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Opening a Toy Store
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My wife and I have decided to open a toy store. We wanted to do things that engaged customers and get them coming back as much as possible.

We aren't terribly concerned with making a profit, so to say. We really just want it to pay for itself and maybe our toys on the side.

I have a good paying job so this would actually be more of a hobby for us, though she would man the store full time. We plan to live in our shop (or above it).

My questions to the /toy/soldiers here would be this:
>What sort of things do your local shops not do, that you wish they would?
>What do you feel would get you coming back more?
>What do you wish your local shops carried more of?
>What do you wish your local shop carried less of/not at all?
>What personal suggestions do you have? Preferences?
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>>4202191
We have had a few ideas. We want to host game tournaments as well as cosplay tea parties. My wife wants to make sweets to sell as well. Selling clothing, importing figures (most figures will be imported actually), custom making hats and sweaters.

We have more ideas, I don't have the list atm though.
>>
Where do you live?
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>>4202197
Alaska... The most populated part of Alaska.
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Realize that one of the biggest uphill battles will be that a lot of people here will want import figures, and selling those figures at a profit will mean selling them for a much higher price than people here will be willing to buy. Especially considering that they just import it for less themselves.
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>>4202200
Sorry little off topic but what's it like there? I've always want to go there and see the sights.
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>>4202191
>>What sort of things do your local shops not do, that you wish they would?
-price match to major online stores + 10% less like Home Depot. Otherwise, no real reason to shop there.

>>What do you feel would get you coming back more?
-consistently lower prices than any other online/brick competitor

>>What do you wish your local shops carried more of?
-stuff I want at a price I'd want it for. Besides display pieces and big name items, you should prob run it mainly off reserve and preorders sales to a consistent customer base.

>>What do you wish your local shop carried less of/not at all?
-overpriced items. this leads to left over items that sit and clutter the store and eat investments so the stores end up raising prices even more. its a vicious cycle.

>>What personal suggestions do you have? Preferences?
don't over charge for stuff. NYC has tons of toy stores that overcharge. toys end up bargain binning or not selling. they carry comics and cards though, so that maintains the store and profits while the toys and more expensive non-preordered gift items then to collect dust or bargain bin.

you should prob set up something that can consistently bring in revenue with the majority of your fanbase. Card games, tabletops rpg, subscriber comics, preordered toys or something like that. Don't charge for table usage, unless you're a major center for games - otherwise you'll just chase people off.

but really, the prices are what keeps people coming back in general. online suppliers are hard competition so you need to overcome via price, availability, and/or convenience.
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>>4202191
Fellow toy store owner here.

Funko, Entertainment Earth, Bluefin, and Neca are where you should sign up for wholesale accounts. Sideshow if you can front the kind of cash they want.

Be prepared to network with the local community and host a bunch of small events.

Net we only make $6000 a month on average. Be prepared to not take home huge paychecks each month
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>>4202210
>but really, the prices are what keeps people coming back in general

I wouldn't agree with that 100%. When buying locally I would gladly do business with a place that charges more than online shops as long as they have a friendly, helpful staff and a good variety of things I'm interested in.

I can't see price matching being anything but an impossibility with a place with such narrow margins on most items.
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>>4202218
how much more can the shop charge before you and the others change their mind? How many of you are needed to maintain the store on a yearly basis? would prob be helpful info for OP to keep in mind.

maybe hire cute girls to run the store. that seems to bring in some regulars too.
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>>4202218
that's where the cards and comics seem to come into play. they preorder the comics and cards from the supplier at a discount and charge the customer a percentage for getting them the bulk orders at a discounted price. it's still cheaper than straight retail, or ordering online when shipping is concerned.

I don't know how toys go, since with toys the general retail ideology is to charge 3x what wholesale cost is, to cover potential losses. The small shops I knew had to buck up their higher cost items by offering other free services, ie a place people could gather and play card games, table tops, rc's, etc.
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Make sure your shop is in a good location, the meat of your customer base, espescially for import toys, will probably be weeaboo highschoolers/college students and the occasional older collector, so being near public transit or a large university would be a good idea.

TCG events/Cards are a good source of income, one of my friends runs a comic shop that also sells card games, and Yugioh/MTG are far and away the bulk of the store's income.

Once you have some tables and a bit of a playerbase wizards will mail you freebies and shit to hand out at events.
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>>4202211
A friend of mine has a Neca account. He does the convention circuit and has killer pricing and selection but still ends up eating a lot of unsold inventory. Sometimes it works out for the better if the stuff skyrockets on eBay in a year or two, but it looks like a rough business to me. What I'm trying to say is simply: bless you guys for taking the risk.
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>>4202191
You have to have Lego.
Make displays
Also make place where kids can build the sets for some price.
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>>4202265
>make place where kids can build the sets for some price.

