Last week, there was an anonymous post in the Sydney Mums Facebook Group that got me thinking. A group member was looking for a good discount toy shop in the lead up to the silly season, when every kid on the block seems to need a gift.
Feeling buried under a pile of presents?
Don't get me wrong, I love giving and it frustrates me when my budget is tight but I've found the perfect discount toy store to suit my financial situation.
But what if you're not on a particularly tight budget and want to give something special, or you are a cashed-up mum or grandma, who wants to spoil your little one rotten?
This Toy Shop Guide has something for everyone. Read on to find your perfect match...
Finding the right toy shop can feel like bliss...
The Discount Toy Store Chain
Are you budget conscious?
Are you a bit tight?
Does every child at day care, or mother's group, have a birthday party in the same month?
Are you looking for toys that meet the trends, without breaking the bank?
Solution: You need to find your local Toymate. It's a different experience from Kmart, in that it's a dedicated toy store. The range is huge and it's on a par, price-wise with low-end department stores. I've found it to be cheaper in some cases.
This store has all the merchandising hits from Star Wars, to Frozen, to Hot Wheels and Shopkins. It's full of 'easy-pleasers' for kids you don't really know, or, that Christmas stocking you need to fill.
Toymate is well-priced (image c/o- Toymate Facebook)
I know that I can find a great gift pack for under $15, averaging 2-3 items. We all know that kids love quantity not quality and discounted gifts from Toymate look more expensive than they are, so others won't judge you for being thrifty.
Speciality Toy Store Chain
Are you not really fussed about budget?
Do you need to keep up with the Jones's?
Will you pay more from the 'right' store, even if it's cheaper elsewhere?
Are you looking for a specialty toy that is not mass-market?
Solution: The ever-popular Kidstuff is a great store, with a reputation for high quality, specialty toys. Bargain hunters need not bother.
My mum and I go here when we are looking for educational games and toys that you can't find elsewhere, that will stretch our little guy's skills and imagination. Usually Grandma ends up paying but I once filled a whole Christmas stocking from this store! It's pure indulgence.
Kidstuff is a well-established brand (image c/o- Kidstuff Facebook)
And let's face it, there are times when you need to buy a special gift for a relative, or your child's good friend and the expectations of spend are higher. Kidstuff has quality items, including a vast range of games, dress-up costumes and non mass-market options like wooden toys. It's a wonderful shop in which to spend time, in the lead-up to Christmas.
Department Stores - High and Low End
Are you still partial to a good ol' one-stop-shop department store?
Are you looking for a trusted retailer, with online shopping options?
Are you in the market for a big-ticket present, for your son or daughter?
Do you need a store with a wide variety of merchandise across toys, electronics and outdoor?
You can find almost any toy to suit in a department store
Solution: If budget doesn't really matter, Myer and David Jones offer a traditional festive shopping experience, with decorations and opportunities to visit Santa's grotto, in their toy departments. The CBD stores are simply magical, or you can go online and have gifts delivered safely to your door.
For those looking at value for money, Kmart, Big W and Target are the kings of 'variety'. They stock toy merchandising favourites, books, stationery, electronic gadgets and outdoor/leisure toys like bikes, inflatable pools and trampolines.
Most of these items are also available online, which is helpful if the gift is too big or heavy to fit in your trolley. I just nabbed a 3m-wide trampoline for under $200 and while Target won my business this time, I could have got it for $10 cheaper at Kmart, so it pays to shop around.
Who's on your naughty and nice list?
I hope this guide to toy stores, may help in your Christmas shopping adventures. With decorations going up everywhere and a barrage of toy ads on television, this is the time we mums need our wits about us. The good news is you have choice and can make an informed decision. Finding the right toy store makes shopping for kids fun and that's what it should be!