Introducing Toysmith Retailer Spotlight: Top Ten Toys
We’re excited to debut a brand new feature to the Toysmith Blog: The 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 first interview showcase is Rob Pickering, long-time toy store owner and new owner of Top Ten Toys in Seattle, Washington.
How long have you owned Top Ten Toys and do you own any other stores?
We are celebrating our 11th Anniversary with Snapdoodle Toys, which now has two toy stores in the suburbs of Seattle and we purchased Top Ten Toys on May 1st of 2018. Top Ten Toys is one of the largest toy stores on the West Coast and has been in business over 30 years!
Are there major differences between them and how do you adjust your strategy?
We used to say that our Redmond store was our Trader Joe’s with a tight 2500 square feet, while our larger main store in Kenmore was more of a Whole Food with its selection. Now, with Top Ten Toys being over 9000 square feet and over 20,000 SKU’s, we are really having to adjust and plan more for space, merchandising, inventory and even differences and trends that evolve in ways that aren’t always predictable. Constant balancing and planning are key! Don’t be afraid of change!
What do you love most about owning and managing such a well-known neighborhood toy store?
There is simply nothing like having independent toy stores that are so valued by the local community! Every day we get compliments, from the free gift wrapping, to the amazing and unique selection of toys. Seems like every day we are getting thanked for surviving and thriving (and yes, many of our customers even work at Amazon here in Seattle!). We are also fortunate enough to support dozens of local schools with their efforts to enrich children’s lives, which is a pretty awesome feeling each night!
What is the funniest in-store moment you’ve experienced?
Unfortunately, most of the funniest moments involve poop….from the toddler scooping poop out of his own diaper and flinging it around the store, to years ago when my 8 year old son dropped to the floor to smell what looked like a Hershey Kiss and said “yep, its poop!”
How do you keep informed on the latest trends in the toy market?
Belonging to ASTRA, attending ASTRA and Toy Fair every year, being a member of The Good Toy Group, and by constantly seeking out advice from other toy store owners. We are also lucky to have terrific and supportive reps in the NW. We should always be learning in this business!
What is your most commonly asked customer question?
Other than do you have a bathroom? Usually we get questions like “what is the best toy for a 5 year old girl?”
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 constant stream of events that we organize for all three stores. We still do adult coloring nights every month, Pokemon every week, adult Arts & Crafts, weekly Paint Me a Story, birthday parties at two of the stores, game nights every week, summer half day camps and more.
Have you found effective local marketing tactics to drive traffic into your store and/or events?
We rely on The Good Toy Group catalogs, sometimes local parenting magazines, and even have a fun tv ad that we show on a few key channels, but my favorite is our radio advertising with our local NPR station. Our customers are typically more educated and public radio stations are where they are getting their news. We also do Facebook, Instagram and weekly emails to over 20,000 customers.
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 since we opened 11 years ago. I can’t think of another vendor that has the complete package for independents like Toysmith does. They support us with a massive range of products, great dating and terms, and have you ever had a problem with billing, shipping or any of the myriad issues that pop up in our businesses? Every year they are our number one or two vendor and typically also our highest margin vendor. How can you beat that?
On a personal note, what is your all-time favorite toy?
A die-cast 1967 Volkswagen bus!
You can find Top Ten Toys at and online: http://www.toptentoys.com