Michelle Deutschmann’s jump into the toy industry was the result of meeting a combination of needs.
“We didn’t have a toy store on our main street, and I needed something to do after my father sold his business that I had managed for years,” she explained to TDmonthly Magazine.
The solution was Kaleidoscope Toys, located on Main Street in Falmouth, Mass. Although the store has now been in business for three years, the transition wasn’t exactly an easy one for Deutschmann.
From Dream to Business Plan
“I had to overcome lack of self-confidence for such things as writing a business plan to approach the bank for a loan, and also the pessimists in my life,” she said. “But I knew it would work, and when I finally just said so, I got the loan, and well-meaning friends and family left me alone.”
Deutschmann lists her most significant external obstacle as “location, location, location.” She was originally negotiating a lease on a space she was not very confident about, but ended up finding a different space at the last moment.
Mastering Cash Flow
Since she got into the business, Deutschmann admits that one of her biggest mistakes was forgetting to spread out her ship dates at the end of the summer.
“We got into a cash crunch during the slow months of September and October,” she admitted to TDmonthly.
She feels that her biggest success is the atmosphere that she has created in the store, and is proud of the fact that their product knowledge sets them apart from big box.
“A customer can come in and tell us about a child and we will help to find the perfect gift,” she said. Planning Ahead
Another lesson that Deutschmann has learned since she entered the industry is that marketing and development require organization and planning ahead. She has been frustrated by the fact that she often gets great ideas at the last minute when she doesn’t have time to advertise sufficiently.
For toy research and buying, Deutschmann relies on exchanging information with other retailers via such means as trade organizations, and says that joining ASTRA is the best advice she could give a newcomer.
To see the best-selling toys in Deutschmann’s store, click here.
And to hear what she said at last year’s Toy Fair, watch this video.
Michelle Deutschmann, owner of two-year-old Kaleidoscope Toys, gives advice on scouring the aisles.