The comp is at the bottom, first comes the frothy business gush. You can skip it if you wish. 😆
Most regular readers of this blog will know that we’ve run an online toy business for 10 years; it’s not always had quite the same name, but PlayMerrily Toys is the core of what we do. It provides all our income (and a good few of our grey hairs) and is my pride and joy. I set it up in a cupboard when everyone believed people would never buy on the internet (hahahahahahahaha) and we’ve managed to keep it going through thick and thin. At the beginning of this year, after several tough personal years that coincided with a deep recession, I truly thought our number was up when 2 of our main suppliers (neither of them mentioned in this post though!) told us we had to remove all their products from all 3rd party selling systems – for a good while a large part of our sales came from the profit destroying, soul sucking warrior woman site. While competition there is fierce, it is exposure and my heart sunk. I couldn’t see how we could survive and as the early part of the year passed, I was sure it was all over.
I can live with many things but seeing my business go under because I refuse to sell at a loss and because of a tragedy that took all our attention was not something I wanted to happen. I needed to know we had given it everything before we admitted defeat. We are good traders; our customers love us and we almost never have to deal with upset ones, we sell gorgeous toys, we’ve never been in debt or failed to pay a supplier, we don’t let people down and we work very hard. But we needed to do more; I needed to know that I’d given it my all before I let it go.
So we made the tough decision to put Bene into nursery 2 days a week when the girls all went to school in September. It allowed Max and I to work together twice a week and focus on improvement and planning and meant that, along with the middle three days we could take it in turns to do, the business suddenly had much more of our time. I worked like a demon, filling in blanks that had been there too long after we didn’t replace leaving staff last year. Max created work for me to do, I did it. What a team – and the 3 of us, Max, me and E who packs and warehouse manages for us, set about being ready for Christmas. Everything hinged on it. With only 3 of us and 5 children to manage alongside, there isn’t time to do it all; I focused on making certain brands look better, blogging a bit, tweeting a bit, talking to customers on the phone and Max did all the things he does best – which is what keeps it all running as smoothly and problem free as it does. I’d love to be the super engaged social media type that some small companies can manage to be but we are sometimes caught in a tricky spot – too small to have lots of staff but big enough to need it to be all hands on deck most of the time.
What a Christmas. I’d love to tell you we will be flying off to the Bahamas next week but it has to be said the toy trade will never make people like us rich, but our work has paid off and we’ve lived to fight another year 🙂 We’ve got an inbox full of happy customers and we’ve been able to sell everyone the toys they’ve wanted from us. It’s been our best Christmas for years. And next year I sincerely hope we will be doing more of the stuff I want to do – blogging, tweeting, getting excited about our lovely toys and crafts and being more involved in the blogging community as a business, not just Merry.
In celebration, Le Toy Van have offered us a lovely competition to run as well as a lovely special offer.
Here’s the competition.
The items pictured (cake stand, 2x icecream sundaes and chocolate cake all from the Le Toy Van Honeybake range) will be sent to you in time for Christmas direct from PlayMerrily Toys (sponsored by LTV). ((Little girl not included!))
Terms & Conditions
This competition is open to UK entrants only.
This competition closes at midnight on 18th December.
The Rafflecopter widget has the final say and entry must be correct. To receive the items by Xmas, winner must send address on 19th December by 3pm.
There is no cash alternative and the prize is as listed and pictured above.
Email address will be used to contact the winner. No other information will be used to contact any entrants for any reason.
This competition is sponsored by Le Toy Van and PlayMerrily Toys. It is in no way linked to Facebook or any other Social Media channel.
In addition, there is currently a free Budkins doll available when you spend £75 on Le Toy Van items on our website. See more details here.
Finally, I want to say a big thank you to the customers, readers, bloggers and friends who have supported us with sales, tweets, emotional support and general love this year and in the last few years. We wouldn’t have made it without you. Now to keep making it.