Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Top 10 Best Selling Toys for 2008 at YoYo Joe's - #9

As we look forward to 2009, I'll take a look back at the hectic two and a half months that made up 2008 at YoYo Joe's and review each of the top 10 best selling items at YoYo Joe's for 2008. Check back each day for the next of our top ten items

Today, I'll take a look at #9 - Mood Ring

Like yesterday's post about the Make A Plate Kit, the Mood Ring has been around for eons. Or the 1970's. Which seems like eons to me.
The Mood Ring 'shows' what mood you're in. For example, when I get really stressed out that the big pile of boxes in the back room hasn't magically placed themselves in the recycling bin, my mood ring turns black (stressed). When Emily walks into the store, I get all googly eyed and my mood ring turns purple (romantic). Other moods include red (nervous), orange (unsettled), green (active), blue (relaxed) and dark blue (lovable). You'll never be unhappy with your mood ring (unhappy is not a mood that registers with the mood ring, nor is 'happy' or 'cheesed off' for that matter)

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Top 10 Best Selling Toys for 2008 at YoYo Joe's - #10

As we look forward to 2009, I'll take a look back at the hectic two and a half months that made up 2008 at YoYo Joe's and review each of the top 10 best selling items at YoYo Joe's for 2008. Check back each day for the next of our top ten items

Today, I'll take a look at #10 - Make a Plate Kit

This kit has been around forever. Well, to me at least. I remember making one of these plates for my mother for Mother's Day sometime in the 70's. It was (and still is) a stellar work of art that is displayed at my dad's house on the Elk River in Maryland. My theme was 'terrible storm on Mother's Day,' but also featured a 'I liked my friends US Flag design so I made a small version of it on my plate' sub-theme. Odd choices as themes? Hey, I was ten and the previous Mothers Day featured a really bad rainstorm, so there.

The basic idea behind the kit is that you design your plate on the included paper that you send away to The Magic Factory and they turn it into a 10" sturdy plastic plate and ship it back to you. The kit includes five sheets of paper, markers and a certificate good for one plate. You can order extra plates if you want, they cost $7.95 more (plus shipping). We sold piles of these kits! Plus, the kit (and the markers) are made in the USA! Who'da thunk it?

Saturday, December 27, 2008

'No Refunds'

This article made me laugh. What kind of store posts signs that read 'No Refunds' ? That's not a really difficult question, actually. The kind of store that will not stand behind it's products. The article refers to a Concord Mall kiosk that was selling R/C Helicopters. Apparently, a good number of them broke almost immediately and people wanted their money back. It got bad enough that the police were brought in.

I do feel bad for the people who spent good money on these expecting them to last a bit longer than one flight. I saw this kiosk in the Concord Mall and saw the products being sold. I get lot of e-mails and mailings pitching these kind of products and toss them into the recycling pile. We're not interested. If I have any doubts on the quality of a toy, I pass on it.
Alternatively, we DO provide refunds to people unhappy with their purchases. All you need is your original sales receipt we're happy to refund you. Even without a receipt, we can give you store credit to pick something else out. And, we're gonna be here in February, unlike some of these seasonal stores that pop up to cash in on the Holiday seasonal sales then shutter up in January and head on out of town. And the only time we've had police officers in our store was when they were customers.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Can I Wrap That For Ya?

OK, it was all right there in our business plan. We're gonna wrap people's gifts. All of 'em. Big ones, small ones, one present, a dozen presents. And we stuck to our guns. We wrapped 'em all. 

Back at Mitchell's, we had a self-wrapping station. We let the customers wrap their own gifts. It was easy to do and we went through maybe three large rolls of wrapping paper a year. 

At YoYo Joe's, we decided we'd wrap the presents. Why? Ever go to a big box store and gotten your purchases wrapped for free? I didn't think so. One of the main goals of our store is to differentiate ourselves and our customers experiences in our store with those at big box stores. Ergo, we have a pirate ship, a reading oasis and we wrap presents. So far this year (all two months of it), we've used up over a dozen rolls of wrap. Four times as much as we used at Mitchell's in a year. All cause we wrap the presents. 

Hey, we're happy to do it. Really, it's not so bad. I've gotten sooooo much better at wrapping things than I used to be. Certainly there are challenges (big ole stuffed animals and a pox on our friends at You've Been Sentenced and their nightmare inducing hexagonal shaped box), but we've gotten through it largely unscathed. A paper cut here and there. 

Oh, by the way, we've decided that a baby-themed wrap will replace the Christmas and Hanukkah wrapping paper on the dispenser once the holiday season ends. 

Thanks to our customers and their patience as we've sometimes gotten a bit backed up with the wrapping. We'll look forward to wrapping all your birthday and holiday gifts for years to come. 

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Red Vest

For as long back as I can remember, each Christmas Eve my father would go to work wearing a fuzzy red vest. 

At first, when I was young, I would see him head off to work wearing the vest. When I was older, and working at Mitchell's, I'd see him arrive at work wearing with the same vest. It was a tradition of his. It's certainly not a particularly spectacular vest, but it was something I looked forward to. One of those signs that Christmas really had arrived. 

I called him today to ask him about that vest. He told me that he and his brother (my uncle Jack) both got the vests the same year - about 45 years ago - from a sales rep that they bought Christmas stockings from. The vest is made of the same material that the traditional red Christmas stockings are made out of. He remembers the company's name as 'Renock Corp.' They loved their sales rep, and bought lots and lots of stockings and ornaments from them. Sadly, Jack's vest wore out quickly. My father's suffered a tear one year, to be repaired by an employee.  If you shopped on Christmas Eve at Mitchell's anytime over the past 45 years, you probably saw my dad sporting his vest.

