Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Two More Freebies For You

Why do I give it away for free? It is part of my Core Values to be helpful.

Don't get me wrong. I love getting paid to sell toys and baby products. I love getting paid to travel across the country and impart some of the lessons I've learned to a room full of peers.

I also love helping and sharing. I want my ideas and thoughts to spread farther and wider to help my friends and peers in the independent retail industry. Plus. more often than not, I've already been paid.

All of my Freebies are the notes written from presentations I have done. That is why they are short and sweet - so you can print them easily. I could make eBooks more like power points with full-page graphics, tight bullet points and simple messages spread out over 72 pages. But I would rather keep them down to seven pages or less so that I can use them as handouts. Short and sweet so you can print them at home and read later. Short and to the point for you to email and share with your friends.

Since I got paid to do the presentation, I have already been paid to write the eBook, too. Now we just need to spread the word.

Here are two new Freebies worth sharing.

Generating Word-of-Mouth - You know Word of Mouth is the best form of advertising. But do you know the five ways to generate it? Do you know how to get people to talk positively about your business? This Freebie shares all the secrets behind getting people to talk about you.

(Yes, I decided to put it under Great Marketing. Put your best stuff where the customers are most likely to see it.)

Making Your Ads Memorable - Most ads are ignored, because most ads are lousy. The truly remarkable ads are the ads most remembered. This Freebie will show you three things you can do to make your print and broadcast advertisements cut through the clutter and be seen, heard and remembered by your potential customers.

Enjoy!

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS Some have argued that by giving it all away, no one will ever hire me to speak. Fair enough. Of course, the live explanations are always more fun and interesting and worth every penny. If they weren't, I wouldn't offer to do them.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Is Word-of-Mouth Advertising or Customer Service?

I recently did a workshop in Jacksonville, Florida for PRO on Customer Service. We started with a 45 minute presentation on Generating Word-of-Mouth.

Most people think of Word-of-Mouth as a form of Advertising & Marketing, not Customer Service. They would be correct.

But...

The easiest way to get Word-of-Mouth is to offer over-the-top, OMG, I-gotta-tell-someone Customer Service. Do something so unexpectedly nice for your customer that she has to tell other people about her experience. Do something so unexpectedly generous and helpful that it is the first story she tells her friends. Do something so unexpectedly wonderful and delightful that she wants to talk about it on Yelp and Facebook and TripAdvisor.

Yeah, Word-of-Mouth is about Customer Service, too.

So where should I put the new free eBook on Generating Word-of-Mouth? On my Freebies page under Great Marketing or under Great Customer Service?

Hmmm....

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS The key phrase in there is unexpectedly. If she expects it and gets in, you get a thanks in return. If she expects it and doesn't get it, you get a whole different kind of word-of-mouth. You have to do something unexpected to get her to talk. Then, after you do it enough, it becomes expected and you have to raise the bar even higher. That's okay. I know you're up to that challenge..

Monday, July 29, 2013

1949 Retail Wisdom

I found this old typed memo from my grandfather who founded Toy House in 1949 while sorting through the archives. It was stapled to the top of some mimeographed sheets (remember the mimeograph and it's purple ink?) of a business plan outline.



I think this alone could be the blueprint of a business plan for many retailers.

For those of you who can't read the picture above, it says:

Dominance of the trading area is to be achieved. 
Sales are the results of poor buying. 
Never inflate the markup. 
Never stretch the truth. 
No giveaways. 
Stress realism -- no Santa Claus with a false beard. 
Further legends only in a truthful manner. 
Never hesitate in refund or credit transactions so as to give the impression of questioning the integrity. 
Tell the story of tools versus novelties.

Although I disagree with the giveaways, there is a lot of sage wisdom in the remaining statements. I especially like the second to last one.

If you want to create a positive lasting impression, don't question the integrity of your customers. Sure, there will be one or two that try to screw you. But in the end, those will be far and away offset by all the customers delighted by your treatment of them.

Powerful stuff indeed.

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS I also love how he started with Dominance of the trading area. Never shy about his goals, my grandfather always said "Plan for success." What is your plan for success?

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Showing Your Values

I am digging through old archives of our store. One of the Core Values of our business is Nostalgia. We are putting together a display of old pictures and old advertisements from the 1950's and 1960's.

Tim Miles wrote a great post on whether or not you should use how long you've been in business as part of your advertising. You know, phrases like "serving your family since 1979."