What the shit. That's a horrible idea. It's a store, not a daycare center.
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>>4202277
by kids, he means 30+ year old neckbeards
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Question. I haven't collected in some time, but are action figure cases still distributed by rarity? Like one optimus prime and 5 bumble bees? If so OP, don't do action figures.

You have to pre-order by the case, you're never sure of the quality when they do arrive, and the figure distribution is a scam.
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>>4202282
>Like one optimus prime and 5 bumble bees
Yes, case layouts are still set up like this for the most part.
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Is this just a toy store? Or a toy and hobby store?
Going for all ages? Targeting a specific range? Wife made snacks and hosting games, is this a /tg/ part of the store or aiming at little kids with store wide nerf gun fights?
I'm not sure what the toy scene is like on the west coast let alone Alaska from being in Florida, my area is limited to 2 Toys R'Us and a comic bookstore/hobby shop past the Wall-Marts. Anything special on the west coast for imports?
Prices should naturally be higher than online+shipping but offer an anual membership card for discounts.
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There was an anon I talked to on... maybe /co/ I think who ran a comic shop, and he said sales of Hot Toys basically paid his shops expenses most months. I wouldn't have thought that that would be the case, but I suppose if you stock HT's from really popular and recent movies you're likely to sell them, and for a good mark-up as well.
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>>4202303
probably from pre-orders. I can't imagine a store stocking up HT without a pre-known number of sales.
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>>4202306
>importing figures (most figures will be imported actually)

Wouldn't that business model be dependent on customers who are too dumb to simply import the figures themselves like everybody else?
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>>4202252
It's all about knowing and buying for your customer base. If you know you can sell Predator stuff in 6 months there really is no risk.
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>>4202319
Not really. Impulse buying is a thing. Granted, you'd probably file that under "dumb", but there's plenty of people who wouldn't import or preorder something who's change gears if they saw something up close, with the ability to take it home straight away. And if it doesn't sell immediately, eventually it probably catches up to the common resale price, balancing things out, and being a decent alternative for latecomers.
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>>4202281
I'm not gonna pay someone to let me build a LEGO set in their store. That's a fucking stupid idea and your mother should be slapped for you even suggesting it.
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>>4202281
Ahhh. But in that case I stand by statement. Not a daycare center.
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>>4202303
>>4202306
>>4202319
>>4202329
I would imagine a part of this comes down to the fact that Hot Toys usually work on a ratio of price increase over time. A figure reasonably marked up in a comic shop to cover expenses seems too expensive in the short term, but after a bit it becomes a great deal after X period of time versus other, more fluid secondary market prices are jacked way up. I see it happen quite a bit, you can even find examples of that with less expensive/sought after comic shop staples like Marvel Select movie figures that aren't reissued.
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>>4202191
>What sort of things do your local shops not do, that you wish they would?
Maintain a schedule of upcoming toys that they're bringing in. They do this for comics, but that doesn't interest me.

>What do you feel would get you coming back more?
Friendly and knowledgeable employees. At the very least know your product, their pros and cons, etc.

>What do you wish your local shops carried more of?
Weeb shit, there are barely any Figmas or Revoltechs at my lcs.

>What do you wish your local shop carried less of/not at all?
PAKs, old toys (c. 80s, 90s, and early 2000s) that just take up space.

>What personal suggestions do you have? Preferences?
Appearance. I prefer to not walk through clutter and layers of dust. Try your best to display your merchandise in an appealing manner and please dust everyday. Also, if you're going to host tcg/board game events, don't let it take up half of your space. That's one of the biggest drawbacks to my lcs here in Florida but that partly stems from me not being interested in that either.
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>>4202349
>Maintain a schedule of upcoming toys that they're bringing in.
This is great advice. One of the most popular video game shops around here has a big ol' readerboard inside with a list of everything coming out in the ext couple months. They actually focus on retro games, but I still find this pretty cool and not overbearing.

On the subject of this same shop, they maintain a very active Facebook presence, constantly listing stuff coming into the shop. I think this is really important in any shop that focuses on a specific audience.
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>>4202349
>host tcg/board game events

Don't those kind of places inevitably turn into gigantic faggot magnets? Every place like that I've seen had bronies and one even had a fucking furry with another furry on a leash, for a brief moment I felt a kind of camaraderie and empathy with spree shooters.
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>What do you wish your local shops carried more of?
Gunpla
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>>4202366
Welcome to toy and hobby shops in general.