UPDATE - My brother Tom found the picture at the top of the page. It was one that my sister Kris had e-mailed him years ago. The pic shows not only my dad sporting his vest, but my brother Tom and me also wearing red vests. I think my mom made those, as I remembered them after I saw the pic. Yes, that's me in the back, next to my dad and Kris. My other sister, Wendy and Tom are in the front. 

The pic at the bottom of the page is from Christmas Eve this year. Notice how the vest has 'shrunk.'

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Thomas the Tank Engine Wooden Railway - 20% off!

Through Thursday December 18th, save 20% off on all Thomas the Tank Engine Wooden Railway items in stock at YoYo Joe's. It's a great way to top off your Thomas collection without breaking the bank. Check out the new Thomas Talking Railway series of items, or start a brand new collection for your favorite toddler (3 & up). Complete sets start at $31.99 (after the 20% discount) with individual locomotives and cars starting at less than $10. Hurry, sale ends Thursday!

Meet the people at YoYo Joe's - Kelly Winchell

Kelly was Ethan's second grade teacher at Carrcroft Elementary School. She was one of our favorite teachers that Ethan has had, and we invited her and her family (husband Brian, boys Nick and Joey and baby Isabel) to our grand opening party. 

She's taking a year off from teaching, so she was interested in working some hours at YoYo Joe's. We were thrilled to have someone like Kelly here, plus she's a certified Delaware teacher with three children three & under. If anyone knows what kinds of toys would be good for children (both with how they like them and what skills they help them with), it would be Kelly. And I caught her today working on her yo-yoing skills. Watch out Tyler!

Say hi to Kelly the next time you stop in. 

Bah Humbug!

The battle cry of the immortal Scrooge from Charles Dickens classic "A Christmas Carol." If you're a fan of the story, a holiday classic, you should tune into 91.3 WVUD (University Delaware radio) Monday night from 7pm-9pm to a live radio play of "A Christmas Carol." The radio play is put on by our friends at the First State Children's Theater. Better yet, show up for the free event at the University of Delaware's Hartshorn Theatre in Newark by calling (302) 438-7504. The tickets are free, but limited so call quickly!

And, for the third straight year, I will be in attendance at the show to read a live commercial on air! You know, I'm a grizzled veteran when it comes to live radio. I once did color commentary on a high school basketball doubleheader despite not really knowing basketball very well, I host YoYoRadio, an internet radio show about yo-yo's (now kinda on haitus) and I did two innings of commentary this year for the Wilmington Blue Rocks.

We love Michael and Sara Boudewyns, they've gone out of their way to support Mitchell's in the past and now here at YoYo Joe's.

Can't listen to 91.3 in Delaware? No problemo, listen online at Can't listen in Monday night? No problemo, they're replaying it December 17th from 3-5, Christmas Day 1-3 am (for those people still wrapping), and Christmas Day 6-8 pm.

It's a holiday tradition for the First State Children's Theater and a chance for you to experience what was once the only way to tune into your favorite show - through the radio.

Vice-President Elect visits 'Joe the Retailer'

Today was a monster day at YoYo Joe's. Not only our biggest sales day to date, but we were shocked when Vice-President Elect Joe Biden and his wife stopped in and did some browsing at YoYo Joe's. Joe walked in and approached our friend, yoyoer Jonathan Robinson (who was yo-yoing at the time) and commented on his yo-yoing. JonRob looked up casually and realized who was talking to him and yelled out, "you da man!" Jon had his picture taken with the future VP, but I couldn't find my camera (ugh!), so I didn't get any shots. Jill and Joe browsed a bit, and then headed out.

My most embarrassing moment? When I stopped Emily in her tracks, (she was trying to help a customer) to tell her that the VP Elect was in the building. The customer I interrupted to tell Emily who was here? Jill Biden, who didn't seem shocked at all that Joe Biden was in the store.

Very Exciting stuff!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

More Specials - Playmobil and Alex 20% off until Sunday

A couple things are running through my mind at 4 am on Saturday as I just finished checking a pile of massive orders. 

1 - I really need to work on my playlist. Exactly when did I go through this heavy metal phase that seems to dominate the songs on the list?

2 - It's Saturday and I haven't posted our latest specials that started on Wednesday! Yikes! What was I thinking?

All items at YoYo Joe's from Playmobil and Alex are 20% off until Sunday the 14th only! 

If you're not familiar with Playmobil, you should be. They're great toys from German toymaker Playmobil. All of them are made in Europe - either Germany or Malta. They're incredibly well designed toys that fit into specific themes - pirates, knights, circus, princess castle & more. They're appropriate for ages 4 & up and the sets run in all price ranges - under $10 to almost $200. All of them are 20% off today and tomorrow only! Check out the brand new Pirate Ship (right), which can quickly disguise itself as a innocent merchant ship. 

Alex makes wonderful arts & crafts toys (as well as tub toys, infant toys & more). They cover sewing, knitting, painting, coloring and much more. Their toys fill a wide range of age groups - from babies to 10-12 or so. The pottery wheel (left) has been a hit this year. Everything we carry from Alex is 20% off until tomorrow only!

We just got big orders from both Playmobil and Alex, so we're as well stocked with these items as we've ever been!

Remember, extended Holiday Hours means that we're open until 10 pm on Friday & Saturday. 