My answer to that is... only if your start date has something to do with the Core Values of your store. What happened in 1979 that got you to start serving families? Why do you serve families? Why does 34 years of history mean anything?

Nostalgia is part of our culture. We sell toys and baby products, so we get customers for the birth, the birthdays, and Christmas. We've been selling toys for over 60 years so we have multiple generations of customers. Not a week goes by without at least one customer telling me about visiting the old store (we moved to our current location in 1967).

There are better ways to show Nostalgia than simply saying when we opened.

For instance, here is a radio ad we ran back in 2006 about an event that happened in 1965...

Christmas Eve, nineteen sixty-five. He didn't know if he would make it. Nine months of active duty, he missed his family. And he was an uncle now. His sister had a baby girl, a precious little child for which a stuffed animal from an airport gift shop just wouldn't do. As his dad picked him up in the family sedan, he asked, “We got time to stop by the Toy House?”  “Of course, son.  Welcome home.” Merry Christmas from the Toy House in downtown Jackson where Christmas magic happens.

True story? Check.
Speaks to the heart? Check.
Consistent with our Core Value of Nostalgia? Check.
Lets people know we've been in business a really long time without just saying the date? Check.

Roy H. Williams said branding is every single interaction a customer has with your business plus how she feels about it. Control the interactions, build them around your Core Values, and you control the feelings.

Are you showing your Core Values both in the store and in your ads? You should. It works.

-Phil Wrzesinski

PS Nostalgia is a powerful emotion. We tend to get a far stronger response from our Nostalgic ads and Nostalgic posts on Facebook than anything else we do. Of all your Core Values, you need to find the one that resonates most deeply with your customers, then build your message from that value. One way to find out is to post messages and pictures to your Facebook page showing different values and see what gets the best response.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Bye-Bye Buying (A Grandfather's Wisdom)

In 1951 my grandfather and founder of Toy House, Phil Conley, wrote his "Twenty-Two Important Retail Fundamentals". I just uncovered them going through some old files.

Wow!

It was amazing how many of them are still true today. Take, for example, number 18 which is appropriate as many of us start buying for the fourth quarter...


18. That weak departments dissipate their merchandising strength...
  1. By buying from too many manufacturers
  2. By buying from too many price lines
  3. By buying too many colors
  4. By buying too many sizes
  5. By buying too many materials
  6. By buying too many styles
All this adds up to bye-bye-volume and profit.


Powerful stuff. Stay true to who you are. Limit your customer's choices. Give them the best options. Remove the clutter. Don't over-buy.

In today's retail climate we feel compelled to offer more and more because the Internet offers more. Yet, we will never be able to match the offerings of the Internet. Instead, the more we should be offering is more thoughtful choices, more carefully chosen products, more practical solutions, more intelligent offerings. We need to help our customers cut through the clutter by knowing everything that is out there and why we chose to sell these particular items.

There are already too many options causing analysis paralysis in our customers. Remove the options that don't make sense and don't fit your customer's needs and your inventory will sparkle and shine just a little better than before. The only bye-bye's will be when you help a customer carry her purchases to the car, usually followed by a Thank You!

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS Choices are good. Don't get me wrong. Having options for different needs is also good. But the biggest way to eat up a chunk of your cash is to buy too many choices and too many options. Keep it down to a Good, Better, Best (or better yet a Best, Bester, Bestest) selection and your cash flow and profits will improve.

PPS Yeah, I'll talk about a few others down the road. There are some really good nuggets in there, like this one...  7. That good basic stocks plus strong reorder numbers, plus realistic timing, plus selling - not order-taking - will increase volume and profit anytime.

Friday, July 26, 2013

No Ads or Better Ads?

The most common complaint about television and radio is that there are too many ads. If that was really true, Satellite radio and premium TV would have killed advertising-sponsored broadcast media. They haven't and it doesn't look like they will.

But the complaint still sits there and begs the question... Is the problem that there are too many ads or is the problem that most of the ads on the air today suck?

We don't complain about too many ads during the Super Bowl even though there are more ads than any other sporting event of the year. Instead we watch closer. We critique the ads, rate them, show them to our friends, go watch them on youtube, and read what others have to say about them. We don't complain because most of the ads are better than what we normally get.

The truth is that most ads do suck. Most ads are boring, unoffensive drivel that doesn't move the needle. Heck, it doesn't even get you to pay attention and listen.

It doesn't have to be that way. At least not for your ads. You can start producing better ads right now and something amazing will happen. Your ads will not only work better, they will stand out head and shoulders above the rest of the noise.

