Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Check us out, we're a 'Favorite Place!'

We're a number!

Google has just started a program called 'Favorite Places' in which they sent out stickers with a little pixelated QR code on it. QR codes are quite popular in Japan, but are just getting a foothold here in the US. You can download an app for your cell phone that will allow you to scan the QR code (take a picture of it) and it will take you immediately to YoYo Joe's Google Local page with info on our hours, reviews, YouTube videos and more.
Google initially sent out the stickers to about 100,000 businesses, based on how popular their Google Local page was.
I downloaded an app for my iphone and tried it out. It did work (on the 3rd try) - how cool is that?
If you wanna try it, here is our QR code for our Google Local page:

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Red Vest

I first posted this entry last year, but I decided to repost it for this year. Happy Holidays!

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 is the vest vintage 2008.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Joe on 'The 10! Show' on Friday

Three or so weeks after our first appearance on NBC10's 'The 10! Show,' we were surprised to hear from them again. They asked Joe to come up to be on Friday's show and highlight some cool last minute toys. Joe showed off the Sandwich Stacking Game from Melissa & Doug, the Hexbug Nano, the Quadrilla Musical set and the brand new Rockboard Scooter. The Scooter is awesome. Joe was just happy to not wreck while riding the scooter...

Check it out:

Open Normal Hours today

Yes, Joe spent the night. That's his car in the parking lot this morning. So, that means the store is fully restocked, all orders checked in, shoveled, salted and ready to go. We're open 10-7 today.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Snow, schmow. We're open till 9.

So, it's the biggest shopping day of the year and we get two feet of snow. Staples (next to us) closed at 2. Pier One (other side of us) closed earlier than that. Brew Ha Ha closed at noon. Not us. We're open. Call us nutty, call us crazy, we're open. Joe's got supplies horded in the back of the store and is prepared to spend the night. See what we do for you folks?

So, if you happened to be out there in the muck and want a break, stop in. It's warm and cozy. We've got holiday music going on and Joe's gonna break out the snacks (& beer) soon.

Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Duncan 80th Anniversary stops in at YoYo Joe's

Mark Hayward, Seth Peterson and Brandon Jackson from Duncan Yo-Yo visited YoYo Joe's Toys & Fun last week as part of their 80th Anniversary Tour around the country. The Brandywine Community News covered the visit. See their article and pics here

YoYo Joe's edition of the SEVERE yo-yo getting rave reviews!

We're the only store in the universe to carry our custom color combination of the Tyler Severance signature edition SEVERE. It's sold well (we're almost out) and has received rave reviews from our buying public. One customer liked it so much, he made a YouTube video of his review!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

We don't like to name drop, but...

...we had a celebrity in the house on Saturday.

This customer has been immortalized on the cover of a CD. Max, from We Kids Rock, was in the store and took time out of his busy schedule to pose with his CD. We Kids Rock is a children's music class that meets nearby at the Mt. Lebanon Church on Mt. Lebanon Road. We sell their CD's in our store. Take a listen to them on itunes.
Thanks for stopping in, Max, and rock on!

Harvest Time!

We dug our big, honking pots out in front of our store all summer. We had Hibiscus trees with pretty yellow flowers and below them, we had Sweet Potato vines. The Hibiscus looked awesome all year. The Sweet Potato vines took a while to take root, but they thrived in the heat of the summer (after our friends at Always the Garden saw us at the Best of Delaware Party and reminded us to keep watering the plants!). The overflowed out of the pots, hanging over the sides. It's funny, cause even though Emily told me they were Sweet Potato vines, I just kinda assumed they were ornamental. But, as we pulled them out today, we found lots of little and some big Sweet Potatoes! Mashed sweet potatoes, anyone?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Hexbug Nano

We got an reorder of the popular Hexbugs in the other day. In addition to getting more of the original Hexbugs - the mini robotic creatures - we got in a new Hexbug - the Hexbug Nano. It's a even tinier robotic bug that acts like a real bug. The zoom along on the floor and will self-right themselves if they flip over. They're almost creepy they're so real. Since I was in a youtubey mood, I made another video late Friday night about the Hexbugs. Check it out!

How Many Playmobil People Fit in a Life Size Playmobil Figure?

I haven't the foggiest. My Playmobil sales rep wouldn't tell me. However, if you happen to be closest, you can win a Playmobil Circus set - worth $110!

If you wanna take a guess, stop in YoYo Joe's Toys & Fun before Sunday, November 29th when the life-sized Playmobil clicky is off to his next stop.

'The 10! Show' is headed to YoYo Joe's - show up and get a free $5 Gift-Certificate!

On Monday, November 23rd, Tim Furlong from NBC10's 'The 10! Show' will visit YoYo Joe's Toys & Fun to do a live remote report on hot holiday toys. The broadcast starts just after 10 am, and we at YoYo Joe's would like a full house to set a good holiday mood. So...we're not above bribing you. Each and every person who arrives at YoYo Joe's Toys & Fun BEFORE 10 am will receive a no-strings attached $5 gift-certificate to spend on any purchase at YoYo Joe's through Wednesday. You can use it to save $5 off your purchase or just get your under $5 purchase free. It's up to you. So, show up BEFORE 10 am and get a free $5 towards your holiday shopping!
And, as the show is taped live, you can make it home in time to see yourself on TV! 'The 10! Show' is on NBC10 at 11 am. See you on Monday!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Duncan crew at YoYo Joe's Toys & Fun tonight

Mark Hayward, Seth Peterson and Brandon Jackson from Duncan will be at YoYo Joe's Toys & Fun tonight from 5-7 to hang out with YoYo Joe's Yo-Yo Club. Come meet them.

Check out this video from their performance on Eyewitness News on the CW morning show where Mark gives us a shout out as "World's most favorite toy store." Wow. Thanks, Mark.

Click here to view video

Saturday, November 14, 2009

World's Fastest Plasmacar Builder?

