During the recent holidays, online toy sales showcased the fact that this niche's boom a few years ago was no fluke. According to comScore, the online arms of big box retailers like Toys "R" Us saw record sales and traffic throughout the season.
Such growth in this marketplace has been mirrored in product sales at WholesaleCentral, which encompasses the industry's best selection of toys, games and crafts. Top notch marketers like Savvi, Noodle Head Toys, Prizes!, Smiles Wholesale, Windy City Toys, Cartoon Wholesale, Fun Express, Kel-Toy and Transworld Plush have seen ballooning traffic and sales, as an increasing number of buyers find great deals at WholesaleCentral. Without question, the potential for this product category is nearly limitless.
"We see many types of orders begin to come in this time of year," said one sales rep for Savvi, a wholesaler in Tucson, AZ, which can be found at www.savvistuff.com. "For instance, we start seeing Halloween toys, games and craft orders during February. We saw witch, pirate and other animation related decorations do well in 2007, and they will do well this year. The items help decorate shops, houses and any venue. It always helps to have products that are truly unique."
Travel Items for Kids
Offering products that consumers cannot get anywhere else is one of the keys to successful merchandising. That was one of the irreplaceable principles on which brothers Christopher and Eric Ryan founded their firm, Noodle Head Toys, five years ago.
Their company offers travel companion items for kids aged 18 months to six years old at www.noodleheadfun.com and in WholesaleCentral's Toys & Hobbies section. The products include Bag Buddies ($3.50 wholesale), Travel Buddies ($3.50 wholesale) and Adventure Logs ($5.50 wholesale), which provide creative activities for kids on a plane, train or in an automobile. Tourist and travel stores, educationally based shops, gift boutiques and other local outlets have been placing orders for these items.
"They are definitely big hits with parents who take kids on trips and vacations," said Christopher Ryan, Principal, Noodle Head Toys, Spokane, WA. "And the popularity of the product line continues to increase."
The company also markets the URL, www.pawparazzi.com, for a line of products that are designed to emphasize the enchanting idea of pets as celebrities. The website includes a Meet the Pets section, which involves 11 pet characters that were developed especially for the product line. For Example, Lexi, according to the site's copy, is flamboyant, fun and inexhaustibly creative. Cocoa is a two time Academy Award winning actor. Interestingly, the toys come in product sets which include a plush toy pet, a charm, a couture bag, a blanket and a copy of Pawparazzi Magazine. The sets retail for $15 to $32 and wholesale for about half that amount.
"They are our hottest thing going right now," Christopher Ryan said. "They have really taken off. Nordstrom's, FAO Schwartz and Barney's New York are some of the high end retailers selling them. Any boutique, large or small, that focuses on girls' trend items can do extremely well with them. The local trendy gift shops on the East Coast have had good success."
Wholesalers and retailers interested in seeing what businesses are currently profiting from this line should click on the Retailers Near You button in the top right hand corner of www.pawparazzi.com. Enter a zip code to see what retailers in particular geographical areas are selling the products.
"What makes it such a delectable item, that kids keep coming back to, is the fact that each of the pets has a celebrity personality attached to it," Ryan explained. "The way we bring the character out is in the magazine, which comes with the handbag set. It introduces the kid to the characters and what they are about. It gets kids attached to the product and makes them want to come back to get more from it. There is matching jewelry for the girl and the pet as well."
Sports Items Score Big
There is no question the example of Noodle Head Toys proves that unique product lines can get as hot as the planet Mercury. At the same time, some markets are almost always hot. For instance, the huge demand for kids' products related to football, baseball, basketball and hockey teams, as well as individual professional golfers, continues to grow.
"Some of our hottest products in 2008 will be our vinyl, softy baseballs and a vinyl bat for all of the Major League teams' colors and logos," said Tom Portale, President, Prizes! "And we have a new item called the On Deck Bear, which is going to be a fantastic product."
Portale's individual On Deck Bears are 14 inches tall and come in 48 unit cases at www.prizes1.com. They are available for the following team brands: Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers, Minnesota Twins, New York Mets, New York Yankees and St. Louis Cardinals.
