Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Saturday, November 27, 2021

One of the conspicuous developments of the Walmart-ization of America has been the clobbering of toy retailers. The world’s largest retailer has been able to discount toy prices so deep that former stalwarts like FAO Schwarz and KB Toys have been driven to bankruptcy and market retrenchment. Even Toys R Us is looking to ditch its namesake toystore business in the face of the superstore competition.

So what makes upstart toy seller Toyopia think it can flow against the tide? It’s banking on filling a niche in a mall-retail environment, as well as an exacting revenue-flow model.

“The malls want us,” [Toyopia founder and CEO Alex Reece] said recently. “They understand they are competing against Wal-Mart and toy stores bring people to the mall. A mall without a toy store is like a person without a leg.”

I share that sentiment. Over the past year, with friends producing offspring, I’ve had reason to buy a few gift toys. Frankly, Target and the like tend to not have a very big selection, which negates the price breaks they offer. My natural inclination would be to hit the malls. In one instance, I was stunned to make a trip to the nearest mall to me and find that it no longer had a toy store — the one that had been there was replaced by a candy shop.

And that’s got a degree of irony to it, since candy is the secret ingredient in Toyopia’s business model:

“We’ll have the same price or better than Wal-Mart,” [Reece] said. “And the reason we can do that is candy. Candy makes up 40 percent of our sales and the markup on it is 400 to 500 percent. Everything else takes care of itself.”

Interesting. In essence, the toys become loss leaders (or near enough) in a retail establishment that specializes in them! It’s reminiscent of what bookstores, which are increasingly adding movie and music products on their shelves, are doing.

Counting on kids’ sweet tooths seems iffy to me. There’ll always be a market for it, but enough to sustain this sort of business, based on incidental sales? Every year nutritional news knocks the overconsumption of junk food for kids, and at some point that’s going to dent product sales. Plus, the discounters and grocery stores can undercut Toyopia on candy prices easily.

I think the role of filling in a blank spot in mall store rosters is really what the company has going for it right now. Naturally, just getting that retail space doesn’t mean much unless the stores actually produce sales.

One thing that needs a remedy: Toyopia’s online presence. “eToyopia.com” ain’t gonna cut it; it’s not the name of the store, and no one’s going to remember to add that oh-so-1997 “e” to the beginning of the URL. If they really want to make a serious go of it, they need to buy Toyopia.com from the company that’s currently using it as a redirect.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 11/27/2004 07:56pm
Category: Business
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It sounds like a typically improbable spam email subject line, doesn’t it? (Or else an obvious politician-bashing assessment/joke.)

But no, for real, venerable C-SPAN broadcast unpixelated nude girlie scenes from videogame titles “The Guy Game” and “Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude” earlier this week.

Is it sweeps week for C-SPAN? No, it was just a segment from the Senate’s briefing on National Institute on Media and the Family’s “MediaWise Video Game Report Card”, complete with visual aids. I guess someone forgot the cameras were rolling, or figured the scenes wouldn’t show up too clearly (which they didn’t, but apparently they’re clear enough for a gawk-worthy RealPlayer video stream).

Congress better be careful. It doesn’t take much to bring on the FCC’s wrath these days, cable or no cable. Besides, we don’t need the Federal government levying fines on itself; it’ll only inflate the deficit.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 11/27/2004 05:48pm
Category: Political, TV, Videogames
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This is what you get for using schoolkids as musical props: The pupils whose vocals were used on Pink Floyd’s 1979 hit single “Another Brick in the Wall” are now suing for royalties due them from the song.

The then pupils from Islington Green School, north London, were taken to a nearby recording studio by their music teacher but without permission from the headmistress.

On hearing the song, she banned the pupils from appearing on TV or video, meaning they had no proof of their involvement on the track.

The lyrics “We don’t need no education, we don’t need no thought control, no dark sarcasm in the classroom — teachers leave them kids alone” were also described by the Inner London Education Authority as “scandalous”.

The school was paid £1,000 and later given a platinum record of the song but the pupils were paid nothing.

The former headmistress has now agreed to support her former pupils’ claim.

Now who’s just another brick in the wall, 25 years hence?

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 11/27/2004 05:27pm
Category: Pop Culture
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