Plenty of companies will tell you that they are all about the product. Balance sheets, company politics, market share, it’s all window dressing, it’s the product that really counts.
Sometimes it is to deflect attention away from some other crisis, sometimes it is genuine passion for the product. In the case of Great Gizmos it is perhaps because the product is the story.
It was a paucity of good arts and crafts items that lead Great Gizmos or, more specifically, its founders Ian and Judith Dayus into the toy market in the first place. Realising that they might be able to bring something better to toy stores they set up the company 13 years ago and it has been pretty much steady growth ever since. No buy-outs, no acquisitions, no peaks and troughs. The good ship Great Gizmos has sailed on the calmest of waters.
“Even in the first year, everything went in the right direction,” says Ian Dayus.
Hmmm, this is not the rags to riches story we know and love. Some element of selling from the back of a transit and struggling to survive on cold beans before that elusive breakthrough product turned up is the more usual sort of story, but for Great Gizmos it seems everything has been a steady upward curve. No great drama.
“Arts and crafts is our core,” explains Judith Dayus. “But we try to add things to the range when we think it fits. We just keep adding arms on like a big octopus.
“I’ll look at anything if I think we can sell it to our customer base,” says Ian Dayus. “We don’t want to be in just one area, we want to sell in different markets.
The nursery market is one such example, which the firm has moved into with a range of wooden toys, noting the crossover with the toy and nursery sectors. And the firm doesn’t tend to drift in and out of sectors either. Products in the range usually have a long life.
“We’ve got products in our range that we’ve had for thirteen years. Since we started,” says Ian.
The firm’s Green Science range has now been extended to include Green Creativity, which encourages children to perform experiments using ordinary household objects. The Science Museum range is also among its star performers.
The couple’s philosophy behind the company is fairly simple.
“As long as we’re happy with running the business, we will keeping doing it. We just want to do more of the same. We’re happy with how it is but we also want to keep it strong and fresh,” says Judith.
“I don’t worry to much about competition,” adds Ian. “We just do what we do, keep our heads down and get on with it.”
Sounds dead simple. And the secret of this apparently effortless success?
“The key thing is to have product that customers want and will come back for and the retailers can make good margins from,” says Judith. “Our customer service is also important. We regularly get compliments on our sales staff and the speed with which we turn around orders and the accuracy of our fulfilment too. Everything is double-checked before it goes out.”
Attention to detail and simplicity are the effective, if somewhat unspectacular, cornerstones of the firm’s success. But who said success in the toy business had to be difficult?
Fairies have been one of the most popular themes for Great Gizmos in the recent years with fairy themed craft kits from 4M to choose from.
My Very Own Fairy Magic Kit, filled with fairy magic tricks, includes a fortune telling game, a magic hovering photo frame, mind reading tricks and lots of other fairy magic tricks. Alternatively, the My Very Own Fairy Light Kit allows kids to create a magical light up fairy wand or a glowing rose ring.
Once hooked on the idea of a bedroom makeover, girls will also enjoy adding some ornaments that are not fairy-based with the Paint Your Own Porcelain Trinket Box and Paint Your Own Porcelain Mini Shoe Vase Kits.
Green Science and Green Creativity kits teach the values of recycling as well as offering some scientific facts. They include the Green Science Dynamo Robot kit, which doesn’t need batteries and allows everyday household items to be turned into a robot which is powered by a hand driven generator. Similarly, the Green Creativity Plastic Bag Monster kit, will turn bags into monster puppets; while with the Green Creativity Recycled Bottle Light kit, leftover bottles can be transformed into a working light