The summer is over and with school starting again it’s important for us to give a big shout out to our Store of the Month for September: Kidstop in Scottsdale, Arizona. Our sales rep Nicolas chose them because they are one of our best customers, they display games very well, and they have a super-friendly staff! This time, I had the pleasure of speaking to the Kidstop manager, Kate, about how she got Kidstop started. Kidstop started in 1999, but before Kidstop ever became a store, Kate was a Regional Manager for JL Hammetts, a company that sold education supplies to teachers. She would cover half the country and help her clients manage their stores. In her adventures, she fell in love with toys. She learned that many teachers also loved to use toys in education, so she decided to open a store for toys and teaching supplies. She was inspired to make learning fun for children, and thus named her store. Of course, as the world of business would have it, teachers didn’t come flocking to her store, but parents did! She found more parents buying toys than teachers buying supplies. Finally, with the help from the Good Toy Group, Kate was finally able to convert her education store to a specialty toy and book store!
But how and when did Blue Orange get involved in this fabulous establishment? Actually, Blue Orange and Kidstop have been partners from the start of each other’s beginnings. Kidstop was started in 1999, just as our president Julien was on the road selling Gobblet to our very first customers. Kate remembered meeting Julien in the “pre-diapers era” at New York Toy Fair. She immediately fell in love with Gobblet. Of course, Gobblet isn’t the only Blue Orange game she fell in love with. She still has one of our oldest wooden games Ringgz, a game where you win territories with rings. Since Toy Fair, Kidstop has been buying games and prospering in their community
Kate was only too happy to talk about her customers during our interview. She loves having a history with everyone who visits her store and watching regulars grown from children to parents. She actually started Babystop, a furniture store for new parents, when she saw some of her long time customers were having children of their own. She’s also been hiring a few of the customers she’s seen grow up. She mentioned that the stable community was a nice change of pace from her previous job. There she would speak with clients, but she couldn’t see the impact she had on that person’s life. Now in her store she can see what she brings to a whole community.
The best advice Kate can give to new store owners is to “have an open mind on business” because “passion and heart only take you so far.” While Kate loves toys and her community, she was still surprised to find how many obstacles she encountered when she started her own business. When she was first starting out, she thought managing a store would be an easy switch from managing hundreds of buyers. However she didn’t account for the new corporate rules she would have to follow and the payrolls she’d have to account for.
Regardless, Kate has done incredibly well with her store, and we are so proud to announce Kidstop as September’s store of the month. We can’t wait to see the great work she will continue to do. Please check out the store’s website or visit them in person in Scottsdale, Arizona at 6990 East Shea Blvd Suite #103. For families with very young gamers visit Babystop at 6990 East Shea Blvd, Suite #108. Congratulations again for winning September’s Store of the Month!