After attending the annual Time to Play Magazine Holiday Showcase, I’ll admit that I was excited about the toys this year. Most years I’m so not into toys. I’m one who likes toys that don’t do much–they don’t make noise and they don’t have bright flashing lights. I like toys that force kids to do and create. This year I took a much stronger look at the implementation and direction behind the toys and left feeling excited. Visiting a toy store can be overwhelming, but if you go with a goal in mind, it’s not quite so hard. The same goes for toy shows.
In the next few weeks I’ll share several of my favorite toys for children this holiday season. I’m planning many educational toys posts and reviews, posts listing my kids’ favorites, top toys, storybook toys and more.
Last week, while at a PTO meeting our conversation drifted toward shopping (we were originally discussing the best gift cards to gift to teachers and, as happens, it digressed to toys.) I shared a few key tips that I learned at Time to Play, through life and through shopping.
Buy your toys now
There are several hot toys this year (check out the Time to Play Magazine’s listing of Most Wanted toys for the favorites that were presented.) All of the toys on this list are available in stores now, but if you wait 6 more weeks, you’ll have a very difficult time finding them. So if any of your kids is begging for one of these toys, buy it today. As always, to make the toys more enticing, marketing teams also make them harder to find. And, for fear of overproducing, they’re being underproduced. So you’ll need to get shopping.
If you’re desperate, start calling
A few years ago, I wanted nothing more than to give our family a wii. I was delighted to finally find a video game program that encouraged movement. Apparently, millions of other people felt the same. Every morning, I’d drop my kids off at preschool and rush to Toys R Us, then Target, then GameStop and by the time I got to each store, they were sold out of the 2, 3 or 7 they got in the night before. I recall complaining to my husband that I was wasting an hour and a half of free time rushing from store to store to store and coming up with my hands empty.
Finally, it dawned on me. Use the phone! I picked one store that opened at 9, and I called at 8:59 every morning, letting it ring until someone picked up. Each morning, I’d ask the same question “any wii’s today?” Some mornings the answer was “no.” Other mornings the answer was something like “yes, but only 3 and there are 7 people lined up outside the door.” Those mornings, I wouldn’t go to the store. On the mornings they received 11 or 12, I might have raced over. But one morning it was raining, I called and asked my usual question. The attendant on the other end of the line responded, “actually, we received 6 last night and Shelby is unpacking them now. The store is empty. What’s your name? I’ll hold it for you, but you have to be here in 20 minutes.”
I was there in 7 minutes.
Shop on a Friday
So, the morning thing works really well if you are desperate for one hot toy. But if you want to really shop, shop on a Friday early to mid afternoon. During this time, the shelves have all been restocked for the weekend rush and every toy available should be facing out to the customers. You’ll also catch the weekend toy sales.
Pre-Shop on a Sunday
This one I just learned last weekend when we were shopping at Toys r Us for a birthday gift. Sometimes, to get ahead of the game, store staff will post sale tags the day before they start. Last Sunday there was a sign “Disney Princess Costumes half price this week!” with the dates below it. I was considering getting a costume that day, but I waited until Monday, drove back to the store and grabbed a dress at sale price.
Work out on a Monday
Or schedule a playdate. Or just sleep all day. Just don’t waste your time toy shopping on Monday because by the end of the weekend stores are low on stock and stock isn’t refilled on a Monday morning. While during the holiday season some shipping companies might deliver on Sunday, it’s very rare and even if they did deliver, the stores don’t have enough people in place Sunday night to get all the hot toys out on the floor.
Pay attention to Price Adjustment and Price Match policies
Price adjustments can occur when a product you purchased is available at a lower price and you bring your receipt back to the store to have your charge altered. Every store has it’s own policy, so make sure you’re clear on what they are. Coupon Connections listed the Toys R Us policy for 2012 last week; Target and Walmart list theirs on their website. All three are fairly consistent this year in 7-day guarantees. (Take note, Walmart does not guarantee against their Walmart.com–this came as quite a surprise to me last year).
A few toys that are already being reported as hard to find
If you’re already shopping, keep an eye out for these toys, which have already been reported as hard to find:
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2012
- Skylanders Giant (this isn’t even on the shelves yet, but stores like GameStop and Toys R Us are taking pre-orders. We pre-ordered in August.)
- LeapFrog LeapPad2 Explorer
- MegaBloks Skylanders
- Monster High dolls
- LEGO Minecraft 21102 (nearly impossible to find. Keep checking!)
- LEGO Friends Advent Calendar 3316 (This year’s most popular Advent Calendar
- … and the big debate. Furby, Orangeis claimed by some to be one of the hottest and is expected to fly off the shelves. But cute little Furby is overstocking some shelves and continues to go on sale at Target on a regular basis. Keep an eye on the price. I don’t recommend spending more than $54, unless it goes out of stock everywhere.
(This post contains affiliate links. Thank you. The post was edited on Friday, October 12 to add additional hard to find toys, per the suggestion of Mindi at Moms Need to Know.)
© 2012, Julie Meyers Pron. All rights reserved.