Over the past year, I've built hundreds of Plasmacars. I've gotten better at it and can do it pretty quickly now.
A couple weeks back, I sent a tweet (Twitter update for the geek challenged) to the folks at Plasmacar letting them know that I had build a Plasmacar in 51 seconds. They tweeted back to make a video of it, so I did.
So, I did make a video of it. Can I do it in less than a minute? Can I beat my personal best time?
Here is the youtube video of me building a Plasmacar. And, yes, I am a geek.
You should follow me on twitter. You know you want to.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

We're SEVERE-ly excited!

Tyler Severance was employee number 2 at YoYo Joe's. He was one of two people who came to work for us who previously worked at Mitchell's Trains, Toys & Hobbies. If you shopped at YoYo Joe's last holiday season, you might have seen Tyler. He was the Yo-Yo 2007 World Champion in the 5A division. For previous mentions of Tyler in the blog, click here.
Since Tyler left us, he graduated from William Penn High School and headed out to Arizona, where he's following his dream, working for yo-yo manufacturer YoYo Factory.
YoYo Factory has just released the signature model yo-yo for Tyler - the SEVERE. We were delighted to receive the first of these last week (already sold out!). I tried out the first batch and (maybe I'm biased), but it's my favorite metal yo-yo! We're also thrilled to be receiving an exclusive color combination of the SEVERE this week. We're the only store in the world to offer the blue & orange YoYo Joe's edition of the SEVERE. We expect it to arrive any day, and I will update the blog with ordering info when we get it in.
Congrats to Tyler and YoYo Factory.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Play You've Been Sentenced online and you could win a trip to Punta Cana!

Our friends at McNeil Designs (a Delaware toy company!) have just started up an online version of one of our favorite games - You've Been Sentenced. You can play it on the WDEL website. Daily winners win a copy of the board game, and one lucky winner will win a trip to Punta Cana! Students can even win a whiteboard copy for their classroom! Complete details are on the WDEL website.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Award Winning Toys take Over!

Well, it's that time of year again. Yes, it's the pre-holiday toy award giving season and they've been out in full force. Our pal Stephanie Oppenheim was on the Today show last week showing off some of the Oppenheim Award winning toys. Family Fun Magazine announced their winners on Regis & Kelly a couple weeks ago. Finally, the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA) - of which we are a member - announced our list of Best Toys For Kids.

Piles of toys that we already carry were honored - a couple games from Blue Orange Games won awards (Chickyboom & Yamslam are two of our favorites), Lego got lots of awards for many different sets (including the uber-cool Mindstorm, which allows you to program your Lego creations from your computer), the Playmobil Pyramid won lots of awards (Playmobil is pretty sure they are going to sell out of these soon!), Sprig's Eco Trucks were honored as was the Tea Set from Green Toys - both items underscore the move towards eco-friendly toys.

To set these award-winning toys apart, we've started marking them with little signs under the toys identifying which awards they were given. It's an easy way to let our customers know which toys were honored this year.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Delaware Children's Museum Groundbreaking

Emily & I were honored to be invited to the Groundbreaking Ceremony for the Delaware Children's Museum on Monday in front of the old Kahunaville on the Delaware waterfront. Over the past year, we've met lots of people from the Delaware Children's Museum - from the opening of the new Laura Novak studio to the Point-to-Point races and the Best of Delaware party. We've met with Paige, Juli-Anne, Traci and Julie. We love what they're doing to get a world-class children's museum to Delaware and Monday marked a huge step towards that becoming a reality.

The event was well-attended by politicians, press and donators. Delaware's entire Congressional delegation was on hand (Senators Carper & Kaufmann, Congressman Castle) as well as Governor Markell, Lt. Governor Denn, Mayor Baker & New Castle County Executive Chris Coons. (That's Governor Markell, Chris Coons & Senator Carper in the pic)

It was a brilliant day and we were thrilled to be a part of it.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Joe the Barber stops in

If you have to ask who Joe the barber is, you're not from around here, are you?

Joe's Barber Shop is a fixture on Concord Pike. It's been there for as long as I remember.

Joe and Marge Gioffre stopped in today, doing some shopping for a great-grandson. Joe himself worked there for 60 years, having retired only recently. Joe said to mention that "they love the store!"

Joe's is a guy place. The waiting room always seems to me to be filled with boys & men waiting for a haircut. And no matter how many people were waiting, Joe or George would swear it would only be a few minutes. Woe to the fellow who left the shop due to the number of people waiting. Someone always follows that person out, swearing to them that it wouldn't be that long, to come back. And the conversation in the room runs the gamut from business to politics to sports and religion. It is a real old fashioned barber shop. Everyone who's anyone got their hair cut at Joe's. CEO's of all the major companies - duPont, Hercules, etc. I told Joe he should write a book, I know I'd buy it. Heck, we'd sell it!

My first haircut was at Joe's. I was a squirmy kid, and when my squirming finally got too much, the poor barber accidentally nicked my ear - which sent me into a tizzy. I only know this story because of the numerous times I've been told that story - first by my mom and later by my father. It took me years to get back into Joe's - after college - in that brief window of time that I actually had enough hair to have cut, but I loved the atmosphere in Joe's.

I tried to stop into Joe's one day on my way to an interview. I was headed up to Philly to interview for the Philly Phanatic job (yes, the Phanatic - a whole different story I'll post someday) and thought I could cram in a Joe's haircut. I only had a couple minutes to spare, so when I walked in and saw a crammed waiting room, I immediately turned around and headed to my car - waiting for the inevitable cry that "it won't be that long." Seconds later, Joe popped out and tried to persuade me to come back. Since I was running late, I excused myself and headed to the interview.

Perhaps if I'd left enough time to get the haircut, I might have impressed my interviewers with my Joe's Barber Shop haircut and I could have been the Phanatic.

Thanks for stopping in, Marge & Joe, and thanks for the wonderful memories.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Talk Like a Pirate Day is Saturday

Ahoy, International Talk Like a Pirate Bay be Saturday, September 19th and, seein' as we have a pirate ship in our store, we'll be celebratin' it with free pirate phrase cheat sheets t' use throughout the day. Gar.

