Neighbourhood Toy Stores of Canada (NETS) kicked off the holiday-shopping season this past weekend (November 12) with its seventh annual Neighbourhood Toy Store Day.
Participating NETS-member retailers across the country rolled out the red carpet for customers, welcoming them with everything from craft activities and game demos to give-aways and save-the-tax offers.
While the one-day, mid-autumn event is timed to usher in the festive season, it also serves as a celebration of the specialty store shopping experience. Just as important, the event is designed to promote a sense of community and the benefits derived when consumers support local independently owned businesses.
And those benefits are myriad, says a NETS spokesman. “For example, local businesses require comparatively little infrastructure and make good use of public services. Spending locally instead of online ensures that customers’ dollars are reinvested where they belong, right there in their own communities.” She added, “A marketplace with hundreds of small businesses is the best way to ensure innovation and low prices over the long-term. Local businesses [like independent toy stores] carry a wider array of unique products because they buy for their own individual market.”
Neighbourhood Toy Store Day and the “shop locally” movement was initiated almost a decade ago by NETS’ U.S. counterpart, the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA), which boasts a membership of over 800 merchants and 1,000+ sales reps.
It caught on with Canada’s specialty toy retailers and although perhaps celebrated on a smaller scale, the event continues to be an important occasion on many store owners’ calendars.
No where is the spirit of the day embraced more enthusiastically than at Silly Goose Kids, an east-end Toronto toy store that opened just over five years ago.
Toys & Games made an early morning visit to Silly Goose where co-owners Shamie Ramgoolam and Tracey Jacobs and a crew of young staff members were soon coping with a standing-room-only crowd of young parents and their kids.
“We already have a close relationship with our community, but it’s a special day for connecting in a fun way with regular and new customers,” explained Ramgoolam, adding the store hadn’t missed the November date since opening its doors. “It’s always successful for us,” she says.
The Silly Goose lineup of activities included an appearance by local award-winning author/illustrator Barbara Reid who kept a group of about 20 kids entertained with an interactive story reading and songs. Later in the day, Borgfeldt Canada rep Corey Whitman had kids lined up to try out the new Litehawk Brooklands Circuit R/C road-racing set. This was followed by a full afternoon of activities with prizes and give-aways provided by well-known B.C. supplier Outset Media.
Not surprising, at the cash desk there was a steady stream of customers who were getting a jump on gift giving while taking advantage of the tax-free savings.
For more information on Neighbourhood Toy Store Day, visit Neighbourhood Toy Stores of Canada.