Author: Viyada

Information and Tools for Educators

Information and Tools for Educators

As a mother to a school-aged child, I’m always on the look out for what would help my little boy at school. And with a child with special needs, you could say that I get hyper-focused on stuff like that. I’m amazed at what his teachers and therapists will recommend to better aid him in the classroom.

Kindergarten Classroom_3

I was so pleasantly surprised with a phone call from Katy at GlobalEducator Institute, a new organization looking to aid teachers in the classroom. They have a robust blog and are committed to providing information and tools for educators. In fact, they are looking for teachers to help pair them off with great products for review. Learn more about Global Educator Institute below.

 

 
geiGlobal Educator Institute— is a new organization with a mission of evaluating educational products and improving education. The goal is to pair great products with great teachers, who then test them with their students for at least six weeks and provide us with valuable feedback and recommendation. Teachers have a voice in determining which products are elevated to becoming endorsed and receive our GEI Seal of Endorsement.

If you are a teacher or know of anyone that is (pass along), it takes 5 minutes to sign up and create a confidential profile. To sign up to be a member, simply visit:  http://geiendorsed.com/how/teachers/

GEI will then start sending FREE product to evaluate for GEI.

Rocking Horse Toy Company is our October Store of the Month!

Rocking Horse Toy Company is our October Store of the Month!

At Blue Orange Games, we can’t take all the credit for our hot games! We owe a huge debt of gratitude to our fabulous retailers who give us feedback and put energy, passion, and time into their businesses every day. This space is dedicated to a very special retailer each month in order to highlight the stores and individuals that bring Blue Orange games from shelves into homes and that do us the honor of introducing us to families in their area. We are pleased to announce that our Retailer of the Month for October is none other than Rocking Horse Toy Co in Petoskey, MI!

rocking horse toy

Rocking Horse Toy Co started with…you guessed it…a rocking horse!

Owners, Andy and Kathleen Bultman, were originally elementary school teachers. They were on the quest to find their daughter, Sara, the perfect rocking horse for her 1st birthday. No rocking horse on the market fit the requirement. Thus Kathleen asked Andy to make one instead. Andy’s rocking horse creation created a stir and requests were made by the community for other wooden crafts. Andy later added homemade wooden toys to the inventory. The business expanded to other things such as toys and games and Andy eventually stopped making the wooden toys. 34 years later, there are 3 locations throughout Northern Michigan.

The Petoskey Location!
The Petoskey Location!

The buying season at Rocking Horse Toy Co is different from most stores. Whereas most stores experience huge sales in the 4th quarter holiday season, they have Christmas in July! Their store locations are primarily in resort areas so they experience a huge influx of vacationers looking for toys and games during the summer months.

Andy and Kathleen credit their success to their backgrounds as educators. They purchase toys and games they felt their customers could really benefit from and not just what is the most popular. They also take the time to train their employees. Arielle, is the buyer and general manager for Rocking Horse Toy Co and really makes sure their employees are well-trained to talk with the customers.

After 34 years, Andy still loves coming to work. He loves the change of seasons, the change of environments, and even the ups and downs. He still looks forward each year to attending the annual NYC Toy Fair and searching for new trends in toys and games. This love of toys and games definitely translate into their success!

Thank you  Rocking Horse Toy Co for all that you do for your community and for Blue Orange Games!

Marketing and Sales Tips for Small Businesses – Finale

Marketing and Sales Tips for Small Businesses – Finale

October is here and now begins the ramp up for the holiday season. Halloween isn’t until the END of the month but you better believe that kids have been in the planning stages well before October 1. Halloween is such a fun period for kids and is the precursor for the remaining holidays to come (kids weren’t exactly looking forward to the start of the school year)! Kids will be filled with anticipation towards the wonderful Halloween decorations, dressing up, and candy!

halloween
Halloween time!!!

 

Are you prepared for the upcoming shopping rush? This Final Installment of Marketing and Sales Tips for Small Businesses will focus on those special touches that stores do for their customers and local community. Fall is the opportune time for this!

 

 Classes

Craft and art classes are a great way to bring people into the store! Don’t forget to promote it for FREE on Social Media, in your online newsletter, and local online communities!

Need an idea? Work with another local entrepreneur such as a photographer and have a parent workshop on how parents can better utilize their smart phones to take better pictures of those special moments. I got this idea from a fellow mom and photographer that does this in my community to raise money and all the spots were sold out! It doesn’t hurt her professional photography services, it only enhances her role to help you capture special moments! Feel free to reach out to your vendors to help support your efforts to increase business!