Pick up yer cheet sheet t'day or watch this instructional video made by the Pirate Guys.

Banner day at Yo-Yo Club

We started our Yo-Yo Club in January. It was an immediate hit, with dozens of kids showing up on the first day. Since then, 130 people have started on our "Yo-Yo Club Advancement Chart" - a list of 25 yo-yo tricks of advancing difficulty. If the yoyoer has the tenacity to finish our chart, they get inducted into the Yo-Yo Joe's "Wall of Fame" - their picture is posted on the wall above where Yo-Yo Club meets.

Of those 130, only one had completed the list. Only one until Saturday - when three, count 'em, three kids finished the list. David Yoncha - who was at our first Yo-Yo Club meeting, Mark White - who started about a week after David, and Jesse Miller - who starting coming this spring - all finished the chart on Saturday. The three joined Jared Verratti - who finished the list several months ago.

This brings our 'Wall of Fame' membership to 20 - we grandfathered the 11 people who were in the Mitchell's Yo-Yo Club 'Wall of Fame' and it includes five professional yo-yoers who stopped in at YoYo Joe's and reeled off the tricks to join the wall. All in all, our Wall includes former Mid-Atlantic Regional, US National & World Champions!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Top 3 Toys We Learned About from our Customers

One more thing that differentiates us from the big box stores is that when you walk into our store and talk to us, you're talking to the people who determine what toys appear on our shelves. Try to talk to the toy buyer at Walmart and make a suggestion on what toys they should sell. I dare ya!
Over the 10 months we've been opened, we've had lots of suggestions on things we should sell in our store. In many cases, we ordered the products and in several cases, they've turned out to be great selling items! Here's our choices for the top three items we've been suggested to sell in our store.

3 - Sandy Feet - A customer came in our store in July and said that she would buy several of these if we got them in and raved about how awesome they were. So, we just got these in last month, and they've sold well despite how late in the summer it is. This ingenious kit allows you to create foot castings from footprints in the sand. Use the sand & water from your beach, add their special powder, wait 20 minutes and get a footprint keepsake! $15.99

2 - Kids on Stage - This charades game for kids was suggested to us by a customer as "the best game they ever got." We've sold through on our first order and have placed a reorder for them. The nice thing about this game is that every child acts on every turn, and the game requires no reading! For ages 3-8. $18.99

1 - My Little Sandbox - These 10" x 10" sandboxes come in different themes (Beach Party and Big Builder are the two most popular). Each kit includes a 10" x 10" box, micro-sand, and accessories depending on the theme. The Beach Party set includes a sunbather, towel, beach chair, little dog & mini bucket, shovel and rake. The Big Builder set includes trucks, rocks, mini shovel and rake. It's a little zen garden for kids! A customer came in last November and raved about these, telling us how she would travel 45 minutes away to stock up on them for gifts. We ordered them, and in our first 10 months, they've been one of our top selling items! $27.99. Ages 3 & up.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Elf on the Shelf Author coming to YoYo Joe's

Well, color us pretty darned excited. We just received word from the publishers of 'Elf on the Shelf' that we were selected from over 200 applicants to have an author visit by Carol Aebersold, one of the authors of 'Elf on the Shelf.' She will visit the store on Monday, November 2nd from 5-7 pm.
Now, Elf on the Shelf was our number 1 selling item at YoYo Joe's up until February 19th, 2009 even though the last one we sold was in January. It's still in our top five selling items seven months later!
If you're not familiar with the story behind 'Elf on the Shelf,' the kit comes with a book and elf. The book explains that Santa knows who is naughty and/or nice because he sends a scout elf to every home. The elf watches the children by day and reports to Santa each night. When the children awake, the elf has returned from the North Pole and can be found hiding in a different location each morning. Finding the elf each morning is half the fun. There are rules, such as children are not allowed to touch the elf.
The elf comes alive after the family has named the elf.
We're so excited that Carol Aebersold will be visiting us!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Another Uglydoll article

If you've been following the blog, you know I'm a fan of the Uglydolls. You can read about them in 8 past entries here . If you like Uglydolls, you're in luck - here's another article about them. If you're not a fan, move along - there's nothing more to see here.
This is a nifty little article about the origination of the Uglydoll in the LA Times this week. I know the story, but it never gets old. Read it here

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Party Time!

Tonight is the Delaware Today Magazine's Best of Delaware party at the Chase Center at the Riverfront. We're totally stoked to be going - for a bunch of reasons. Which are:

1 - We're the Best of Delaware! Woo-Hoo!
2 - Um, it's a party...with free food & liquid happiness.
3 - The party benefits some of our favorite causes - Delaware Guidance Services for Children & Youth, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Delaware, The Delaware Children's Museum and also the Light Up The Queen group.
4 - The party has lots of our favorite places Dogfish Head, Harry's, Orillas Tapas, Pizza By Elizabeths, Sweets to You by Ginger, Grassroots, Hansel & Gretel & dozens more! (A complete list is here)

If you need a ticket, the door price is $70 a person, but if you click this button, you can save $15 off the ticket. If you're going, stop by (rumor has it there's some free yo-yos). If you're not going, follow Joe's Twitter updates from the party.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Yo-Yo's make the national spotlight...

Just over a month ago, the Washington Post did a cover story on yoyoing, spotlighting former YoYo Joe's employee Tyler Severance as well as other YoYo Joe's Yo-Yo Club members. If you missed it, check out my blog post here.
Since then, yo-yos have been prominently featured on the cover of last Friday's Wall Street Journal and also on Monday's edition of the Today Show.

Dog Days, indeed...

For those who are fans of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, there's reason to rejoice. Today, the cover art of the anticipated 4th book in the series was released. The new book is titled 'Dog Days,' and has a release date of October 12th. Based on the success of the previous titles, it's a safe assumption this will be a very good selling book.

