A week or so ago I was cruising my local Target checking to see if their most recent reset was complete. I was cranking down the back isle passing board games and Nerf guns, eyes fixed on the action figure isle. A row or two before my destination I caught a glimpse in my perif of something out of the ordinary. I jammed on the brakes for a double take. Low and behold, there was a new dedicated section for "Vinyl Figures & Trading Cards". What do ya know? And, dang, if it wasn’t Bossy Bear’s neighbor Crocadoca on the bottom shelf!
For months I had been anticipating Crocadoca’s arrival and was patiently waiting for Jason, owner of our local vinyl toy shop Red Hot Robot, to email me when he got it in. Needless-to-say I was surprised to see this character for the first time at Target. There being only one I scooted it to the way back of the bottom shelf for safe keeping. When I got to work I contacted Jason to ask if he’d gotten Crocadoca in as well. I much preferred to give Red Hot Robot (think local!) my business rather than the big box.
Jason responded with sad news on Crocadoca – it didn’t look like he’d be able to get it in. He relayed a frustrating story having to do with a string of bad Toy2R distributors and, bottom line, said he wouldn’t be ordering from them for a while. I feel really bad about that since I’ve asked him to order their product more than once!
So I did end up going back to Target for Crocadoca. I took these photos (with my camera phone, sorry!) to give you an idea what my particular store had. I’d be interested in hearing about what you all are finding in your Targets.
Overview of the section:
I was curious to get Jason’s reaction to Target’s new foray into the vinyl toy world and he was kind enough to give me his thoughts.
CD } Did Target’s entry into the Vinyl Collectible world surprise you?
RHR } No, not really. Target is a design-forward store and pretty current on trends. It makes sense that some of their stores would carry collectible vinyl. First sign of “things to come” for me was when they licensed Domo for Halloween last year. I’m also sure that buyers and trend-watchers from Target were aware of the popularity of vinyl toys and especially the market presence in other stores like Hot Topic and Urban Outfitters – who I’ll bet they particularly look to for merchandise ideas. Also, Target currently has a pretty cool line of back-to-school products designed by Simone Legno (aka Tokidoki) that further illustrates their hipness to trends
CD } Do you know if this is just an experiment on their part? For instance, the vinyl presence in each Target seems to be a bit different, with many not carrying much at all.
RHR } Could be. I would think any retail store, especially a large chain would test products out first to see if they will sell. I know RHR does to an extent. And I’m sure Target places certain products in certain markets. Vinyl toys are probably only in larger or more metropolitan cities. Will be interesting to see how popular vinyl toys sell for them.
CD } I don’t know about all other local Targets but it seems that the one closest to you has the biggest Vinyl section. Do you think this is coincidence? Could Target have chosen this location based on its proximity to Red Hot Robot?
RHR } I think it’s probably because that’s a new Super Target and centrally located in the city. I highly doubt Target knows of Red Hot Robot.
CD } I noticed that there are a few Toy2R products (including Crocadoca) being carried. Do you think this Target deal had something to do with the bad distribution situation you recently had with them?
RHR } I am sure Target inked a deal directly with Toy2R, probably through the new US office they set up last year. Being as large as Target is, they would not have to go through a distributor, and were probably completely unaware of the issues that small shops like mine were/are having.
CD } How do you see this development? Is it an unfortunate bit of competition you could do without? Could it perhaps be a good development in the long run, ie – raise the awareness of Vinyl Collectibles / get more kids hooked / eventually generate more business for you?
RHR } Overall, I think it’s great. It could introduce lots of new people to the world of vinyl toys and potentially generate new customers for me. If I were the only place in town carrying vinyl toys, there would be a very narrow section of people who would be aware of my store and the products I carry. Having larger, more visible stores like Target, Urban Outfitters, Hot Topic, Borders and even Zia Records - who all carry a small selection of vinyl toys just raises the awareness of the genre. People who get into it will hopefully seek more and find Red Hot Robot.
As long as the competition stays small, it will be friendly. If the bigger stores expand to a much wider selection and start carrying more limited releases, I might not be able to compete. However, I think the vinyl market is still small enough that specialized stores like mine still have some things going for us. Larger stores may be able to carry some products by bigger brands like Toy2R and Kidrobot, but small stores like RHR are able to bring in small-run, super limited releases AND indie artist made items – most of which just have charisma the big stores won’t be able to capture. And I think the people who produce those items probably prefer their goods being sold in small independently owned shops rather than large corporate entities. And thank goodness for that :-}
CD } Thank you very much, Jason!
Jason Kiningham | Red Hot Robot | www.redhotrobot.net
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