Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Happy Holidays

As 2007 draws to a close, we want to wish our customers and our community a Happy Holidays and a wonderful 2008. We appreciate your business--Thank you for trusting us in what turned out to be a difficult year to buy a toy for a child.

Truly, this has been the busiest season ever for us and many of our toymakers. None of us thought that simple, well-made toys could become so popular! We're looking forward to a less frenetic pace in the coming months as we work on restocking the store and catching up with things we've overlooked these past couple of months.

May your new year be filled with love, happiness, and peace.

Thank you,
Millie, Dan, Jule, Abby, Riley, Duncan, and all of us at Peapods

Friday, December 7, 2007

Good Morning America's "Green Toys" Segment

This morning, the ABC News Program Good Morning America had a segment on Green Toys. They featured some Haba wood toys from Germany, some Fair Trade finger puppets from Peru, an Imagiplay puzzle from Sri Lanka, and some organic soft toys by Under the Nile from Egypt. All are pretty good toys, and we have many of them in our store.

The anchor guy asked his guest, "How do you know these are safe?" His guest, an environmentally-minded blogger answered, "Well, these are all made in the USA!" All these toys happen to be in the USA, but none were actually made here.

We do wish the media would get their stories right. It makes us wonder how many other stories they get wrong.

If you're looking for USA made toys, we still have them!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Toys and the Democratic Presidential Candidates

In today's NPR Democratic Presidential Candidate Debate, the candidates were asked, "Will you be buying your family toys made in China?"

Christopher Dodd replied "My toys are coming from Iowa!"

An obvious joke, but we thought the reality behind this comment deserved a second look. The only Iowa Toy manufacturer we know of is a tiny company called Scale Model Toys of Dyersville, IA. (I'm sure there's also a few other hobby toymakers or local Amish or Amana Colonies shops. Scale Model is the only company I know that sells to toy stores like us.)

They make die cast farm toys--we've carried their Farmall tractor in the past. (We kind of stopped by from them a couple of years ago because we had trouble getting an updated price list or getting through to a live person when we called.) Scale Model Toys was started by Joseph Ertl--from the same family that founded Ertl Toys in the 1940's.

To this day, Ertl is the far larger company, selling to Wal-Mart, Target and others under the names Ertl and RC2. Ertl stopped manufacturing in Iowa in the 1990's. They now manufacture mostly in China.

You may be familiar with some of RC2/Ertl's products. One of their most popular brands is Thomas the Tank Engine.

So, we recommend to Christopher Dodd that he can still buy (with some persistence) farm toys made in Iowa. In the meantime, what are we going to do to prevent another debacle like Thomas the Tank Engine? And how can we nurture American toy makers in a age of mass merchandisers like Wal-Mart? That's the question we'd like to have answered.

And hey--if anyone knows of other Iowa toymakers, let us know!