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!