Monday, December 8, 2008

Super Specials until December 11th

Super Specials on Terrific Toys at YoYo Joe's

Special prices are good until Thursday, December 11th only!
We've got some good deals going on at YoYo Joe's, but hurry, these prices are in effect until Thursday, December 11th only!

Thanks to its cuddly soft, beanbag body, Calin Charming Pastel can be posed just like a real baby. 12 inches tall with Sleeping eyes.Recommended for ages 18 months and up. The 'Charming Pastel' Doll won the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award. It's a good, high quality doll from French dollmaker Corolle. 

 With a dungeon and a working drawbridge, this wooden play castle is fully assembled and ready for adventures! Features towers, balconies, a trap door, arched walkway, and a removable turret. Castle is hinged for easy wide-open, imaginative play and closes conveniently for compact storage. Dimensions: 22" x 14.5" x 15" Assembled. Recommended for ages: 3+ years

Become a pottery pro with a real pottery wheel and a variety of included tools to position and sculpt your clay! The pottery wheel includes 6 unique carving attachments with an adjustable tool arm, carving blades, outline shaping tools, shaping tube and excavator, 2 lbs grey and terra cotta clay, 6 colors of paint, sponge, paint palette, 2 brushes, clay cutting cord, 80 mosaic tiles, 8 glass jewels, glue, AC adapter, and instructions.Recommended for ages: 7+ years

Build it, float it, fly it with the Uberstix Starter Set. Future architects, engineers and even rocket scientists will love this versatile construction system that utilizes principles of physics and mathematics to build, float and fly their wildest projects! This kit has everything you need. It includes 450 pieces to build skyscrapers and towers, boats that sail, bridges that can support HO Scale train sets, an UberFO that flies and hovers and much more. Get introduced to UberStix and learn how to use recycled materials to build even bigger! Use your own recycled water bottles to build a ship that really sails! Your imagination is the power. 450 pc kit includes 40 page book. Recommended for ages: 8+ years
Large textured mat gym with 4 great activity toys! Also includes a large peek-a-boo mirror tiki hut that plays 2 10-minute tunes and has lights that coordinate with the beat! Grows with baby. Great for gym, tummy time and seated play. Mat measures: 36" x 28.5" Recommended for ages: 0+ years

Assorted push toys by Selecta Spielzeug. All wood toys, made in Germany for toddler to push along. Choose from various styles and characters. 

The brand newly redesigned Playmobil Pirate Ship is cooler than ever. It quickly converts from a regular ship to a pirate ship . Cannons hide beneath deck, pirate flag rolls away. With cabin, working anchor winch, functional loading crane, with boat hook and a space for treasure. Floats or drives on rollers. Size: 26 x 9 x 22 inches (LxWxH) Recommended for ages: 4+ years

The Melissa & Doug Princess Castle is a toy fit for a princess! Welcome, your Majesty! Decorated with regal accents, this wooden play castle is fully assembled and ready for royal play! Features two removable turrets, balconies and a flying buttress, an arched walkway, towers and a working drawbridge! Castle is hinged for easy wide-open, imaginative play or convenient to close for compact storage. Dimensions: 27" x 15.25" x 17.5" Assembled. Recommended Ages: 3+ years

Yo-Yo Club starts meeting January 10th
At Yo-Yo Joe's, we're continuing the tradition started at Mitchell's nearly ten years ago by hosting a weekly yo-yo club. Join us to learn how to yo-yo. All ages & skill levels are welcome. Bring your own yo-yo (or buy one at YoYo Joe's). Classes are free and will be taught by Joe Mitchell, owner of YoYo Joe's and former President of the American Yo-Yo Association, and Tyler Severence, 2007 US National and World Yo-Yo Champion! Check out a little bio on Tyler at the yoyojoes website here. 

Did You Know - YoYo Joe's wraps for FREE?
Yup, free wrapping. We've had lots of customers ask us "how much?" when we ask if they would like their purchases wrapped. Which means we're missing the boat on extra money or just plain crazy to be giving away wrapping. Either way, take advantage of us before we wise up. We have birthday paper (party frogs!), Christmas wrap and Hanukkah paper. If there's a line, we may ask that you come back in a bit to get your wrapped packages, but we'll get them done, or my name's not Joe. 

Sunday, December 7, 2008

YoYo Joe's in the news again!

Look! I'm famous! Well, not so much, but the Community News thought enough of our new store to do an article about us. It's a good article, check it out online here

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Newest Toy Hall-of-Famer - the Stick!

The stick? Really? A Toy Hall-0f-Fame worthy plaything? Seriously, though, a stick?

Well, the National Toy Hall-of-Fame at the Strong Museum of Play decided that the good old fashioned stick was Hall-worthy by inducting it into the 2008 class of Hall-0f-Fame honorees. Many a younger brother may be more familiar with another application of the stick as the weapon of choice their older brother(s) used upon them. But I guess that's a question for a different hall-of-fame.

Not to be undershadowed by the stick, also inducted this year were the more logical choices of the baby doll and the skateboard.

There were 12 finalists for this years class of inductees, including non-winners Clue, Dollhouse, Flexible Flyer Sled, The Game of Life, Hot Wheels, Magic 8 Ball, Rubik’s Cube, Thomas the Tank Engine, Wiffle Ball and Yahtzee. Imagine getting beaten out by a stick.