Check our previous posts on the Wimpy Kids books and check out this picture of our son, Ethan, with Jeff Kinney - the author of the Wimpy Kid series.

Consider Me Ignited...

Civic pride in Wilmington usually amounts to jokes about how the city closes at 5 pm. Last night, however, at the studios of the Archer Group something exciting took place - the first Ignite Wilmington event.
I initially heard about this event thanks to our friend, photographer Laura Novak and her Twitter feed. It sounded good, so Emily and I headed down last night.

First, a little about the history of the Ignite events. I took this from the Ignite webpage:

"If you had five minutes on stage what would you say? What if you only got 20 slides and they rotated automatically after 15 seconds? Around the world geeks have been putting together Ignite nights to show their answers.

Ignite was started in Seattle in 2006 by Brady Forrest and Bre Pettis. Since then 100s of 5 minute talks have been given across the world. There are thriving Ignite communities in Seattle, Portland, Paris, and NYC."

Sounds intriguing, right?

Last night's initial Wilmo event was emceed by Mark Mobley, the Director of Community Engagement at the Delaware Symphony Orchestra. There were 12 speakers - each with a 5 minute presentation. As it was the first Wilmo event, the speakers had varying successes meeting the 15 second slide rule. Some missed entire slides as their 15 seconds went way too fast, others waited for the slides to change.

The presentations covered a wide range of topics - ranging from IT stuff (cloud data) to brewing your own beer to Wilmington artist Jeff Schaller comparing and contrasting his career path with that of David Hasselhoff (his presentation was entitled 'Me and the Hoff' which was exactly as funny as it sounds) to Chris Winburn relaying his tales of the dizzying heights and bottomless pits of riding the 90's internet boom and bust to San Francisco & back. To finish it off, we all took a quiz on just how 'White N Nerdy' we were (Chris won an eronomic keyboard for being the whitest and nerdiest).

The presentations were entertaining - no matter what the topic it never gets boring listening to someone talk about their passion. They were also informative. They gave me ideas - they sparked my creative juices - which is precisely the idea behind the event!

Perhaps the most exciting part of the event was the vibe. Yes, this REALLY was taking place in Wilmington - AFTER 5 pm! Yes, these were all Wilmingtonians jazzed about their city. Every presentation was greeted by cat-calls from the audience in support.

We rounded out the evening by heading a couple blocks up to one of our new favorite Wilmington restaurants - Orillas Tapas Bar. What a great night to be a Wilmingtonian!

Don't miss Ignite Wilmington #2 - which will be coming up - check ignitewilmington.com for details.

Thanks to the people who put #1 together and to the Archer Group for hosting it and to Laura for informing us about the event.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Hot Games, Cool Planet...

The first booth we visited this year at Toy Fair was the booth for Blue Orange Games. I was wearing my brand spanking new YoYo Joe's hat and the first thing someone at the booth said to me was, "I like your hat." I was flattered, as he obviously appreciated our wonderful logo. It took me a couple seconds to realize that our store colors are blue & orange and it was our colors he was referring to. C'est la vie.

Today, Bertrand, from Blue Orange games paid us a visit. Each year, someone from Blue Orange travels coast to coast - from San Francisco to Maine - visiting each of their retailers. It's hundreds of stores and takes them weeks, but I think it's a great idea as it gives them a chance to explain how to play any games that we don't know and also to address any questions we might have about their products. Plus, he dropped off an awesome Blue Orange games t-shirt (That's Bertrand wearing one above) and he also dropped off a HUGE Chickyboom game for us to demo. (That's the Chickyboom game demo below next to the actual size of the game.)

Blue Orange makes awesome games. Their games are made of wood, and built to last. They're also environmentally aware, having been awarded the 'Green Toy Company' award thanks to their policy to plant two trees for each tree they use in production of their toys. And, last but not least, their games ROCK!
As a matter of fact, four of their games will be in YoYo Joe's holiday catalog. Two of their newest games - Yamslam and Chickyboom as well as their advanced 'Shut the Box' game called 'Double Shutter' and their new twist on their old classic 'Gobblet Gobblers.'

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Tell Me a Story...

Know what feeling I love? When I find an item I love, and our customers love it too! Sometimes, I find something that I think is awesome, and it doesn't sell very well. Other times, I have mixed feelings about something and it flies off the shelves. Every once in a while, it's the magic mix of finding something that's awesome, and it sells wonderfully.

That's the case for something I found at the American Specialty Toy Retailers Association (ASTRA) Show in June. At the eeBoo booth, I found something they'd introduced at Toy Fair in February, but I missed. The product is called Tell Me a Story Cards. They're 36 beautifully illustrated cards that revolve around a theme. All of the cards have illustrations, but no words. The words are up to the storyteller. String together a set of cards and tell a story. Great for helping children explore their imagination and creativity. Also great for parents who want to tell children a bedtime story and could use illustrations for their stories. Available in four different themes - Circus Animals Adventures, Fairytale Mix-Up, Mystery in the Forest and Little Robot's Mission. All are $9.99.

It's a win-win situation!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Will Jared be the first to finish the Yo-Yo Club Trick Chart?

YoYo Joe's Toys & Fun Yo-Yo Club meets each Saturday from 4-5 pm. Since Yo-Yo Club started in January, over 100 people have tried their hands at the Yo-Yo Trick Advancement Chart - Jared is the first person to get to the final trick - Slack Trapeze. Can he finish it? Will he be the first inducted into the YoYo Joe's Wall of Fame? 

Monday, June 22, 2009

Breyer Fun Day was....er....fun!

Oddly, it rained on Saturday. I say 'oddly,' ironically as it rains every day in Delaware. It's been quite a wet summer so far. Intrepid Breyer fans braved the Biblical rains to attend our first Breyer Fun Day. Lots of kids came and painted their own horses. Plus, we had a drawing for a Breyer horse. The drawing was won by Moira, who was kind enough to pose for a photo with her winnings. Congrats, Moira, and thanks to all those who came out to celebrate Breyer horses with us!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Best of Delaware, Baby!

