Why does TDmonthly Magazine exist? We´re here to help the small specialty retailer sell more. TDmonthly staff tries to find cool new products or toys that are selling well and do research for the retailer who´s short on time. We also try our best to anticipate and troubleshoot problems for specialty toy retailers.
Last month, we published an article dealing with the incandescently popular Hello Kitty by Sanrio. Though undoubtedly the majority of the dealers around the country are able to keep their stores stocked with all the product their customers demand, our reporter identified two stores where the owners were frustrated because they couldn’t get sufficient product or the right type of product into their stores.
Nakajima USA Inc., which distributes Hello Kitty, was disturbed by the article, finding it unbalanced and out of context. “Comparing a store in Idaho to a store in Los Angeles is misleading,” Eric Weber, president of the company, told TDmonthly Magazine.
Weber agreed that a store in Idaho might not be visited as frequently by a sales representative as a store in New York or Los Angeles might be. However, he said that was simply because the demand in those less populated areas is necessarily lower and that a store in a small town could not expect frequent visits.
Weber stressed that Kitty has a 30-year history of unabated popularity and that the company releases at least 100 new items per month. “The typical store has 3000 items,” said Weber. A store can stock $2500 worth of Hello Kitty products and sell through them in just one month.
In last month’s article, one owner of a Sanrio Surprises Los Angeles-area boutique was quoted as stating that sales were slow because she couldn’t stock enough red Hello Kitty to satisfy her mostly Chinese customer base. Weber countered that Sanrio services a much wider demographic than that and there are plenty of products in a variety of colors that Min could choose for her store.
Weber also provided TDmonthly with the phone numbers of several satisfied Los-Angeles Sanrio dealers of Asian descent who could offer a counterbalance to the stores quoted in the article. Most didn´t return our calls; let´s hope it´s because they´re too busy selling Hello Kitty!
Alyssa Cho, who owns three Los Angeles-area Sanrio Surprise stores, however, did manage to reach us. She is sympathetic with the other store´s dilemma because, she said, "The Chinese go for red because it´s lucky money. A red envelope is given out at New Year´s. Also, Hello Kitty´s original color was red and the Chinese like collectible red."
The demographic in her stores is much more diverse, she said, and therefore she doesn´t have the need to stock up on one particular product or color. She´s been working for Sanrio since she was 16 and took over her first store in 2002.
Cho said she doesn´t have too many problems obtaining products for her store. "Basically, if the merchandise is really good, it´s out of stock. Besides that, [Nakajima USA] is very good with keeping up the merchandise."
Please feel free to let TDmonthly Magazine know about your experiences as a retailer with any product, manufacturer or distributor. We are here to help you and we look forward to any comments, questions or suggestions you might have.