Check out the official press release, including a history of all three inductees here.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Ethan's pad

So, you'd think that your parents owning a toy store would be the ultimate, right? Toys, toys and more toys!
However, our son, Ethan, gets to spend all kinds of hours here at YoYo Joe's. He's here way too late at night, and for chunks of time over the weekends. He's a trooper, though, as he doesn't complain much. Recognizing that he's was gonna be here a lot, Emily was nice enough to design his own little 'pad' in the store's back room. He's got a chair that folds out into a bed (The chair is pretty comfy, I took a little siesta in it last night and woke up at 1 am!) , a blanket, a pillow, a tv with a DVD player in it, plus he brought his Wii  and keyboard from home. He even has a carpet (sorry, area rug) for his space. Here's a pic of his space.
I guess if you're stuck in one place for vast quantities of time, it's pretty cool to have your own plush space to chill.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Meet the people at YoYo Joe's - Tyler Severance

This is first in a series of postings introducing the people who work here at YoYo Joe's Toys & Fun - First up is Tyler Severance. 

Tyler is a senior at William Penn High School in New Castle. He worked with us over at Mitchell's and we brought him along for the ride. He's really stepped up his game with his gift-wrapping skills over the past couple of weeks. 
Tyler started showing up at Mitchell's Yo-Yo club with his brother Danny years ago. Here's a shot of Tyler from a couple years back...back when he was but a long haired lad. 
Danny and Tyler are both terrific yo-yoers, and Tyler actually won the 2007 US National and World Yo-Yo Championship in the 5A (or counterweight) division. So, he's a former World Yo-Yo Champ! He's retired now (you know, he's all of 17 years old), but don't be surprised to see him yo-yoing at YoYo Joe's. Tyler will also lead the YoYo Joe's Yo-Yo Club, which will start meeting in 2009 on Saturdays - a great place to learn awesome yo-yo tricks by one of the best yo-yoers in the world. 

Here's a video of Tyler's World Championship winning performance at the 2007 World Yo-Yo Contest. 

Monday, December 1, 2008

The Monday after...

The theme for this past weekend for me? Sleep is for suckers! (Or, maybe normal people who actually enjoy the feeling of being well rested).

YoYo Joe's enjoyed our biggest sales day so far on Friday, but we look forward to eclipsing that total plenty more times in December. Things were quite busy all weekend and we blitzed through several rolls of wrapping paper this weekend only. We have lots more stuff expected to arrive this week as we have heaps of orders due in. Plus, this week we have our first Adult Swim event on Wednesday from 7-9 - you know, the night where we bar the store to our primary end users of our products? Kids schmids!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Black Friday Super Specials

YoYo Joe's will open at 5 AM on Black Friday with these specials

The Melissa & Doug Deluxe Art Easel for $39.99 ($20 off the regular price). The double sided (dry erase on one side, chalkboard on the other) easel stands nearly four foot tall - the perfect hight for your three year old or older to explore their artistic side. Grab the Easel Accessory Set (4 bottles of poster paints, dry erase marker and eraser, spill proof paint cups, brushes, jumbo chalk sticks and paper roll) for $29.99 and be ready to go!

Or the Thomas the Tank Engine Pirates Cove Set for $84.99 ($65 off the regular price of $149.99) - recommended for ages 3 & up, Thomas is a toy classic. This set comes with 41 pieces, including the Pirate Shipwreck, Treasure Tunnel and Skull Mountain pieces available only in this set. Also includes Thomas and Salty. 

Or the Melissa & Doug Victorian Dollhouse, also at $84.99 ($70 off the regular price of $154.99). At 1/12 scale, it's a real dollhouse (suggested for ages 6 & up). We also have the rooms of furniture and dolls in stock. 

Our biggest selling item so far in the month or so we've been open? Elf on the Shelf - it's a cool package that includes a cool retro elf doll & Elf on the Shelf storybook. The book describes how the Elf comes alive after you purchase him and reports back to Santa each night on each childs wish list and also their behavior. The elf cannot be touched by the kids, but he maintains his presence - showing up in a different spot each morning after he reports back to Santa.  On sale for $22.99 - $7 off the regular price of $29.95.

Specials start on Friday at 5 AM and will run until Sunday, or until we run out of them. Store stock only!

Worth getting up early for? We'll be the morning...

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

5 AM!?!? What are you, nuts?

Why yes, yes we are - thank you for asking.

I've decided that sleep is for wimps and YoYo Joe's will open at 5 am on Black Friday. Heck, I don't sleep very much as it is, so why not be here and open in the pre-dawn madness that is Black Friday. You probably don't recall my post last year about Black Friday. Here it is. You might think I've joined the dark side by opening at 5 am after reading that post, but, hey, I have some logical thought behind this.

We're sandwiched between Pier One Imports on our left and Staples on our right. As you may know, Staples is one of those chains that has ridiculous deals that people camp out overnight for. I went over and asked a couple employees what time they open, and they told me 5 am - so that's what I put in the ad. I talked to the store manager today, and she told me that they open at 6 am. Since the ad was done, I figured we'll just open at 5. She also told me that people start lining up around 2 am. Which means we will have a big mob of people waiting in front of our store in the wee hours of the morning. Why not take advantage of the traffic, right?

I know what you're thinking, "Joe, they're only there to get the $100 TomTom or the $400 laptop." I know, I know, you're probably right. But all we need is me and my trusty sidekick Tyler and in the worst case scenario, we pay Tyler a couple hours and a little more electric to be open, right? Plus, it might be fun to see if any good fights break out over peoples places in line.

Oh, and we're gonna have a couple blockbuster specials too. Stay tuned for those.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

My new most favoritist song ever.