I headed out today to find a copy of the Sunday Washington Post. How hard could it be? It's one of the biggest papers in the country, right? Washington's only a couple hours away, right? I mean, Delaware's Joe Biden is the VP, so it can't be THAT hard to find in Wilmington, right?

Three hours later, I final
ly find one copy hiding at Claymont Newsstand, who doesn't take credit card purchases under $15 and who over double the cover price of the paper, but hey, I got it! 
What does this have to do with Best of Delaware?  - well, on our quest we found the July issue of Delaware Today magazine, which has a big half-page picture of Ciro, Jake and Louise Poppiti yoyoing at YoYo Joe's. Awesome! Plus, the writeup on YoYo Joe's. We're famous! And, our pal JonRob is mentioned in the writeup about the store as well. Who's the best?

We are!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

YoYo Joe's yoyoers profiled in Washington Post Magazine

The Washington Post Magazine's cover story (registration required - unless you check out bugmenot.com) this week focus' on two local yoyoers - former YoYo Joe's employee and World Champion Tyler Severance (left) and Vice-President Joe Biden's favorite yoyoer Jonathan Robinson. It's a great article that was written with care. Writer Rebecca Bengal contacted me last year talking about doing a story on a regional yoyoer. The story features a cool video shot at the Maryland State Yo-Yo Contest in Perryville. The article also talks about both Mitchell's and YoYo Joe's. Great press! 

Rebecca told me there's more pictures in the paper edition of the magazine, so I'll be picking up a couple copies tomorrow. 

Sunday, June 14, 2009

St. Paul is closed on Sundays.

At the ASTRA Convention 2009

I am in St. Paul, Minnesota - home of the 2009 American Specialty Toy Retailers Association (ASTRA) Marketplace & Conference. I will be checking out cool new toys to bring to YoYo Joe's plus getting good ideas to implement at YoYo Joe's. First up was the Keynote session with Bob Phibbs, the Retail Doctor, then it's Kits, Kits & more Kits and finally a couple choices as far as breakout sessions. I saw Bob Phibbs last year at the 2008 ASTRA Conference and he's a great speaker - always motivates me to try out new stuff. One idea I'm gonna implement right away when I get back is to get more goofy YouTube videos up - videos about new products, store events & more. Check out my Twitter page for live updates from #ASTRA09

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Who put the K in K-B toys?

Donald Kaufman! Well, he and his family, anyway. Originally named after the 'Kaufman Brothers,' KB Toys recently closed.

Donald Kaufman, however, was a prolific collector of antique toys - mainly cars and trucks. Just this past year, he decided it was time to get rid of his toys and sell them at auction. The first of these auctions netted a cool 4.2 million, 1.2 million above the auction house estimate and 2.2 over Mr. Kaufman's own estimate. The Marklin clown car train pictured below alone sold for over $100,000. The second of these auctions is coming up in September. Check out this New York Times article about his collection.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Dad's Day Craft Event

Our Father's Day Craft Event - make an author page for the Klutz Build A Book - is wrapping up. Here's a picture of the participants busy at work!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The evil empire of toy stores

Ok, maybe I was a bit more dramatic than I needed to be, but that was my first reaction when finding out today that big box toy store Toys R Us (sorry, my keyboard doesn't do a backwards R) has purchased FAO Schwartz - the iconic New York City toy store.
Apparently, it is part of a TRU plan to consolidate the toy industry. They're trying to fight off the mega big box Walmart - who is now the biggest retailer of toys in the US.
TRU has already adjusted it's model a bit by making a move to retailing non-toy products in some of it's stores - selling things like laundry detergent & cleaning supplies.

TRU says that FAO will keep it's name, it's website and it's product mix, but call me dubious that a toy store who has decided to start selling non-toy product will keep FAO the way it is. I remember when Zany Brainy lost their focus when The Right Start took them over and don't hold a lot of hope for the future of FAO and it's unique way of selling toys.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

We love Keva Planks

At first glance, it's a hard sell. They're little maple planks. They're not colored or varied in shape or size. They're all the same. What fun is that?

More than I initially thought, apparently. For the past couple years at Toy Fair, I've seen the Keva Planks displays. They have these really cool models set up - made up of the Keva Planks. They're a real basic toy - made of plain wood - made in the USA. The fact that they're all the same makes them great for constructing huge towers - even world record sized towers. Check em out here, on our brand spanking new shopping page.

Check out these pics from Keva's flicker page.

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Who's the Best?


We are! Woohoo!

Ahem...sorry about that. According to the critics from Delaware Today, we have been chosen as the Best Toy Store Upstate for 2009. Not that we had any doubt, but it's a much better look in print.

I'm still a little muddled how this year's Critics Choice worked, but it sounds like there were some Delaware Celebrities who chose winners. We were chosen by Ciro Poppiti, who was the 2006 Outstanding Young Wilmingtonian by the Wilmington Jaycees.

Ciro and his family came into the store and were part of a photo shoot with Ethan, Emily and I for the July issue of Delaware Today Magazine.

We're excited to be named Best of Delaware and hope it's the start of a long line of "Best of Delaware" awards. Thanks to Delaware Today and especially Ciro and his family for choosing us.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Hangin' with the Kalmar Nyckel

This past Saturday was Family Day at the Kalmar Nyckel. Since we're close personal friends with Captain Lauren Morgens (yea, we're dropping names) , we were able to set up a table at the event. The weather looked iffy when we got there, but improved to a nice sunny day by noon. The coolest thing that happened was that we donated one of our cool pirate ship kites to the ship, and Captain Lauren promptly put it together and got it up in the air. So, I snapped a couple pictures of Captain Lauren flying it. Thanks to Captain Lauren & Marcia Ferranto - the Executive Director of the Kalmar Nyckel Foundation for including us in their Fun Day. 

