With additional reporting from Chris Lundy and Brenda Ruggiero
When TDmonthly Magazine surveyed 11 retailers in June 2013, we learned that most of them don't carry traditional children's furniture or wooden play houses, citing the cost and the limited space available to display such large items.
However, many of the retailers do a healthy business in doll furniture and nylon play tents.
You can see their best-sellers below.
No manufacturer paid to be included in this article. All products listed were designated by editorial staff without regard to the company's relationship with TOYDIRECTORY.com/TDmonthly Magazine.
These sturdy tents feature reinforced tent corners, easy to use zippers, and no sharp corners. The tents feature colorful printed "The Jungle Book" designs from Disney's new show. — "We do sell a lot of Pacific Play Tents - the tents with a cute theme," Kim Emigh, manager of e-commerce at Growing Tree Toys in State College, Pa., told TDmonthly in a June 2013 survey.
Three, two, one, blast-off! This highly-detailed spaceship and lift-off rocket provide fuel for imaginative explorations into any galaxy. Astronauts and aliens add to the adventure. — "The best selling play house is the Hape spaceship," Suzi McMullen, manager of e-commerce at Doodlehopper 4 Kids in Springfield, Va., told TDmonthly in a June 2013 survey.
This cozy cottage comes fully assembled and ready to play with everything you need for hours of pretend play fun with Calico Critters. This play set comes equipped with over 10 furniture pieces & accessories including: Bell Hopscotch Rabbit, bed with matching sheets, round table with chairs, kitchen counter with sink & oven, movable ladder for easy access to each floor, cookware and food. Launch date: 2010. — "We also see a lot of interest in the Calico Critter playhouses - there is quite a variety of them," Suzi McMullen, manager of e-commerce at Doodlehopper 4 Kids in Springfield, Va., told TDmonthly in a June 2013 survey. — Syd Clarke, owner of Ali-Cat in Carrboro, N.C., told TDmonthlyin a December 2014 interview that the Calico Critters Cozy Cottage is one of their best-selling play sets.
Featuring a removable, locking tray, this durable white chair will can accommodate dolls up to 20". — Mike DiAndrea, manager of Ace Hardware & Toy Center in Paoli, Pa., told TDmonthly in a Summer 2011 survey that he sells six of this item each month. — Joe Berardoni Jr, owner of Pun's Toys in Bryn Mawr, Pa., told TDmonthly in a June 2013 survey that Melissa and Doug wooden doll furniture is their best-selling furniture item.
This combo set includes two colorful pop-up tents that pop up and down in seconds, plus a sturdy polyester tunnel that connects them. It includes hold-down pegs and a “Go Anywhere Bag.” — Joe Berardoni Jr, owner of Pun's Toys in Bryn Mawr, Pa., told TDmonthly in a June 2013 survey that they don't sell traditional playhouses, but they do sell these nylon play tents from Schylling.
This castle features a grand staircase and a lot of rooms. The tower has a secret hiding place, and inside the castle there is a revolving dance floor. Includes a jewelry box, tiara, bracelet and ring for the child. Dimensions: 29.5"x 28"x 26" (L x W x H). — Grafton Stine, owner of Toys on the Square in Hummelstown, Pa., told TDmonthly in a June 2013 survey that Playmobil dollhouses and furnishings are their best-selling furniture item.
This 50.5" long by 34.5" wide by 20" tall solid hardwood table has a double-sided white melamine surface that is easy to clean and fantastic for puzzles, Play-Doh, arts and crafts. In addition, the table comes with an easy to clean, light-weight plastic play mat with detailed digital graphics that include roads/trails, airstrips, trees, rocks, grass, beaches and water. The table railing includes a number of holes that allows for an expanding line of playtime accessories. This table is featured in specialty toys stores only, no mass market stores! It is also the only train/activity table that allows a child to sit with their legs comfortably under the table! Its the number one table in the specialty market! — “We have Nilo play tables,” Chuck Harper, owner of Explorations Inc. in Granger, Ind., told TDmonthly when asked about his best-selling children's furniture in May 2009. ― Three of 48 retailers surveyed in May 2010 listed Nilo as their best-selling furniture item.
There are as many ways to play with this house as there are families in the world. Six rooms, movable stairs, and a reversible winter/summer-themed, solar-paneled roof inspire year-round activities. Includes four room sets: Master Bedroom, Family Bathroom, Media Room and Kitchen. — Isaac Judd from Magic Beans in Brookline, Mass., told TDmonthly in a June 2013 survey that they're best-selling furniture/play house item is the Hape All Seasons house.
Offering style and storage, this KidKraft Limited Edition Toy Box has a large, generous space for organizing toys, games, and books. The flip-top lid has a secure safety hinge to protect kids' fingers from getting caught. With a gracefully arched back, it's sturdy enough to double as a bench for extra seating. — Phil Wrzesinski, owner of Toy House and Baby Too in Jackson, Miss., told TDmonthly in a June 2013 survey that their best-selling furniture item is the Kidkraft Limited Ed. Toy Box. They sell "typically 24-30 a year, half of which is in November-December," he said.
Our Deluxe Townhouse allows young girls to play and explore in a whole new world without leaving the house. This adorable wooden dollhouse comes with 30 accessory pieces and makes a great gift for any occasion. It’s so much fun to play interior decorator and move the different furniture pieces from room to room. Features include: 27 pieces of furniture & 3 mini dolls; Folds up for easy storage; Outdoor patio area; 3 levels and 12 rooms of open space; Vivid, detailed backgrounds; Made of composite wood materials; Packaged with detailed, step-by-step assembly instructions; No assembly required. — Isaac Judd from Magic Beans in Brookline, Mass., told TDmonthly in a June 2013 survey that they usually sell one of these houses during the holidays.
Writer's Bio: Justina Huddleston graduated Magna Cum Laude from Emerson College with a BA in Writing, Literature, and Publishing in 2009. After graduating she was the on-site director of the Boston Children's Museum gift store for a year, selling educational, developmental, and creative activity toys that tied in with the museum's exhibits. Justina also interned at children's book publisher Candlewick Press before moving from Boston to Los Angeles, where she is now Editorial Director of TDmonthly Magazine. Read more articles by this author