Author: Rachel Sunday
Pittsburgh girl living the California dream.

Wonder Works Toys – Store of the Month

Wonder Works Toys – Store of the Month

Blue Orange Games is lucky to partner with a fantastic bunch of retailers who are passionate about their businesses and supportive of our games. We want to do more to recognize the stores and individuals that make our mission possible.  That’s how our monthly spotlight on an outstanding Blue Orange Games retailer came about! We are pleased to announce that Wonder Works Toys in Charleston, South Carolina is our Store of the Month for May!wonderworksRenaud, from our sales team, nominated this store because of their dedication to the local community and their passion for creating fun times with their customers. Renaud also recognized Wonder Works Toys “For their continuous support, the energy they show in their store and how they are dedicated to bringing happiness to kids. They have the perfect location for the summer time and are very loyal to Blue Orange Games!”

Wonder Work Toys is often known as being the ‘Trendy Toy Store’. The store does a lot of research to discover what the latest trend will be and makes sure to have it in stock! I had the pleasure of speaking with Elizabeth, who has been an employee for 15 years and has worked all positions that are available in the store. She is currently the director of operations and it is clear that she has a lot of experience in toy store buying and trends!

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Elizabeth tuned us in on the latest trends and what is exciting to come this year. Currently, Shopkins has taken storm of their store, “These Shopkins are so hard to find, but we have them in stock! Shopkins will be around for a while, and soon Ugleez will be added to the brand.” These are not the only trends of the year, “Dinosaurs are huge, especially with Jurassic World coming out so soon. Kids are always seeking out dinosaur toys, but this will be heightened even more. We also cannot forget Star Wars; I can promise that will be huge this year!”

How does a store always know what the latest trend will be and how long it will last? Simple, it is the passion of coming to work and listening to industry peers. Elizabeth stated, “It is so important to listen to your peers and what is going on in the industry. The specialty store community is a tight one and is not afraid to give advice or share their secrets to success.” On top of that, Wonder Works’ employees are passionate about what they do and give their opinions on games to purchase. Customers are used as a resource to bring in the games that they want to see on the shelves.

While trends are important to follow to keep your store thriving, Elizabeth shared an even more compelling aspect of Wonder Works Toys. You could hear the smile in Elizabeth’s voice when she stated, “Magic happens here, any store could say that, but I have witnessed it.”  Wonder Works Toys have spread the magic through major acts of kindness, for example, Wonder Works has thrown a birthday party for a boy who came in after no one showed up to his party. It is simple acts like this that allow magic to happen under their roof.

Wonder Works also takes pride in their community work and partners with local charities in the area. A lot of the charities are kid’s ideas and Wonder Works helps to support them. One charity raised 65 thousand dollars to build a crisis ministry homeless shelter. This is an aspect that Wonder Works is involved in that gives back to the community, aside from being a toy store.

StoreoftheMonth_HiResThank you to Wonder Works for their continued support and love of Blue Orange Games. When you are in South Carolina, make sure to pay a visit to the ‘Trendy Toy Store!’

For more information visit: www.wonderworkstoys.com

Reducing Our Carbon Footprint by Planting Trees and Helping Small Scale Farmers

Reducing Our Carbon Footprint by Planting Trees and Helping Small Scale Farmers

Photo Credit Christian Lamontagne

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Every year members of our sales team pack up their vans and head out across the country to visit current and prospective stores. While we take pride in this unique aspect of our company, we are also aware of the impact that multiple cross country trips in a van has on the environment.

What exactly is the impact? Well, for example, it is emitting 67 tons of CO2 just in the year, 2014. That is the reason that we have teamed up with the outstanding organization, the Pur Projet to reduce our carbon footprint as a company.

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The Pur Projet organization has a vision to change the world, “Our mission is to integrate social and environmental innovations to the heart of business and corporate activities, to regenerate, revitalize and preserve the ecosystems we depend upon.” With that said, Pur Projet believes that their partnered organizations have ‘Pur(e)’ intentions to better the social and environmental issues that exists on our planet. The organization provides native trees for the reforestation on small producers’ cocoa plantations in the Amazon.

Photo Credit Christian Lamontagne Photo Credit Christian Lamontagne

Pur Projet says it right! By giving back to the environment that gives companies, like Blue Orange, the resources to produce the products that are sold, is only fair. Pur Projet goes on to say, “By integrating these concerns within their sectors and activities, Pur Projet partner organizations offer a vision and means that lead to concrete projects to improve social and environmental activities and products.” Trees are planted following agroforestry systems improving the yield of cocoa trees while preserving soil and water quality and protecting biodiversity.