If you've never seen the Kalmar Nyckel, check it out today!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Pure XO yo-yo

We got the limited release Pure XO - Wilmington resident JonRob's signature yo-yo - in and they will be the first item that's live on our website. If you're a yo-yoer, you know exactly what I'm talking about. See this post for info on the yo-yo. They will go live on Wednesday night at 11:59 pm East Coast time. We will have an extremely limited number of these available, and once they're gone, we cannot get any more as no more of this run are to be made. Priced at a cool $284.99, plus $10 shipping (with insurance).

Changes are coming...

We've had our real website in production for a while now. It's almost ready to go live, with some caveats. It's gonna be a real, live shopping website! It will probably go live in the next two days, but it will have very limited products on it. In the coming weeks, we will get the site populated with merchandise. For fans of the blog, don't despair! It's still going to be around, it just won't be the first thing you see when you go to yoyojoes.com.

Keeping our fingers crossed!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Big Time!

One of our favorite games, 'You've Been Sentenced' is on the verge of hitting the big time. Parris-Randall Productions - a Hollywood based production company, has reached an licensing agreement with Wilmington based McNeil Designs to produce the show. They still have to pitch the show to the networks, but it's great news for our friends over at McNeil Designs.
'You've Been Sentenced' was the brainchild of Don McNeil and it was first sold to the public at Mitchell's and it was the first product we got in for YoYo Joe's.

Check out their press-release here.

New spring/summer hours

We just switched over to our spring/summer hours. Which really only means that we'll be opening one hour later each day - 10 am - during the spring & summer months. It also means one hour more sleep for Joe. Yay!

See you a bit later in the morning!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Go watch a radio show

We love the First State Children's Theater Company. I've blogged about them before, but wanted to let everyone know of their current tour of the State of Delaware doing "The Maltese Falcon" as part of Delaware's "The Big Read" initiative. Find a location near you and check it out. They do a great job!

Here's the e-mail they sent us

What is “The Big Read”: The Big Read is an initiative of the Delaware Division of Libraries and the National Endowment for the Arts designed to restore reading to the center of American culture. This is the first year Delaware has participated in this celebrated national program.. The 2009 Big Read for the state of Delaware is Dashiell Hammett's The Maltese Falcon. Through the energies of Patty Langley (from the Delaware Division of Libraries), the Delaware Center for the Book and their partners, Delaware libraries have spent 2009 hosting book discussions, theatrical readings, film series, and scholar-led presentations and discussions. In addition, many public libraries have been offering other locally planned, supplementary programming to enhance and expand the reading experience.

What is our tour: This touring production of The Maltese Falcon is staged in the spirit of a radio play and involves 4 actors with live foley (sound effects). The original script is adapted is directly and faithfully from the book – and uses only dialogue and narration by Dashiell Hammett; so that the audience discovers this crime story through his unique/signature writing style, phrasing, vocabulary, and slang.

When is our tour: We are touring this performance April 21 – May 5.

How long is the performance: This performance runs I hour, 20 minutes.

Who is the target audience: Anyone who would read and enjoy Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon.

How much are tickets: This performance is free to the public. It is free to attend.

Who are the actors/PTTP alumni:

  • Michael Boudewyns - (UD/PTTP grad 1992)
  • Lynn Berg - (UD/PTTP grad 2003)
  • Luis Galindo - (UD/PTTP grad 2007)
  • Sara Valentine - (UD/PTTP grad 2007)

***Final “late night” performance ***
  • When: Tuesday May 5, 2009
  • Time: 10:00pm
  • Where: Hartshorn Theatre – in the “Pool Room” on first floor
(on the corner of Academy St. and E. Park Place, UD campus, Newark)
  • Who: Best enjoyed by ages 12 and up
  • Program length: 1 hour and 20 minutes

2009 Big Read Maltese Falcon touring schedule (14 performances in 12 days)

Tues. Apr 21
Milton Public Library - 6:30pm
121 Union Street
Milton, DE 19968

Wed. Apr 22
Down’s Cultural Center - 2:00pm
(located in the Ingleside Retirement Center)
1005 N Franklin St
Wilmington, DE 19806

Thurs. Apr 23
Selbyville Public Library - 6:30pm
11 Main & McCabe Streets
Selbyville, DE 19975

Sat. Apr 25
Seaford Public Library - 2:00pm
402 North Porter Street
Seaford, DE 1997

Mon. Apr 27
New Castle Senior Center – 1:30pm
400 South Street
New Castle, DE 19720

Woodlawn Public Library – 7:00pm
2020 West Ninth Street
Wilmington, DE 19805

Tues. Apr 28
Rehoboth Beach Public Library - 6:30pm
226 Rehoboth Ave.
Rehoboth Beach, DE 19971

Wed. Apr 29
Laurel Public Library - 7:00pm
101 East 4th Street
Laurel, DE 19956

Thurs. Apr 30
Lewes Public Library - 7:00pm
111 Adams Avenue
Lewes, DE 19958

Fri. May 1
Brandywine Hundred Library – 7:00pm
1300 Foulk Road
Wilmington, DE 19803

Sat. May 2
Kent County Library - 2:00pm
2319 South DuPont Highway
Dover, DE 19901

Sun. May 3
Corbit-Calloway Memorial Library - 2:00pm
115 High Street
Odessa, DE 19730

Tues. May 5
Elsmere Public Library - 6:30pm
30 Spruce Avenue
Elsmere, DE 19805

Hartshorn Theatre – 10:00pm
(in the “Pool Room” on the first floor )
On the corner of Academy St. and E. Park Place
UD campus
Newark, DE 19711

Monday, April 27, 2009

Soon and only at YoYo Joe's

As you may have noticed, we're big on yo-yos at YoYo Joe's. People come in all the time and our selection and are shocked (shocked!) that we have yo-yos priced as high as $150 (we also have them as low as $5.99). Well, we're about to nearly double the upper end of our price scale.
YoYo Joe's is proud to be the sole retailer of the brand new signature yo-yo of our friend Jonathan Robinson (JonRob) - an elite level yoyoer from Wilmington. JonRob's initial release of his signature yo-yo - the Pure - will be an extremely limited release - less than 25 are available to purchase and only 30 were made of the XO edition. YoYo Joe's will have all of them. They were retail for $284.99 and I've gone from stressing out that we placed such a huge order to stressing that we will not be able to get enough to satisfy the demand. I'm sure these will sell out in a matter of minutes.
It's a hand-painted, hand crafted yo-yo that is the best of the best. Not intended for everyone, the Pure is for someone who appreciates the best quality available.
For those of you who are interested in the Pure, stay tuned. We have not received them yet, but expect them any day. Once they're in stock, our new website will go live and we will accept orders through it.

