With the likes of Frozen, Minions, Transformers and Peppa Pig, licensed toy ranges have sparked some of the biggest scrambles in the aisles of toy stores this year.
This month, ToyShop UK asked its listers how important licensed ranges are to independent stores? Can they get by ignoring some of the biggest properties completely?
It seems that for a fair chunk of them, they can as 53 per cent said that licensed products were not important to their business.
Most claimed that they were not ignoring the likes of Frozen due to being against licensed ranges, but instead found that by not stocking toys based on big brands, they were helping themselves stand out from the crowd.
“We are always looking for new items and not the mainstream licensed products,” said Vicky Brown of Just Williams Toys. “The majority of our customers come to us to look for different products.”
Sue Needham of Cot ‘N’ Togs added: “We stock very few licensed products as we try to be different.”
Other stores, like Giddy Goat Toys, are finding they can no longer reject licensed ranges when you consider the immense popularity of Frozen.
“Licensed products had never played a big part in my shop before this year,” revealed Giddy Goat Toys’ Amanda Alexander.
“I’d had a few things like LEGO Star Wars, Spider-Man figures and Peppa Pig toys and then Frozen came along. The irony being it’s nigh on impossible to get hold of Frozen lines, but we have the play figures by Bullyland, mosaics, jigsaws, posters and wands and have been performing white magic to try to get hold of more lines.”
And while the more traditional stores are opting out of these ranges to maintain their identity, other independents are building their identity through licensed products.
“As a business we would probably not survive without licensed products,” Final Frontier’s Julian Shelford told ToyShop UK.
“They really are the bread and butter of our business, and long may they continue.
“We are definitely more of a specialist store, and carry a lot of the big licences, and I don’t personally see that changing.”
Stuart Andrew from Hal Whittaker added: “Licensed products are very important, no matter how big or small you are.
“They drive footfall and get people into your store. It is then when, hopefully, they will find other products additionally.”
Samantha Heywood-Cox, All 5 Senses
“I cannot compete with the global giants on price for these so tend not to stock them.”
Matt Booker, Automattic Comics & Toys
“Over the last 20 years I’ve steered clear of the big movie licences more than ever due to the instant discounting they allow and support at the supermarkets to shift volumes that are sold at near my wholesale. Plus the product is very poor now in my opinion.”
Luan Hall, Fairies ‘n’ Frogs
“We do not stock licensed toys at all. All of our products are from independent and small companies. If our customers need a licensed product we will order it in for them if required, but we find most of our customers shop with us because we are different.”
Sue Needham, Cot ‘N’ Togs
“We stock very few licensed products as we try to be different.”
Jon Harrod, Collectabubble
“We mainly stock collectables, so without licensed products, we wouldn’t have products to sell.”
Julian Shelford, Final Frontier
“As a business we would probably not survive without licensed products. They really are the bread and butter of our business, and long may they continue. We are definitely more of a specialist store, and carry a lot of the big licences, and I don’t personally see that changing. Whilst the big multiples stock these as well, we try to carry the figures they don’t or the next wave. There is no point in competing with them when the lines come out as we can’t offer buy one get one free, half price etc. What we can offer is continuity. With licences like Star Wars, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Marvel, DC, LEGO to name a few, these could all have stores on their own.”
Amanda Alexander, Giddy Goat Toys
“Licensed products had never played a big part in my shop before this year. I’d had a few things like LEGO Star Wars, Spider-Man figures and Peppa Pig toys and then Frozen came along. The irony being it’s nigh on impossible to get hold of Frozen lines, but we have the play figures by Bullyland, mosaics, jigsaws, posters and wands and have been performing white magic to try to get hold of more lines.”
Stuart Andrew, Hal Whittaker
“Licensed products are very important, no matter how big or small you are. They drive footfall and get people into your store. It is then when, hopefully, they will find other products additionally. Licensed product alone is not sufficient as the margins aren’t brilliant, it’s all
about getting your product mix right to balance out your POR.”
Teresa Bramble, Hoomble Toys & Collectables
“Licensed products are our bread and butter lines. Kids see the adverts or programmes on TV and want the toys for Christmas. If kids love the adverts the toys will sell. We always look for products that are heavily TV advertised especially at Christmas time.”
Mark James, Inspiring Toys
“We usually avoid brands or products that are sold by the large retailers.”
Shirley Wardle, Jack and Jills Wooden Toys
“We get customers asking for them, but we prefer to offer high quality, value for money products.”
Helen Gourley, Toy Hub
“The licensed products can often be the ones that drive footfall into our store. We try to mix it up to ensure that we have a good variety of toys to offer to our customers, but the recent The LEGO Movie and Frozen crazes just go to show that licensed ranges are an important part of our business.”
Sam Haggett, Moving Pictures
“We specialise in TV, film, comic and gaming related items so licensed product is what we sell. They are our bread and butter, it’s what we love and have been collecting all our lives and it is fantastic to see so many people building on their own collections buying from our store and seeing children coming in making a start on their own collections.”
Vicky Brown, Just Williams Toys
“We are always looking for new items and not the mainstream licensed products. The majority of our customers come to us to look for different products.”
Colin Tindall, Rainbow Gifts
“At Rainbow Gifts, it’s important to maintain the traditional feel of the shop. It’s an experience for our customers and they certainly wouldn’t expect to see the ‘run of the mill’ licensed products in the shop. The customer comes primarily to purchase a toy that is ‘long lasting’, educational, bright and colourful. And most of all to see toys that they generally don’t find in the mainstream toy shops.”
Daniel Marsh,. Signature Games
“Licensed products are not something I stock as I would expect it to be difficult for small stores to compete on price.”
Robert Williams, Silly Billy’s Toy Shop
“Some licensed products in the likes of posters (e.g. Doctor Who, Transformers, Frozen), LEGO (Marvel), Superman and Batman are popular at the moment. We do not focus on licensed products at Silly Billy’s Toy Shop as we’d rather have variety with a wide range of toys to sell as both an independent and ‘real’ toy shop.”
Rachel Fairhurst, Rachel’s Toy Shop
“I don’t stock licensed products, as this isn’t the look I want for the shop. I would rather stock classic toys than chase the latest trend, but that’s just my strategy. I’m sure it works for many people.”
Tony Ball, Wooden It Be Lovely
“We strive not to stock licensed products. We aim to provide quality and non mainstream toys.”