Back on September 10th, I posted this entry on the webpage. Down near the bottom, I mentioned how a family showed up and one of the little girls was dancing and singing, "YoYo Joe's, YoYo Joe's," and I mentioned how I kicked myself for not shooting a photo of them. Well, I have to kick myself no more! They showed up today to check out YoYo Joe's. When I mentioned that I kicked myself for not taking a picture of them, they kindly allowed me to film Kaleigh & Isabella singing about YoYo Joe's. So, I did. Their brother, Braden, apparently has heard the whole 'YoYo Joe's song & dance' many times, but was on hand to check out the store anyway. I can honestly say that one of the coolest things about the past month or so has been the comments and reaction from our customers about our store. And I can honestly say as well that when Braden, Kaleigh & Isabella & their family came by (both times), it has been one of the highlights in a month filled with awesome highlights. 

Thanks to our customers for over a month in business! 

Friday, November 14, 2008

Live Local. Be Local. Buy Local. Wilmington

So, what's the big deal about buying local anyway? It's so much easier to buy online, right?

Here's a quick list of why it matters to buy local. I'm not sure who came up with the list, but we got it from a specialty toy store in Oregon through ASTRA. It's an awesome list, so we wanted to share it. 

When you shop at YoYo Joe's:

1 - You kept dollars in our economy. For every $100 you spend at one of our local businesses, $68 will stay in the community. What happens when you spend that same $100 at a national chain? Only $43 stays in the community. 

2 - You embraced what makes us unique - You wouldn't want your house to look like everyone else's in the U.S. So why would you want your community to look that way?

3 - You created local jobs - Local businesses are better at creating higher-paying jobs for our neighbors. 

4 - You helped the environment - Buying from a local business conserves energy and resources in the form of less fuel for transportation, less packaging, and products that you know are safe and well made, because we stand behind them.

5 - You nurtured community - We know you, and you know us. Studies have shown that local businesses donate to community causes at more than twice the rate of chains. 

6- You conserved your tax dollars - Shopping in a local business district means less infrastructure, less maintenance and more money available to beautify our community. 

7 - You created more choice - We pick the items we sell based on what we know you like and want. Local businesses carry a wider array of unique products because we buy for our own individual market.

8 - You took advantage of our expertise - You are our friends and neighbors, and we have a vested interest in knowing how to serve you. We're passionate about what we do. Why not take advantage of it?

9 - You invested in entrepreneurship - Creativity and entrepreneurship are what the American economy is founded upon. Nurturing local business ensures a strong community. 

10 - You made us a destination - The more interesting and unique we are as a community, the more we will attract new neighbors, visitors and guests. This benefits everyone!

Upcoming Events at YoYo Joe's

Long time no post! I'm afraid the day-to-day activities of YoYo Joe's has left me with little time to update our blog. But, I thought I'd catch you up on a couple things going on:

• Score a $20 Gift-Certificate/Gift-Card!

In an idea we stole directly from our local Trader Joe's (hey, we're like Joe's in a pod), we're having a monthly drawing, starting this month, for a $20 YoYo Joe's Gift-Certificate/Gift-Card (I have the slash because we have yet to receive our Gift-Cards and have been issuing Gift-Certificates in the mean time) for all our customers who, like us, are fans of the environment. Bring in your own bag, purchase one of our cheap fabric bags from Plan ($1.99!) or don't use one at all and we'll have you fill out a ticket with your name and phone number. We'll draw one winner each month! If you forget your bags, ease your mind as we made sure the plastic bags we bought have an additive in them to allow them to begin breaking down in nine months.

• Adult Swim

Our first annual 'Adult Swim' event takes place on December 3rd from 7-9 pm. From 7-9, YoYo Joe's will be off-limits to kids. Yep, we'll have a bouncer at the door to toss out any stray kids who dare try to infiltrate our one night a year dedicated to serving adults only. Come shop without worry to hide your purchases from prying eyes. Plus, we'll have coffee from our neighbor Brew-Ha-Ha, beer, wine and some munchies on hand.

Birthday Gift Concierge service.

This is Emily's brainchild, and it looks like a winner to me. It works like this - you're on the way to a birthday party on Saturday morning and did not have a chance to pick up a present yet. You're running late and have no time to go shopping for a gift. No problem! Give us a call and we'll ask you a few questions about the child you need the gift for - we'll help you select the perfect gift and birthday card to go with it. You give us your payment info and stop by the store - the gift will be wrapped and ready to go, just sign the receipt and you're on your way. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy!

• Santa's Mailbox

Starting Friday, November 28th (aka 'Black Friday'), we'll have Santa's Mailbox posted at YoYo Joe's! You can drop off your letters to Santa and we'll make sure he gets it. Don't forget to bring your camera to get a picture of your child dropping off their letter! The mailbox was used at Mitchell's over the past 40 years, so we're continuing a long lost tradition.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Video from Opening Day - Rocky Bluewinkle gets seasick

Thanks to our intrepid pilot of the pirate ship, Blue Rocks mascot Rocky Bluewinkle ended up bailing off the pirate ship due to seasickness. 

Check out the video:

Article about YoYo Joe's in News Journal Paper

Thanks to Gary Haber of the Wilmington News Journal for the cool article about us that appeared in Saturday's paper. That's me and Emily as the photo ran in the paper. Check it out here

'Official' Opening Day

OK, so we're milking it a bit. We've had an 'opening party,' a 'soft opening day' and now our 'official opening day.' Which was on Saturday. We had lots of stuff going on. Our first ad was supposed to run on Thursday in the Delaware Crossroads section. Unfortunately, the News Journal screwed up and mis scheduled the ad for November 6th. Which left us without an ad for opening day. Bummer....luckily, our News Journal rep, Jason Lay,  quickly found a solution to our problem by offering up a much bigger ad in a bigger run of the paper for Friday. After about four hours cramming together the ad, I sent it off and we had a big ole ad in the Friday paper. 