YoYo Joe's loves baseball

I love baseball. I played little league baseball from the age of 8 through 18, then dabbled in a couple of adult leagues through the years.
I have coached teams of all ages for over 1o years.
I followed my beloved Phillies from as young as I can remember (it was awesome to see them win the World Series last year, but I only got to see one or two games of the postseason since we were getting the store set up!)
One of the things that we put in our business plan was our intent to sponsor little league teams in both neighboring little leagues - Naamans Little League (their complex is right behind our store!) and my alma-mater Brandywine Little League. On Friday night, two players from YoYo Joe's in the Brandywine team stopped in. Gabriel and Christopher Forwood not only came in, they were sporting their nifty team uniform!

Thanks for coming in guys, have a great season!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth Day Story Time

Special thanks to Christina Wirtz from DNREC for coming and doing an Earth reading of Dr. Seuss' classic, The Lorax today at YoYo Joe's. Thanks also to those who came!

If you missed it, we have another reading scheduled for Saturday with Captain Lauren Morgens of The Kalmar Nyckel. She'll read "How I Became a Pirate." 

Super Underpants Boys Unite!

Jimmy Kimmel did a segment on his show where he tests, er, subjects children to 'new' toy 'inventions.' Hilarity ensues. 

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Ty is shameless

As you may remember in previous posts, I'm not the biggest fan of Ty - the 90's era wunderkind who keep trying to be relevant. Actually, I'd probably place them near the bottom of the list of toy companies I like. Why?
They refuse to miss a moment to exploit someone for money. Remeber the Sasha and Malia dolls they rolled out just before the Inauguration which, according to a Ty spokeperson Tania Lundeen, "There's nothing on the dolls that refers to the Obama girls." Instead they chose the names because "they are beautiful names." Then, weeks later, the pulled them and renamed them.
Now, forgoing any pretense with the naming of their latest offering, they've introduced "Bo, the First Dog," proving you don't even have to be human to be exploited by Ty. Oh, and "Bo" is part of the new Webkinz, um I mean "Ty 2.0" line - which means there's a code on the toy that lets you play online, which is odd because I remember back when Ty had original ideas, they went after people who tried to copy their success. I guess once the fad's passed, you just try to attach yourselves to something that's popular, whether it's a competing toy company or who's in the news this week.

Monday, April 20, 2009

The 3/50 project

What a wonderfully simple idea.

The main thrust behind the 3/50 project is that you pick your three favorite locally owned brick and mortar stores and spend $50 a month among them. Maybe that means heading off to YoYo Joe's to buy a birthday present instead of Target. Maybe that means getting your ice cream at Sweet Lucy's instead of the Dairy Queen. Maybe that means grabbing the latest CD at Rainbow Books & Music instead of downloading it from itunes. Maybe that means shopping for books at Ninth Street Book Shop instead of Borders. How about picking up your daily coffee at Brewhaha instead of Starbucks?

Why? According to Cinda Baxter, the mind behind the movement, if half the employed population did this, it would generate more than $42.6 billion in revenue.

Why should you care about local brick & mortars? She also says the for every $100 you spend at a locally owned independent store, $68 of that money stays local. For chain stores, that number drops to $43. For online stores, that number drops to $0 - so it's far better for everyone in the long run to keep your money local.

The project launched in mid-March and has taken off. I've gotten three e-mails about it from three entirely different sources - fellow toy retailers, a local record store and from a toy group.

Check out the 3/50 Project website and shop a local today.

Six months? What, are you kidding me?

Just now, checking my watch, I noticed it's April 20th. We opened (unofficially) on October 20th. That makes it six months since we opened. That's half a year. We're only 54 1/2 years behind Mitchell's. Happy half-year anniversary to us!

Top Five things that should NOT go down the slide off the pirate ship

In the six months we've been open, we've seen all sorts of things descend the slide off the pirate ship at YoYo Joe's. Most of the time, happily, it's just people. Mostly kids, with an occasional 'grown-up' reliving their youth.

We've also seen all sorts of things that probably should not be going down the slide at YoYo Joe's. Bear in mind that no one should be sending anything down the slide on the pirate ship other than their own fannies.

5 - Lunastix. Lunastix are juggling sticks that are planted right next to the slides, so it's an easy grab-n-go thing. Actually, I only saw one little girl take the Lunastix down the slide, but she cradled it lovingly in her arms, which struck me as weird as we have dolls for the whole 'cradled lovingly' thing.

4- Corolle dolls. A while back, a little girl stood at the top of the slide and launched a Corolle doll down the slide. And when I say 'down the slide,' what I really mean is tossed above the slide. I don't think it actually even hit the slide, now to think of it. So, I guess this was just more or less a man (or doll) overboard situation. Either way, the Corolle doll wasn't the best flyer, so she landed a perfect faceplant beyond the slide. Luckily, these are some darn durable dolls, so she escaped the flight with nary a mark.

3 - Pirate rubber duckies. These guys are pretty innocent - not much chance of damage or injury here. We've seen lots of pirate rubber duckies descend the slide. Sometimes in bunches, sometimes alone. Sometimes with a kid, sometimes before a kid, sometimes trailing after a kid. They're stocked right next to the slides, so I guess it's a natural reaction to send them down to test the waters before plunging in yourself.