Additionally, the Huntington Beach, CA, company offers six and 8.5 inch soft footballs for over 100 college football teams and all 32 NFL squads. The football is made of a soft vinyl exterior and a polyester fiber inside. The stuffed toys run from just over $2 to nearly $5 wholesale. There are also fun items available for fans of NASCAR, the National Hockey League and the National Basketball Association, available for buyers at www.prizes1.com. "If people are looking for inexpensive, licensed sports souvenirs, we have cute and unique items," Portale said. "And the great thing about them is that they sell year 'round."
Alvin and the Chipmunks
Another company offering an array of sports related items is SmilesWholesale.com, which offers football oriented items, such as lamps, clocks, license plates and fleece throws, for the top 66 NCAA teams and all 32 NFL teams. Those products are available at www.smileswholesale.com, where retailers and merchandise buyers from around the globe visit to find unique items and trusty sellers.
That is only the beginning for SmilesWholesale.com, when it comes to toys, games and craft products. The firm is currently offering a plethora of books-with-CD products, revolving around the animated characters of Alvin and the Chipmunks.
With the release of the popular movie by the same title picking up box office steam this winter, and the subsequent push to go with its DVD release later this year, orders for the books-with-CD units will likely go through the roof. While the items wholesale for only $1.60, they can retail for up to $10.95.
"When something like that comes with automatic promotion, like a movie, it is almost a sure seller," said Tim Alexander, President, Smiles Wholesale, Murfreesboro, TN. "But that is just the beginning of our products for kids. We also have fleece throws for fun brands like Barney, Scooby Doo and SpongeBob SquarePants. Kids are crazy about the shows, so parents and grandparents like to get them throws for their beds. They make great gift items for birthdays and other giving events."
It is worth noting that Alexander takes time daily to update the website's New Arrivals section, which is located on the left hand side directory on the homepage. Inside the section, viewers can click on any day to see exactly when certain products arrived in the firm's warehouse. The company sells to mom and pop shops, flea markets, supermarkets, convenience stores, drug stores, airport gift shops, sports fans shops and consumer show marketers, and offers ten percent off orders of $500 and up.
"Customer service is the key to what we do as a business," Alexander explained. "We will work with our patrons to ensure their needs are met. But it all really starts with offering the best possible products available."
Variety at Windy City
As Alexander suggested, top quality is of optimal importance to merchandise sales. But sometimes selection is just as key. Take Windy City Toys, which offers dozens of product categories at www.windycitytoys.com. It has a number of new, emerging items in the toys, games and craft products niches.
"Head bands, backpacks and dog tags will be popular products this year," said Joe Juwayyid, President, Windy City Toys, Bridgeview, IL. "And we always see consistently very good sales with our general collectibles category."
Windy City Toys, which mainly wholesales to mom and pop shops, only opened its doors last September and has seen revenues jump an average of 30 percent every month. The firm offers the following categories, among others: Activities & Learning Toys, Arts & Crafts, Bikes, Building Sets, Dolls, Electronics, Infant Toys and Puzzles.
On the website, at the bottom of the left hand navigation bar, viewers can check out the hottest products in the Top Sellers section. The firm offers payment by PayPal, Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express.
"We offer the best customer service anywhere and a guaranteed, secure online shopping environment," Juwayyid said. "WindyCityToys.com is a place our customers have come to appreciate. We offer new, wholesale overstock and liquidation toys from the most popular toy manufacturers, including Mattel, Fisher-Price, Hasbro, Creative Kids, Little Tikes, Lego, Milton Bradley, Tyco and others. We carry a great assortment of name brand toys, games, arts, crafts and other fun items for children of all ages."
For more information, contact:
3761 E. Technical Drive
Tucson, AZ 85713
Noodle Head, Inc.
408 N. Mullan Road, Suite 101
Spokane, WA 99206
Huntington Beach, CA 92649-1074
760 Jessica Street
Murfreesboro, TN 37130
Windy City Toys
7555 W. 99th St.
Bridgeview, IL 60455
Tel: 708-598-TOYS (8697)
Transworld Plush Toys, Inc.
2121 Kings View Drive
Hacienda Heights, CA 91745
Toll Free: 800-884-4828
255 Barneveld Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94124
Cartoon Wholesale, Inc.
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