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September 2007 | Vol. VI - No. 9




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TDmonthly's Top-10 Most-Wanted School Supply Items

Erasers Made Wacky By Iwako


With additional reporting by regional correspondents Virginia Davis, Erik Jay, Terri Hughes-Lazzell, Christine Lebednik and Brenda Ruggiero

School supplies bring special challenges to specialty retail, as many retailers told TDmonthly Magazine they don't even sell products in the category. Those that do, however, suggested that unique, art-related items and bags offer a niche. To that end, Sanrio's Hello Kitty Backpack leads the lineup of most-wanted school items, followed by lunch bags from Crocodile Creek, Wildkin and Bazoongi, as well as drawing-related items from Stockmar, Pencil Grip and Faber-Castell.

Here's what kids are taking back to school this fall. To learn more about trends, read Education in a Flash:




MSRP: $28.00
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: School Supplies



The Hello Kitty clear vinyl backpack is for kids who need to have everything in plain sight without opening the bag. The clear front pocket allows for easy viewing and access to smaller supplies. The backpack measures 14.25" x 11.75" x 4.25".
— “I don’t do school supplies but the closest would probably be Sanrio: Hello Kitty — things for back to school and some backpacks," said Peter Scott, owner of Perfect Toy in Avon, Conn. He told TDmonthly he sells about 100 units a month of Sanrio year round.
— Six of 45 retailers said in summer 2007 that Sanrio is among the bestsellers in school supplies, with the Hello Kitty line being most prominent.
— "As unfortunate as it is, the clear backpack is extremely important because of safety issues in schools today. This one is easy for kids and parents to agree upon," said Andrea Sobel, vice president of marketing at Sanrio.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 14262      (added 7/23/2007)
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MSRP: $1.99
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: School Supplies



Who says paper can't be functional and fun? The Drawing Pad from Melissa & Doug contains 50 9" x 12" sheets of premium heavy weight bond paper. It's great for use with pencils, markers, paints, crayons or anything else with which kids want to leave their mark.
— “The 9” x 12” plain white paper by Melissa & Doug” is the best-selling school supply item at LittleBits Toys in Wellesley, Mass., Owner and Manager Billy Thelander told TDmonthly in summer 2007.
— Thelander said he sells about 36 of the Melissa & Doug Drawing Pads on a monthly basis.
— Five of 45 retailers cited Melissa & Doug as a popular brand in school items.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 14263      (added 7/23/2007)
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MSRP: $14.49
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: School Supplies



This beautifully designed, well-priced lunch box measures 10" x 7.5" x 3". Special attention has been given to ensure that Crocodile Creek lunchboxes conform to U.S. & European consumer product safety standards. The lunchboxes are completely phthalate and PVC free.
— "For camp lunchboxes, Crocodile Creek is who we usually order from. They're beautiful," said Liz Rosenburg, owner of Toy Box in Amherst, Mass.
— Two of 45 retailers TDmonthly spoke with in summer 2007 said that lunchboxes from Crocodile Creek are best-selling school items. Rosenburg said she sold 30 lunchboxes a month, while another retailer cited monthly sales of four to 16 units.
— "The graphics for Crocodile Creek lunchboxes aren't typical. They're soft-sided and easy to clean and store. They have a front zipper for neat storage space," said Bill Corcoran, marketing manager for Crocodile Creek.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 14264      (added 7/23/2007)
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MSRP: $12.95
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: School Supplies



The Soccer Lunch Bag comes with durable exterior polyester fabric, a detachable shoulder strap, an interior mesh pocket with Velcro closure for a cold pack, and an interior elastic strap with Velcro for a beverage container. The interior is made of washable fabric and the exterior has a zippered compartment. The lunch bag measures 10 1/2" x 9" x 3.5” and complies with 16 CFR 1303 for lead content. It's safe, durable and full of functional features.
— "I’m real excited about Wildkin — the red and green soccer backpacks and lunch packs. We’re ready to bring in a shipment for back to school," said Kate Tanner, owner of Kidstop Toys & Books in Scottsdale, Ariz.
— Two of 45 retailers who spoke with TDmonthly specifically cited lunch bags from Wildkin as best-selling school supply items in their stores.
— "We make products with themes that both the parents and kids can relate to,” said Peter Hart, president of Wildkin Inc.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 14265      (added 7/23/2007)
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MSRP: $12.99
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: School Supplies



Stockmar wax crayons meet the highest artistic standards. Through the addition of pure beeswax as a binding agent, the light-resistant pigments display their purity and full brilliance. The wax allows the colors to be used in a wider range than any other coloring material. The wax itself contains natural transparency and the lack of additives enhances the color value. The eight stick markers in a tin case are paper wrapped, come with one scraper and measure 83mm x 12mm fully packaged.
— "Beeswax crayons are our best-selling art supply. The manufacturer is Stockmar," said Anita Demetropoulos, owner of Island Treasure Toys in Yarmouth, Maine.
— Two of 45 retailers who spoke to TDmonthly in summer 2007 said Stockmar crayons and pencils are favored school supply items.
— Both retailers citing the Stockmar brand were located in the Northeast.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 14266      (added 7/23/2007)
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MSRP: $3.79
Age Range: 5 to 7
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: School Supplies



