Toysmith Retailer Spotlight: The Red Balloon Toy Store

December Retailer Spotlight! Get to know Toysmith partners and gain insight into the world of Toy Stores by the people who spread the joy of toys to kids everywhere.
This month’s interview showcase is about The Red Balloon Toy Store with five locations throughout Utah, established by Yami and Sue Castillo and their son, David.

How long have you owned The Red Balloon Toy Store and do you own any other stores?

My parents have owned The Red Balloon Toy Store since 1993. I have worked with the business since 2004 and have been running it with my dad since 2013. We currently have 5 stores.

Are there major differences between them and how do you adjust your strategy?

We strive to give customers the same experience regardless of which store they are visiting but there are some differences we account for. The stores that have high foot traffic tend to sell more novelty and low-price items than the destination locations. 2 of our stores are in college towns and sell a lot more games. We do our best to use the analytics from our POS as well as regularly visiting our stores and speaking with our store managers to help us know how to adjust our strategy.

The Red Balloon Toy Store front

What do you love most about owning and managing a neighborhood toy store?

The family business gives us a sense of purpose. It is so important for parents to pick toys for their kids that will help them learn and grow while having fun. It is also a great outlet for my desire to problem solve.

What is the funniest in-store moment you’ve experienced?

I was visiting a store one day and an older lady came in asking about our puzzles. I walked over with her to the puzzle section and after showing her a few options, I asked if she liked to do them with family or by herself. She told me about her family and how she likes to work on puzzles while her husband watches TV. After some more chit chat, she lifted my hand, saw my wedding ring and said, “Oh good you found someone!” I loved this because this happened literally moments after I told my staff how older customers tend to enjoy talking about their families.

Wild toy displays keep kids looking up.

How do you keep informed on the latest trends in the toy market?

Social media, news, customer requests

What is your most commonly asked customer question?

What would be fun for a (boy/girl) aged x?

Do you run special events and/or programs in your store, and if so, which ones do you feel have been successful in providing a positive experience that makes people want to return?

We have a loyalty program called Toy Club that has been very great for capturing customers contact information in return for points and invitations to our play days called Smart Kids Activity Days.

Islands filled with toys.

Have you found effective local marketing tactics to drive traffic into your store and/or events?

Our Toy Club is by far our most effective marketing tool for retaining customers. We also do ads on TV as well as the occasional print and radio ads. We are starting to test the waters with partnering with social media influencers from our area and our first run was very successful.

David Castillo in front of a Red Balloon Toy Store.

How long have you carried Toysmith products, and can you comment on the impact working with Toysmith has had on your business?

We have carried Toysmith almost since the very beginning. I love that Toysmith is so good at offering toys that sell themselves from the shelf. Despite being lower ticket items, Toysmith is consistently one of our top 2 vendors.

On a personal note, what is your all-time favorite toy?

This is a hard one because I love so many. I would have to say my all-time favorite toy is the Kendama. I remember when they were hot a few years ago, we held several events where we invited pros to come and play with the kids. I saw something with the kids that I wish I could see more often: the “caste system” (for lack of a better term) disappeared. There was no “cool kids vs nerdy kids” or anything of the sort. The kids focused on their common interest instead of their differences. I take out one of my kendamas a few times a day when I need to unwind or take a quick break.


You can find The Red Balloon Toy Store online here!

Follow them on Facebook and Instagram!