After 31 years in business, Owner Sally Lesser of Henry Bear’s Park in Massachusetts, knows that staple items and best sellers go hand in hand.
“We look at categories or departments, and are always refining the list [of best sellers] based on a new product, seasonal product and staples,” which include offerings from Corolle and Manhattan Toy, she told TDmonthly Magazine.
She’s leery of toys that are too hot because “they usually end up being Webkinz or Beanie Babies,” she said.
Read on to discover Lesser’s “signature specialty products” and other best sellers at her three stores. And to find out about the lessons that helped Henry Bear’s Park grow, see Retailer Spotlight: Henry Bear’s Park.
Europe´s 2002 game of the year, Blokus is a strategy game for the family. It's similar to the ancient Go Game — the board is a grid and players use their pieces to try to control as much territory as possible. The game pieces are in four, 21-piece sets of varying shapes. Each player chooses a color and works on expanding his territory on the board while blocking others from doing the same. Each new piece laid down must touch at least one other piece of the same color, but can only touch at corners, not along edges. The game ends when all players have been blocked from laying down more pieces. Points are deducted for pieces not played, and the player with the highest score at the end, wins. Blokus comes with a game board with 400 squares, 84 game pieces (red, green, blue and yellow), and instructions. — In spring 2007, Sally Lesser, owner of Massachusetts’ Henry Bear’s Park, called Blokus a “consistent best-seller” at her three stores. It's also tops at Juggles in Wakefield, R.I., and Kazoodles in Vancouver, Wash. Six of 63 retailers named Blokus as their overall best seller in September 2008. Three of 52 retailers named Blokus as one of their overall top sellers in November 2008. Blokus is no longer distributed by Educational Insights as of 12/4/08. ― “No. 1 is Blokus,” Linda Hanzelko, owner of Timmy's Toy Chest in Lake Mary, Fla., told TDmonthly when asked about best-selling games in early 2009. “It's an easy sell. It's one that people come back later and say 'You were right.'” In late 2009, Lori Hershman, owner of Evan's Toy Shoppe in Hamden, Ct., estimated sales of about 34 units monthly. Six of 38 retailers called it a best-selling game in Feb. 2010, selling from three to 150 units per month.
Corolle introduces a new Tidoo to their award-winning collection of dolls that can go in the water: Tidoo Elf. Tidoo is a 12" soft body baby doll filled with polystyrene pellets with a beanbag-like feel. Because little ones love water play, Tidoo dolls have a special polished cotton body with a little hang tag so it can dry quickly after it gets wet. Tidoo Elf is dressed in a striped long-sleeved shirt, khaki pants, an orange cap and a pacifier, and comes with a play duck. For kids who can’t monopolize the sink or tub, Corolle has added a new Bathtime Set ($20) to its line of accessories. The set comes with a bathtub, a duck, a shampoo bottle, a cream pot, body lotion and a potty. — Tidoo dolls are best sellers at Henry Bear’s Park in Massachusetts, Owner Sally Lesser told TDmonthly in spring 2007.
Calin Charming Pastel is specially designed to encourage hugs and capture hearts. Thanks to the soft, beanbag body, this doll can be posed just like a real baby. With blue sleeping eyes and a pink-and-white striped outfit this 12” doll is perfect for ages 18 months and up. — Fifteen of 57 retailers TDmonthly surveyed said that Corolle dolls were among the best-selling classic toys in their stores. — In spring 2007, Owner Sally Lesser of Massachusetts’ Henry Bear’s Park stores mentioned Calin dolls, specifically, as best sellers. Corolle dolls are also popular at Juggles in Wakefield, R.I., Owner Idanna Smith said. — Maggie Moss-Tucker, public relations consultant for Corolle, told TDmonthly, "The bottom line about Calin is that it's truly one of the best dolls on the market. Its price, design, play value and accessories are what makes it such a great doll."
Gymnic Line’s Rody Horse is a favorite with children to learn balancing and coordination while they hop on it. (A base is available for transforming to a Rocking Rody Horse.) Rody is used in therapy for handicapped children, owing to its softness and ride-on qualities. Made of super-strong, latex-free vinyl, Rody inflates according to the size and weight of a child with a hand or foot pump. The maximum inflated height to “saddle” is 12". Rody is recommended for kids ages 3 and up, with adult supervision. Awards: A TDmonthly Classics Award for being an all-time favorite toy. — As of 7/21/2011 this product had 4.5 out of 5 stars from 145 reviews on Amazon.com. — “We do more Rody Horse [than any other physical fitness toy]. They look like a horse. They’re more unique and kids love them,” said Jenny Goodlund, manager of JT Puffin’s in Madison, Wis. — Jennifer Blacklock, sales and marketing representative for Toymarketing International, told TDmonthly, “Even though the Rody is for 2- to 4-year-olds, my 7-year-old rides it and loves it. He plays games with it with his little brother. It’s just a really good toy that teaches balance and coordination. It’s fun exercise — what we need more of in this society today.”