Roy H. Williams, aka The Wizard of Ads, wrote two pieces about creating ads that anyone who advertises should have taped to their wall. The first was posted back in 2009 and is every bit as relevant today. The second was just published in last week's Monday Morning Memo.

Bookmark them. Read them. Print them. Read them again. Follow them. Your ads will stand out. Your ads will work harder than ever before. Your ads will never be part of the too many ads on the air complaint. Instead, your fans will be saying, "I wish more people advertised like you do."

That means they are paying attention and listening.

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS Soon I will be launching a new eBook in the Freebies section on simple ways you can make your ads stand out amid the clutter. Think of it as a companion piece to the two Roy articles above (that I read regularly, over and over and over.)

PPS Before you start crafting your message, however, I highly recommend you read what Tim Miles wrote here first. He's one smart cookie. His clients do better than industry averages across the board.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Own Your Mistakes

You will make mistakes. In business. In relationships. In parenting. In life. Own them. Admit you did them and learn from them. The worst thing we can do is try to find someone else to blame or be in denial about it.

This applies to guys like Ryan Braun and Alex Rodriguez who cheated with drugs in baseball. It also applies to you and I when a customer has a complaint. If you look for it, you can usually find something you could have done differently that would have kept the situation from ever happening.

I'm owning my mistakes. I recently received my evaluations from a couple talks I did for the toy industry last month. I got shredded. My friends and fellow store owners were nice to my face, but the anonymous comments from the surveys were brutal.

They were dead on, too.

I bit off more than I could chew with those two workshops. I tried to do more than the time would allow. I cut out things that would have been helpful to try to squeeze in a couple worksheets that just didn't work in a big room format. I spent too much time on the worksheets and not enough on the instruction behind the worksheets. I didn't make all the points I was supposed to make as well as I could have made them.

I blew it. And I apologize for anyone who attended those sessions. Not my best hour(s) on stage.

Here is the cool thing. By owning up to my mistakes, I can learn far more than if I were to deny them or find someone or something else to blame. The next time I am asked to present on either of those topics, I now have a far better idea of what to do and what not to do. I know where to put the emphasis and where to beef up the examples.

When you have a customer complain, that is an opportunity for you to learn. Why is she complaining? What could you have done proactively to make sure she would have no reason to complain? What changes to policy and procedure can you make to keep this from happening again?

When you make a mistake with an employee you can learn better ways to handle that issue in the future. Screw up in the training? Admit it, fix it, and move forward. Screw up in communication? Admit it, fix it, and move forward.

Own your mistakes and you can learn from them.
Own your mistakes and you can grow from them.
Own your mistakes and you will find your customers and employees far more willing to forgive you.

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS Negative criticism is tough to handle. I know. I have always had a big issue with it. What changed was when I looked at it as a chance to improve. Then the criticism became an opportunity. As soon as I was able to say, "Yes, I did that," I was able to learn from it and move on. I've already tweaked those presentations, learned my limits and found better ways to get the idea across. The audience last weekend agreed. As hard as it was to own up, it was well worth it!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Beware the Cocaine

This Thursday we are having our one and only big sales event of the year. We call it the Summer Fun Sale. My buddy, Randy, calls it the Make It Go Away Sale. Yes, it is a clearance sale where we mark all the slow moving merchandise, the dogs, down about 50%, put them on shelves in a special section right in the middle of the store, advertise the heck out of it, and turn those slow movers into cash.

When we implemented our current POS system in 1999 and discovered all the dogs we had in our merchandise, that Summer Fun Sale was huge. We set records from '99 to '01 for single day sales, surpassing the busiest Black Fridays and Saturdays before Christmas in fewer hours and at half price. It was crazy.

Today our buying is tighter. Our inventory is more under control. The only dogs are soft and furry and sell really well. We still have a few slow movers and we still have our Summer Fun Sale, but it will generate about 30% of the business it once did.

The downside is the effect. The sale, when it was huge, was so exciting. The influx of cash was a godsend to our cashflow. The traffic, the excitement, the smiles all felt so good that when the party ended we wanted to ramp up another party and do it again. It was addictive. Like cocaine.

My dad lamented the other day that this year's sale just won't generate the same kind of cash it did a dozen years ago. I reminded him that we also didn't spend as much cash on merchandise that didn't sell. And we won't be taking such a hit on our profit margin because of tons of markdowns, either. Short-term the sale isn't quite what it used to be, but long-term the numbers are much better.

