Exclusive: Rick Derr – Letter from America

Published on: 6th October 2023

American toy store owner updates Toy World readers on the latest from indie toy retail in the USA and tells us how new sections in his store are performing.  

After 20 years working at A.C. Nielsen/D&B Research Company, Rick opened the first Learning Express Toys franchise in the Chicago area in 1996, and then became a sub-franchiser, opening nine more stores. Although leaving the corporate environment behind, he has combined his expertise in data and numbers with a passion for the toy retail space.

Despite sales having been a bit quiet over summer in the UK, Rick informs us that things have been quite the opposite where he is.

He said: “We have had a marvelous run, in fact, the best run in my 27 years of running a local toy shop. The streak extends from January 2021 to August 2023; 32 straight months of above-average performance on sales levels, which is amazing. But I have a feeling all that is about to change.”

Rick lay out some possible scenarios which have caused him this feeling including consumer spending through US inflation and brand exhaustion.

He took us through sales this year and breaks down how different brands and sectors performed.

“We have heard some talk from bigger toy companies and retailers of softness in the market,” Rick concluded. “Will this be evident in the indie aisles? Time will tell but as we all know, toys never crash, nor do hot toys go away. There may be a slowdown, but overall, we are still ahead of the game. I like our position!”

To read Rick’s article, click here.


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