PlayFoam provides hours of creative fun with its lightweight, colorful foam-sculpting material that won't crumble, stick to skin or surfaces or dry out. According to an Educational Insights press release, PlayFoam was being “pre-ordered by the hundreds” at Toy Fair 2006. — Sally Lesser, owner of Henry Bear’s Park in Massachusetts, told TDmonthly in spring 2007 that PlayFoam is a product her stores try to keep “in stock all the time, as I’m sure anyone would.” In fall 2007, Owner Idanna Smith of Juggles in Wakefield, R.I., named it as a best seller. — Jim Whitney, president of Educational Insights, shared this insight with TDmonthly: "From the moment you touch PlayFoam it intrigues and fascinates ... It combines all the fun of sculpting with the soft, dry, squishy tactile feeling of a stress ball. It ... will last for years and is addictively fun." — PlayFoam, a winner of a TDmonthly Top Toy 2007 award, is one of those creative alternatives to clay that many specialty retailers have made a staple in their stores. The reusable product comprises tiny foam balls that draw textural interest for the sculptor and offer visual appeal in a finished creation. Playfoam easily encourages open-ended play.
Skwish appeals to baby's visual and tactile curiosity, making this sophisticated toy a source of wonder and learning. ”It never loses its shape, allowing it grow with baby,” Associate Marketing Manager Amy Cathey of Manhattan Toy told TDmonthly. “Adults also love it as a stress reliever, so it appeals to anyone.” Launch date: 1988. ― Of 39 retailers asked to name their top-selling infant and toddler toy in March 2010, seven told TDmonthly that Manhattan is their best line. Three named Skwish, reporting sales averaging 24 per month. ― “Manhattan Toy is my biggest vendor, both for infants and toddlers,” said Barbara Paeth-Haas, owner of The Durango Kid in Durango, Colo., in spring 2010. — In a February 2013 survey, Cariad Owen, manager of Out of the Blue Toys in Albuquerque, N.M., told TDmonthly that Skwish was their best selling wooden toy.
Everyone in the Lambrook Family loves nothing better than fresh fruit. This is not surprising, as Father Danny is in charge of the orchards in Cloverleaf Corners where he grows delicious apples and pears. Mother Barbara helps him take care of the trees, while sister Iona and brother Winton help with smaller jobs after school. Calico Critters are a best seller at Henry Bear’s Park stores in Massachusetts, Owner Sally Lesser told TDmonthly in spring 2007. ― In spring 2007, Roberta Edwards, owner of Wishes Toys & Gifts in La Quinta, Calif., named International Playthings as a vendor who has “gone the extra mile.” — "We probably sell more of the Calico Critter dollhouse than anything from International Playthings. They're hot," said Jeanne McCullough, owner of Children's Store Inc. in Boise, Idaho. Five of 62 retailers cited Calico Critters when asked about best-selling play houses or furniture in their stores. — Known as the Sylvanian Families across the pond, Calico Critters' cute little animal families are collected and loved by little girls and boys around the world. Since being reintroduced to the States, the furry minis have taken off big time, earning them a TDmonthly Classic Toy 2007 award.
This set includes three explorer figures (Megan the Ranger, Ken the Tracker and Tom the Adventurer) and more than 30 accessories including an ATV, crypt, mummy, crates, tool boxes, tools and much more. Launch date: 2006.
SET is a board game where any table becomes the board. It is a highly addictive, original game of visual perception. The goal is to be the first to see a SET from the 12 cards laid face up on the table. A SET is three cards that are either all the same or all different in each individual feature. With no turns and no luck, SET is challenging, fast and fun! Players 1 to 20 (or as many as can fit around a table) Ages 6 to 99 — “It's a really great game, one that we sell day in and day out,” Sally Lesser, owner of Henry Bear’s Park in Massachusetts, told TDmonthly in spring 2007. — Two of 63 retailers mentioned Set when asked about their overall best-selling toy or game in September 2008. Ten of 64 retailers named Set as a best-selling card game in August 2008, and more than 25 percent of 38 retailers said the same in late summer 2009. In Feb. 2010, five of 38 retailers cited it as a top-selling game. — “[Set is] popular mainly because all ages can play it at the same time,” pointed out Greg Bonner, owner of Heights Toy Center in Little Rock, Ark., in summer 2008. — In a late summer 2010 TDmonthly survey, 23 percent of 43 retailers surveyed named SET a best-selling card game. AWARDS: 2010 TDmonthly Top Seller; 2007 TDmonthly Classic