Since 2000, 952,000 miles were driven by Blue Orange, releasing 370 tons of CO2, which means that 1,110 trees have been planted to date. This past year, 2014, Blue Orange vans drove 152,000 miles consuming 10 liters/100 km of gas producing 67 tons of CO2 emissions. This means that 201 trees were planted in 2014 to offset our carbon footprint! When a tree has reached it’s level of maturity, it will take 14 years for the tree to offset one year of 67 tons of CO2 emissions.Not only does this help to shrink our carbon stamp and to fight against global warming, but there are also co-benefits with social and environmental issues.

Photo Credit Christian Lamontagne Photo Credit Christian Lamontagne

Photo Credit Christian Lamontagne

The Pur Project shares that, “Small-scale farmers and their families account for 4.2 billion people or two-thirds of the world’s population. They can, if supported financially, fight efficiently against climate change by applying agroforestry models that incorporate trees to their existing crops.” As a result, 1,500 farmers cultivate Fair Trade and Organic certified cocoa to increase and diversify their earnings. While planting trees reduces carbon footprint and global warming, giving work opportunities to small-scale farmers makes the Pur Projet a win-win organization!

In 2014, our 201 trees have been planted by farmer, Elias Villacorta, in a forest area of Peru. The type of tree depends on the location and the square footage, but the type of tree planted could be a Caoba or Capirona tree.

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We are so proud to be able to reduce our carbon footprint as a company, but even prouder to do so with a world changing organization with Pur(e) Intentions, such as Pur Projet.We understand the need to work towards the preservation of our planet. We believe it’s important to take steps to reduce the environmental impact of our business and to share our passion for sustainability.

For more information, visit: www.purprojet.com
How to get involved: http://purprojet.com/en/how-to-get-involved

Photo Credit Christian Lamontagne
All photos are credited to: Christian Lamontagne

Smiles Can Change Lives

Smiles Can Change Lives

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It may sound cliche to say “I went to the Dominican Republic to work with Orphans and I came back a different person.” However, that is exactly what happened. When presented with the opportunity to travel over 3,000 miles to work with Orphans for a week in the D.R., my heart had no hesitation, but my head ran around the idea of missing work and figuring out the finances to get there. I am forever grateful that my heart won that battle because in return I gained so much more than money could ever buy.

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photo 1 (4)Preparing for a mission trip to the Dominican Republic, I was to collect two 50 pound bags of donations for the orphanage, anything from shoes, to soccer balls, to pencils, to chalk, were accepted. On top of that, you were to pack a carry-on with your own belongings. Our leaders prepared us with a list of what to bring, which was very daunting, from snacks to specific sunscreen and bug spray, all to fit in one carry on and a backpack.

Spending one day at the orphanage, I realized that those preparations for the trip were very unnecessary. I did not need 8 different types of Bandaids or even as many snacks.

 

 

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It was not what I brought to be prepared for myself or what I brought to donate to the kids in need, they wanted something else. Every orphan or student at the Constanza location just wanted a smile or a hug. They were not looking to see what cool ‘gifts’ you brought, but simply wanted your attention and love. In the midst of a beautiful place with so much hurt, your personal belongings did not matter much at all. A little sunburn and a couple big bites did not even phase me, how can it when the kid next to you doesn’t even own a tooth brush?

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photo 1 (1)This was the biggest lesson that I learned from the children, and yes I learned way more from them than I could ever return to them. But the lesson learned was that love is really the biggest possession that we carry and are capable of sharing on a day to day basis, locally and globally. A smile and a hug is really all it takes. On top of that, most of these kids have overcome huge struggles at such a young age, yet their smiles are some of the brightest that I have ever seen. It was a huge wakeup call and reminder to be happy everyday and not to sweat the small stuff that we are tested with constantly. It is easy to get wrapped up in our busy lives when we are as privileged as we are in our first world countries.

It was easy to feel guilty about all that I had back in the United States, from possessions, to a home, to a bed, to shoes, to parents who love me unconditionally, but it is important to remember that you do not choose the life that you are born into. I learned not to feel guilty about the possessions I own, or spending extra money on the weekend, but to react to others with the resources I have. It is all about what you do with what you have to help others on a big and small scale.

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Although I did not spend one day or night with dry eyes in the D.R., my heart is as full as ever. To be rejuvenated with the love of so many that have so little was so impactful that words can not be put onto the experience. As hard as it was to leave the children that touched my life and that I grew very close to, I hope that when all else fails they will remember the warmth of a hug or smile exchanged during my time in Constanza, I know that I will be doing the same.

