Toys bring new customers

Published 12:19 am Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Nick Crowson illustrates the toy items found inside Brooks True Value Hardware. Stephanie Nelson/Star-News

Babies have a unique way of making one look at things from a different angle.

For new mom Emily Brooks, a fourth generation employee at Brooks True Value Hardware, it opened her eyes to a new way to generate revenue for the Andalusia hardware store – a toy line.

For the last three months “or so,” the store has featured items from Toysmith, Melissa and Doug and Shilling, and each with an education theme in mind.

“Most of the time the people we sell to are the ‘busted pipe people’ – people who come in, needing an item to fill a specific need,” Brooks said. “Now, we have people coming in who are ‘shopping’ and who are buying because they’ve found something they like. We now have people who come in to browse, which is wonderful.”

Brooks said because of the merchandise addition, sales for the store have increased dramatically.

Inside the store, there are toys for all ages – plush animals and teethers for infants, puzzles and trains for toddlers and tons of items for imaginary play for all ages.

If there is a budding scientist in the home, then look no further than Brooks’ for the perfect gift. There are kits to make everything from rockets to bones, to origami shapes and perfumes.

“Our biggest goal, with the new baby, is that everything we have to serve an educational purpose,” Brooks said. “Play is fun, but wouldn’t it be great if they were learning something every time they played?”

She said there also are plans to expand the lines in the coming months, as well as add items for teachers and homeschoolers.

“We’re going to two different markets where we hope to find other toys and items,” Brooks said.

“We also have a strong homeschool base here, as well as teacher and education front. We’re going to expand to include teacher supplies in the next few months,” she said. “Those are items that every teacher right here needs, and there’s no reason why $50 of the $250 they get for supplies should go for gas.”