Add the article that ran in the paper on Saturday and we were very nearly mobbed on Saturday! 

It. Was. Awesome!

We had Rocky Bluewinkle come and hang out with us for a couple hours. Rocky was wonderful, he worked our visitors and tried out our playtables, sat on our adirondack chairs in our reading oasis, and even got seasick on the pirate ship when the pirate steering the ship got a little crazy with the steering wheel. Video of Rocky's seasick adventures to follow. Rocky even bowed to our own World Yo-Yo Champion Tyler Severence as he did some two-handed looping in front of the store. 

We gave away all 75 of our limited edition YoYo Joe's logo yo-yos. We had hourly drawings and gave away lots of toys to people who entered. The first winner was an impossibly cute girl who was so excited that she won, she kept saying "I won, I won, I won, I won!" We took her picture with her cousins - check out that smile!

Vincenza Carrieri-Russo, Miss Delaware USA, came to YoYo Joe's in the evening to help us celebrate. My sister Wendy was on hand to shoot a couple pictures of her on deck of the pirate ship. Ahoy, there Miss Delaware!

Thanks to the Blue Rocks for sending Rocky, and to Vincenza and the folks at You've Been Sentenced, who set up Miss Delaware USA. 

Thanks to all of our customers who came out and made it a day to remember for all of us. It was wonderful hearing your stories from Mitchell's and your good wishes on our future. With luck, we'll be around at least 55 years!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Phillies Parade + Press Release = A long day

Earlier this week, I sent out a press release to the local media about YoYo Joe's opening. In the past, at Mitchell's, I experienced mixed results on press releases. Sometimes local media responded, other times, no so much. So, I did not expect anything when sending out the press release.

Flash forward to Wednesday, when my beloved Philadelphia Phillies actually won the World Series. I have followed the Phillies since I was ten years old and I once actually interviewed for the position of the Phillies mascot - The Philly Phanatic (true story!). Anyhoo, when the Phils won, my brother and I both thought we should probably try to get to the parade that was scheduled for Friday. Both of us figured this might never happen again, and we should try to see something like that before we kicked off (the last championship for a major Philly sport was in 1983!) So, we headed up to Philly. About a half hour after we arrived, I got a call on my cell phone. A reporter from the Wilmington News Journal was responding to my press release and was interested in interviewing me and taking a picture of Emily and I at our store. At 2:30. About 45 minutes after the ceremony was scheduled to begin, and it took about 35 minutes to get back home. Tom & I bagged the parade (sorry, Tom!) and headed home where I barely made it to the store in time for the interview. The result - a big ole article about YoYo Joe's in the Saturday paper! Yay us!

Imma bad blogger...

So, the first rule of blogging is to update your blog. The second rule, coincidentally, is also to update your page. In that vein, I've been remiss in my duties. For that I blame:

• YoYo Joe's. We just (officially) opened today. As such, we've been turning in our customary 18 hour days getting the store in ship-shape and ready to go. Getting home at 2 am isn't conducive to posting to the blog.

• The Phillies. They won the World Series. For the second time. In 125 years. So, it's not exactly been a normal week for people like me - a lifelong Phillies fan.

Monday, October 27, 2008

'Official' Grand Opening on Saturday!

Although we opened for business on Monday, our 'official' Grand Opening is this Saturday. Do we have anything planned? Darn tootin' we do! We've got:

• free collectible limited edition YoYo Joe's Duncan yo-yos for the first 75 kids at YoYo Joe's on Saturday. It's a Duncan Proyo and it features a custom YoYo Joe's imprint on each side of the yo-yo.

• Vincenza Carrieri-Russo, Miss Delaware USA will be at YoYo Joe's from 5-6 pm (courtesy of our friends at McNeil Designs for Brighter Minds - maker of the game 'You've Been Sentenced')

Plus, Rocky Bluewinkle will be at YoYo Joe's from 12-2 on Saturday. Meet the official Wilmington Blue Rocks mascot!

• Hourly prize drawings!

• Special Opening Day discounts on selected YoYo Joe's toys from Melissa & Doug, KEVA planks, WOW Toys, & Klutz Books

• Other awesome events we haven't even thought of yet!

It should be a swell day for us at YoYo Joe's as we mark the beginning of our store. We open at 10 AM and close on Saturday at 8 PM (although we're happy to hang around if people want to browse!)

Sunday, October 26, 2008

One Week Old!

Today marks our one week anniversary. While we have a long way to go to reach the amazing 55-year run of Mitchell's, I'm pretty jazzed about being open for one week. The customers have been gushing over the store. I know I'm biased and all, but we actually had a customer thank us for opening the other day. We certainly were proud of our store, but it's so satisfying to hear almost every customer compliment us on the look of the store, or the products, or the wickedly cool palm trees or the incredible pirate ship. Things really came together well.

Yesterday, we had our first event at the store - a book reading with local author Jamie Kleman. Jamie read her book twice to two different groups of people. We had no idea what to expect as far as a turnout, but were happy that the audience was well stocked for both readings. We expect to have a full schedule of events like this - from book readings to yo-yo club to craft activities and even an 'grown-ups' only shopping night that we'll call 'adult swim.'

