Zippity Zoom Toys is an independent toy store located in Regina, SK. We interviewed owner Tracy Bosche to learn a little more about her story.
My Business, My Story
Zippity Zoom Toys: Tracy's Story
How did you begin working in the toy business?
Zippity Zoom Toys opened in 2009. I was at home with my two little kids and was looking to start work again. My husband owned a stationery supply company and I previously worked in a gift shop and was responsible for buying products for the store. I knew the ins about how to approach companies, which can be overwhelming to some people. I thought that we could open a play place where my kids could come to work. We started brainstorming and I really enjoyed buying toys since I was already scouting unique products for my own kids at the time. We didn’t buy mainstream toys; we’ve always found toys for my kids that involve doing, starting or creating something. We wanted to provide our customers with the same experience. We had started brainstorming in May and opened our store on September 1st! Our store really came out of trying to find something to do at the time. I wanted to have a family business and my daughter was 16 years old, so we thought it would give her a place to work on the weekends.
What was the most challenging part about starting the business?
Not knowing if everyone will come and support you. You constantly ask yourself, “Will this actually work?” The first time we sold $40 in a day was so exciting! To this day, I wonder, “Will Amazon change us?” But we’ve followed the same tried-and-true method of being an independent toy store with the best customer service you won't get anywhere else!
Are you still dealing with these challenges?
Those questions still stay in the back of your mind. Sometimes you get reminded by a customer that your product is priced at $89 but on Amazon it’s $79. But we get people who come in all the time and say, “You have the same prices as Toys “R” Us” and we do! On the other hand, making money was never a goal for me when we opened the business. It was more about having something to do. When you remove the financial aspect, it becomes less about just paying the rent and more about enjoying yourself.
How have you seen the retail space change over time?
We’ve had to develop and grow our customer base, which we've done over the years. But you go through these ups and downs. For example, Amazon coming in was huge. Canada is so spread out compared to the U.S. that we don’t have the same distribution, so we lucked out and avoided some of those larger hurdles. When online shopping became huge, it felt as if everyone needed a website, but we didn’t get one. We never did these things, even though they popped up throughout the years. We stayed true to our mom-and-pop-and-daughter-shop and everything else fell by the wayside. We adapted but we didn't have to go with everyone else’s business models to make it work.
What do you think about the future of retail?
I think everything has its place. There are tons of people that shop online but many still want the experience of walking into a store. People can make coffee at home, yet they still go out to buy it. Customers come in looking for a birthday gift and find something else as well. I don’t think people want that experience to go away.
What is your opinion of Amazon and its role in the toy industry?
I think it has its own place in the industry and that there's room to share. Without a fulfillment center near us, Amazon can’t carry everything I have in my store. We have a lot of variety; it's hard for them to compete. We just have to be different and set ourselves apart, that’s what we have to focus on. Amazon is doing a phenomenal job but we don't sell the same things they do. We can all do well. Do I like Amazon? Absolutely! Do I want to compete with them? No, but I don't feel like I have
to. We have a lot of independent wholesalers that won’t sell on Amazon so that helps too, they look out for independent retailers.
What do you like most about your line of work?
Our customers. Also having the ability to help people find a perfect gift for somebody. It’s great being able to put a smile on someone’s face. You don't have many days where there's a grumpy customer, everyone is generally excited — it's a toy store! I also enjoy the ability to work with my family. We’re fortunate that we get to see each other every single day and do this together.
What was the funniest incident that ever happened?
Since we're a family business, we all contribute to ordering and we all get our hands in the cookie jar. Every person in our family has ordered something that has gone to the discounted section before it ever hits the floor. Sometimes one of us will notice a product in our store and say “That's the dud on the shelf” and it makes everyone laugh. There's a teddy bear that’s been here since 2010. It’s a beautiful teddy bear but it’s been here for so long and every now and then, someone suggests we put it on sale but I never want to!
Any last thoughts?
We've had lots of great years here and we've continued to keep it family-run. It's become a second home for us and we get to hang out with each other all day. We’re very fortunate for that.