Toy stores have beaten the ‘mad rush’ for inventory and are ready for vacation travel

Capital Region toy store owners are ready to welcome holiday shoppers despite their continuing battle for the product line they want.

Michael Richman, owner of Ta-Da toy stores in Albany and Clifton Park, said it had been a “mad scramble” for inventory.

“Right now, if you were to walk into the store, you would be surprised. You’d be like ‘wow, looks like you’re really well stocked,’ he said. “But, it only takes a few weekends to really cut that down.”

Richman’s stores fared better than he expected. His secret to success – non-stop control.

About 70 percent of Ta-Da’s suppliers source through safeguarded ports in California, Richman noted. So he started placing orders for vacation inventory in the summer, but shipments took two to four times as long to arrive.

Richman said he stayed tuned knowing delays were possible and countered supply chain disruptions by placing orders every day to meet continued demand.

“There is another year after that, things are not going to go away,” he explained. “And the only people who are going to win are those who continue to order, to order, to order, to order.”

Kevin Murphy, owner of the G. Willikers toy store chain, followed a similar rule of thumb. He knew that several items would be out of stock or arrive late, so he ordered more.

“Even if we don’t get everything we are looking for, we will still get a lot,” he said. “The total amount of our inventory is exactly where we want it to be. The product mix isn’t necessarily exactly where we want it to be.

Richman prioritized popular items such as puzzles, science kits, crafts, and board games, ensuring their plentiful supply. Still, any collectible, electronic or commercial item – Ty plush toys and Pokémon cards – that became more desirable during the pandemic are more difficult for retailers to obtain.

Steve Rossetti, president of the American Logistics Association, said placing redundant or additional orders was a “solid strategy” that many companies use to work around bottlenecks. Rossetti noted that retailers who use the technique do so at the risk of having more products than they can move and potentially creating a “false sense of demand”.

Additional orders can provide stores with the merchandise they need, but additional shipments do not suggest that demand is on the rise. It just means that manufacturers are responding to redundant needs.

But, “being stuck with inventory that you can’t move is better than not having any at all,” he said.

Some vendors also raised their prices for certain merchandise due to supply chain issues, causing Richman to forgo ordering them and change his ideal product line. Having to give up ordering certain products was foreign to him, even if he got away with it.

Higher seller prices meant toy stores had to raise prices by a dollar here or there. But they say there haven’t been any significant price hikes. At G. Willikers, for example, a toy that once cost $ 25.99 could cost $ 27 now.

Something that has helped is the tendency of customers to shop early. G. Willikers’ Albany store said it had “good” sales in October and November leading up to Christmas. The store’s sales also increased by around 15% compared to October 2020.

As toy store owners continue to dodge the thorny bushes of the supply chain, Richman and Murphy are sure customers will have a wide selection of products to choose from anyway.

“We are here and ready for them,” Murphy said.