The toy business is hardly child’s play. Between competition from big-box stores, scares over made-in-China products, and now spend-shy consumers, a smaller chain such as Minneapolis-based Creative Kidstuff has to work extra hard to set itself apart. The 26-year-old company has fiercely loyal customers with its quirky-fun educational toys and a “please touch” approach to browsing.
“We’re a specialty company, and we differentiate ourselves with our product mix,” Bonoff says. “We create a shopping experience that the big-box stores can never create.”
The seven-store chain maintains close relationships with vendors and keeps a close eye on the industry. Bonoff was in touch with U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar’s office as she drafted legislation to keep lead out of imported toys. “It’s an important issue,” Bonoff says. “Fortunately, most of the vendors we work with are already compliant.”