I took a bike ride over to Toys R Us yesterday for a little inspiration.
Walking through a toy store is one of my all time favorite pastimes, usually leading to joy, wonder, and sparks of inspiration.
This trip was different.
I was immediately underwhelmed by the feeling of the store itself, and overwhelmed by the sheer amount of junk.
I’m already the kind of person who gets upset when I’m served a plastic straw that I didn’t ask for, so being surrounded by endless aisles of plastic crap borders on philosophical crisis for me. That was the overwhelm.
As for the underwhelm, well, that pretty clearly explained why Toys R Us filed for bankruptcy. In a time where brick and mortar stores need to innovate and create a reason for walking through their doors, Toys R Us has seemingly made zero effort in that department. It feels like a warehouse. There’s nothing special. There’s almost no reason at all to go there.
So what did I learn?
In regards to all the plastic, it reinforced my desire for our games to be as environmentally-friendly as possible. We use recycled metal and cardboard, the only plastic in our game is the spinner, and our last shipment of 10,000 Game Night in a Cans weren’t even shrink wrapped. This created a bit more work for us, but it feels really good to make these decisions as much as we can. As we grow, we will continue to look for ways to be a truly sustainable brand. More than anything, we want to make the world a better place, and beyond inspiring creativity in everyone who plays our game, it also means being environmental stewards.
As for what kind of store experience I want, it made me really appreciate all of the local toy and gift stores we started working with this year. Like Miracle Mile Toys in Los Angeles, where the shop itself feels like a magical outdoor marketplace, and they have an awesome event room in the back. They support smaller and more creative toy and game makers, and they even recently hosted a show from Bob Baker Marionettes!
Now there is an awesome reason to close your laptop and head out to the toy store.
Inspiration has returned!