Friday, August 17, 2007

Small World Toys

From Dan: Small World Toys, a company that we've been working with for years, entered chapter 11 bankruptcy this summer. Small World is an importer of high quality toys made mostly in China and Thailand. Some of their brands include IQ Baby, Nuerosmith, Ryan's Room, and Gertie Ball.

Historically, Small World Toys has only done business with specialty toy stores. We buy a variety of wood toys from them, including our Activity Table (made in Thailand by Pin Toys, it's the perfect toy for one year olds learning how to stand and play) and wooden puzzles and Eric Carle toys which are made in China. We also did some Ryan's Room toys.

In the last year, however, Small World started doing business in the mass market with Target stores. At the same time, we and other small toy stores started having trouble receiving delivery of the toys we ordered. It seemed to us that Small World was putting most of their efforts into fulfilling Target's orders, which were probably a lot bigger than all of us little stores combined. But Target is a tough buyer. They demand deep discounts, they return items that don't sell, and they require a company like Small World to align it's production schedule to meet the demands of Target's quarterly merchandising goals. Like many toy stores, we cut way back on how many Small World items we ordered and found other alternatives.

From our vantage point, it's impossible to tell whether Small World's dealings with Target led to their bankruptcy. However, it does seem like the Big Box effect in action on another small company. Hopefully, Small World can emerge from bankruptcy and reestablish it's place in the toy business as a supplier of quality toys to specialty toy stores. In the mean time, we have learned that the activity table has been discontinued. We still have a few left, but it doesn't look like there'll be more anytime soon.
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