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I am so very happy to be able to reevaluate my ‘budget’ and ‘needs’ to be able to sponsor two young boys who attend the school. This is just a way for me to spread love from thousands of miles away, but also to give back from what I have been lucky enough to have in my life. I saw first hand the magic that sponsoring a child has, not only does the monthly donation pay for doctor appointments and dental work, but the contact from letters and Skyping helps to add and keep joy in their lives.

If you are interested in sponsoring a child, please contact me at rachel@blueorangegames.com or check out the organization’s website: http://www.kidsalive.org/around-the-world/latin-america/dominican-republic/

Top Ten Toys – April Store of the Month

Top Ten Toys – April Store of the Month

Blue Orange Games is lucky to partner with a fantastic bunch of retailers who are passionate about their businesses and supportive of our games.  We want to do more to recognize the stores and individuals that make our mission possible.  That’s how our monthly spotlight on an outstanding Blue Orange Games retailer came about! We are pleased to announce that Top Ten Toys in Seattle, Washington is our Store of the Month for April!

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Xavier, from our sales team, nominated this store because of their dedication to the local community and their passion for creating fun times with their customers. Xavier also recognized Top Ten Toys because of their loyalty and being one of our oldest customers. Katie, a Top Ten Toys employee, remembers Julien, Blue Orange Owner, coming into the store of Blue Orange’s first big road trip!

Top Ten Toys has been open since 1987 and is the largest toy store in Seattle! Top Ten originally opened as a store for homeschoolers which is why they bring in toys with an educational flare. When speaking with Kristi, Top Ten buyer, she stated “Our mission statement is keeping healthy play alive. I have been working here for over 10 years. I became the game and skill toy buyer shortly after I started working here because I am a board game lover and a skill toy enthusiast!”

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Top Ten Toys is ready to share their secrets to success, “I think the secret to having a successful toy store is knowing your customer base and being part of your community.  We donate to local charities and school auctions.”  There is no doubt that Top Ten Toys puts their community first. With cheerful employees and ready to help at anytime service, customers never leave the store disappointed. Even when visiting the website, the contact button is always available if you have a question when shopping! Their dedication to customer satisfaction is evident when Krista shares “I get the most satisfaction out my job when a customer falls in love with an item we carry.”

It is a joy to have been working with Top Ten Toys for many years. Since Kristi is familiar with our game selection, we thought it would be fun to hear her personal favorites, “Blue Orange has many games I enjoy but my favorite is Flash or Fastrack but I have to say I am really enchanted with Thumbs Up!  That one is lots of fun!!!” It is always great to hear that our current and classic games can be lumped together as someone’s favorites.

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While all of the spotlight is on Top Ten Toys, we couldn’t help but to be tickled by Kristi’s comment, “My favorite thing about Blue Orange is how everyone who works for the company is enthusiastic and fun loving. Every employee believes in the products, which is not hard to do since all your games are AWESOME!

And of course, we think that Top Ten Toys is awesome too!

For more information, check out: http://www.toptentoys.com/

O.P. Taylor’s -March Store of the Month

O.P. Taylor’s -March Store of the Month

Blue Orange Games is lucky to partner with a fantastic bunch of retailers who are passionate about their businesses and supportive of our games.  We want to do more to recognize the stores and individuals that make our mission possible.  That’s how our monthly spotlight on an outstanding Blue Orange Games retailer came about! We are pleased to announce that O.P. Taylor’s in Brevard, North Carolina is our Store of the Month for March! Renaud, from our sales team, nominated this store because of their dedication to the local community and their passion for creating fun times with their customers.

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Imagine an emporium so dedicated to fun that they have proclaimed themselves as the ‘coolest toy store on the planet’. toystoresideviewThis toy store happens to be O.P. Taylor’s and their 25 years of success can back up their proclamation. What is now a booming success of a Toy Store recognized with many prestige awards, started out as a rugged clothing store. Store owner, John Taylor, ran a successful restaurant in the town of Brevard and decided to open a clothing store to sell rugged outdoors outfits. However, that quickly turned into a toy store when children took more to the game corner than they did to the clothes! Taylor now runs 3 successful stores and is a well known name around the town. Taylor and his store are not only well-known around the town and in the south, but also world wide, after all, it is the ‘coolest toy store on the planet’. O.P. Taylor’s was recently honored as one of USA Today’s 10 Best Toy Stores in the WORLD! This honor puts O.P. Taylor’s among some of the most eminent toy stores in the world, such as, FAO Schwarz, Hamleys, and The American Girl Place. John-Taylor-at-O.P.-Taylors-toy-shop With a store owner that has the heart of a nine year old, a bright smile, and wears a colorful hat equip with a propeller, there is no option but to have fun at O.P. Taylor’s. The staff is bright and eager to play with you! Have a question or want to see a demo? You will not hesitate to ask one of the staff members! With all of the games that you could have ever wanted as a child, or now, it is most likely that one of O.P. Taylor’s bright and colorfully stocked walls will call your name. So, the next time you are passing through Brevard, North Carolina, stop in and check out the ‘Coolest Toy Store on the Planet’. StoreoftheMonth_HiRes

