Palo Alto toy stores
Posted January 16, 2012on:
Today I visited a few toy stores in Palo Alto to get a better sense of available products, pricing, and potential customers. Each store was unique in focus:
- LiveGreene – A store selling home goods and eco toys, made from recycled, reclaimed and sustainable materials.
- Palo Alto Toy and Sport – A more classic toy store with a larger selection, mixed with sports equipment.
- Plan Toys – Store selling solely wooden toys from PlanToys distributor. The sales woman said it is the only fully dedicated location to the brand.
- To learn about variety of toy stores in the area.
- Observe differences in how they market to boys and girls.
- Determine types of toys that are available.
- See what else is being sold alongside building/ educational toys.
First, I visited LiveGreene. The sign outside promised eco toys. There was also giant cardboard pirate ship right outside the door that had been colored on.
Inside, there was mix of recycled material products and “eco gifts” ranging from home goods (bowls, candles, picture frames) to children’s toys and books, and kitchen utensils.
There was a a whole bookcase of solar kits, all priced at $14. The solar cooker looked cool. The more offensive bookcase next to it housed cardboard box play kits. These provided the customer with plastic snaps to hold together cardboard boxes. Children could then pretend they have just made a doll house. While promoting sustainability in this way is admirable, it seems like a waste to package these unnecessary accessories when the same job could be performed with tape and old boxes. The pirate ship out front had also required the customer to buy the cardboard box as well, with precut holes.
- Eco conscious consumers visit these types of stores to fill a variety of needs.
- A premium can be charged for products deemed sustainable. They really charged money for a cardboard box with holes cut out of it!
Palo Alto Toy and Sport
This store is a combination sports supply/ classic toy store. There are a number of science kits near the front, with smaller kits priced around $15-20. I was a little offended by the perfume and skincare science kits for girls, but at least they were on sale. Maybe that means girls are more interested in regular science kits. There was also a section of Lego sets, clearly in the boys section. In the back of the store, there were a variety of arts and crafts kits, placed behind some pink frilly stuff.
How can we combine the best out of all three of these sections?
PlanToys is a store for the distributor of the same name. It sells solely toys made out of wood, with food sets, doll houses, trains, and toddler toys, to name a few of their options. They also have cool wooden kitchen appliances to complete a kid’s dream play kitchen. The saleswoman told me that this store was the only one to sell only PlanToy products, the rest of its products being distributed through other stores. PlanToys key mission seems to be to provide a green, safe, and enriching play experience. Toys are simple but also very aesthetically pleasing, produced sustainably, and arguably worth the premium they are charging.
Summary of learnings from the day:
- If you can call your product sustainable and green, parents will pay (even if their kids couldn’t care less).
- Solar toys/ science kits are common
- You can sell prepackaged creativity (cardboard box kits)