Archive for februari, 2009

A New Supplier!

We are delighted to welcome Wild Republic to our product range! We just got in a huge delivery with lots of fun things – mostly dinosaurs – and now we will be busy putting things online. So what’s new?

For starters, we got some fantastic stuffed animals that double as handpuppets. We like handpuppets that aren’t JUST puppets. Our current range of Fiesta Crafts puppets have legs and soft bodies, so they could double as dolls. And our new stuffed animal handpuppets are the same. Check out this adorable triceratops – I never thought of triceratops as particularly cuddly, but this one is!
And I will have a hard time keeping my hands off this cute iguana (again, cute not being a word I would normally associate with iguanas…).

And after losing our Safari Limited ”Toob” range, we have a new series that is even better! Though Wild Republic doesn’t have as broad a range of tubes as we had before, our favorites are back – farm animals, baby animals, space and dinosuars. And even better – the ”tubes” are actually plastic bags with a zipper and a handle – perfect for storage and travel!

Now that we are growing, it is useful to have some way to store and display things, even though we don’t have a real shop for people to visit. With the new tubes, we got a full display rack – what a deal!

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We are in the process of organizing the next delivery from the US… but it is so difficult to get everyone coordinated. Everything needs to arrive at our consolidator’s at about the same time… but not everyone is equally speedy with shipments. The first time we tried a consolidated shipment, one company (who will remain nameless) was more than three weeks behind everyone else. Of course, we pay for storage while the order waits… and boats come and go… This time, we have things on the way from our old favorites – Adora, Set, Scratch-Art, Gamewright and Mindware – plus some new suppliers that we discovered at the German Toy Fair. Of course, it’s all ”hurry up and wait” at this point, because the boat won’t arrive until the beginning of April…

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Website Update

We got a new version of our website yesterday, and today has been full of seeing how the new updates will impact the site and how we can work with it. So far, the differences for us have been huge – almost like they took our wishlist and made all the changes we could have wanted.

The biggest differences for you – the customer – is that we can now list items in more than one place. We have so many products, but some are hard to classify, or could be found in different places. Hopefully, this will let us put the products where you will look for them. Even better, we can now have a better ”Nyheter” area. Before the upgrade, we could only feature the 20 most recent new products – but we had more than 100 new products come in during the last week alone, and more are arriving every day. Now we can feature the new ones easily.

Of course, every change comes with a couple of headaches… notably our ”top 20” list of bestselling products. Instead of showing the top sellers, it seems to show the products in alphabetical order…

And of course, there are still a few items remaining on our wish list…

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Sounds like a movie title, doesn’t it?
We had a wonderful 2 1/2 days at the Toy Fair in Nürnberg. There was so much to see that I’m sure we missed a lot – but we did manage to line up some exciting products for 2009! We are now placing our orders, and the new products should start rolling in over the next two months.

So what were the highlights at Toy Fair 2009?

The Doll Hall – yep, one hall completely filled with dolls and stuffed animals of every shape and size. Some of the dolls were fascinating – almost museum pieces – but not very play-able. Others were extraordinarily expensive – a pair of life-sized limited edition dolls had a suggested retail price of over 100.000 SEK. Really.

The National Exhibits – Two halls focus on exhibitors from specific countries. These exhibitors tend to be small companies, often there for the first time. The country organisations offer a packaged booth deal, so the exhibits are often not that flashy or colorful, but the products can be real jewels. We found a few treasures here!

Hall 3 – which was full of wooden toys, dress-up costumes, games, etc. We couldn’t spend too much time here – there was so much to see!

And what was missing this year?

