Kicking off the 2017 holiday season, retailer members of the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA), including several ABA member bookstores that also sell toys, celebrated the seventh national Neighborhood Toy Store Day on Saturday, November 11.
The day’s special programs at toy retailers around the country featured crafts, local entertainers, scavenger hunts, product discounts, charity drives, family-friendly activities, giveaways, in-store specials, and previews of holiday toys new for the season.
“Neighborhood Toy Store Day showcases what ASTRA is all about: all members of the industry coming together to celebrate play and the important roles toy stores play in their communities,” Dee Marsden, ASTRA’s associate manager of marketing and communications, told Bookselling This Week. “From our retailer map, which is populated when retailers pledge to participate, we had a total of 252 retailer members who participated in Neighborhood Toy Store Day this year. That number does not include stores who have multiple locations who celebrated Neighborhood Toy Store Day. We counted more than 83 participating manufacturers this year, up 14 percent from last year and a record high.”
Neighborhood Toy Store Day began in 2010 to highlight and celebrate neighborhood toy stores and the products, expertise, and service they provide to their communities.
The ABA member bookstores that participated in this year’s celebration of community, the shop local message, and the joy of play included An Unlikely Story in Plainville, Massachusetts; Teaching Toys & Books, which has locations Tacoma and Gig Harbor, Washington; Mudpuddles Toys & Books in Sherwood, Oregon; Givens Books & Little Dickens in Lynchburg, Virginia; 4 Kids Books & Toys in Zionsville, Indiana; Little Village Toy and Book Shop in Littleton, New Hampshire; The Dolphin Bookshop in Port Washington, New York; and Barstons Child’s Play, with locations in Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C.
The first 25 children who visited Mudpuddles Toys & Books on Saturday got a free goody bag. Kids could also get their faces painted and participate in a challenge presented by the Faber-Castell crayon company, which the store advertised on Facebook: “Bring your crayons in today and take our Faber-Castell Crayon Challenge! We’ll recycle your old crayons.” The challenge asked kids to compare their old crayons to the featured brand to get 25 percent off a box of 24 Faber-Castell crayons.
MudPuddles also posted this message on Facebook along with a photo of the Calico Critter brand animal figurines pottering around their pint-sized playhouse: “They’re tidying up in preparation for our Calico Critter Party in the morning at 10:00 a.m. Can’t wait!! Stickers, coloring sheets, and a free Critter while supplies last!”
On Saturday, Teaching Toys & Books offered a free toy for every child as well as free cotton candy made in-store. Children could also participate in a tournament for the new board game Go Go Gelato, or take part in the Faber-Castell crayon company challenge.
In D.C., Barstons Child’s Play’s Chevy Chase store offered customers a chance to try out some new games, writing in an announcement on Facebook: “Visit Child’s Play Chevy Chase today and meet local game designers from North Star Games!! We’re playing Happy Salmon (a Game of the Year nominee) and testing their super-secret new game.”
At Givens Books & Little Dickens, the day’s range of child-friendly activities included face painting, a clown, and balloon animals, in addition to two giveaways per hour and 10 percent off all toys. Children and their families also had the chance to discover the season’s most anticipated new toys and games and learn how to play them with the help of Little Dickens’ staff experts.
On Saturday, 4 Kids Books & Toys offered crafts, games, and raffle prizes throughout the day, and customers were able to post their wish lists to the store’s Santa Mailbox. The store also posted a message on Facebook following Saturday’s event expressing gratitude to the customers in their community: “Wow! Today was amazing. So many friends dropped by to celebrate Neighborhood Toy Store Day! We are so lucky (and grateful) to be your neighborhood store, and we love being part of your family’s lives.”