Written for AmericasMart Magazine – January 2016
By Stevanne Auerbach, PhD, Dr. Toy®
San Francisco, CA – (December 21, 2015) – The experience your customers have is different than when they shop online or in a big-box store. Your personal care and consideration provides something special. You, of course, understand the importance of play (and its value not just for children, but for the whole family, including seniors). When you shop AmericasMart, you find a host of wonderful products to consider.
To help you be even more successful, I wish to share 10 ideas to help you create your checklist of productive activities that can benefit your bottom line, enhance your customers’ experience and bring them back.
Here are Dr. Toy’s 10 Tips:
- Understand the power of play: Be as expert as possible about play and toys, and select products that fit a wide range of children’s growth and developmental needs. Select items that can be enjoyed by the whole family, including seniors who also mentally and socially benefit from games and puzzles. Encourage grandparents to share the fun they had with grandchildren with products such as games, puzzles, dolls and a nostalgic sock monkey or teddy bear.
- Tailor the best mix of products: Your products should represent the entire range of ages, community and diversity. Toys sell to a broad range of customers who look for the best they can find and afford. You want your customers to feel confident they made the right choices.
- Know your customers: Welcome them, and ask them to register as a “valued customer.” Email a monthly or quarterly newsletter, birthday club, and gift “wish lists” including birthdays, holidays and vacation travel. You can find out what they want, and then do your best to provide those products.
- Enliven in-store experiences: Create a table or counter offering games and demos. Run special events to get customers more engaged in the store. They will keep returning if what you offer is unique, and not found anywhere else.
- Brand your store: Make your store more special by creating drawings for prizes, holding special sales and promoting themes such as holidays, seasons, back-to-school, STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) learning, fantasy play and nature.
- Trust your expertise: Grow your knowledge of play. Play is vital to everyone’s health and well-being. Expand upon your skills in business, marketing and enriching everyday experiences.
- Contemplate community outreach: Your sponsorship of local charities and groups or offering prizes for events, provides benefits and increases your store’s name recognition.
- Participate: As an essential member of the toy industry, join organizations such as ASTRA, TIA and WIT. Read trade magazines and sign up for the free, long-standing source of industry news, The Bloom Report (www.thebloomreport.com).
- Train your staff: You want your staff to be welcoming, knowledgeable and helpful. A friend told me about her experience in an established Washington, D.C., toy store when she asked someone for help with a gift. He showed her six toys which were perfect. She picked out one and it was giftwrapped. 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.
- Offer a range of playthings: Include variety of toys for all ages and reasons such as:
- Active toys like balls, and cars, Frisbee® and hula hoops.
- Creative toys like art kits, Colorforms®, coloring books, crayons, Etch a Sketch®, sketch pads, pens and puppets.
- Educational toys and games like books, science kits,STEM products, tech toys, Monopoly®, Scrabble® and various puzzles.
And one bonus tip:
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.
About Dr. Toy: Dr. Auerbach, a long-time resident of San Francisco, originally from New York City, lived in Washington, D.C., while working for the Department of Education where she approved the first proposal for “Sesame Street” and established the first day care center for children of federal employees. In San Francisco, she established the San Francisco International Toy Museum, the world’s first “hands-on” toy museum visited by over 50,000 children. The author of 15 books, including The Toy Chest, Toys for a Lifetime, The Whole Child, Choosing Child Care, and hundreds of articles on toys and play, she is the only Ph.D. in Child Development evaluating toys and children’s products with extensive training, background, and over 40 years of experience evaluating, writing and speaking about toys and children’s products. Dr. Auerbach is trained in child development, education, child psychology and special education. She is an educator, consultant, parent, and playful grandparent. Her book, Dr. Toy’s Smart Play/Smart Toys: How to Raise a Child with a High PQ (Play Quotient), which is published in 12 countries, may be obtained through www.amazon.com, www.barnesandnoble.com and at other book stores.
The Dr. Toy Award Programs recognize the best toys and play things in many categories including, Best of the Year, Best Picks, Best Classics, Best Vacation, and Best Green. The website has links to the product makers and retailers and other useful sites for parents, teachers, children, and toy enthusiasts. Dr. Toy’s Guide provides all pertinent information and includes photos, complete product descriptions, links to company sites, and consumer information.
- Dr. Auerbach is the author of the newly released 4th Edition of Dr. Toy’s Smart Play/Smart Toys: How to Select and Use the Best Toys and Games (Regent Press), which provides useful tools to parents to enhance their child’s P.Q (Play Quotient). The book, published in China, Croatia, Egypt, Germany, Greece, India, Indonesia, Israel, Korea, Russia, Spain, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, and the USA, and will soon be available in other countries.
- Articles about and by Dr. Toy have appeared in newspapers and magazines across the U.S., Canada, and around the world.
- Read other articles on play and toys by Dr. Toy on The Huffington Post.
- Dr. Toy’s Guide lists many useful websites and other resources on play, toys, and parenting.
- Check also Dr. Toy’s Best Gift Guide Mobil App for your convenience.
- Dr. Toy presents the newest products to parents and teachers around the world.
- Dr. Toy writes, speaks, and shares insights about the importance of learning through play.
- All toys are donated. Product and guidance information is available online.
- Interviews with Dr. Toy, info about her books and/or the smart toys and products can be arranged with
Walsh Public Relations at 203-292-6280 or firstname.lastname@example.org