Dr. Toy’s 10 Tips for Top Toy Retailers

By Stevanne Auerbach, PhD, Dr. Toy®

Stevanne Auerbach, PhD/aka Dr. Toy® offers many play, learning and toy suggestions from baby to older children in the new 4th edition of Dr. Toy’s Smart Play Smart Toys, available in stores. The author of three books on toys, she evaluates toys and children’s products, and provides the Dr. Toy awards found on Dr. Toy’s Guide drtoy.com and for Dr. Toy’s Best Gift Guide App.

Below, Dr. Toy shares 10 ideas to help you create a checklist of productive activities that can benefit your bottom line, enhance your customers’ experience and bring them back to your store.

Gravity Maze

Gravity Maze

  1. Understand the power of play
    Become a play and toy expert and select products that fit a wide range of children’s growth and developmental needs. Include items that can be enjoyed by the entire family, including senior members.
  1. Tailor the best mix of products
    Toys sell to a broad range of customers who look for the best they can find and afford. Your products should represent the entire range of ages, community, and diversity.
  1. Know your customers
    Welcome them, and ask them to register as a “valued customer.” Send them a monthly or quarterly email newsletter. Find out what they want, and then try to provide those products.
  1. Enliven in-store experiences
    Create a table or counter offering games and demos. Run special events to get customers more engaged in the store.
  1. Tasty Science

    Tasty Science

    Brand your store
    Host drawings for prizes, and hold special sales and promotions with themes such as back-to-school, STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) learning, fantasy play and nature.

  1. Trust your expertise
    Play is vital to everyone’s health and well-being. Expand your skills in business, marketing and enriching everyday experiences through play.
  1. Contemplate community outreach
    Sponsorship of local charities and groups, or offering prizes for events, increases your store’s name recognition.
  1. Participate
    As an essential member of the toy industry, join organizations such as the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association, Toy Industry Association, Inc. and Women in Toys. Read trade magazines and sign up for The Bloom Report.
  1. Train your staff
    Dodge Tag

    Dodge Tag

    Train your personnel about age-appropriate toys; stock your store with good choices; and be sure your staff understands developmental milestones, toy appropriateness and can easily and courteously assist your customers.

  2. Offer a range of playthings
    Include a variety of toys for all ages and reasons such as active toys, creative toys and puppets educational toys.

Have fun! Create a special place that is the hub for the best toys and games in your community. That’s a winning combination for customers of all ages.

© 2015 Stevanne Auerbach, PhD, San Francisco, CA
Dr. Toy ® is trademark of Stevanne Auerbach

Images courtesy of Scientific Explorer and Think Fun (available at Rep Force One), and Toy Travelers International.

You Buy, They Give: Children’s Brands that Embrace Charitable Causes

Over the past decade, many different retail brands have been incorporating a chosen charity into their business model. Think companies like TOMS, The Honest Co., Warby Parker and Burt’s Bees. A handful of these companies have implemented a one-for-one partnership, or simply donate money or product to other charitable organizations in need. It’s safe to say that this growing trend in the retail industry is here to stay, and that doesn’t disappoint.

We’ve done some research on the Children’s World brands inside and outside of AmericasMart to find which companies are exercising this trend for the little ones. We’re highlighting six companies and their efforts in giving back, each with a unique way of following through.

Rockin’ Baby

Rockin’ Baby began its Mother to Mother program in 2011 to help make a difference in the world and for mothers. For every sling or pouch purchased, it donates an Rockin Babyorange Hero sling to a mother in need in either Haiti or Kenya. Throughout this act of giving back, Rockin’ Baby has the chance to teach mothers the important role a sling can play in a baby’s life, helping her transport a child to find water and nourishment, ultimately creating a better life for a mother and her child. The orange color also helps deter malaria-carrying mosquitos. (Teacup Tots, 13-S351)

Bunnies by the Bay

This brand has a charity program called Half the Sky, which offers love and care toBunnies By The Bay children in China who have lost their families.  When you purchase an item from Bunnies by the Bay’s Red Thread Collection, part of the proceeds from each sale goes toward funding Half the Sky. They money goes toward nurture and stimulation for babies, innovative preschools, personalized learning opportunities and permanent foster homes for children with special needs. (Summer Place Reps, 13-S333)

Stephen Joseph

Stephen JosephStephen Joseph has created partnerships with three different non-profit organizations to provide care to children in three main areas, To Eat, To Learn and To Play. No Kid Hungry, Children’s Scholarship Fund and Little Kids Rock all play a major role in Stephen Joseph’s efforts in giving back. For example, Stephen Joseph donates $1 for each Lunch Pal sold to honor their partnership with No Kid Hungry. (Laura Ann & Associates, 13-N103)

Persnickety Clothing

Persnickety Clothing gives back through their charitable program called Buying IsPersnickety Logo Giving. When you purchase an item, it donates part of the proceeds to children in need. A trip to Nicaragua in 2009, lead to partnerships providing clothing to children and employment to families in the area. Persnickety Clothing not only hopes to put food on their table, but also to help them break the cycle of poverty and in doing so impact future generations. (Joyce Nilsson, 13-E113)


