Toysmith Retailer Spotlight: Terra Toys
September 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.
Our interview showcase is about Romalda & Charles Edwards and their daughter, Sylvia, owners of Terra Toys in Austin, Texas. Get to know these toy makers turned toy store owners!
How long have you been a toy retailer, and what brought you to the industry?
We have been toy retailers since 1978, and what brought us into the toy industry was the desire to create our own designs of classic toys, make them from wood and sell them in Austin. All of the toys inside Terra Toys were originally hand made out of carved wood and hand painted by Romalda and Charles; the founders. Terra is a latin word meaning “earth” so all the toys were from the earth and many still are!
Your store has a unique business model that makes it unlike other toy stores. How did Terra Toys come to include an Art Gallery and Café?
Our business model is based on three buying concepts: Classic, Fun and Beautiful. We continue to come across items that are fun and beautiful, that we ourselves enjoy seeing and buying, so we continue to expand the brand to offer rare items like original art by local artists and delicious organic espresso made by Anderson’s Coffee. We are huge proponents of the Organic movement as well as the concept to buy locally, so most of our items follow that guide. When we had the opportunity to expand, we decided to open a cafe, and on the walls we included art all made by artists in Austin.
What has been your weirdest moment as a toy store owner?
Being a toy store owner is full of many weird moments but one of our weirdest moments is a now a tradition- on Christmas Eve, the staff who worked that day all celebrate with champagne and then we climb on the roof and howl at the moon.
How do you keep informed on the latest trends in the toy market?
We LOVE our reps! They are the best source for keeping up with the trends in the market, but one of the best things about Terra Toys is that we don’t usually buy into the “latest trends” as much as others, because our core will always cater to the Classic toys that founded us decades ago. Spinning tops, bouncy balls, yo-yos and hula hoops will never go out of style, and we will never stop carrying them. So while we keep an eye out for cool new items, our bread and butter will never change. We will never be the kind of store to carry tech items or battery-operated stuff. Another great source for knowing new trends, are the kids who shop in our store and the requests that come through from them.
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?
Terra Toys is host to over 10 large scale events every single year!
One of our most popular annual events is the Fairy Tea Party! This year marked our 21st annual Fairy Party. Over 750 kids and families get dressed up in their most fantastical fairy gear and learn to hand make a little fairy and drink tea and eat cookies! Other famous events are the Bunny Bonanza, Paint Your own Train, Trick or Treat Street (where little kids trick or treat at hand made cardboard houses of puppets inside the store) and one of my favorites is the Valentines Romantic Puppet show! Puppets perform classical romantic literature read by our staff and acted out by our puppets!
What is the most commonly asked customer question and what is your response?
A common customer question is what toy is good for a baby? Our response is a Jack in the box or top. Some customers ask for the “newest” best toy for a baby and we laugh and remind them, that to a baby, ALL the toys are new! It’s their first time experiencing the world, so start off with a classic!
Have you found effective local marketing tactics to drive traffic into your store and/or events?
We like to use social media to demonstrate and photograph beautiful toys, but our events have made us famous in the community, and our training of our sales people is a great tactic to help the customers we have established. We train our people to know about what toy caters to what age and development level, and how toys enhance learning and creativity. The marketing that we found the most effective is billboards
How long have you carried Toysmith products, and can you comment on the impact working with Toysmith has had on your business.
We first started carrying Toysmith when it was a 2 page catalog in the 1990’s. The company as grown as have we! The impact is awesome, we love the variety and quality of the toys offered by Toysmith and we look forward to many more decades carrying the line!
On a personal note, what is your all-time favorite toy?
My all time favorite toy is a hula hoop. Keeps you fit and having fun!
Romalda’s All time favorite is a Steiff Bear because they last so long and offer so much imaginative play value as well as being beautiful.
Charles’s Favorite is a rubber ball- The dollar per played hour ratio is very low! 🙂
You can find Terra Toys online here!