Fun & Games – and Added Sales

Meme'sIn the back of Linda Malek’s 5,000 square-foot children’s store in Metairie, La., sits an 800-square foot play area. Why bother?

“The play area draws kids in. Moms usually take their kids shopping with them, but little ones get bored quickly,” says Malek. “This gives them something to do and keeps them entertained so the grown-ups can shop longer.”

Two bead-maze tables by Hape sit on a bright, lime-green shag carpet. On one side is a wooden play kitchen set by Melissa & Doug. On another, a wall of cubicles is filled with colorful backpacks. There’s a wall-mounted TV turned to the Disney Channel or Nickelodeon.The activity tables and toy kitchen are permanent features. Malek rotates puzzles, books, blocks and stuffed animals into the mix to keep it fresh. “We don’t put anything in the play area that we don’t sell,” she says.

Melissa & Doug     Melissa & Doug puzzle

“A play space takes money, time and effort, but it definitely drives sales. About 20 percent of our business comes from toys and crafts,” says Malek. “The area also increases customer satisfaction. The kids love it, and parents like knowing their kids are safe and having fun. Everyone’s happy.”

Tips for Creating a Play Space

  • Make sure your space is large enough to add a play area.
  • It shouldn’t add to your liability if you’re smart about what you buy. We use large, wooden toys. No glass or small parts that could hurt a child.
  • Have one employee monitor the area.
  • Keeping it safe and attractive takes maintenance.
  • Kids will see things that they want, so keep your inventory well-stocked.

Retailers can find a broad array of toys, games and gifts to create a space unique to any store by shopping the extensive Children’s World collection at AmericasMart and the myriad exhibitors that feature children’s product lines. Learn more at

Linda Malek is owner of MiMi’s Kids Boutique and MeMe’s Childrens Wear in Metarie, La. For more information, call 504.833. 6100 or visit

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