But there’s plenty of competition; not only do they compete with the big chain stores, said Pollard, but they must battle online toy sellers as well.
Marblehead Toy Shop manager Barbara Waldman has worked for the store for 15 years. She said customer service is the No. 1 reason why people head to a specialty toy store. She not only knows her regular customers by name, she knows their grandchildren, too.
“We try to get things that are exclusive to specialty shops,” Waldman said.
Local shops also aim to make themselves a destination, a place where kids can have fun, rather than simply a place to buy toys.
“A lot of the people want to see ‘what does this product do,’” said Jennifer Schylling. “I am more than happy to open it up, take it out and show them, as opposed to a box store where if you do that, you look like you are stealing it.”
”One of the nice things about small toy stores is we have a pulse on what’s going to be hot or new,” Andrew Schylling added.
Schylling said the toys his store carries are, for the most part, hands on, and only a few require batteries. The store even supplies batteries with toys so kids can play with them right out of the box.
“The goal is to leave here and be able to utilize your toy,” he said. They also carry lots of throwback toys, like Etch A Sketch, Jack-in-the-Box toys, the Fisher-Price Music Box Record Player and tin toys that are hard to find at large stores.
When asked if downtown Danvers is a good place for a toy store, Andrew Schylling said: “When we first got there, all these buildings were vacant.” He pointed to the shop windows across the street. “If you look around now, you will notice all these buildings are full.