Minneapolis, Minnesota-based Manhattan Toy recently opened its first branded store. Located in the giant Mall of America just outside the twin cities, the outlet is designed to act as a testing ground for new concepts created by the toyco, as well as being a means of strengthening overall brand recognition.
‘We saw this as a great opportunity to help build brand awareness for Manhattan Toy and our products like Groovy Girl,’ says Hugh Kennedy, VP of business development. The mall attracts 43 million visitors annually from around the world. Its management is always on the lookout for unique brands and opportunities to differentiate it as a tourist destination and approached the local toy maker to set up shop.
Kennedy says the store will be used as a testing ground for new products. ‘Things that we are prototyping will be put in the store to get reactions. We’ll have kids interact with them and test different price points and packaging.’ At press time, the shop had just celebrated its grand opening weekend and didn’t have any prototypes in store yet.
In the meantime, Groovy Girl, the company’s popular line of hip plush dolls, has a major presence in the store, which also features other Manhattan Toy products including Whoozit, Little Lovelies, Dreamtastic, Baby Stella, Winkle and its latest additions, Petrageous and Trixieville.
The company doesn’t have any plans right now to create a chain of branded outlets, as it already has distribution through more than 10,000 department and specialty gift stores located in 56 countries.
For next year, Manhattan Toy is developing a new Groovy Girl licensing program with licensing agent New York-based Silver Lining that will transition it from a girls play brand to a lifestyle brand. New Groovy Girl products will include merch in sporting goods, accessories, health & beauty, apparel, publishing and back-to-school categories. KC