Where DO those toys with lead in them end up?

Last year, millions of toys were recalled due to lead content in them. According to this article in The Health News Digest, only about six percent of recalled toys are returned, so where are the other 94% of potentially dangerous toys? And what do the toy manufacturers do with the recalled toys when they do get them back?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Book reading and signing on Saturday

Our first real event takes place this Saturday. Well, I guess the opening party qualifies as an event, but this is our first official unofficial event. Local author Jamie Kleman will be here at 11 am on Saturday to read from and sign her latest book, "It's Not Mean to be Green."

Special Bonus! A photographer from the Wilmington News Journal will be on hand to take a picture of Jamie reading at the store, so we need as many kids as possible to show up! Your kid could be discovered!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Unofficial opening day has come and gone

I honestly had no idea what to expect when pulling up to YoYo Joe's today. I didn't know if there would be a line waiting to get in or whether no one would come in at all. Well, like most things, the truth lie somewhere in the middle. To say we were busy today would be a stretch, but we had some sales, several of which were blog-readers (yay, blog reader people!) I finally realized that perhaps taking down the banner that advertised that we would open on November 1st might be a good idea, since several customers mentioned thinking we weren't open yet due to the date on the banners our front.

Carol was in today for the first time - Carol worked with me at Mitchell's for the past 20 years or so. She originally worked in Mitchell's in Ogletown (what now is ground zero for the MBNA/Bank of America complex) with her husband, Roger, who managed that store and the location where it moved in Community Plaza before moving up to our Fairfax store for the past dozen years or so. We're thrilled to have Carol with us at YoYo Joe's.

More pictures from the party to be posted soon!

Opening Day is Here!

OK, so tomorrow is our opening day. It's unofficial, but people who have been reading the blog will know all about it. I'm curious to see if we have much of a crowd - since word-of-mouth is really all we have going for us tomorrow. Our official opening day is not till November 1st - it gives us a chance to mess up all we can for a couple weeks before things really count. It's been such an exciting time, and tomorrow should be another cool day for YoYo Joe's.

Last of the party pics - Andre, Emily & Karen

Here's a photo of my wife, Emily (on the left), her co-worker Karen Todd and her boyfriend Andre Kerr. Andre is the artist who created the cannon in YoYo Joe's and the group of palm trees in the front of the store. He's very talented and we were very lucky to have him work for us.

Wendy & Graham on the Plasmacar

As mentioned in my post on the party, the Plasmacar was the unexpected hit of the party. Here's my sister Wendy riding one with Graham during the party.

Graham down the slide

Here's a good shot of my brother Tom with his son Graham - Graham is going down the slide on the pirate ship.

My sister Kris

Here's Kris in the game aisle at YoYo Joe's

Ethan rings em up!

Ethan handled the register duties for a bit, spelling former Mitchell's employee and former World Yo-Yo Champion Tyler Severence for a bit. That's me, by-the-way, behind Ethan holding my nephew Graham.

Party Pics - Tom Taylor

We got Tom Taylor to perform at our opening party - we met Tom years ago when he played at my brother Tom's annual July party. Tom was kind enough to agree to play our opening. It was a very weird feeling to have caterers, a singer and a bar at our store, but it was awesome!

Party pics - view from the ship

Here's a pic shot from the deck of the pirate ship - it gives you a good idea of the view from the ship out onto the store.

Party Pics - James at the wheel

Here's a shot of James - my future brother-in-law - at the wheel on the pirate ship. The ship's wheel is one of the details that Nate brought down this past week. He mounted it on the forward mast - it really turns!

Party Pics - Pirate Ric!

Here's a great view of the pirate ship with my brother-in-law Ric - who got into the mood and dressed as a pirate. He even climbed upon the rail of the ship, until he realized he probably shouldn't give kids any ideas. So, don't do this when you come to YoYo Joe's! Ric, by the way, owns The Frame Shoppe & Gallery in Talleyville along with my sister Wendy. That's our friend Ann Lake's nephew Dominic on the right.

Party Time!

Last night, we hosted our launch party at YoYo Joe's. It was our first official event. The whole point of the party was to introduce ourselves to Delaware - we invited a bunch of friends and family members and were thrilled with the turnout.

Let me backtrack a bit. We finished the pirate ship on Friday - it looks incredible. Nate and Kris (my brother-in-law - the shipbuilder and my sister) came down on Wednesday to finish the ship and also help us with other last minute details. My entire family was around - brother Tom, sister-in-law Elise - their son Graham, sister Wendy and brother-in-law Ric, my dad as well as Emily and Ethan, of course. Also joining us to help us finish off the details were Emily's sister Sara, her fiance James, my nephews Sam and Will and niece Katie all came into town on Friday. Sara and James put together Kettler tricycles and the Kettler rack. Sam & Will helped put together Plasmacars and other assorted stuff. Katie was a trooper and plugged stuff into the point-of-sale system. There were so many people at the store on Friday, I found myself coordinating tasks instead of actually doing anything. Our great friend Ann Lake not only brought us dinner from the Orient in Pennsville on Thursday, she hung around until the wee hours of the morning on Friday making sure everything was ready. And, the store looked fantastic.

Fast forward to Saturday - only a few details needed to be finished. Replace a couple dozen spotlights in the track lighting, hang fabric from the back of our wall near our palm tree grove and a couple other things. My brother Tom picked up the beer and wine for our party. One of our focus' at YoYo Joe's will be to buy local, so we got Twin Lakes Beer (despite their unwillingness to even call us back!) and Chadd's Ford Wine (again, despite their apparent lack of interest in calling us back). Luckily, the good folks at Kreston Wine & Spirits were happy to help us with our local selections. The caterers showed up at 3 or so (Toscana), and the guests started showing up 4:30 or so.

