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Lee's Toy & Hobby Starts an Online Business and Triples it

Groton toy store started last year with 2,000 items for sale online. Now it sells 6,000.

 

Peter Marcus is kind of an old-fashioned guy.

He wanted to run Lee's Toy & Hobby in Groton the way his father ran it, the way it's been run for 60 years.

So it took his wife, Lisa, awhile to convince him they needed to get online for the next generation. But finally, she did.

And it took off.

Last year, the store launched an e-commerce website with about 2,000 items for sale, and as of this month, it’s selling 6,000 products online. Lisa Marcus, who co-owns the store with Peter, said their goal is to reach 10,000 by the end of January.

“Our Internet site has started driving brick and mortar sales,” she said. People are walking in with lists their children already compiled. The site is also serving grandparents searching for items and collectors seeking discontinued toys.

As a percentage of total business, e-commerce sales are still small – only about 5 percent of total sales- but are driving people into the store, Lisa Marcus said. Lee's Toy & Hobby sales are about 40 percent toys and 60 percent hobby-related.

The plan required some investment. The store had to hire someone to design the site, and to set up the e-commerce system. This year, it plans to phase in a "point of sale" network to track inventory, so that when something sells in the store, it’s automatically removed from the website’s inventory.

Right now, Peter Marcus and his staff do that work. Every day, they pull the stickers off what's sold at the register, then go into the website and update it, so inventory reflects what’s actually available.

With 6,000 items for sale, “it’s insane,” Lisa Marcus said. But the last thing they want is for someone to buy something and then learn it’s out of stock.

The most popular items online so far are discontinued toys; Madame Alexander dolls, for example. The store's had orders for various items from as far away as Australia and Spain.

“I was hesitant to do this,” Peter Marcus said, but said he sees it as the future.

“We’re going in an whole new direction and it’s very exciting for us,” Lisa Marcus said. “A lot of businesses are not doing well. And we are doing well. And I think it’s the Internet.”

Daniella Ruiz November 18, 2012 at 07:05 PM
and slowly the children must learn new ways to live, yet respect the elders in their cautions of risk! but always, always, listen to your wife! a good customer base is vital, and only the face of a real shop keeper can provide that direct, honest link and the personal touch for a business like yours!
Charlotte Zito November 19, 2012 at 01:35 AM
A few years ago I purchased a game which had all the Presidents on it. When you pushed on one it announced information about each one. I now have six g-grand children and would like to get them history on the presidents. Could anyone tell me where I might find this. Charlotte Zito mrfz@ctol.net
Elyse Landesberg November 19, 2012 at 11:51 AM
Congratulations Lisa and Peter!
Jody Nazarchyk November 19, 2012 at 12:24 PM
Congratulations Lisa and Peter. When my children were little they loved to go into your store. I love seing a family business do well. The big chain stores just don't offer what you do. Good luck and I am looking forward to taking my Granddaughter to your store when she gets a little older.

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