Buddie's Toys is an independent toy store located in Sidney,BC. We interviewed owner Lauren Powell to learn a little more about his/her story.
My Business, My Story
Buddie's Toys: Lauren's Story
How did you begin working in the toy industry?
My family has owned Buddies Toys since 1989. I’ve been working at the store for as long as I can remember. The shop was first owned by my aunt, Carol, and my mom, Jane. I was always given the opportunity to also work other jobs, but nothing compared to being at Buddies Toys. In 2019, I took over the store. I’ve now worked here for 25 years!
What was the most challenging part about taking over the business?
I was fortunate to be able to learn the ropes before I became the owner. But, I would say the most challenging part was learning the back end of the business — skills like budgeting and marketing — because that wasn’t as big a focus before taking over.
Are you still dealing with these challenges?
My husband has taken over the bookkeeping. As for other challenges, stay tuned! It’s only my second year as the owner.
How have you seen the retail space change over time?
I’ve definitely noticed a change over time. When I started, everything was done with a pen and paper, but now, it’s an iPad. We used to put ads in the newspapers but now, we target customers online. While a lot has changed, I think the most important things haven't. People still want to shop in person because they enjoy the experience of wandering around a store, especially a toy store!
What do you think about the future of retail?
I believe small businesses will flourish. I also think monolithic companies will flourish. Both fill a need and offer something different to customers. Amazon will cover standard purchases but smaller stores give the public the opportunity to wander. Department stores and malls will likely become the places customers continue to shy away from. I either shop online or at small businesses.
What is your opinion of Amazon and its role in the toy industry?
People are shopping online more than ever. But small local businesses aren’t given enough credit for being adaptable. We know what items are difficult to compete with, so we don’t stock those products. For example, instead of carrying Play-Doh, I carry a playdough brand made in Canada at the same price. I believe that by offering personal service coupled with the same prices, that's what brings people in.
What do you like most about your line of work?
My day is never boring and I always get a boost from customers!
What was the funniest incident that ever happened?
One Christmas Eve, a mom and her four-year-old daughter came into the store. The mom was distractedly shopping and her daughter kept asking for treats but was told no. As they were leaving the store, the daughter proclaimed loudly, “I have nothing in my pockets.” The surprising statement prompted us to inspect her pockets. It turned out that she had dozens and dozens of necklaces stuffed into them. It was so funny how many necklaces she had managed to cram in there!