The hard part is the allure of the instant cash, the allure of the excitement of the big sale. Part of me wants to mark down more stuff, just to make the sale bigger. Part of me wants to give away good merchandise, products that will sell at full price, just to get the cash. Part of me has tasted the fun of a big sale and makes me want to slash prices deeper to get that taste again.

Yeah, it's addictive.

Here's your friendly, sober reminder. A clearance sale is a means to an end. The end is to rid yourself of merchandise that wasn't going to sell at regular price. Plain and simple. Turn the dogs into cash. Don't give away the workhorse, too, just to make the sale bigger. Only the dogs.

Some years you have more dogs, some you have less. Resist the call of the cocaine to make this sale bigger and better than ever. Don't ever measure your clearance sale to a previous year. Make it only about moving out this year's dogs.

You've been warned.

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS We prefer a big, one-time clearance sale of select items over a year-round clearance room or sale rack or a blanket percentage off everything. The sale rack only trains people to wait for the markdown. The blanket percentage off everything means you'll sell more of your good merchandise at prices lower than necessary without getting rid of the dead-weight products. Those kinds of sales feel good, but so does morphine and cocaine. The big sale gets all your Transactional Customers in at once to move out the goods you want to move and gets you a shot in the arm of some cash. Just be aware of the side effects.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Toy Store or Summer Camp?

Over the past several months my staff has been looking at all the parallels between our store and summer camp.

Summer camps are built around a theme (i..e. space and science camp) and a set of core values (i.e. YMCA camps). Our store is built around the theme of toys and baby products with core values of Fun, Helpful, Educational, and Nostalgic.

Summer camps have core activities that are the whole reason you are there (canoeing, horseback riding, writing, etc). We have products that are the whole reason you are here.

Summer camps have Rituals, time-honored traditions that are unique and special. They have rituals that only those who attend will know, making the campers feel like insiders. We have rituals, too, such as the birthday bell, Saturday flag raising ceremonies, story times, game nights, etc. that make our customers feel like insiders.

Summer camps have special events and activities like playing Capture the Flag, doing a swamp stomp, or star gazing on a moonless night. We have special events like play days and author book signings.

Summer camps have all kinds of kids in the cabin that require skilled counselors to work with them. There is the homesick kid, the bully, the know-it-all and the natural leader. We have all kinds of different customers who require skilled employees to work with them in different ways, too. Just knowing and acknowledging those differences makes the cabin and the store a whole lot better.

Summer camps know a few other things we should copy. When is the best time to get a kid signed up for next year's camp? On the last day of this year's camp, when the memories and emotions are at their strongest. When is the best time to create a happy customer? At the moment of checkout by praising her purchasing decisions, helping her complete the sale by making sure she has everything she needs, and giving her some tips for how to use her new items.

Summer camp is a powerful metaphor for how you should run your retail store. Watch how summer camps do everything from hiring and training their staff to planning their activities to marketing their programs to making sure the memories last. The best camps do things you should be doing, too.

Anyone who has been to summer camp has memories etched forever in their minds. Do what the summer camps do and you can etch similar memories in the minds of your customers.

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS There are other industries from which we can learn to be better retailers. Look at amusement parks. You can ride their coattails (pun fully intended) to lots of great lessons and ideas.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

A Great Use of Stories

I ran into Molly on a Saturday morning at the bank.

"Phil, we're having tours of our new building this summer. What are you doing this Tuesday at 5:30?"

Molly runs the Center for Family Health, a healthcare facility for Jackson that is especially helpful for low-income, uninsured, and under-insured patients in our community. They just consolidated two facilities into one shiny building a couple blocks from our store.

I went, expecting the usual, a high-ranking person, maybe Molly herself, walking us through the building with a bunch of blah blah numbers about healthcare and how important they are to the community.

Oh we got that. But we also got a whole bunch more. At each stop along the tour we met a new person who shared a few facts with us. Then that person gave us a testimonial from a patient, put a face on that department and showed us with tear-jerking reality what a difference they make in the lives of people we know.

By the third stop I was looking for a tissue box.

The stories were real. The stories were emotional. The stories were about situations you and I could relate to. The stories were illustrative of the services offered by the center. I sat in a dental area and saw a picture of an 8-year old girl with teeth black and rotting. Then I saw a picture of the same girl at 16 with a full, beautiful toothy smile. I didn't need a dentist with facts and figures and flow charts to figure out what they do. I knew from those pictures and her story.

