Cyberdeals offered on sales-challenged toys

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April 1, 1999

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With heavyweights such as Toys `R’ Us and Wal-Mart-not to mention e-business stalwart eToys-fully ensconced on the Web, the potential for toy e-tailing to become a competition to see who can shave their margins the finest seems inevitable. For small to medium retailers trying to navigate their toy businesses on the Web, the question then becomes: how do you compete with the big boys on price, without undercutting your brick-and-mortar business?

Rich Brady of Play Co. Toys may have found the answer. In March, the president of the 25-store toy chain, headquartered in San Marcos, Ca., launched, a site charged with moving brand name toys that didn’t move at the company’s stores. ‘On the Internet, there aren’t the same costs you have to pay out for rent and staffing, so the margins can be lower on toys sold off the site. We can work a little sharper on the margins, or even below cost, to sell slow-moving inventory without hurting our stores,’ says Brady.

Brady plans to offer 1,000 SKUs on the site, including mostly product overruns and special buys for at or near wholesale prices. Initially, will be selling product based on the Disney insect flick A Bug’s Life, whose toy lineup garnered disappointing Q4 sales. In terms of promotions, will be offering consumers a 10% discount on all purchases of US$50 and up.

Using a different name for its discount toy site will play an important role in distinguishing the company’s b&m stores, especially this month, when Play Co. launches its own Web site ( Sixty percent of the SKUs will sell are specialty items, which consumers have shown a willingness to buy irrespective of their price points, says Brady.

Warner Bros. to offer discount on select video titles

As an extension of its Century Collection promotion, Warner Bros. Family Entertainment is reissuing 13 of its top-selling kid and family vids for US$14.95 each. Titles include The Adventures of Pinnochio, Alaska, The Borrowers, Cats Don’t Dance, How the West Was Fun, Little Big League, Little Giants, Neverending Story, Neverending Story 2, Return of the Borrowers and Tom and Jerry: The Movie. WBFE will release three more waves of discounted kid and family titles throughout the rest of the year. The next set of vids will be available to retailers in May.

A toy for a rainy day

Totes Isotoner is hoping for rain-lots of it. The Cincinnati, Ohio-based gloves and accessories manufacturer has released a kids line of umbrellas. The SplashFlash umbrellas come with glow-in-the-dark highlights and inter- changeable handles that project light beams. In all, there are six umbrellas in the line, including those featuring prints of an extreme snowboarder, a smiley face, an auto racing car, tie-dye patterns, wavy blue stripes and pop art daisies. The umbrellas retail for US$9.99, and will street in June.

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