Please don't buy more toys.
So this is a pretty weird thing for me to say as a toy store owner. Maybe I should do some more marketing training, because surely this isn't the way for me to encourage you to buy more. Give me just a minute and I'll try to explain to you why I'm asking you not to buy.
As the owner of Lucas loves cars I love toys and I see a lot of toys. The cheap, the super expensive, the ugly and the must-have gorgeous.
Imagine working in a chocolate store, being surrounded by chocolate all the time. Do you think you'd get sick of chocolate? Or would you only eat the best you could find?
I actually worked in an ice cream parlour when I was a teenager, I loved ice cream when I started, and I loved it when I finished a few years later. I probably ate too much in between, but being surrounded by it certainly didn't put me off. I learnt that when ice cream has been melted and refrozen it is the worst! I can now tell in just one bite if it's good stuff, and I wont eat it unless it is the good stuff!
It's a bit like that now with toys. After more then 5 years surrounded by toys I'm happy to report that I'm not sick of them, not by a long shot. I still love to play, I still love how they look and the fun that they bring, to me and to the kids. (If you have taken a look at my Insta stories you know this already!)
The main change is that I'm not interested in the crappy stuff. I'm only willing to play with toys that are quality, and that encourage play. A good toy will have the kids coming back again and again.
So - I sound like a toy snob don't I? Sure, it's easy for me to say I only play with quality toys, when I'm surrounded by quality toys in my store.
The thing is, I have all these toys in my store, but I don't have all those toys in my home - my house is not that big! And what does this have to do with not buying toys anyway?
Am I waffling? I really want to get you to understand that buying more toys is not the answer to keeping the kids happy and entertained. It works for 5 minutes and then you are back at square one. If I was doing this only for the money then I would be selling those cheap toys to you and you would come back every week getting a new toy, because they are cheap to buy, and because you would need to replace them more often.
Toys should last longer than the afternoon.
Have you heard of Price Per Use? (PPU) It's a way we can determine value. Not the quality or the price, but actual value of an item. We sometimes confuse good value with price. 'I got a toy for $10'. That's only good value if the toy lasts.
My friend taught me about this great PPU concept a while ago, when I didn't want to spend money on some great clothes. So basically it's the price of the item divided by the number of uses. Simple. If you buy a $400 pair of shoes and you wear them every day for 2 years then the PPU for those shoes is better than if you bought a pair of shoes for $20 and only wore them once because they didn't really fit properly.
“Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.”
~ Warren Buffet
Value and quality are different, but what does that have to do with not buying more toys? Can you guess by now?
What I really wish is that people spend more money on less. It's good for our planet, and in this case it's good for our kids. Stop buying more toys, the cheap toy cars that break after 2 goes around the coffee table. The ones that we think 'it's a cheap treat for the kids' but then it ends up at the bottom of the toy basket. You know the ones I mean. Don't we all have some of these? I know we do at our house, because I fall for the 'little treat' sometimes too.Buying plastic toy is the equivalent of buying the kids a fast food meal.
Now there is nothing wrong with having fast food sometimes, but you don't want to do it all the time. Sometimes you don't have the stamina to say no, or you get a toy as a gift. Sometimes you just want to see, will he play with a car, or a doll?
When we buy toys we want to spoil the kids, to entertain the kids and because toys make our kids happy.
The trick to long lasting smiles is to have a good collection of toys. I said GOOD collection, not BIG collection.
Pick the toys that will suit your child, a toy that will cope with the toddler years and have different levels of complexity to keep them engaged. If you're going to spend money on a toy then make it a good one.
Think about the toys you have bought recently, what was the PPU? Did the cheap toys end up being used or discarded once the novelty wore off?
Worried that your kid doesn't have the attention span to cope with only a few toys? Try rotating the toys that they have!
ROTATE YOUR TOYS IN 4 EASY STEP
Put 1/2 of the toys away. Yes THAT MUCH! Put them in a cupboard, a box in the garage, under the stairs, anywhere that they are hidden from the kids.
This is great because it will clear the play space and allow the kids to focus on the toys that are there.
Bring about half of the hidden toys back out to play. They will feel like new again and get another chance to shine. And don't forget to put away the toys that aren't being used. You might find that some of the toys become favourites again, and some will be ignored ( they can be donated or passed along.)
To help you with this monthly turn around we will post this image on our socials every month as a reminder!
TIPS to get the kids to help:
1: Get a box. Bigger than a shoe box, maybe the size of a small suitcase.
2: Now set the task - this box needs to be filled. Get the kids to choose the toys they don't want anymore. Be clear that you are getting rid of them, or the kids will never help again!
Leave the sorting out of rubbish and donations until later - the kids need to focus on filling the box with toys.
It really helps that they are filling a box and then it's done.
Guide them along the way if they get distracted.
- Should we put car A in the box, or car B?
- We haven't played with Truck X for a while, should he go in here?
NOTE: I sometimes have a reward for when the box is full. Like a small car, or a pack of AFL cards. One big box out, one small gift in. Fair swap I think!
Helle owns Lucas loves cars. With 5 years of experience in the toy business, she has played with toys for a long time and is very picky about which toys make the list. Like a spoilt child, she will have a tantrum if the toy doesn't work and will play for hours if she finds it engaging and fun. Or until someone tells her it's time for lunch.
- Helle Warming