Standing in Toys “R” Us, you suddenly realize the money you’re about to spend on a brand new Barbie (MAT) will leave you short on gas. Shivers go down your spine, imagining both your child’s disappointment and the potential tantrum that could follow.
The toy industry’s feeling the squeeze of higher energy, gas and material costs, and parents are paying the price. Mattel’s profits plummeted 48%, from $22.8 million to $11.8 million, and just like other toymakers, the Barbie, Hot Wheels and Fisher-Price manufacturer has been struggling to offset losses with higher prices. But just because Barbie now comes at a premium, doesn’t mean your kids need to start cutting out paper dolls from newspaper.
Here are some affordable ways to make sure your little one’s toy chest is full, regardless of how the economy fares.
Some may be peeved that eBay offers 5% discounts to revenue generating “power-sellers,” but despite recent backlash, eBay (EBAY) remains the world’s biggest online marketplace.
Because the site offers an open trading platform, the value of items relies on the market. Paypal is a convenient method for users to pay and receive payments online while keeping information confidential.
Joissu Products Inc
Dolls, games, bikes and scooters are just some of Joissu’s budget-friendly offerings. Founded in 1984, the company is a leading importer of wholesale toys, novelties and gifts. And with more than 3,000 items to choose from, you’re sure to find the perfect belly dancing scarf or toy instrument. Just remember it’s wholesale, meaning you need to buy in bulk. So grab a couple other parents and snap up kites or water guns for the whole neighborhood.
The Salvation Army
The Salvation Army’s thrift stores are a treasure trunk for kids and parents alike. And they don’t accept toys on recall lists: The Salvation Army keeps tabs on the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission to ensure that all donated items remain risk-free, so you can rest assured your budget buy is safe.
ToySwap is perfect for buying, selling or swapping new and second-hand toys. Founded by a stay-at-home mom, the site now has more than 10,000 members and thousands of toys to choose from. (And considering it takes less than 45 seconds to list an item, there’s no excuse not to get rid of your own toy clutter.)
The site also posts toy recalls, warning users and parents against using, selling, or swapping toys that may pose a threat. You can also donate toys to be distributed to charitable organizations listed on the site.
The Travelling Toy Store
There are blocks, trains and instruments galore at this All-American toy store! The site caters to babies all the way up kindergartners and with a $25 and under section, there’s a safe American-made toy for every budget.
Just remember, even if money’s tight, doesn’t mean you can’t fill that toy box. It just might take a little extra creativity.
Happy toy hunting!