Gifted Imaginations Celebrates Kids at Play

Wendy Scarbrough and Lisa Pearce at Toy Fair

“You have a gifted imagination,” is a praise-worthy complement that young children used to hear a lot from teachers and parents. Before the current home computer, video gaming, and iPod revolution, generations of kids were inspired by dawn-to-dusk outdoor neighborhood adventures and creative play with blocks, models, “army” men, tea parties, crafts and board games. Enthusiastic about these “good ole’ days” of playtime powered by active imaginations, Lisa Pearce and Wendy Scarbrough, both kids at heart, opened their Gifted Imaginations store last year. The store is a kid’s dream playroom filled with traditional wooden toys, puzzles, games and more.

Lisa shares with The Giggle Guide® how Gifted Imaginations began, what the store offers, and what she has learned by building a business where “work is always play!”

How did you get started in children’s retail?

We are new to the children’s retail world. We just bought Gifted Imaginations in the summer of 2009. I have been interested in the market for quite some time, however. Through a series of events, everything just fell into place last summer.

What was your background prior to this business?

I have been a teacher for thirteen years and my partner is in sales. We both have small children of our own, in addition to nieces and nephews we like to shop for. We both have an appreciation for durable, wooden toys—like those from the “good ole’ days”.

What was the biggest challenge you faced when starting up?

Taking the plunge initially—taking a risk on something totally new.

What is one thing you would have done differently?

I don’t think I would change anything. That’s not to say we haven’t made mistakes, but they’ve all been learning experiences.

What do you feel are the three biggest keys to your success?

  1. Really enjoying what you do. We sincerely love working with our customers and finding new and fun ways to build our relationships with them. Knowing that there’s a smiling child on the other end of this purchase is great. How can you not love playing with toys?
  2. Finding a business partner that complements you. We each have our own strengths and weaknesses and we have been able to find a wonderful balance with our responsibilities and passions for the business.
  3. Being realistic about the potentials of the business. It is easy to get disappointed or depressed if you have extremely high expectations, particularly in the beginning. Chances are very slim you’re going to make your millions the first year (or two, or three….). But if you go into it knowing that and just enjoy each milestone you achieve (no matter how small)—you’ll be successful.

What types of marketing are most effective for your business?

We work a lot of blogs, especially “mom blogs” online that write reviews of our products. We typically offer giveaways through these as well. We also are utilizing Facebook and Twitter and offer special discounts or games for product giveaways. We do regular newsletters via our mailing list and have a great time participating in festivals and shows.

Do “green” or eco-friendly concerns weigh into your business decisions?

Absolutely. Most of the product lines we carry focus on eco-friendly materials and manufacturing. We certainly like to promote these types of toys and companies.

What is one trend you’re currently seeing with customers?

While we’re still new to the marketplace, we have noticed consumers are very knowledgeable about products and even ways of manufacturing. They are well-read when it comes to eco-friendly options.

How does your business make use of the Internet?

We have placed a lot of emphasis on Web site development, making our site appealing to the eye but easy to navigate. This is an ongoing project for us that we have enjoyed. We also heavily utilize social networking.

What is one change/addition that’s had a positive impact for your business?

Well, our business is still very new and almost every decision we’ve made has impacted us. I would say familiarizing ourselves with networking online has been the largest positive impact. We have hundreds of followers and fans on Facebook and Twitter. This sort of networking is huge.

If you had one piece of advice for someone entering children’s retail today, what would it be?

Make sure you have plenty of funds! Don’t go into it expecting to make millions (especially the first year!). Be realistic and have fun!

More About Gifted Imaginations

At Gifted Imaginations, we are dedicated and passionate about finding high quality, unique, educational toys and children’s gifts for the best prices. At Gifted Imaginations you’ll find fun, imaginative, exciting educational toys from some of the best selections of manufacturers such as HABA, Plan Toys, Kaloo, Kathe Kruse, Melissa and Doug, Crocodile Creek and Alex, just to name a few. From wooden blocks to puzzles to backpacks, dolls, cars, and games – these are not the kinds of toys you’ll find in your local department store. We love thought-provoking toys and toys that promote active play as well.

In addition to these unique finds, Gifted Imaginations also carries eco-friendly and fun children’s clothing such as Life is Good, Green Label and BioMe5. We ship across the US and Canada. We also offer Gift Wrapping, Gift Certificates and a “Wish List” Registry for baby showers, birthdays and holidays. We always offer free shipping on orders over $65, as well as regular discounts for our loyal shoppers who sign up for our Newsletter. We also love to have fun with games and giveaways on Facebook and Twitter! We’re easy to find:

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