Business Overview

Toy store businesses can be very general, offering a wide variety of toys, or very particular, specializing in niche products. It is possible to operate this business out of a physical location, or to operate entirely online. Regardless of your unique approach to the market, starting your own toy store requires a considerable amount of start up capital to acquire your merchandise.

Who is this business right for?

First and foremost, this job is for those who love toys. Someone who already collects and sometimes re-sells toys will have an edge over someone completely unfamiliar with this market. Similarly, the ability to research the toy market and network with others that do so allows you to get the inside track on what will be the latest upcoming toys. Having ties to the community can also help you advertise your business, especially if you plan on having any special events in order to help your business stand out from larger retailers. Finally, this is a job for the consummate “people person,” as it involves both understanding what children want and what their parents want and figuring out how to accommodate both demographics.

What happens during a typical day at a toy store?

The day starts early for toy store owners. While most such businesses operate during normal business hours, you must show up early to ensure that the store looks clean, organized, and otherwise presentable. Much of each day is spent balancing accounts and managing your money, including being ready for boom seasons such as Christmas. Ideally, much of your time will be spent helping your customers find the perfect toy they are looking for (and sometimes the perfect toy they didn’t know they needed). Along with busy days, you will likely be patrolling the aisles and cleaning them throughout the day, as kids often take things down and don’t put them back up. Finally, most days will be spent ordering stock for your store and keeping abreast of industry trends so that you know what to order (and how much).

What is the target market?

Some of the best clients for toy stores are the parents of younger children. Such children are at an age where they are very susceptible to advertising and marketing, and their constantly-changing tastes mean they often want new toys. Depending on the business, though, your ideal customers may change: a niche store focusing on collector’s items or retro toys will likely focus on customers in their 30’s, while a store that heavily sells games and gaming supplies (such as Magic: The Gathering) will likely focus on customers in their late teens and early 20s.

How does a toy store make money?

The most basic way that a toy store makes money is, of course, by selling toys and receiving some profit from every toy that is sold. One hurdle that small toy store owners must face is that it is completely impossible for them to compete with the mass market brick-and-mortar stores like Wal-Mart or Toys-R-Us or online juggernauts like Amazon.com and because of this, it’s important to focus on personalized service and attention for customers. Some toy store owners have taken to personally delivering toys to homes or offering free storage or layaway plans that many bigger stores are unwilling to offer.

What is the growth potential for a toy store?

The growth potential for a toy store business is respectable. Research published in 2016 found that domestic toy sales had increased by seven percent since 2014. The same report found that the overall toy industry has become a $25 billion dollar industry in America, making it a healthy market to enter into (albeit one that may become more competitive over time).