Monday, March 21, 2011

My Toy Store {Owner/Operator} Blogger to work link up

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Take your blogger to work……
Let me first say I have worked the gamut, my first job was on a farm, then Bloomingdale's, Kay Jewelers, Gap Kids, Limited Express, Tallhimers Dept. Store, Champs Elysse jewelry store….. See a pattern? RETAIL, is my thing. I did work for a few years in property management, managing apartment communities but that was the only job outside of retail.

It seems forever ago that I “worked.”  11 years ago I gave my notice and 30 days later gave birth to my Daughter, Shea.  When she entered preschool I worked part time at a toy store called the Learning Express and continued working for about 4 years.  While there I said to my husband, also a career retailer in loss prevention, we could do this, run a store of our own.  And so it goes – We became toy store owners of our own Learning Express.

Our storefront during construction

We purchased a franchise, we found a retail space and had to do the whole build out from soup to nuts, hire a staff, train our new employees and be ready for opening day.
This is how it started, an empty box

My Daughter, Shea amongst the shelves!

We had thousands of boxes delivered over a two week period to stock the store.

The kids loved Elmo and he visited often!! 
The Corporate advertising department even used ME in our moving add.

We traveled to NY City to the annual Toy Fair in 2008, and you can only imagine.  Every retailer was there with huge displays to capture the shop owner’s attention – to purchase from them!!  It was three days of toys and information overload.

Weeks after we opened, in October 2007, the big scare with lead in toys was all over the news and toys made in China being harmful to children, we panicked, but make it through our first Christmas season...............and then the gas crisis in the summer of 2008, then the election, then the stock market, then the housing market, we even moved our store across the street in the shopping center we were in to try and save our business. But the economy got the better of the parents, and grandparents, shopping for toys and we sadly rang our last sale and closed our doors on April 30th 2010.

To touch on some of Gina's questions:
Growing up I wanted to be a Vet or a Nurse.  I certainly did not plan to own a toy store, but in College I majored in Fashion Merchandising and minored in Business. My first several jobs were in retail so I did want my own store but what kind of store I was not sure.

I learned how to manage people, critique and give constructive criticism, time management, Purchasing in volume.  Imagine sending a catalog to your customer base, we had to have the product to support it, especially at Christmas, 100's of a toy in the stockroom, storage, my 3 car garage or in my dining room, whatever it took be ready for the shoppers. We did it all , it was our store, from opening and closing every day to ringing sales on weekends.

I loved the toy store and our employees, they were great and allowed our family to be away sometimes.  Our store was 59 miles from our house ONE WAY - so times 2 about 120 miles a day round trip in Atlanta traffic = 3+ hour commute a day.  My husband and I would trade off days going to the store so one of us was home for Shea after school.
So after April 30th 2010 it was back to life as we knew it.  My husband got a job in his field, loss prevention, I was back to a stay at home Mom, my daughter was thrilled to have her parents back again.

Please hop on over to visit Gina's blog, Hiya Luv.  She has put together this great day to learn a little about who we are and where our experiences come from.

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Unknown said...

It was a beautiful store and looked so fun to be in! I'm glad you are enjoying being home with your daughter! :)

Cassie said...

Your store looks like heaven to a child, LOL! My kids would love it. What a dream job you have :D

Sarah B. said...

That is so amazing!! I've always thought it would be kinda fun to work in a toy store :). Sorry y'all had to close down but at least there's no commuting as a SAHM (your daughter is so cute, btw!) :)

Tara said...

Chrissy you are amazing! To go behind the scenes and see your store opening from start to finish is so encouraging! Hard work and determination does pay off!

Unknown said...

Chrissy! How fun was that owning a toy store? We used to have a Learning Express by my house and even though I was a bit old for the store I loved going in and looking around at all the cool items. Sorry to hear you had to close it down but it looks like you were able to turn your ambition into your handmade business. You are such a talented lady and I've learned so much from you! I can't wait to meet you in just a few weeks :) Have a great day at "work" ;)

Allison {A Glimpse Inside} said...

How fun it must have been to own your own toy store, although that commute must not have been fun! I'm sorry to hear that you guys had to close the store. Maybe sometime you guys could reopen... if you wanted too.
Great getting to know more about you!

Jana said...

We have one of these over here by where I work. Always say I am going to go in but haven't yet. Just opened up about 6 months ago.

P.S. You are just adorable in those photos.

Jackie said...

Chrissy, you are one gutsy lady :) I love that you decided to just open your own store and manage every detail of it (from setup to running it). Very inspiring!

Those pictures are awesome, by the way. Love seeing the step by step progress. How exciting to be able to look back at what you guys did. So sorry the store closed though. It really is quite lovely.

Thanks for sharing your story and for stopping over at mine.

Teresa said...

I'm so HAPPY we've met!
That store was ADORABLE!
Best thing about it....YOU...and your ENERGETIC~HAPPY self!!!!!
What a doll~baby you are!
So sad such a HAPPY store had to close.
This is exactly why I have recently decided not to open a shoppe.
GOtta get this business going!
GOing to get my sewing machine today!
Wish me luck!
Thanks for sharing your GREAT story!
You are such a GO~GETTER!
And...very INSPIRING!
SNuggles to Sebastian!

Christine said...

So glad to read your story. Isn't it amazing to see where life takes us? Thanks for sharing...

Gina Thomas said...

chrissy! i love your story; what a gorgeous store! How fun although it does sound exhausting at times:) You looked like you had lots of fun! :)gina

Andrea @ Keepin it Thrifty said...

AMAZING!!! your so cute and i love your toy store, Great post

Alely said...

thanks for sharing your story! my hubby and i met through our retail jobs back in the days. i worked in linens and he worked in loss prevention! : ).

thanks again for sharing!


JENNY K. said...

Learning Express is a great toy store. I'm sure it was gratifying as well as time intensive, hard work. You're wonderfully creative, your blog is beautiful and anything you venture out to do will be a great success!

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