast´s largest and most influential comics dealer, Sunset Strip-headquartered Meltdown Comics and Collectibles is only one of five southern California stores owned by Gaston Dominguez-Letelier and his partner. The Meltdown family of stores are delightful, singular shopping experiences

Paul Daniels Magic: Store of Illusions (12/1/2004)
Paul Daniels is enjoying a long and prominent career as a magician. His international audiences have brought him acclaim few can equal. Known for his sense of humor and polished on stage presence, Daniels is an entertainer to emulate. In October 2003 he opened the Paul Daniels Magic Store. He carries everything from simple card tricks to elaborate instruction materials

Groth Music Company: Selling Children´s Instruments (11/1/2004)
"The biggest factor in our success has been the wonderful talented employees that I have surrounded myself with. In the past five to ten years we have relocated to a much larger building, upgraded our use of technology, and have increased our market area to include the entire United States through advertising on the Internet"

Safe Budgeting: The Dangers of High Overhead (11/1/2004)
Tamara Carlisle, president of Big Kids Productions in Austin, defines "overhead" as their staff and their inventory

Schoenhut Toy Pianos: History in Music (11/1/2004)
Founded in 1872 by Albert Schoenhut, the award-winning Schoenhut Toy Piano Company has moved into the twenty-first century with finesse. Emphasizing an individualized rather than an assembly line approach to manufacturing, this historic toy company is a timeless contributor to early childhood music education

Time to Expand: Consulting & Business Planning Advice for Small Businesses (10/1/2004)
HJ Ventures International is a consulting firm that specializes in toy store startups. Howard Schwartz, the company´s managing director, has useful advice for entrepreneurs ready to take the risk of expansion.

Chaos: A World of Motion (10/1/2004)
Jim Rothbarth, designer of the Chaos kinetics system, has been an entrepreneur and inventor since college. Rothbarth learned from development and marketing that nothing is more important than quality. Flaws and reliability issues are never tolerated.

Have Mercy! Hand Painted Children´s Furniture (10/1/2004)
Hillary James specializes in hand painted children´s furniture and considers herself self taught out of trial and error

Simpich Character Dolls Embody Storybook Fantasies (9/1/2004)
Nestled in historic Old Colorado City is a workshop filled with elves. It´s a land of enchantment filled with storybook characters

Oregon Scientific: Children´s Learning Devices (9/1/2004)
Steve Jackson, executive vice president of Oregon Scientific has been involved in the toy industry most of his life. "The greatest influence on my success has been an insatiable drive to provide a fun and valuable play experience for kids

Seasonal Store Displays: Promotion with a Theme (9/1/2004)
Holidays and themes are important in attracting attention and increasing sales

Adventureville: Interactive DVD of the Future (9/1/2004)
U-Pic Entertainment and Psychic Bunny Productions teamed to create Adventureville, a new interactive DVD that encourages children to make decisions as they watch

Collectibles for Railroad Enthusiasts at A-Trains (8/1/2004)
In 1986 television news photographer Les Jarrett started shooting train videos as a creative outlet

Store Promotion: Paper vs. the Internet (8/1/2004)
The ability to promote your business is a key factor in success

Customer Service: Does One-on-One Contact Really Sell? (7/1/2004)
An average customer touches merchandise before purchase and needs direct contact with a retailer, but the Internet crosses distance barriers

Maple Landmark Woodcraft: The Classic Wooden Toy (7/1/2004)
Maple Landmark, a Vermont-based wood toy manufacturer, has grown from a small business to an award-winning company

Naughty and Nice Novelties from Toysmith (7/1/2004)
Smith has seen an increase in accounts stocking novelty toys, such as hobby stores and a department store chain

The Making of a Toy Licensing Campaign (6/1/2004)
Toy licensing in conjunction with an upcoming blockbuster movie is a process that involves the creativity and business savvy

Salmagundi Tin Toys: Reproductions from the Past (6/1/2004)
When Buck and Norma Service started with one tin toy among their antiques and collectibles

The Licensed Merchandise Trend: One Company’s Perspective (6/1/2004)
Based in California, this store has expanded to include forty lines with over 5,000 items

Applause: Licensed Plush and a Dream (6/1/2004)
Coming from a man who´s been on the pop culture pulse for two decades, his spontaneity is refreshing

Video Game Exchange: Not Merely A Store (5/1/2004)
In business for eight years, Tom and Bridgitte Martin opened a modest video game store in their hometown of Lodi, California

HuckDoll: Go to the Extreme (5/1/2004)
Founded by professional extreme athletes in North Lake Tahoe, NSM Resources/HuckDoll is one of the leading companies specializing in athletic figures

Old-Fashioned Treats: Regennas Toy Candy (5/1/2004)
Established in 1894, Regennas Candy, Inc. is a five-generation, family-owned-and-operated confectionary

Learning to Sell: Retailing School Supplies (5/1/2004)
School supplies are a part of an ever-changing and challenging market

Poof-Slinky: Imagination Sells (4/1/2004)
Since acquiring James Industries in 1998, Poof-Slinky, Inc. is best known for its famous Slinky® toys

Rhino Toys: Designs for Healthy, Active Play (4/1/2004)
David and Suzanne Silverglate are new to manufacturing, but they aren´t novices in the toy industry

WindWeavers Kites: Passion for Kites Leads to Success (4/1/2004)
Tory Anderson chose to sell kites on a whim while visiting a kite store during a business trip to California

TransWorld´s Halloween Show Turns Twenty (3/1/2004)
TransWorld´s 20th National Halloween Costume and Party Show´s 2,000 exhibits attract 10,000 visitors from the U.S. and 40 foreign countries

Dynamic Design International Brings Halloween to Adults (3/1/2004)
A company that specializes in elaborate Halloween products, exemplifies the current “grown-up” trend

Soler Collectibles: A Die-cast Showroom (3/1/2004)
With over ten thousand Hot Wheels in stock, Soler Collectibles is one of the leading die-cast dealers in the country

Q&A with Halloween Headquarters District Manager (3/1/2004)
Halloween Headquarters grew from a one-kiosk operation to over 15 temporary superstores throughout Northern California

Adult Halloween Costumes: What´s New for 2004 (3/1/2004)
Politicians, celebrities, monsters, and horror

Build-A-Bear Workshop: An International Success Story (2/1/2004)
Maxine Clark, founder of the Build-A-Bear Workshops, took a winning idea in early 1997 and turned it into an international operation

The Learning Shop Earns A’s in Inventory and Attitude (1/1/2004)
The Learning Shop, a successful six-store chain in Wisconsin, started as an educator supply source in the early 1970s...

North Pole Magic: The Santa Claus House (12/1/2003)
When Con and Nellie Miller moved to Alaska territory in 1949, they had $1.40 in cash and two hungry kids. ...

Internet Retailing isn’t as Scary as You Think (12/1/2003)
According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, two million more Americans become Internet users every month, and over half the population is now online

Build-A-Bear on Creating a Welcoming Website (12/1/2003)
Since its beginnings in St. Louis, Missouri in 1997, the Build-A-Bear Workshop chain has become an international success. ...

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