People kept arriving, and at our announced starting time of 5 pm, we had a nice crowd already. Guests raved at the store - maybe it was just them being polite, but I don't think so. People kept showing up. We invited all the employees from Mitchell's and many of them showed up. At the peak of the party, the store was packed and it was nuts. The unexpected hit of the party were the Plasmacars - we had one car out for kids to try, but soon found all of them were off the rack and kids were all over the store in them. I have to say, I have seen Plasmacars for years, but only when I actually got in one to try it did I realize how cool they really are (they can take riders up to 220 lbs!). We even sold a couple of them!

I thought it was funny when talking to one person at the party - I had neglected to mention to her about the pirate ship in the store, so I asked her if she had seen the pirate ship. She said, "pirate ship?," and I just said, "Oh, I guess I forgot to mention our pirate ship" and pointed to it. She was obviously shocked to see such a structure in a toy store.

One other moment that stuck out was when I was talking to my college roommate, Dale and my nephew Kyle came up. I realized that this was the first time all three of us had been together since we all went to an Orioles game in the mid-nineties. It didn't seem like it had been a dozen years since we went to that game.

It was a thrilling night and it went by way too fast. Before the party, I told Emily that I suspected it would be like our wedding reception - that we would hardly be able to talk to many of our guests, and miss some entirely. My suspicions were correct, I was sad that many of our guests I hardly had time to talk to anyone.

I was very thankful that Wendy decided that she would be the official party photographer and she shot lots of pictures. I will post some of them in subsequent posts...

What a night!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Progress - video tour pt 2

Here's another little video tour I shot earlier tonight. Check it against the last video to see how far we've come!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

T-minus 4 days...

It's 4 am, and Emily and I are both at YoYo Joe's. Emily's stocking shelves, and I'm adding stuff to the infernal POS system. Things are moving fast now. Kris and Nate arrived yesterday morning at 11 and worked on the pirate ship all day, adding details like a handrail up the steps, a yardarm, a sail and more. Also, the palm trees arrived tonight - thanks to Andre Kerr, our artist. They look awesome, and are HUGE. Seriously now, come on, we've put in custom made palm trees, a cannon and a pirate ship. Are we nuts?


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

T-Minus five days...

...and counting to our 'unofficial' opening. Our 'official' opening remains November 1st, but we're doing everything we can to be in final shape by Monday....

Yikes! Looking around the back room, there's stacks of merchandise to get onto the sales floor. There's stacks of merchandise on the sales floor too. Gee, we've got a lot of merchandise, and more keeps arriving each day! Today, I went on a trip to Philly to get more shelving while Emily was at the store. Of course, 80 boxes showed up today between UPS and, the balance of the metal shelving arrived from the powder coaters...poor Emily!

Have I mentioned that my dad (YoYo Joe Sr) has marked a giant chunk of our merchandise? He's spent hours here marking stuff with official YoYo Joe's price labels. You say, "hmm...didn't you say, Joe, that you're using a Point Of Sale system?." How detail-oriented of you to remember...that's right, we're using a POS, but there's nothing I hate more than shopping somewhere and there's no label on the package and there's no price sticker near the item, so we're marking everything. (OK, there's actually sooo much stuff I hate more than that, but you know what I mean)

Kris and Nate (the shipbuilder) show up tomorrow to fit out the rest of the pirate ship. Yep, rest of the pirate ship. Including a ship's wheel, a yardarm, a sail and more...

Oh, and thanks to my ludicrously late hours here at YoYo Joe's - I missed the entire game four of the National League Championship Series last night. I only missed what many people are calling one of the greatest games in Phillies history. Oh well, thank God for internet video.

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Shoe Boat

Our friend John Lynch stopped by today while his son, Chris, was swimming at the Y - which you can see from the back door of our store. While in the store, he said the pirate ship reminded him of the Shoe Boat in the Concord Mall.

Which is kinda cool, cause that WAS the inspiration for our pirate ship. Does anyone remember the boat that was in The Shoe Boat? I remember my mom taking us up to the Concord Mall to get shoes, and we'd get excited because they had this little tug boat or something in it. It had a slide, and, if my recollections are correct, it was pretty small - only one kid or so at a time could fit on it. Remembering that a bit back was what made me think of putting a pirate ship in Mitchell's. I was thinking on a similar scale - something small - a draw to bring kids in the store. Obviously, it never happened at Mitchell's, but I kept that idea on my mind while we went through the process of getting our own store up and running. We plopped it in the business plan and pitched it to our advisors at the Delaware Small Business Development Center and when we met with the bank. Luckily, the ship stayed in the plan.

Ha...the Shoe Boat. I wonder what happened to it?

Word to your moms, I came to drop bombs...

House of Pain at 1:11 A.M. is oddly appropriate. Today more more of the same - stocking in the store, adding to the POS. Trying to clean out the back room - bringing it all out on the sales floor. More and more people peek their heads in when we have the doors open to see what's going on. Several families peeked in today with their kids - who seemed hard to convince that we were not open yet. One little girl protested, "but there's people in there!"

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Playmobil - check.

A bit later on, we set up the Playmobil department. It's really coming together!

Arts & Crafts - check.

Emily spent a lot of time tonight setting up the Arts & Crafts department. This is just one of the two sides of the aisles.