If you want to run one you pretty much HAVE to have a handful of weird fetishists, bronies, furries, loud fans, etc. As long as they aren't breaking any rules or hurting anyone (or business), you have to accept them.

Tolerating them is generally good for business if they're willing to spend money, too.
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>>4202364
You're right, in this day and age social media is your friend when it comes to businesses. It also helps to diversify your customer base as to prevent it from becoming the faggot magnet that >>4202366 so mentions. To me it seems to come down to appearance as an organized, clean store with many types of customers coming in really gives off the feel that you're not just providing merchandise for a select few.
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Fuck opening up a toy store. Diversify your bonds nigga and invest in some bombs
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>>4202200
Ehhhhh...

I dunno man.
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>>4202379
Does that ever work out?
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>that feeling of slight disappointment when OP isn't the racist bootleg pokemon bin guy returning again
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>>4202446
That's Vroom Vroom, his retarded posting can be found on many boards.
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Carry tabletop models, board/roleplaying games, and TCGs (mostly Magic) are generally a good idea to carry if there's an interest in your area. Selling magic singles alone has the potential to bring in a good amount of cash.
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>>4202191
The only way I would stop buying online and go to my local store instead would be if:
- The prices weren't more expensive than buying from Japan + shipping. I know you have to make money and that importating stuff cost money but if I can get it at a cheaper price online, that's were my money will go.
- The items were available like a week after the japanese release MAX. That's how long I have to wait when I buy online.
- You'd offer as many things as AmiAmi, HLJ and such (minus all the non toy goods of course). All the local stores I visited only sell ultra popular stuff like Gundam, Nagai robots, SHF and figma from western franchises or very well known licenses like Naruto and such and guess what? I never find anything I want.
- A loyalty program might helps.

>We want to host game tournaments as well as cosplay tea parties. My wife wants to make sweets to sell as well. Selling clothing, custom making hats and sweaters.
I will never enter a store doing any of that again. That kind of things bring the worse people to your store (most of the time they're jobless idiots who will never buy pricy things anyway) and makes this hobby looks so bad. Just make a regular store selling stuff to regular people collecting toys, not a dumb place for retards.
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A local toy store has a case full of knockoff/bootleg figures that they sell. They've got some genuine Japanese import figures among a bunch of knockoffs, including fake SnK Nendoroids and statues.

For example, this set of five Yoshis runs $15 on eBay, and the store sells them at $10 a piece. They look pretty decent, but as a toy person, I can tell they're fake. I doubt kids or their parents would care about this anyway.

I'm not suggesting doing this, but it is something that is being done.
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>>4202191
OP the BEST thing you can do for your toy store is host FNM. you get free shit, you can charge absurd prices once you get popular, also buying MTG wholesale turns a really nice profit per pack.
you'll bring in an older crowd which might gain an interest in things like model kits/gunpla/higher end toys and collectors items.
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>>4202192
Ok... here is an idea. If you want normal people to visit the store.. stop listening to your weeb wife.

No one ever in the history of ever wanted to see or go to a "Cosplay Teaparty". Invest in the place, not stupid shit. Don't "make sweets". Get a Glass front mini fridge and some standard snacks (for game tourneys) get the new shit, and undercut everyone else in the businesses around you.

Offer a discount on things depending on the day, like charge $3 a pack for TCG's on game day, or %10 board games or something like that.

Be friendly as fuck. Dont act entitled, and make sure to have a flashing 20ft. neon sign anouncing you carry Pokemon cards cheaper than anywhere else.
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I wished for years to open a toy store in Moscow, but

>business in Russia
>nobody cares about weeb shit, who does can order online
>tcg market is completely owned by cardplace
>need a negative profit margin to undercut others due to this being russia and the inevitability of kickbacks and whatnot

Why are my dreams always crushed by harsh reality
>>
>>4202448
You guys have to put up with him too?
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Maybe make a pre-order service, but add in a fee to make a little money off of it. The only problem I see is that anyone who actually pre-orders toys probably already does so on their own time.
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>>4202191
And, if you stock Masterpiece Transformers, limit them 1 per customer.
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>>4202192
I was actually going to say that I always wished more stores sold imported toys. Though it could be really difficult to sell them since you'd need to really mark up their price for a profit.

Perhaps if you made some small "bulk" orders on cheaper preowned items from mandarake on amiami? You could make it clear that they're preowned but you might be able to sell them well if the customer can see that they're in good condition and a relatively reasonable price for an import.
>>
protip: don't do it
get a hobby that won't ruin you financially and mentally
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>>4203254
We get a lot of these threads on /tg/ too. Those are about opening gaming stores, but the advice is the same.
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>>4202192

>tea parties
>selling food

Don't do this shit unless you want to risk ruining inventory.

