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Virtual Toy Chest's
Guide to Holiday Shopping

The Holiday shopping season is upon us. With the closing of Ames, Caldor, and some Kay Bee and FAO Schwarz stores there are fewer local stores to shop for toys. The following is a guide to local stores that carry toys.

We all expect to find toys at Toy-R-Us, Kay Bee, FAO Schwartz, and other toy stores. Large box stores like Wal-Mart, Target, and K-Mart also have large toy sections. However, there are many stores that carry toys just for the holiday season. Some of these include Sears, Sam's Club, and J.C. Penny. Other stores that carry toys are sometimes overlooked, such as Kohl's, Rite Aide, and Walgreens. Discount stores such as Big Lots, and dollar stores also stock toys. There are also stores that have specialty toys such as Suncoast Video, video game shops, and your local comic shop.

We all know that certain stores have lower prices than others. However this is not the only factor in dertermining how much a toy costs you. If you have to drive to three different Wal-Mart stores to find a toy, you very may well have paid more than if you walked into Toys-R-Us and found it on the first try. This is especially true with the high cost of gasoline, and the low stock that is characteristic of the Holiday season.

Aside from cost, selection is another factor when choosing a store. Specialty shops carry toys that are not available at other retailers. These include comic book, anime, movie, and video game related toys. The discount stores also usually carry items that are not availble elsewhere. I have found some great 'generic' toys at these stores. Also, some stores have old stock. Box stores almost never keep items around. Toy stores, and pharmacies on the other hand tend have old things lying around. It is important to support such retailers if you want such a business model to succeed. If some stores had it their way you would have to preorder every item you want. Clearly that is not good for the consumer.

One last thing to remember when shopping. What you buy determines the future of toys. If you spend most of your money on video games the toy industry will do that much worse. If you buy Japanese themed toys, there will likely be more Japanese themed toys. If you don't like toy companies making some items artificially scarce, then do not support such practicies by buying toys in such series.

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