Scottsdale-based Kidstop prepares for Small Business Saturday

SCOTTSDALE, AZ — Kate Tanner can tell you all about the latest toy trends, although she’s reluctant to say which toys, exactly, are the most popular.

“So, it’s not that ‘hot toy’, because sometimes that ‘hot toy’ doesn’t get the Head Toy Expert’s approval. That’s more of the neat thing about Kidstop,” Tanner said. “You can come here and see what your kids like. Are they artistic? Do they like to build? Maybe they’re outdoorsy. Maybe they’re a little fidgety and they need to get that extra energy out of them. We’ll help guide you to the toys that help master that.”

Tanner is the owner of Kidstop Toys and Books in Scottsdale. For 24 years, she’s owned and operated the small business, employing local teens and getting to know generations of Arizona families.

“The tall young man there is number three from the Carne family,” she said, pointing to one of the employees behind the register.

Tanner was preparing for Black Friday and Small Business Saturday when ABC15 interviewed her.

On that day, Kidstop was full of grandparents and grandchildren, mothers and daughters, and of course, toys. But not just any toys. Toys that customers won’t necessarily find in big-box stores or a click away on Amazon.

“When you think about community, Kidstop has grown so deep and enriched with everybody here in our community,” Tanner said.

And that sense of community prevailed, even in the toughest economic times. When the pandemic hit in 2020, Kidstop moved its inventory online, building a strong web presence, Tanner said.

“We had people come in here, right when we opened from COVID, and said, ‘How are you doing? What can we do?’ And we were like, ‘Just tell people about us,’” Tanner said. “And our customers took handfuls of our catalogs and passed them out.”

With inflation rearing its head in the Fall, business was slower, according to Tanner. But she also pivoted, making sure to stock Kidstop full of goodies under $25 for parents particularly concerned about their holiday budgets.

“We are trying to make sure that spot – $25 to $45, we stay covered. Because that’s a little bit more comfortable than the more expensive toys,” she said. “So we’ve worked hard this year to make sure that we keep lower, medium and high price points a little bit more even.”

Tanner said she also looks for toys that will last.

“I always challenge people and say how many hours of fun did you get?” Tanner said. “You know the old joke? ‘The box is more fun than the toy.’ I cringe.”

And it’s Tanner’s attention to detail that she said keeps customers coming back. Kidstop wraps gifts, free of charge, and includes a special fun-fetti on top – a signature detail parents and their children have come to recognize.

“Our gift wrap has been complimentary from day one because we don’t do a loyalty program,” she said.

Her customer’s children know when presents come from “Miss Kate’s” due to the shredded paper on top, so some families request the crinkly paper be removed during the holidays.

“During Christmas, they don’t want our signature shred on top, because that’s a giveaway of where the toys came from,” Tanner said. “So, the staff is thinking it’s just awesome right now they don’t have to finish the wrapping.”

Valley-owned and operated stores, like Kidstop, benefit from consumers shopping locally on Small Business Saturday.

According to a statistic from Local First Arizonaa statewide non-profit organization that works to support local Arizona businesses, for every $100 spent at a local business, $45 of that stays circulating in the local economy.

“But that same $100 spent at a national brand, we only retain about $13,” said Sophia Lovasz, the director of retail entrepreneurship at Local First Arizona. “When you shop local, you’re able to support jobs. And our local business owners are hiring local print shops, local accountants, local graphic designers. So that fund is able to recirculate as many times as we need it to. And we all benefit from that.”

Lovasz said there are currently over 3,000 local businesses being a part of Local First Arizona, including Kidstop, there are plenty of ways to support locally owned and sourced businesses on Small Business Saturday, and beyond. Plus, she noted, shopping local means supporting members of your community.

“They’re gonna have conversations with you, they’re gonna get to know you,” Lovasz said. “They’ll get [to know] you by name. And it really is a more personable experience.”

And Kidstop, to its credit, offers a personable experience to shoppers looking for kids’ toys, something for mom, grandma, dad, and even the family dog.

“When you work with people who are trying to help you and promote you, give and they give back to you,” Tanner said. “It’s just the way we work.”

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