For more information visit: http://www.optaylors.com/

New York Toy Fair 2015

New York Toy Fair 2015

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In February, we headed off to our biggest trade show of the year to share the new and exciting additions to the Blue Orange Games catalog for 2015. The New York City Toy Fair is where the majority of our retailers will learn about our new games and since last year, the number of new games has doubled! We have been very busy preparing 16 new games and were excited to finally spread the word!

Walking into Toy Fair is like walking into a kid’s heaven, something ignites inside of every grown up and brings them back to childhood. Of course we all had to pretend to be grownups and not run through the aisles to play with all that a toy trade show has to offer.. As we arrive at the Blue Orange Games booth, even more excitement begins.

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The Blue Orange booth is bright, open, and colorful which catches the eye of many press and retailers walking by. We make it a priority to sit down with every visitor and go through our new games that we are featuring for 2015. On top of that, we love to share our company’s classic successes with those who are not so familiar.

Meeting buyers and the press is a huge part of why Blue Orange Games attends Toy Fair every year. The importance of putting a face to a name and creating a relationship is what continues to help our company grow more and more. Of course, super awesome fun games help with that too.

It is beyond rewarding to see all of the games that the Blue Orange team has worked many months on and see how positively the Toy Fair visitors take to each game. With a plethora of colorful and exciting new games, it was not a daunting task to present the 15+ new games to each visitor.

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Plenty of laughs and smiles were exchanged during play at the Blue Orange booth. Keep an eye out for our new education line: Super Genius. With a collection of 5 learning games that make flash cards fun, it is no wonder that Family Fun awarded this collection as a Top 10 Game at Toy Fair!

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Our new games were not the only stars of the show! Gobblet Gobblers received a fresh new look for the 15th anniversary of the Gobblet brand!

Not only does Gobblet Gobblers’ new packaging look great, but the Gobblers did receive their 15, well 30 seconds, of fame when their commercial was debuted in New York City’s yellow taxi cabs.

 

 

Thank you to all of those who stopped by our booth and for those who missed us…we will see you next year!

Check us out on Instagram & Twitter! @BlueOrangeGames

Lighten Up- February Store of the Month

Lighten Up- February Store of the Month

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Blue Orange Games is lucky to partner with a fantastic bunch of retailers who are passionate about their businesses and supportive of our games.  We want to do more to recognize the stores and individuals that make our mission possible.  That’s how our monthly spotlight on an outstanding Blue Orange Games retailer came about!

We are pleased to announce that Lighten Up! in Winter Park, Florida is our Store of the Month for February! Renaud, from our sales team, nominated this store because of their dedication to the local community and their passion for creating fun times with their customers.

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This February we are headed to the Sunshine State to congratulate our store of the month! Lighten Up! can be found in the beautiful town right outside of Orlando.

Walking into the store you will stumble upon all of the toys that you could ever want! Fun kites hang from the ceiling above your head; you may even forget that you walked inside! Colorful skateboards line the walls, because there is no better way to cruise around Florida, turn your head around and you will see lollipops and cute stuffed animals. But of course, you will find your eyes scanning a bright wall of Blue Orange Games.

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Lighten Up! prides itself in having options for all of the kids in the family, from ages 1 to 99. Being a hands on and interactive store, customers will leave satisfied and almost never empty handed. Having a friendly crew to assist shoppers is always a plus! Customer service is the most important to Lighten Up! Demos fill the store to make sure that customers know what they are purchasing before they actually purchase it.

Being located in a neighborhood store, Lighten Up! has created quite the local following with their upbeat and bright personality. You will be able to find toys that you won’t find in other stores and a friendly and unique experience. So, the next time you are in Winter Park, FL stop in and Lighten Up! a bit!

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For more information visit: https://www.facebook.com/lightenupkites