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“Obviously the economic climate is difficult. Many people are out of work, and everyone is trying to spend their money wisely. Customers are looking for good value, but I think more than ever people can really understand and appreciate the impact of shopping local. When you’re looking for a job, it really hits home that spending money locally creates more jobs. It’s such an important cycle. Another trend that’s hurting us is parents opting out of birthday presents for their kids. We got a lot of party invitations this past year that said ‘no gifts please.’ This is partly driven by the economy, but it’s also because so many mass-market toys have such limited play value. Parents see their kids tear open a package and play with a toy for five minutes before it breaks or the child loses interest and it ends up at the bottom of a bin in the playroom gathering dust. They assume that all toys are destined for the same fate, and they don’t want to deal with it. But birthday gifts are a wonderful way to refresh a child’s toys and books as he or she grows older. And we know that great toys will stand the test of time. There are other factors aside from the economy, though. Kids are growing up faster. Electronics are getting harder for toys to compete for kids’ attention, even though the benefits of play are so clearly documented.”
- Sheri Gurock, Magic Beans, Boston