November 28, 2004

How a Small Toy Store Competes with WM, Target, and Toys R Us

Absolutely fantastic article in the Lakeland Ledger (FL) about a local small toy store competing successfully with the big boxes:

LAKELAND -- Marchets Toys & Hobbies, a small shop tucked in the corner of Southgate Shopping Center, is a reminder of life before the big-box stores.

There is no intercom announcing deals in the produce and lingerie departments. Customers aren't pushing carts filled with everything from motor oil to Barbie dolls.

Marchets has been in business for nearly 50 years. David Nickels, 38, a Wisconsin native who lived most his adult life in Tampa and worked for the University of South Florida before buying the store, is the fifth owner. He took the toy store's helm three years ago....

The Ledger asks him 5 questions, and lets him answer in detail. Here's the first:

Q. What's the most difficult part of owning Marchets?

A. The hardest thing is carrying things you can't buy at Wal-Mart and Target. About 95 percent of what I have in here is unique.

It's tricky. I bought the business in September 2001, and then we had Sept. 11. The economy was really shaky and then with things like the hurricanes, I missed time because I didn't have power. You're at the mercy of the economy.

Toys "R" Us is having trouble because of Wal-Mart, so you know I'm being affected in some ways. But at the same time, I have no payroll and I don't have to accept shipments I didn't order.

If you're a chain store, you have to carry certain items. Every Wal-Mart has the same merchandise and it's sent to the store automatically. I can control my own money and my own stock. If I don't want to order something, I don't have to.

Read the whole story! Now! What are you waiting for?!

On a recent trip to my alma mater, my wife and I stopped in at Bank Street Books, a wonderful children's bookstore I had no use for as an undergraduate. It has an incredible selection of intelligent books for children, and if you're in the area (112th and Broadway, Manhattan), I'd suggest you stop in.

Posted by Kevin on November, 28 2004 at 10:24 AM | TrackBack

Comments & Trackbacks
dorkafork wrote:

Similar story about a toy store here, though slightly less informative.

-- November 28, 2004 06:58 PM

Moe Hong wrote:

Of course, this strategy doesn't work so well in the long term: if those products that the big boxes don't carry do sell well, eventually they will be picked up by the big stores. However, that won't happen for the vast majority of these products, whose manufacturers lack the advertising funds necessary for them to sell well to begin with.

-- November 28, 2004 07:02 PM

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