TDmonthly Magazine!
February 2006 | Vol. V - No. 2


Lighting a Fire Under a Toy

How to Get Slow Sellers Out of Your Store

"If you keep a toy in one location, some people may never see it."Lisa Smith, Whiz Kid Toys
There’s nothing quite as discouraging as a toy that sits on a shelf week after week. What do you do with such slow-movers? Relegate them to a sales bin? Put them in storage until your after-Christmas sale? Not necessarily. Don’t go with a markdown until you’ve tried these three strategies to resuscitate sales potential:

1. Get your staff excited about the toy.

This is especially important if the toy is new and different. In such a case, Julie Gannon, owner of the Toy Box, in Hanover, Mass., recommended that retailers contact the toy’s manufacturer and inquire about the possibility of someone coming out to do a training session. This strategy helped jump-start sales for an innovative wooden construction toy that the Toy Box was carrying.

“The national sales manager for the company came in from California and did a half-hour training session,” Gannon told TDmonthly Magazine. “It put the toy in the forefront of the staff’s mind. They fully understand it and knew how to sell it … Now, the staff is psyched about it.”

Gannon also encourages her staff to explore new toys and games. “It makes it easier to sell a game if you’ve played it yourself,” she explained.

2. If the toy isn’t moving, then move it …

… to another location in the store. This is something that owner Lisa Smith has done at Whiz Kid Toys LLC in San Luis Obispo, Calif.

“It’s amazing how many people will look at a toy once it’s been moved and say, ‘Look, here’s something new,’” she told TDmonthly. “People get into a pattern when they move through a store. If you keep a toy in one location, some people may never see it.”

Smith observed that it’s possible to categorize toys in more than one way. For example, a truck can be relocated from the toy vehicle section to the preschool section. Or a book about trucks can be moved from the book section and placed with toy trucks.

Patti Leo, owner of Toys Galore in Kent, Conn., likewise advocated the idea of changing a toy’s location. “Move it from the bottom shelf to the top shelf,” she advised, “or place it with something else as an add-on.”

Placing a toy with a book on the same subject can be effective. For instance, Leo suggested placing a science toy with a book about science, or placing an outdoor toy with a book about outdoor exploration.

3. Set the toy free.

More precisely, spark interest in the toy by removing it from its packaging. “Sometimes, we open up a product,” Smith reported to TDmonthly. “That makes it easier to sell. We also talk it up around the staff. The idea is to excite the staff and get them talking about it.”

Leo agreed that taking a product out of its packaging can help to generate interest. “We’ll open things up as long as they’re safe” (i.e., they have no small parts that will find their way into toddlers’ mouths).

If you try these strategies, you might be able to save your markups on a broader range of toys. That’s certainly the objective at Gannon’s store. As she explained, “Our last line of defense is to put the toy on sale.”


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