Toys for all, big and small

With the holidays fast approaching, the inner child in everyone is coming out.

Danielle Cossar took over local toy shop Gingersnap General Store last December. Most days she takes her four-year-old son to work with her. Chantel Murrin/Kicker

Chantel Murrin

Last year the toy industry saw record sales on a global scale, bringing in a little over $121 billion beating the 2019 mark by $3 million. 

Toy trends specialist, Jennifer Lynch, works for The Toy Association at its headquarters in New York and has been working in the toy industry for over 10 years. 

The Toy Association represents the interest of North American toy manufacturers, with over 1,000 members, including some of the biggest companies like Hasbro and Mattel.  

She says trend tracking is a yearlong process, but there are some hot items already starting to sell out as people head into the holiday season.  

“Moose Toys has the Magic Mixies Magical Misting Cauldron which is a really magical experience for kids,” said Lynch. “You get this cauldron, and you add different ingredients, different potions, if you will, and it creates this steaming effect out of the pot and reveals this interactive character that kids can play with.” 

This popular item is for ages six and older but is currently sold out online. However, there are many other overarching trends happening, says Lynch, such as “kidult” toys, which are toy options for both kids and adults.  

Danielle Cossar is the owner of Gingersnap General Store, an independent toy store in downtown St. John’s. She says this year people have shown interest in classic toys such as spin tops, wooden blocks and Rubik’s cubes.  

“People are asking for your classic toys, sort of the things that a lot of older people remember from their childhood,” said Cossar. “I think there’s a lot of extra nostalgia and a real appetite for simpler things that last a long time.” 

According to The Canadian Toy Association’s 2020 sales data, categories like action figures and plush toys saw a decrease while puzzles, building sets and arts and crafts all went up by at least 10 per cent.  

Exploratory toys, which help children use and develop their senses, is another category that saw a 10 per cent increase in sales.  

Lynch says a lot more manufacturers are putting their money towards creating social and emotional learning toys. Big Feelings Pineapple, for instance, is a trendy new toy on the market that comes with interchangeable facial expressions and is targeted towards child development.  

What’s great for one kid might not be suitable for another, she says, but between the 16 different toy categories they track, there’s something for everyone.  

She says smaller specialty stores are especially helpful when shopping without a list or a certain toy in mind.  

“When you shop at a big box retailer, it’s great because you know certain things are going to be in stock,” said Lynch. “But if you don’t know what you want, going into a specialty toy retailer is great because they have that background knowledge of pretty much everything in their store,” said Lynch.  

Gingersnap is the only specialty store in St. John’s that is solely focused on children’s toys while providing a sense of place that a big box store might not.  

The original owner, says Cossar, was always very thoughtful about curating product that was Canadian made and ethically sourced, which is something she wanted to continue when she took over as owner last December.  

“I feel like this store has built a lovely community for the folks that shop here and I think that every city needs an independent, kid-friendly space where people can come shop without any pressure,” said Cossar. 

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