I'm glad I went. More importantly, I'm glad they understood the power of stories. I cannot remember a single fact they shared with me (well, except the 500 births they do each year - that was surprising and useful information), but I remember all the stories in detail. I walked out of the building wanting to share what I had learned with the world.

I just did.

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS You have stories. Tell them. They are more memorable and make a stronger, more emotional connection than facts and data ever could. Remember, we make more decisions with our heart than our mind and when the heart and mind are at odds, the heart almost always wins. We use our brains to justify what our hearts have already decided.

Friday, July 5, 2013

How Much Can You Remember?

We played a game at a baby shower for an employee. Someone brought out a tray with random items on it and we were supposed to look at it for about 30 seconds and then write down everything we could remember.

While my memory is not quite photographic, I was the hands-down winner, getting sixteen of the twenty-two items down on paper in the allotted time - 73%. The next closest was eleven items or 50%. Most people had in the five to nine range. And that was after being asked to pay attention.

Just imagine how much less you would have noticed if the tray came around while you were engaged in conversation, or driving a car, or making breakfast?

Yet that is what most businesses expect out of their radio ads. I know. I used to be one of them. I used to tell my radio and TV people that I couldn't use 30-second spots because I couldn't say all I needed to say in less than 60 seconds. Until I realized that the more I said, the less people remembered.

Try to make five points in your radio or TV ad and even the customers paying attention are likely to only remember one or two of those five points. The ones cooking bacon won't remember a thing. So give up on the notion of saying everything in every ad.

Make only one point. Make the only point they need to remember, the one point that will move the needle. Make one point and make it so interesting that even the bacon chef will sit up and take notice. Make that one point often enough and they'll have to remember it.

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS Three things you can do to get people to notice your ads and notice your business...

  1. Tell a story that relates to your Core Values.
  2. Tell it in as few words as possible.
  3. Make only one point.
Do all three over and over again and your advertising will get you the results you want.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Less is More (Powerful)

Take two bottles of perfume. Pour out half the perfume in each bottle. Now fill one of the bottles the rest of the way with water. Leave the other bottle with only perfume.

Which perfume is more potent and powerful?

Take a 60-second radio ad. Cut out all the black and unnecessary words, the words that do not interest or delight or move the point forward. Keep cutting until you get it down to 30 seconds while making the same point.

Which ad will be more potent and powerful?

You get the idea.

"The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do." -Thomas Jefferson

"I have only made this letter rather long because I have not had time to make it shorter." -Blaise Pascal

-Phil Wrzesinski
wwwPhilsForum.com

PS One of the best exercises Roy H. Williams, aka The Wizard of Ads, ever did during my trainings with him was to take a green sharpie to my written ads and cross off all the boring, dull, black words. The paper looked like green Morse code when he was done, but the words left behind had incredible power and impact. Give your ads the same treatment and watch their impact rise with every slash of the pen.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Most Ads Suck

What is the big draw about satellite radio? No ads. We all hate that break in the station when we get bombarded with ads. Boring, blah, blah, blah ads.

It isn't that we don't like ads. We actually do. We tune in to the Super Bowl just to see the ads. We like great ads. We watch and listen to great ads. We talk about great ads. We remember great ads. Just this morning one of my employees came in and said, "Time to make the donuts." And everyone over thirty knew exactly what she meant.

The problem is that most ads suck. They aren't interesting. They aren't memorable. No one wants to listen to them, let alone repeat them. Yet there is hope.

One way to make your ads more interesting is to understand your listener. She tuned in to the radio to hear music and stories. So give her what she wants. Maybe not music (unless you're a professional musician and accomplished songwriter), but you can definitely tell stories.

Tell your best stories, the ones that show who you really are, the ones that line up with your Core Values. They don't have to be long, just interesting. Here are some examples of 30-second radio ads that I have used over the years. Remember that my Core Values are Fun, Helpful, Educational, and Nostalgic. See if you can figure out which one is which...

Ice Cream – June ‘10
I served them ice cream.  8:30 in the morning and I served my staff ice cream.  Some looked at me like I was crazy.  Others dug right in.  Yeah, I’m a little unconventional that way.  Kinda like how we staff the store.  I have more staff on the floor than stores double our size.  Some think I’m crazy.  Others love it.  There’s always someone available to help you.  It takes a little more ice cream, but it’s worth every scoop.  Toy House in downtown Jackson.  We’re here to make you smile.

