10 Questions with The Toy Network

Shipping at The Toy Network is designated carbon neutral.
02/05/2024

Established in 2018 as a division of Rhode Island Novelty, The Toy Network specializes in a variety of toys, from trendy impulse items to traditional items. Its portfolio encompasses a little more than 4,200 products including toys, plush and candy.

While The Toy Network is based in Fall River, MA, it distributes primarily in the U.S. and reaches out to Canada, the Caribbean and the Americas. The Toy Network has a presence at several major trade shows such as the new North East Toy Show (NETS), Toy Fest, ASTRA Marketplace and the Smoky Mountain Gift Show along with some distributor and campground shows; it has plans to attend Toy Fair in 2025 and is always looking to try other venues.

Its workforce is comprised of more than 100 workers, including Bob Szumowski, director of channel sales. Szumowski recently sat down with edplay to give his insight on recent trends and what makes The Toy Network stand out in the toy market.

 

How did The Toy Network get its start? How has it grown?
The Toy Network was created for the specialty toy market. Many of the impulse items we sell transcend specialty distribution that opens doors into other channels.

How’s business today?
Business is excellent! We continue to see year-over-year growth from expansion of the customer base and exciting new product additions to our toy, plush and candy lines.

What sets The Toy Network apart from other importers?
Our business model is a low margin approach to pricing product to pass along the savings to our customers.

What trends have you seen concerning educational toys?
The continued evolution of STEM products to stimulate early childhood development.

What is your most popular product in The Toy Network’s portfolio?
Believe it or not, currently it’s a little stretchy, sand filled, cute dachshund. The popularity of dogs, the cuteness of a dachshund and most importantly, the fun of playing with it contribute to
its success!

What factors are considered when creating an engaging and inspiring toy?
For us, it’s all about the current trends. For instance, we think we’re about to see capybaras become as popular as axolotls have been. Go figure … the world’s largest rodent becomes a popular toy trend!

Why do you believe The Toy Network’s product lines belong in specialty toy stores?
The core principle of every toy store is fun. Our toys are interesting, cool, nostalgic and trendy!

What advice would you give to retailers about selling your products?
When it comes to impulse, while it’s an inexpensive category, it should be viewed as a profit center in the store. Our low margin business model offers store owners a product line that allows them to make-up margin they might otherwise lose on other products, or utilize in offsetting additional marketing for their store. Here’s an opportunity to generate revenue, sometimes in a relatively small footprint.

Apart from the toy market, what other markets do you serve?
We serve several markets, including Gift, hardware, general stores, campgrounds, kids’ apparel, garden centers, outdoor sporting goods, grocery, convenience stores and kids salons.

What are you most proud of about working at The Toy Network?
The incredible product our product team continues to find and create. The transformation the company has made over the last six years with improvements in packaging and design. The marketing support we continue to receive to drive sales and the incredible support we get from the backbone of the company, our operations. Our operations team literally can receive an order by noon Eastern Time and ship it out of the warehouse and have it on its way to the customer the same day.

Furthermore, we ship from our own 650,000-square-foot fully automated warehouse. Our shipping is also designated carbon neutral, our warehouse is Silver LEED Certified and the roof of building is covered with 6,600 solar panels that generates 130 percent of our electrical consumption. Now that’s a company one can be proud of.

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