January marked a change for us... we scaled back on our hours fairly significantly.
Now, don't be alarmed. We did so based on data, not desperation. Also, common sense. January is slow for toy stores. Call it customer holiday hangover, toy overload, or new year resolutions that include scaling back a bit with new family budgets in place. All of which Joanna and I have suffered from or put into place as parents in the past.
Also, we were a bit exhausted. We held a Noon Year's Eve ball drop on 12/31 that was a lot of fun, had a nice turnout, but took every last bit of energy from us not already depleted by the week-before-Christmas rush.
So we opted to remain closed on Mondays in January (and again in February), our slowest day year-round, and open at noon rather than 10am on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.
Compare that to last year when we scaled back ever-so-slightly: we opened at noon on Mondays, but otherwise our hours remained normal. And it was, quite honestly, a bit depressing. For us, for our staff, and we have to imagine for customers coming in to an empty store for a good part of the week.
But a funny thing happened this year. Despite the fact we were open for 12 fewer hours per week than last year, our sales jumped 20% for the month. And except for a day here and there, the store seldom felt empty.
We don't attribute the condensed hours to the jump in sales. If we did, we'd have chosen to be open only one day a week in February in the hopes of increasing sales by a gazillion percent. No, we feel it was a combination of having a slightly fuller store this year, a better informed customer base for our birthday bin program, more overall customers who shop our store on a regular basis than a year ago, and we hope some positive carry-over from our successful year-end marketing campaign.
That, combined with the fact that a store with customers in it makes for a better shopping environment. Moms seeing one another and taking a moment to socialize between errands. Kids feeling that electricity from spotting other kids playing in the store (there are no toy overload feelings for children, that's for sure). And just a general positive vibe - one that's always been part of the store, but in January... it's easy enough for it to subside a bit. Not this year.
For February, we're slowly adding back hours. Our first week of the month begins where January left off. But starting on Thursday, February 5th, we'll be back to opening at 10am each day for the remainder of the month. We'll still be closed on Mondays, but a longer day the rest of the week should give more than enough flexibility for all schedules. We'll continue to close at 5pm daily except for Fridays, when we stay open until 6pm for commuters to pop in to grab something for Saturday birthdays.
Thank you for adjusting to our change in schedule - and for continuing to support your local toy store!
Patrick Holland, born in a Cabbage Patch and raised inside the Honeycomb Hideout, is a former Oompa Loompa. He is now co-owner of Mountain Top Toys (with his not-so-silent partner and wife, Joanna), and parent to two daughters, both of whom are beginning to realize their father is just plain nuts. .