by Theodore Tollefson For more than 25 years, SC Toys has been a mainstay in downtown Hastings, providing interactive toys, games, and many more products for children and adults. SC Toys owner, Barb …
by Theodore Tollefson
For more than 25 years, SC Toys has been a mainstay in downtown Hastings, providing interactive toys, games, and many more products for children and adults.
SC Toys owner, Barb Hollenbeck, began the process of opening the store in downtown Hastings when she purchased the building in 1993. After two years of renovation, SC Toys opened its doors in 1995 and has been open ever since.
To help celebrate the longevity of the business, Hollenbeck wanted to have SC Toys participate in the Main Street Market Fall Festival this past Saturday, Oct. 2. Hollenbeck shared why she decided to participate in the festival to celebrate SC Toys’ 25th anniversary.
“I decided to join Main Street Market Fest to celebrate the 25th year because it just adds more dimension to the festival and brings more people, another reason for people to come downtown to join not only in the market fest, but also in our celebration. Fall is such a wonderful time and it’s great for people to be on board. So we thought we would bring it back this year and try it in a different format. Make it less intense, and just focus on sidewalk sales and small events,” said Hollenbeck.
Along with owning and operating SC Toys, Hollenbeck has been an active member of the Hastings community. She has served a term on the Hastings City Council and donated products to the Hastings Prescott Area Arts Commission Gala.
Being in business for 25 years comes with its perks. Hollenbeck works to ensure the toys on her shelves are more interactive and educational than those commonly found at a big box store. These unique products have kept customers coming back for years.
One resource that has helped keep variety on the shelves is Hollenbeck’s membership with the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA).
Hollenbeck explained, “It’s composed of small independent stores; we gather together each year, we have a convention, we share ideas, we’re each other’s support system. I get some leads through ASTRA as far as products, because it’s composed of not only independent store owners, but manufacturers and then the sales reps of the manufacturers. So I work closely with my sales reps because they only handle some of the specialty toys. Which is a different market channel for the sales market, or sales channel from big box.”
Hollenbeck’s customers frequently ask for something unique for a child in their life.
“That’s what I hear from people heading to a birthday party, ‘Oh, I want to come and get something unique. Everybody’s going to go to Target and get the child’s toy there and I want to have something unique.’ That’s one thing I hear repeatedly. And I agree I want to have something unique too, because I don’t want to replicate stuff that’s in mass market or big box. When I’m gift giving, I think of a child and wonder what they would really like and then find that gift for them, kind of reflective of their interests and personality,” said Hollenbeck.
With the help of ASTRA connections and the uniqueness of toys she carries, Hollenbeck’s customer base is beginning to become multi-generational. Parents nowadays who first started coming into SC Toys when it opened 25 years ago are bringing their own kids into a store where they experienced great memories.
“A couple generations of my customers that used to be young children when they started coming here. They’re now mothers and fathers, and they still come back and they’re bringing their kids. It’s just been great to see that development and that connection and that longevity in the community that you get to see kids develop and grow,” said Hollenbeck.
One of the modern challenges in the toy industry is competing with technological entertainment, which has strongly targeted kids to streaming services and video games. Technology has seen substantial growth over the past 15 years. It’s important to Hollenbeck to keep interactive toys, card and board games in stock to help balance out the amount of time they spend on a screen each day.
“We have so many kids that are so passive now, physically, and so now there’s a big movement for not only parents, but toy companies also are realizing that you need to get kids engaged to get them off the screens. So I have a lot more interactive games, for families to play together to get everybody moving and having fun without a screen,” said Hollenbeck.
Moving forward in this next decade, Hollenbeck hopes to keep growing the number of products she has not only for children but for adults. Hollenbeck said many people either discovered new hobbies or rediscovered old ones during the lockdowns of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We definitely need to play, I think especially in today’s world, something to play just gives you so much joy and satisfaction that we all need these days. I always like to have puzzles, games, even some craft kits. And I’m seeing that more now with adults too. I always think that the teenagers get to a certain age, it’s like, ‘Oh, I’m so cool. I’m grown up.’ And then later in their 20’s, they’re like, ‘Oh, we really had it good as kids, I want to be a kid again, I don’t want all this responsibility. This is no fun being a grown up,’” said Hollenbeck.