2 - Shopping baskets. We have these wicked cool rolling shopping baskets. They holds lots of stuff and can be either carried or rolled on the ground. We had one group come in and use the shopping basket to roll around their doll in. Then they sent it careening down the slide.

1 - Plasmacars. I've seen three of these go down the slide and each time, I just count mentally to ten before approaching the offender. Sure, it might seem it's a good thing, the Plasmacars have wheels, fit down the slide and look like they'd be fun. After the first couple, I tried it myself late at night and was surprised at how quickly the car goes down the slide. And since it isn't exactly made for speed, it didn't handle the slide too well. It seemed like it would be very easy for the car to capsize or slam into the side of the store, which would be bad for all around. Luckily, most offenders get chastised by their parents before I can reach them, but one of these days "To the moon, Alice!"

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Illustrator Brian Biggs at YoYo Joe's today from 1-2

Brian Biggs, who is a wonderful illustrator of childrens books & toys, will be hanging out at YoYo Joe's today from 1-2. He'll sign the books he's illustrated, plus read from one of his books! According to Brian, hanging out in toy stores is his sixth favorite thing to do, come find out what his numbers 1-5 are! Check out his funky illustrations at his website - mrbiggs.com.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Free Library Festival - Philly

Coming up on April 18th & 19th, it's the annual Free Library of Philadelphia Festival. Lots of awesome authors will be in attendance, as well as plenty of other entertainment. Check out the schedule for the Children's Stage - it looks great - legendary childrens musicians Trout Fishing in America, The Jimmies (who are a pretty rocking band for a kids act) and lots of other stuff - including a 'unprecedented inter-city StorySlam spectacular' pitting five Chicagoans (??) vs five Philadelphians in a battle of which city is more storied.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Like Bananagrams? On Facebook? Bananagrams Happy Hour tonight!

Since we're cool (obviously), we keep up on all the trendy cyber accessories out there. That means, we have a blog (duh, you're here), a Facebook page (be a fan!) and we update our 'followers' on Twitter.
I just found out today that one of our favorite games, Bananagrams, is available to play online through Facebook. They host a weekly 'Happy Hour,' in which lots of people show up to play online. Sure, there's no beer or wine, but they have yet to master delivering that over the internet. Their Happy Hour is tonight from 5:30 - 7:30 pm (now!) - I'll be hanging around...I think they do it every week, but I'm kinda new at this...click here to check it out.

Update - Yes, I played Banagrams online last night. I've revised my opinion on this game. I hate it. It has NOTHING to do with the fact that I was creamed every game I played. Really....nothing....sniff...sniff...
OK, so I really don't hate the game, the game rocks. I thought I was pretty good at it, I've learned my lesson. Don't be surprised if you play this online that you start thinking in terms of how you can rearrange your words you write so you can fit in an odd 'Z' here and there. It's kinda like Tetris like that.

8 Best toys that YoYo Joe's got at/since Toy Fair...so far - #1!

So, if you've been following along, this is the number one item we've gotten since Toy Fair. And, it should be little surprise to those who've been following the blog - it's the EcoAquarium with the uber-cool little African Dwarf Frogs. These guys are so cool (how cool are they?) - they're so cool, we put ice in their tanks to warm them up! (Groan).
The kit comes with two African Dwarf Frogs, a live bamboo plant, a snail to clean up the frogs...er....waste, a scenic rock (good for hiding behind), scenic gravel and 'living' gravel. The living gravel acts as a filter, the bamboo helps oxygenate the water - it's a real little ecosystem!
Really, these are awesome, and they sell awesome as well. They were our #1 best selling item of March! And, we enjoy staring at them all day - see our previous post on them for details of their 'vogueing' habits.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Best selling March items.

Top 10 selling items at YoYo Joe's in March:

10 - Live Butterfly Garden (we have one on display, awesome to watch!)
9 - Journey Yo-Yo from YoYo Jam
8 - Maraca Shakers from Woodstock
7 - Kickside Yo-Yo from YoYo Jam
6 - Kids watches
5 - Teeny Tiny Babies from Safari (see them being eaten here)
4 - Dripstik
3 - Yo-Yo Strings
2 - Gamma Brain Wing Yo-Yo from Yomega
1 - EcoAquarium

8 Best toys that YoYo Joe's got at/since Toy Fair...so far - #2

No, I didn't forget about this list. Well....actually, I did. But, it's back! In all it's glory, just in time for #2 - Mic-o-Mic Construction toys/Models.

These little plastic toys come in a bunch of parts - you put them together and then you can play with them. They come in different sizes and price points. Plus, the models themselves are pretty cool looking - there's an old fashioned roadster car, a panel truck, a helicopter, a motorcyle with sidecar and others.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Forbes Magazine names 'Toys' as one of '10 Things To Buy Before the Economy Improves'

Forbes Magazine has named toys as number 4 on the list of '10 Things To Buy Before the Economy Improves.' Toys are sandwiched between 'Vacations' and 'High-Dividend Stocks" as things that are much less expensive now than before the economy tanked.

Where the Wild Things Are trailer now available

The trailer for the upcoming live-action movie of one of the most beloved children's books of all time has hit the web.
I was never a big fan of the book, but the trailer looks awesome. I will be looking forward to this movie.

Joe's blog entry for Toy Directory website

A couple weeks ago, I got a call from the Toy Directory - a toy industry publication and website. They came across my blog here and decided to ask me to write for their new Toy Blog section of their website. I recently submitted my first article to them - it's about trends that I expect to see through the rest of 2009. I'm no Jim Cramer (although I would totally take down Jon Stewart if I was on 'The Daily Show'), but I made some predictions. Check out the article here.

Lego is cool again

I found this article online today in the UK newspaper (remember newspapers?) The Guardian. I found it really interesting. Lego was near ruin just four years ago, and last year reported a record increase in sales. What fueled it? Where are they going next? Read the article and find out!