In this month’s talking shop, Toy World asked indies about the benefits of being AIS members. their biggest and best suppliers and how the year is looking to pan out.
We caught up with AIS members Debbie Maloney of Austins Department Store, Julie Murphy of Creaseys, David Fynn of John Sanders and Richard Barfoot of Vincent Davies.
Austin’s has been an AIS member since 1966 which Debbie says gives the toy department “the benefits of discounts and special offers, along with promotional material and access to FOB products”.
The current bestsellers at the Devon store according to Debbie are Lego, specifically Star Wars, Speed Champions and Ninjago; Squishmallows; Pokémon Cards; Tonies; Sylvanian Families and pocket money toys. Its selection of puzzles has also been selling extremely well.
In the face of the current economic climate, Debbie explains that the store’s Toy Club, which offers payment plan options all year round to help families budget for all occasions, has taken steps to have more toys suitable for gifting as part of its selection.
Creaseys, which also became an AIS member more than a decade ago, took on Craft Buddy a couple of years ago and the whole range is selling extremely well. There are also popular offerings from Ravensburger and Spin Master and more recently Connetix was introduced, which is performing well.
Julie explains that loyal customers are excited to be back in store: “Since Covid, more people seem to be shopping local, but there will always be those who prefer to sit at home and buy online. Many people enjoy the interaction they get in store, especially after having been stuck in their homes for months.”
At John Sanders in Ruislip, David is optimistic about the year ahead. He says: “We have recently coped with lockdowns and political inertia, so I’m sure we will be able to find a way to cope with the increased costs associated with inflation. As an independent department store, we have the flexibility to adapt to constant changes in the marketplace.”
At Vincent Davies, takings are up +13%, and Richard comments: “It would seem that the toy sector has been quite resilient during the cost-of-living crisis and that children are still being treated. We have sold more units at lower price points and big-ticket items have slowed down accordingly.”
The store has had a selection of arts & craft ranges performing well, including Eugy from Brainstorm and Hey Clay from Tomy. Richard is expecting the new Beauty Me stand from Depesche to sell well.
To read the full Talking Shop feature, which appeared in the June edition of Toy World, click here.