DondoloAt Dondolo, making a difference is key. It extends its efforts to Colombia, providing clothing to children in need and jobs for single mothers. By exercising the one-for-one business model, for every article of clothing purchased at Dondolo, it donates another article to a child in need of warmth. This company strives to empower womanhood and believes that giving back begins with its customers. (Dondolo, 13-E330B)

Bella BlissBella Bliss

Bella Bliss, created by two mothers raising their families, likes to give back in a variety of ways. It gives an average of $10,000 in cash donations each year to leukemia and lymphoma charities, as well as the American Heart Association. Bella Bliss also donates clothes and gift cards to more than fifteen other charities each year. (Bella Bliss, 13-E107)

To find children’s brands like these and much more, plan your visit to Atlanta Apparel next month, taking place Thursday, August 6 – Monday, August 10.

Back To School with Larry Lucas

Back to School in Style with Larry Lucas

Larry Lucas has been a familiar face on the AmericasMart campus since the 1970s. Lucas recently retired from his eponymous showroom, Larry Lucas, Inc. after nearly 40 years. Prior to his wholesale career, Lucas owned a successful 10,000-square-foot gift and floral shop in Sandy Springs, Ga.  He will periodically share his expertise with us on the AmericasMart blog.

AWH_PHOTO-9993The back-to-school season can be extremely stressful, not only for parents and teachers, but for the owners of your favorite kid-friendly shops, too. They may not be rummaging through shelves of school supplies at the craft store, but they are making their way to Market to shop the latest trends for children to wear throughout the school year.  It can always be a little tricky getting customers to visit your store to update their children’s wardrobe for the school days to come. Try implementing these tips into your store during the back-to-school time period for a successful season.

When preparing to visit Market, make sure you research the needs of children kindergarten through sixth grade. Use search tools such as Pinterest, Instagram and your favorite parenting fashion bloggers for inspiration on what’s to come.

As a helpful tip, try sending friendly reminders to the elementary school teachers in your area, letting them know what your store has available and how you can help them andAWH_PHOTO-3229 their students during the back-to-school season. Whether you have fun, new backpacks or a great selection of children’s shoes, it’s helpful to get your name out to the community. Also consider offering them special discounts or create a contest including the students, ultimately bringing new customers into your store.

Set yourself apart from other children’s boutiques or department stores by carrying items that are unique to your store. Visiting Market gives you a great chance to visit showrooms that carry leading product, offering a chance to physically see and feel its AWH_PHOTO-9913quality. Don’t forget add-ons like backpacks and lunch boxes. Also remember that rainwear is a big seller in the months of August, December and April.

Succeeding in getting back-to-school shoppers into your store can be a benefit to your store in multiple ways. Not only are you gaining business, but you’re also capturing new customers, as parents with little ones visit your shop for the first time. Good customer service creates loyal customers, so keep them coming back for years to come. Ask for feedback on what your customers want to see for the seasons to come. Offer them reasons to come back, such as promotional emails or special deals. While signing them up for your mailing list, be sure to ask for the child’s birthday so you can send them a special note or discount. As long as you are able to provide your customers with what they are looking for, your name will be at the top of their shopping list this fall.

Celebrity Sightings from Children’s World


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With more than 700 children’s lines open for orders during Atlanta Apparel, there’s something for everyone – even the children of Hollywood. Take a look at some recent celebrity sightings. Find all the lines at Atlanta Apparel at AmericasMart Atlanta. Next … Continue reading

Kids Trends for Fall/Winter 2015


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During March market at Atlanta Apparel, It’s a Kidsworld magazine’s Caryn Salomon shared the top children’s trends for Fall/Winter 2015/2016. We took those insights and found examples in showrooms across the 13th floor. Here’s a peek at some of our favorite fashions. Wildly … Continue reading

Little Ones Show Off Big Style in Children’s World

The small set took to the runway to show off their style on the Children’s World fashion show at the August 2014 Atlanta Apparel Market with a range of looks and lines.

Fresh retro and modern vintage are the keys for kids for the coming season. There will be something for every tot and teen with electric color, dark drama, nautical influence and rustic forklore inspiration. Embellishment and lace along with multi-patterned layers are prominent. But traditional styles patterned after the grown-ups also are still popular. 

Moms, tots, tweens and teens will be able to find styles to suit everyone with options ranging from bold and bright to traditional and subtle. Find it all on Floor 13 of the Atlanta Apparel Market.

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Saturday Morning is for Kids

Who says fashion is just for grown-ups? At Atlanta Apparel, children are just as stylish. All the latest looks for school, play and special occasions to outfit your littlest customers in one of the most popular Daily Struts of August Apparel Market. On Saturday morning, it was all about the little ones.

For all the fashion and all the fun, check out the 13th floor Children’s World. From babies to tweens, it’s all here. All for kids. All in Atlanta.