Whether it’s puzzles, games or science projects, items that everyone can get involved with are in high demand.
It was only October, but employees at area toy store Toyology were already hard at work wrapping Chanukah presents. Between the holiday starting early this year and the news of supply chain shortages blaring on everyone’s news feeds, customers were getting a jump on their Chanukah shopping.
“People are nervous they’re going to miss out on all the great toys,” says Nori Klar, who owns Toyology with her sons Jonathan and Aric.
In preparation for this holiday season, she ordered the bulk of the toys in June, in hopes they’d arrive in time. Usually, she has several more months to make purchases, and more certainty that what she’s ordered is on its way. “II could place an order and maybe initially only 20-30% would come in. The rest would trickle in or never arrive,” she explains.
Supply chain and shipping woes around the globe have disrupted the usual flow of trade that brings presents and other goods into the country. That means longer wait times, price increases and having to be more creative when it comes to stocking the shelves.
“The nice part about being an independent toy store is that I can flip very quickly,” she says, explaining that unlike big-box retailers, she doesn’t have to just wait for boats carrying specific toys to dock to get presents into people’s hands. Having a network of small toy companies she can count on is more important than ever, she explains. “It’s never been like this before.”
So far, her planning has paid off. The store’s three locations in West Bloomfield, Royal Oak and Bloomfield Hills are stocked and able to readily welcome shoppers eager to pick out the perfect presents for their children and grandchildren.
“Chanukah’s here. It’s going to be really strong, we’re going to have toys,” she says. “It’s the holiday season, the joy of giving.”
This year’s gifts are trending more multi-generational, as people are spending more time at home with their families and playing together. Whether it’s puzzles, games or science projects, items that everyone can get involved with are in high demand.
“There’s a lot more multi-generational play than there ever was,” she says. “Now people are starting to get together with small groups of friends, but it’s still kids and parents doing things together.”
The pandemic has also resulted in more people choosing to shop the store online, over FaceTime, by phone or by appointment before the store opens. They’re picking up curbside, using delivery and shipping in higher numbers as well, Klar says.
Any which way, her employees are ready to help. They’re trained to ask questions that will guide shoppers to the gifts that will make kids smile, she says.
“When someone comes into the store, our first question is ‘how old is the child and what are their interests?’” she explains. “We’ll show them some things, and if it doesn’t hit, we’ll keep asking about the child, and all of a sudden, something will click.”
Seeing parents and grandparents leave excited about the gifts they’re giving is part of the fun, she adds.
Meanwhile, it’s not easy to find employees. Like stores across the nation, Toyology is currently short-staffed and might be all holiday season, she says. Her employees are working hard, but to minimize wait times, she recommends going at odd hours and shopping earlier in the day if possible.
Chanukah starts at the end of Thanksgiving weekend, with the first candle to be lit on Sunday, Nov. 28. The holiday runs through sundown, Dec. 6. “Shop now,” says Klar. “It’s not too early.”