Definitely make a point of offering imports and maybe directing people to your wife's Etsy's page, but don't ACTUALLY waste space on that type of inventory.
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When you can afford it, put up some cool displays of toys fighting each other on your front window, like what TFAW and Xtreme toys does
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Start small, but with a TON of advertising. Don't do anything too risky at first, just sell stuff, advertise, repeat. Draw people in with a bunch of sales or whatever. Just get people in the store.
Once you've got a fair amount of regulars, you can start expanding and doing weird niche stuff, but until you have that foundation to work on don't risk it.
Also, displays are nice, they get people in the store. Robots fighting are a must (toy stores are havens for most /m/heads, especially if there's gunpla), maybe something cutesier to get chicks in.
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>>4202218
I don't really see the point in that. Almost every brick and mortar store I've ever been too has consitently inflated prices to make profit that keep me from buying anything.
If I go in a shop a dozen times but leave empty-handed becaue I know I can get the exact same product cheaper elsewhere...eventually I'll stop going no matter how friendly the staff is. I've always thought that in the long run a shop that charged as low prices as possible while still turning a profit...even if it is smaller...will get customers and keep them.
The days of the local comic/hobby/toy store are dead. You're competing with ebay, amazon, bbts, big box retail that will undercut you everytime.
The only way I can compete is by having lower prices and eating some cost short term, or find alternate means of supporting it like events with paid attendence, contests, ect.
(ctd)
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Ctd from >>4203631


>>4202191
Op my advice is to first up, find your niche. Don't try to cater to everyone because you can't make everyone happy. Like I said, try to find something to bring people in the store other than merch, events, tournaments for games, contests, whatever.
Along with lower pricing I would move stock as fast as possible and continually be bringing new stock into the store. Make it exciting to come into the store and see what you've put in it recently. If you have stuff warming shevles discount it, put it on ebay on an un-affiliated account, raffle it, whatever but keep stock contiually flowing. One thing that is always disappointing is when your favorite shop (or in my case the only shops) hardly ever have anything new. In the last city Ilived in, over a 4 year period the stock at nearly every secondary shop from local guys to chains like Vintage Stock had 70% of their stock...never move...ever. It goes back to price it was stuff that was neat.jpeg but nobody wanted to pay stupid premium for it.
I would also be very careful about your atmosphere in the shop. Too many of them turn into clique clubs or worse, smelly neckbeard dens that might as well have an 'outsiders unwelcome' sign out front. By all means get to know customers, get regulars, but treat every customer that comes in like a regular even if they're just lookers and nothing more.
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If you open a store, please don't use shelf space to display your personal collection. I walked into a comic shop once and they had whole cabinets of loose figures all jumbled up together (mostly Marvel Legends, G.I. Joes, etc.).
There were some desirable/hard-to-find figures in there, so I asked if any of them were for sale and was told no. I mean, why dedicate so much space to them if they aren't for sale?
All the stuff they actually had for sale was just disappointing, toy-wise.
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>>4202191
>>4202192

You know?
I love your ideas, they sound so fun, creative and dreamy.
That's why I fear that you may not succeed, sounds too... Utopian. Sure, in Japan would work perfectly. Or even in a place like Mexico where weeaboos are everywhere, if your prices are low.
Honestly, I'd visit your store, I'd love to see cute babes in cute cosplay, and make fun of cows trying to look nice, I'd play Warhammer or some other shit there.
But I dunno, you should study your market first. You should try to start slow, maybe only toys and games, and hold an occasional cosplay contest or something in order to see how many people are willing to cosplay in a toy/games store.

Another advice: I've heard that some companies, including Goodsmile/Max Factory and Tamashii Nations/Bluefin are willing to strike deals with toy stores overseas and make you an official distributor, giving you lower prices so you can still sell their figures at first market price and make a profit. As far as I know, Games Workshop, Wizards and other game publishers do this too.
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>>4202191
>>What sort of things do your local shops not do, that you wish they would?
Good prices, variety.
>>What do you feel would get you coming back more?
Cute babes, originality in decoration, big stock to check out.
>>What do you wish your local shops carried more of?
Joes, Marvel Universe, Microman, Figuarts, Revos, Figmas, Neca, a good variety of Warhammer and other miniatures, not just spess mehreens and some random shit.
>>What do you wish your local shop carried less of/not at all?
Hipstershit, but I understand that shit sells like hotcakes, so it's good for the business.
>>What personal suggestions do you have? Preferences?
Hire cute weeaboo bitches with round asses and make them dress as maids. I'd go there every day.
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