Bath Gel – yep, the toy that got my vote for the single worst idea of 2007 was notably missing this year. It was an interesting idea – put your kid in the bath, dump in some package of something, and the water turns into colored jello. Non-toxic, of course. Then dump in package number 2, and it turns back into water again. I had visions of losing package number 2, and having to shovel the bath water out the window…

Child-sized Fitness Equipment – the toy that got my vote for the absolute worst product of 2008 was the tiny treadmill. This toy misses the boat in so many ways, I can’t even count them. First of all, a treadmill is not a toy, and can in fact be quite dangerous. Encouraging children to play on them has to be a mistake. And second, why would anyone think that it would be a good idea to ”teach” a child to go to the gym? My suggestion – open the door.

But somehow, 2009 was missing a truly horrible product. Perhaps that’s a good thing!

Anyway, we really enjoyed our time at the Toy Fair (see Karin with a Lego giraffe) and we can’t wait to show you the new things that will soon arrive!

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After half a day on Thursday and a whole day on Friday looking at nothing but toys, toys, toys, Karin and I are ready to attack the halls one more time. We have a short list, we have a plan – but mostly we will wander the halls, getting inspiration and ideas. Yesterday, we started the morning at 9am with Hall 3 (of 12) and by the time we finished, lunch had come and gone.

It is hard to plan ahead – our trick seems to be in bypassing the enormous booths and finding the ”nuggets” – the tiny booths sandwiched between others, with a fascinating group of products that most pass over. Or in finding a great range of products tucked in among hundreds of others that all look the same. It might be a one-guy booth with a table and a few things stuck on the wall, which on closer inspection turns out to be a truly great idea (we found one of these yesterday!). Or it might be a range within a supplier we already know.

Many of ABC Leksaker’s most innovative products have come from past visits to this fair – Quadrilla, Automoblox, Adora, Scratch-Magic– and we hope to bring you many, many more!

Of course, our feet are tired, our shoulders are drooping from the weight of the catalogs we have amassed, and our eyes are somewhat glazed from visual overload. One more day. And then we have a migration planned to Starbucks for a celebratory coffee-and-catalog review.

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We’re off to the Toy Fair in Germany on Thursday – 14 halls filled with toys of every description! It is always exciting to see how many toys are out there, and to get a first peek at all the new things. We only get 2 1/2 days to hit all 14 halls (though we might skip model trains and container imports from China), so we will be busy.

We will try to report on the best, worst, most interesting trends, etc, while we are there. And of course, which wonderful toys will make our line-up during 2009!

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Helpful Ideas?

People contact me every so often… they want to start a web business and sell toys, too. They would like names of suppliers, information on profitability, how I do the site, etc. I guess there’s no harm in asking, but forgive me if I’m not always so helpful. So… I think I will be helpful, but in a different way.

I am an avid internet shopper. I am always looking for ways to make my life easier, and having things ”magically” arrive (rather than having to battle crowds, traffic, parking, not to mention dragging three kids in tow) is infinitely tempting. I purchase often from H&M, Lands End (US and UK), Amazon (US and UK), Hanna Andersson, Gap, CD-ON.com, dammsugarpåsar.nu, and many more. But there are so many possibilities out there – espeically in Sweden.

Here is a very short list of what I wish I could find online – actually what I have looked for over the past couple of weeks:

1) Brabantia Garbage Bags – we have three sizes of Brabantia garbage cans in our house, and the company makes wonderful bags that fit just perfectly. The problem is in finding them… and when I make the effort to look, the store is always out of the size I need.

2) Kids Outerwear – Cross is a great company with wonderful products… and so is Didrikssons and Reima… so why doesn’t anyone sell them on line (aside from used)? We seem to have a constant need for new outerwear year-round, between growth spurts and general (aka boy) wear and tear.

3) Merrell Footwear (especially for kids) – We love Merrell shoes, but they are really hard to find in Sweden. Here’s a great opportunity!

4) American Food Products – this might be tricky, as there may be rules for how to store and ship. I thought Grey’s would take care of my need for zip-loc bags and chocolate chips, but their website has never opened.

So – there’s a few ideas, and anyone who starts one of the above will be guaranteed a customer! Anyone have any more ideas?

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