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Not Just Child's Play
Several years ago, after gauging interest by adding toys to the product mix at her stationery and gift store in Hammonton, New Jersey, Kelly Donio decided to turn Simply Stationery into an independent toy store, which she renamed Toy Market. The 3,500-square-foot store—which markets itself as “South Jersey’s largest independent toy store”—offers a broad mix of toys not sold by such major chains as Toys R Us or Target. Thanks to strong sales over the past year, the store will soon be expanding to a much larger space in downtown Hammonton.
“We’ve found there's a niche for us,” says Jim Donio, Kelly's husband, who helps manage the store. “People are still looking for that hands-on interactive toy and puzzle store.”
The Donios have taken many steps to stay competitive with the big-box chains beyond just offering a diverse product selection. They train their small sales staff to ask the right questions when shoppers walk into the store. (“How old is the little one you’re shopping for today?”) They keep long hours—staying open seven days a week and until 9 p.m. on most nights—to be convenient to working parents. They also try to help educate their shoppers on buying inspiring toys—“not just disposable toys,” Jim says—geared toward childhood development and longtime use.
By offering shoppers long hours along with a well-trained and informed staff, Toy Market can give its customers the ultimate toy-shopping experience. To entice new business, the store hosts various events for kids and parents throughout the year.
The Donios' long-term plans include opening new stores throughout New Jersey in the coming years, with a particular focus on towns that attract tourists and have a strong downtown business community.
“We’re always adapting and evolving,” Donio says. “In a nutshell, what we believe is, we’re not just selling toys. Our core value is that we can be a resource for parents and grandparents.”
For the full article on American Express OPEN Forum, click here: https://www.americanexpress.com/us/small-business/openforum/articles/valuable-players-crucial-role-small-businesses-play-communities/?linknav=us-openforum-search-article-link2
By Kelly Spors - Editor, Writer & Content Strategist
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Thursday -- 10am to 8pm
Toy Market - South Jersey's Largest Independent Toy Store
204 Bellevue Avenue - Hammonton, NJ 08037