Category: Miscellaneous

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!

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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.

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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!

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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.

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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.
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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.

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 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.

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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.

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First WordsReading 1Reading 2AdditionMultiplication 1

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

Why Play is Important in Child Development

Why Play is Important in Child Development

image001 Parents want to give the best opportunities to their children. Music lessons, language lessons, extra tutoring, after school learning programs, the list can go on and on. We all want to give our kids the advantages and opportunities to succeed and/or perhaps we didn’t have as children. All of those activities are wonderful opportunities. However, play sometimes gets a bad reputation as being frivolous. On the contrary, play is very important in child development! If you want to learn more, the American Academy of Pediatrics released a report about the importance of play in promoting healthy child development (read here). Play can reduce stress and anxiety for kids AND adults so make some time to get silly! The National Lekotek Center , a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, provides an array of services to improve the lives of children with special needs through the utilization of toys and play. They have 20 wonderful reasons to encourage play for ALL Children.

Top 20 Reasons to Encourage Play for ALL children

  1. Play advances many cognitive skills like learning to focus and paying attention to details.
  2. Play produces an active, alert, but non-stressed frame of mind that benefits a child greatly.
  3. Play opportunities help a child develop problem-solving, organizational and planning skills.
  4. Play promotes both long-term and short-term memory.
  5. Play stimulates language, negotiation and communication skills.
  6. Play teaches a child how the world works from gravity to how things move, float or fly.
  7. Play experiences allow a child to explore symbolic play, imitation and his own creativity.
  8. Play allows a child to build confidence, one trip down a slide or throw of a ball at a time.
  9. Play provides the feedback a child needs to develop self-knowledge and self-esteem.
  10. Play is an excellent way for a child to connect to nature and to explore its many facets.
  11. Active play can enhance a child’s mood, coping abilities and defuse emotionally charged events.
  12. Play teaches the cornerstones of relationship building, cooperation and compromise.
  13. Leadership along with group skills are learned through team or collective play.
  14. Active play promotes a healthy body for children and lowers their risk of obesity.
  15. Play promotes brain development through the use of both the body and mind.
  16. Play can teach a child the lessons of strengthening and balancing his body and coordinating his hands and eyes.
  17. Play stimulates resiliency by prompting the child to try again and learn patience towards self and others.
  18. Play fosters courage to swing higher and jump farther.
  19. Play teaches empathy by allowing a child to explore the role of both winner and loser.
  20. Play leads to engagement and enjoyment that provides a child with both physical and emotional release.

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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.

Certificate BLUE ORANGE (2015-04-16)  (AH-PE-14407)

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