Toysmith Retailer Spotlight: Toy Mania

November 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 Yishai and Allison Habshush, owners of Toy Mania in Charlotte and Durham, North Carolina. Get to know these toy store owners!

How long have you owned Toy Mania and do you own any other stores? 

We have owned and operated Toy Mania since 2009. We currently have a store in Durham, NC that we opened in 2015. We just recently opened a new store in Charlotte NC, in the Cotswold Village.

Toy Mania grand opening ribbon cutting ceremony.

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

Each store has its own unique customer base and traffic flow. We adjust our strategy based on the buying patterns in each store. Each store is very different; our Durham store is in a mall in the RDU Research Triangle and we have a lot of customers who are in the area for business, as well as local customers. Our new store in Charlotte is in a neighborhood shopping center and we have a strong local customer base. It’s important to be flexible and understand that some systems and products work better in one store than another, and to react accordingly. Having the technology and tools to monitor inventory, assortment, and performance is key as those vary between demographics and locations.

Toy Mania filled with toys including Toysmith Die Cast.

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

We love the interaction with people, whether it be the vendors, the employees, or the customers. There are so many great relationships to be had in the toy industry. It’s one of the few businesses you can be in where everything that goes out the door will bring someone joy. Each customer that comes in is valuable and we enjoy connecting with each of them. We love that we get to play and call it work.

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

There are so many! Kids are so fun. Recently as we were setting up our new store in Charlotte and were not open yet, we had several kids come to the door, excited that we were about to open. One particular adorable little girl was very distraught that she couldn’t come in. Her mother told her that they needed to wait until we unpacked the boxes and she and was determined to stay right there until the boxes were unpacked.

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

By listening to what customers ask for, especially if we hear it more than once. By following other stores on social media to see what new they are receiving. Trends seem to start in schools often, so listening to kids is key. We keep a special notebook by the registers for requests. it’s always interesting to watch a trend unfold.

What is your most commonly asked customer question?

If we gift wrap. Which we do! We also get asked often if the owners are local…and we’re so happy to say yes!

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 work with so many great vendors who will often provide items for raffles and giveaways. Everyone loves free stuff! Most vendors have a program in place to assist us with in store events and activities. We also do lots of store events and try to always have plenty of demos and play tables on the floor for customers to play with and explore. We always hear feedback from customers that we have a friendly environment in our stores, and we know this makes people want to return over and over.

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

As everyone is well aware, the marketing landscape has shifted greatly in the last few years. It’s definitely all about trial and error. For us, we’ve found that partnering with local “influencers” and “mommy groups” as well as targeting social media marketing has some of the most effective results. There is no substitute to a good in-store experience in order to create a loyal customer base.

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

We LOVE Toysmith! It’s definitely one of our top lines that we have carried from the beginning. We were introduced to it by our sales rep Tommy Morrison and it is a line that grows every year for us and has quickly become our #1 line. It has also driven strong growth in the impulse category for us. We feel like the Toysmith products make the average customer spend more in our store while getting a lot of value for the price. This is a win-win for both customer and retailer. It is always a good thing to work with a company that makes it easy to do business with them. The FFA program on minimal orders and the quick turnaround time, help make a solid and reliable partnership.

Toysmith CEO Michael Keaton ribbon cutting our Toy Towers.

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

We think this is like picking a favorite child! We love them all! Anything that is creative, fun, and different.

Check out this great local news piece on Toy Mania Charlotte’s grand opening!

You can find Toy Mania online here!

Follow them on Facebook and Instagram!