Home for Christmas –Dec '06
Christmas Eve, nineteen sixty-five.  He didn't know if he would make it.  Nine months of active duty, he missed his family.  And he was an uncle now.  His sister had a baby girl, a precious little child for which a stuffed animal from an airport gift shop just wouldn't do.  As his dad picked him up in the family sedan, he asked, “We got time to stop by the Toy House?”  “Of course, son.  Welcome home.”  Merry Christmas from the Toy House in downtown Jackson where Christmas magic happens.

Game Night – April ‘09
The big four-oh,  Whatever she wanted.  Dancing?  Dining?  Dinner and a movie?  Her birthday, her choice.  She chose Game Night.  A dozen friends playing Pictionary, Yahtzee, Egyptians, Empire Builder.  Eight of us rolling on the floor laughing playing a new game called Consensus.  Four of us still laughing at two a.m.  Yeah Game Night.  How hard did you laugh on your last birthday?  Toy House in downtown Jackson.  We’re here to make you smile.

The Trunk – July 2012
My grandfather had a trunk.  He filled it with his favorite toys and drove them all around, telling their tales, how these toys would be the most beloved toys in the toy box, the kind of toys you kept because you knew your grandkids would enjoy them, too.  The trunk may be in storage, but the lessons about great toys are still the same.  Stop in and see us.  We’ll teach you what we know.  Grandpa knew a few things about toys in his day.  We still do.  Toy House in downtown Jackson.  Great toys to make you smile.

You have stories. Every business does. Tell them and people will listen.

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS There are a number of ways to make your ads more memorable. Telling stories is just one. We'll look at a couple more ways over the next few posts. But for those of you who want more stories, here are some of my favorites.

My all time favorite...
The Men’s Bathroom – August ‘08
I couldn't believe it.  They were taking customers into the men’s bathroom.  Yes, my staff was taking men and women, young and old into our men’s bathroom.  And the customers were coming out laughing and giggling, oh yeah, and buying, too.  I guess when you find a product that cool, you just have to show it off however and wherever you can.  (laugh) The men’s bathroom, gotta love it.  Toy House in downtown Jackson.  We’re here to make you smile.

A series of three...
When She Was Three – Oct ‘10
When she was three she galloped down the aisles on stick horses.  At six, she brushed the mane of her My Little Pony.  At nine she used her own allowance to start her Breyer Horse collection.  And on her sixteenth birthday, she drove the car here just for a book on how to draw horses.  Now on her way to college, her parents wanted a gift.  I handed them Horse-opoly.  They smiled and said, “How did you know?”  Just a guess.  Toy House in downtown Jackson.  We’re here to make you smile.
His First Car – Oct ‘10
His first car was a coupe that he drove Fred Flintstone style up and down the drive.  As he got bigger his cars got smaller until they fit in the palm of his hand.  Fast cars, fancy cars, fun cars - he owned hundreds.  Now he’s a graduate.  His parents smiled when we showed them how to hide the real car keys inside the box of the model car.  Don’t know which he liked more.  The model was built and painted before the weekend was over.  Toy House in downtown Jackson.  We’re here to make you smile.
Horses and Cars – Nov ‘10
She saw the model car on his desk.  He was a man of detail.  He saw her drawings of horses.  She had talent and passion.  On their wedding they compromised, he promised not to wear the NASCAR jacket if she didn't wear the cowboy boots.  But when they said it was a boy, we were ready with both horses and cars.  Once again they found a compromise.  They smiled when they saw it – Froggies.  Toy House and Baby Too.  No matter where you are in life, we’re here to make you smile.

My favorite memory...
Earliest Christmas Memory – Dec 07
What is your earliest Christmas memory?  Mine was grandma and grandpa sitting on a bench handing my sister and me our gifts.  I was only three, but I tore open that package with the speed of a six-year-old.  A towel, a white, Raggedy Ann towel.  I smiled a big smile, unfolded my towel and plopped down.  I couldn’t figure out why my sister was crying.  After all, she got Raggedy Andy and he’s way cooler.  Merry Christmas from the Toy House in downtown Jackson.  We’re here to make you smile

New Dad – Sept 09
He came in needing help.  One look at the dark circles under his eyes and the telltale plastic wristband, I knew there was only one thing to say.  Congratulations.  He smiled and said, “Thanks.  It’s a girl.  They’re coming home today.  Can you help me install my car seat?”   Of course I can.  I’d be happy to.  Welcome to the club, Daddy.  Toy House in downtown Jackson – get your car seat installed for free because we’re here to make you smile.