SCOTTSDALE, AZ — Kate Tanner can tell you all about the latest toy trends, though she’s hesitant to say which toys, exactly, are the most popular.
“So it’s not that ‘hot toy’, because sometimes that ‘hot toy’ doesn’t get Head Toy Expert approval. That’s more the interesting thing about Kidstop,” Tanner said. “You can come here and see what your kids like. Are they artistic? Do they like building? Maybe they’re outdoors. Maybe they’re a little restless and they’re need to get that extra energy out of it. We’ll help guide you to the toys that will help you master that.”
Tanner is the owner of Kidstop Toys and Books in Scottsdale. For 24 years, she owned and operated the small business, employing local teenagers and getting to know generations of Arizona families.
“The tall young man is number three in the Carne family,” she said, pointing to one of the employees behind the cash register.
Tanner was preparing for Black Friday and Small Business Saturday when ABC15 interviewed her.
That day, Kidstop was filled with grandparents and grandchildren, mothers and daughters, and of course toys. But not just any toys. Toys that customers won’t necessarily find in the big box stores or just a click away on Amazon.
“When you think about the community, Kidstop has grown so deeply and enriched with everyone here in our community,” Tanner said.
And that sense of community has prevailed, even in the toughest economic times. When the pandemic hit in 2020, Kidstop moved its inventory online, establishing a strong web presence, Tanner said.
“We’ve had people come in here, just as we opened up from COVID, and say, ‘How are you? What can we do?’ And we were like, ‘Just tell people about us,’” Tanner said. “And our customers took handfuls of our catalogs and handed them out.”
With inflation surging in the fall, business slowed, Tanner said. But she also pivoted, making sure to stock Kidstop full of goodies under $25 for particularly budget-conscious holiday parents.
“We try to make sure that this place – $25 to $45, we stay covered. Because it’s a bit more comfortable than more expensive toys,” she said. “So we’ve been working hard this year to make sure we’re keeping the low, mid and high price levels a bit more consistent.”
Tanner said she also looks for toys that last.
“I always challenge people and say how many hours of fun did you get?” said Taner. “You know the old joke? “The box is more fun than the toy.” I cringe.”
And it’s Tanner’s attention to detail that she says keeps customers coming back. Kidstop wraps the presents for free and includes a special fun-fetti on top – a signature detail parents and their kids have come to recognize.
“Our gift wrapping has been free from day one because we don’t do a loyalty program,” she said.
Her client’s children know when gifts are from “Miss Kate” because of the shredded paper on top, so some families request that the crumpled paper be removed during the holidays.
“During Christmas, they don’t want our signature shredding on top because it’s a gift from the origin of the toys,” Tanner said. “So the staff thinks it’s just great right now, they don’t have to finish the packaging.”
Valley-owned and operated stores, like Kidstop, benefit from consumers shopping locally on Saturdays from small businesses.
According to a statistic from Local First Arizona, a statewide nonprofit organization that supports local businesses in Arizona, for every $100 spent on a local business, $45 remains outstanding in the local economy.
“But that same $100 spent on a national brand, we only retain about $13,” said Sophia Lovasz, director of retail entrepreneurship at Local First Arizona. “When you buy local, you are able to support jobs. And our local business owners hire local print shops, local accountants, local graphic designers. Thus, this fund can recirculate as many times as we need. And we all benefit from it. »
Lovasz said there are currently over 3,000 local businesses that are part of Local First Arizona, including Kidstop, there are many ways to support locally owned and purchased businesses on Small Business Saturdays and beyond. Plus, she noted, buying local means supporting members of your community.
“They’re going to have conversations with you, they’re going to get to know you,” Lovasz said. “They will get [to know] you by name. And it’s really a more personal experience.
And Kidstop, to its credit, provides a personalized experience for shoppers looking for children’s toys, something for mom, grandma, dad, and even the family dog.
“When you work with people who are trying to help you and promote you, give and they give back,” Tanner said. “It’s just our way of working.”
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