School Zone Write & Reuse Books allow children to practice activities over and over. Each activity can be used to reinforce curriculum objectives or introduce new ones. The books are great for summer activities, to help retain skills already learned or to introduce new ones for the next year. Dry-erase markers are recommended for the 26 pages that measure 11" x 8.5".
— "Best-selling school supply item would be ... workbooks. We get them from School Zone," said Tristan Hewitt, manager at Dragon's Toy Box in Seattle.
— "We sell 50 units a month,” he added.
— Four of 45 retailers who spoke with TDmonthly cited workbooks as the school supply item favored by customers.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 14267      (added 7/23/2007)
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Fruit? Eraser? Collectible? Erasable? Try all four. These brightly colored erasers come in many types and sets for increased collectibility.
— “Little Japanese-made erasers from Iwako” are popular at Izilla Toys in Seattle, Co-owner Jude Larene told TDmonthly in mid-2007. “These really took off a few months ago. All the kids at local elementary schools are collecting them.”
— "I sell thousands and thousands of them — probably a couple hundred a month," added Larene.
— In early 2008, three of 45 retailers singled out Iwako erasers as their stores’ hottest selling item.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 13731      (added 6/26/2007)
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Wholesale Price: (Log in to view)
MSRP: $1.79
Age Range: 3 and up
SKU or Item #: 6-34901-00178-3
Launch Date: November 2005
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: School Supplies



The Crossover Grip uses a revolutionary applied technology that works with the body’s natural physiology to gently place fingers in the proper position for gripping. It uses the same great design as The Pencil Grip, but has added wings to prevent fingers from crossing over each other. Launch date: November 2005.
— Kate Tanner, owner of Kidstop Toys & Books in Scottsdale, Ariz., told TDmonthly that Pencil Grip items are among the hottest selling school supplies in her store.
— Tanner said she sells dozens of Pencil Grips per week during the short back-to-school selling season.
— "The Crossover Pencil Grip improves upon the original design, making the one proper position for pencil holding even more stable than ever," said Alex Provda, vice president of The Pencil Grip Inc.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 14268      (added 7/23/2007)
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MSRP: $15.99
Age Range: 3 and up
SKU or Item #: 12200
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: School Supplies



Lunch Boxes from Bazoongi make lunch on the go fun for both kids and parents. This lunch box, which measures 10" x 8" x 4", is made of a waterproof material that's easy to clean inside and out. The shell fabric is 100-percent laminated cotton, while the lining fabric is PVC. Other Bazoongi lunch box themes include Lil' Ladybug, All Star Sports and Princess Toss.
— Lunch boxes from Bazoongi are among the best-selling school supply items at Doodlehopper 4 Kids in Springfield, Va., Manager Gwen Bowden told TDmonthly in summer 2007.
— Bowden said she sells one lunch box a week from January to June, and four a week from June to September. Five of 45 retailers who spoke to TDmonthly cited lunch boxes as among the best-selling school supply items in their stores.
— "The bright colors and tropical theme are attractive and distinctive. The handle has a convenient snap to allow the child to attach it to his/her backpack to aid in transporting," said Bob Muniz, vice president for Bazoongi Kids.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 14269      (added 7/23/2007)
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MSRP: $11.49
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: School Supplies
Arts & Crafts



The new design for the Faber-Castell markers features an end cap that lets kids snap together the markers and draw with multiple colors in their hand. Now kids can draw or write with their favorite colors all at once. Also new are the connecting clips that let kids build shapes with the swoop of their hands. The non-toxic markers contain washable inks and are ACMI-approved safe for children.
— "It’s probably some of the markers [from] Faber Castell," said Lori Lind, owner of Brainwaves Toy Shop in Narragansett, R.I., when asked by TDmonthly for popular school supply items with her customers.
— Lind said she sells about 10 units a month of the Faber-Castell markers. Nine of 45 retailers said that markers, pencils, erasers, pads or other drawing-related products are the hottest-selling school supply items in their stores.
— "The Connector Markers have a unique end cap design that lets you snap together the markers and draw or write with multiple colors," said Heather Lambert-Shemo, children's brand manager for Faber-Castell. "The connector clips that come in each package let you build all kinds of wonderful shapes."
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 14270      (added 7/23/2007)
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Dennis FurlanWriter's Bio: Dennis Furlan is a freelance writer who lives just outside of Toronto, Canada. He works on a variety of writing and editorial jobs with clients and publications worldwide. Dennis is proud to be part of the TDmonthly team, serving as a regional correspondent for the northwestern U.S. Read more articles by this author

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