 

Parent’s Night Out

What kid wouldn’t want to hang out in a toy store while their parents go out for a romantic dinner? This is a win-win situation for all parties. Charge parents a fee per kid and entertain with pizza and games while their parents enjoy a night on the town.

 Fastrack_Player_LowRes   sf 2

Lively Storefront & Special Guests

We are huge fans of working with your local community. Is their a local author in your area that would like to do a speaking and signing engagement? Local artists, local bands, local TALENT! Show your support of all things local. Your customers will appreciate it!

Host Private Parties

Host birthday parties or tea parties. Invitations can include store discount and all presents are wrapped and offered onsite.

S 2 - Fun event - Host Private Parties

Receipt Auction

I have to admit that I had never heard of this idea until I was at Blue Orange. It’s such a cool idea! Organize a receipt auction after the holidays where customers can use their receipts to bid on prizes. The more a customer buys for two months, the more receipts they collection for the auction!

Q - Fun event - Receipt Auction
Props to Castle Toys and Games for this cool idea to reward loyal customers!

 

We wish you the best of luck as we enter the final quarter of 2015! We’d love to hear if you utilized any of those tips! Post below and we might have something to help you this holiday period!

Game Seeker is our September Store of the Month!

Game Seeker is our September Store of the Month!

At Blue Orange Games, we can’t take all the credit for our hot games! We owe a huge debt of gratitude to our fabulous retailers who give us feedback and put energy, passion, and time into their businesses every day. This space is dedicated to a very special retailer each month in order to highlight the stores and individuals that bring Blue Orange games from shelves into homes and that do us the honor of introducing us to families in their area. We are pleased to announce that our Retailer of the Month for September is none other than Game Seeker in sunny Santa Barbara, CA!

game seeker

Bart, from our sales team, recommended Game Seeker because of their dedication to Blue Orange Games, their love of games, and their warm and friendly customer service.

In a previous life, the owner, Lisa used to be in the party planning business. She decided to open up Game Seeker ten years ago because she enjoyed working with kids and those adults that are kids at heart! Game Seeker is a gem of a store that provides Santa Barbara residents all of their gaming needs. To quote a Yelp reviewer, “It’s a place for people who love exploring new things and having a memorably amazing customer service experience.”

I had the pleasure of speaking with Ian, the store manager. He became an avid game player later in his adult life. He initially started visiting Game Seeker as a customer and found the staff to be really knowledgeable about games. He inquired about a position a year ago and is now a fixture at the store.

gameseeker2

Training employees is a priority for Ian, who has played every single game in the store. He’s so passionate about games that he jokes that he spends his paycheck at the store buying MORE games. As a kid, Ian was a hard core video gamer. But he found out that you couldn’t be social playing video games. However you can always get people to gather around a board game!

This interest in the community extends pass the store as Game Seeker is working with a local coffee shop which will host regular game nights. Be on the lookout for their announcements!

Thank you to Game Seeker for supporting Blue Orange Games! You’re a small but mighty store in Santa Barbara!

 

Marketing and Sales Tips for Small Businesses – Part Deux

Marketing and Sales Tips for Small Businesses – Part Deux

We continue in Part Deux (hey, the founders are French!) of Marketing and Sales Tips for Small Businesses. It’s all about how your employees can create a great customer experience so that customers can return over and over again!

Staff Training

Take the time to train your staff so that they are better equipped with selling to customers. You can make it a party by reaching out to your vendors and sales reps for games, toys, and other products.

F - Happy Team Staff Training
Happy Team Staff Training

 

Email Newsletters

Newsletters are a FREE way to let your customers know about the latest specials, events, etc. Involve employees where they can provide some content. Such as a section on a sales’ person’s favorite toy and why, along with a picture of their friendly face.

In addition, give your employees access to vendors’ newsletters. Email newsletters can be great tools for employees to learn more about the items they are selling. Newsletters provide valuable tips, promotions, demo videos, etc.  Was a product in a popular magazine? Was a celebrity spotted with an item sold in your store? Newsletters can provide great talking points for the latest products!

newsletter
Blue Orange newsletter

Social Media

Like Newsletters, Social Media is another free way to let your customers know what is going on in your store. Are your employees playing a heated game of Spot it? Take a picture and/or video and post to your fans! Employee selfies wearing the latest fun gear? Employees will enjoy sharing something special that happened at the store and will make them feel a part of what makes your store special.

le twitter image
Twitter fun at Learning Express Roseville

 

Employee Contests

You can create employee contests or challenges based on the number of particular products sold within a period of time or based on who will be the first one to reach an objective.

Ask your vendors to sponsor the prizes. It doesn’t hurt to ask!!

 

Marketing and Sales Tips for Small Businesses – Part One

Marketing and Sales Tips for Small Businesses – Part One

Our sales guys travel the country to visit local specialty retailers. They see what is the secret to successful local businesses and how they are pillars in their local community. Blue Orange recently presented marketing tips at a convention and we wanted to share our findings with you. While these tips were made with toy stores in mind a lot of the principles can apply to nearly all local businesses. This is only Part One so be on the look out for upcoming blogs for more tips – yes, plural!

Demonstrations

  • Ask your vendor for a demo. Whether it’s a fun Blue Orange game or types of craft kits at your hobby/craft store. Keep them updated (watch for missing parts).
  • Try to keep demos at the appropriate eye level. If you have a toy store, keep the demos at children’s level for easy reach. Customers come in all sizes and ages so be cognizant
  • Keep inexpensive items close to the register for that last minute impulse buy.
Silly Times at Happy Team
Silly Times at Happy Team

 

Video Demonstrations

  • Display videos in-store
  • Use websites or social media to post instructional videos
  • Link to vendor videos through social media. It truly is the age of the video. Most vendors will have instructional/demonstration videos.
GG video
New Gobblet Gobblers video

 

Promote Birthdays!

  • Have an open book on the counter to create a mailing list for birthdays.
  • Create a birthday club on your website.
  • Send postcards or emails with $$ off coupons the week before the big day.

birthday

 

Suggestion Box/Read those online reviews

  • Invite your customers to give their feedback and check out reviews for your store online.
  • Display all positive comments, and discuss with your team how to fix the negative ones.

feedbox

 

Brand Yourself

  • Add your store name and logo to shopping bags and t-shirts. Reusable bags are a great way to show your brand around the town!
  • Offer cute postcards featuring your logo or store picture at the counter.

 

Store Displays: Be Fun and Creative  

  • Create window displays that are relatable and relevant – to draw people in and bring customers back!
  • Take advantage of vendor provided displays, signage and posters.
  • Explore your creative side with unusual and unique DIY display ideas. Pinterest is a great resource for ideas!
  • Share your displays on social media to gain additional exposure.
Castle Toy & Games
Castle Toys & Games in Beaver, PA awesome window display. We’re a little biased.

 

What draws you to your local neighborhood store? Leave your comments below.

 

 

Celebrate Summer but don’t Let the Summer Slide. Keep Kids Engaged Through Game Play!

Celebrate Summer but don’t Let the Summer Slide. Keep Kids Engaged Through Game Play!

When I was a kid and summer approached, the song by Alice Cooper played in my mind. “School’s out for summer…” I think most Americans know that song or at least can sing that famous line. So many kids are relieved to have the school year over and that includes my 7 year old. I want my child to enjoy being a kid with everything that summer has to offer. There is endless swimming, hiking, camping, road trips and so much more! I have such fond memories of my summers as a child and I want the same for him.

splash video

 Spot It! Splash being played on a slip n slide.

Being a parent to a school age child, I worry that no school for that long of a period will cause a regression in his learning. Luckily you can make the summer months about playful learning! At Blue Orange we strive to create and publish games that are fun but still provide elements of learning. Whether it’s working on improving processing speed or practicing reading words, we have a wide variety of games to help you and your kids. Last year we wrote a blog about some games that help with preventing summer learning loss. This year, we have NEW games plus some travel favorites.

SpotItOTR_OpenGame_GreenBackground_Flat_LowRes

My son loves the Spot It! games so I usually try to keep a game in the car or in my bag. I love that this game builds his speech and language skills and keeps him sharp. He wins nearly every time! You can even get versions in different languages like Spanish and French that work on simple sight words (match the word to the picture). For those long road trips, I recommend Spot It! On The Road. Not only is it great to play with siblings in the car or during those rest stops but you can play Travel Bingo with the cards. And if your destination is at a campsite, bring along Spot It! Gone Camping.

 

For those parents that want a little bit more reading and math in their child’s summer time, try Super Genius. There are 5 games. They are stored in a cute magnetic box for easy storage and travel.

SupGenius_Collection1_Flat

First WordsReading 1Reading 2AdditionMultiplication 1

What do you do to prevent the summer slide? Post your comments below!