Both Melissa and Doug were raised by child teachers, and their parents set them up in 1985. Three years into their relationship, while Melissa was participating in college at Duke and Doug was working at a marketing company, the couple decided to begin a kids's service together. Their first endeavor was a production company that laughed at educational videos for kids.
" Our aha moment was going to stores and seeing that something as enjoyable as puzzles were dull, uninteresting, and had no pizzaz," Melissa says. "They were just flat, without any texture. We began considering our childhoods, and recalled that our preferred book was Pat the Bunny because it was so interactive.
It was an instant hit in small boutique, therefore the set ditched their videos, which had landed in a couple of stores but had not acquired much traction. Melissa & Doug stuck to puzzles for another decade prior to broadening into other wood toys, much of which are still best-sellers today, like the Pounding Bench, which has colorful pegs you bang on with a mallet.
Toys were primarily made of wood and steel till after World War II, when a post-war housing boom meant these products were difficult to acquire, according to the American trade group the Toy Association. Fisher-Price the one of the very first toy business to present plastic into its selection in 1950, and the debut of items like Mattel's Barbie in 1959 and Hasbro's GI Joe in 1963 formally made plastic a more popular toy product than wood.
It wasn't till 1953 that it started making interlocking plastic blocks. Melissa & Doug wasn't understood in the mass toy market till 1999, when the now-defunct chain Toys R United States purchased instructional toy business Imaginarium, which equipped Melissa & Doug. That year, the business likewise tattooed a handle Amazon, which was then a popular web bookseller about to expand into toys.
( Amazon at the same time signed an arrangement to make Toys R Us its unique toy supplier, an offer that Amazon broke by causing Melissa & Doug and numerous other vendors, resulting in a 2004 claim in between the two retail giants.) Doug associates much of the company's success to Amazon: "It provided us extraordinary availability and was a major facilitator of growth. Toddlers And Kids.
Getting on Amazon early is most likely the reason our older toys still sell actually well." Throughout the early aughts, even as the business soared, numerous cautioned Melissa & Doug that it was headed towards failure. Doug recalls attending a huge exhibition and being told, "It's been really good knowing you, but everybody is getting into tech.
On both fronts, the Bernsteins refused. These relocations, they thought, would be at odds with their viewpoint of open-ended play that is, minimally structured leisure time without rules or goals. The American Pediatric Association considers this kind of play crucial for a child's development, especially in regards to imagination and creativity.
Tv and motion picture characters, for example, currently have names and personalities credited to them, therefore toys featuring these characters determine how kids play with them; on the other hand, uncomplicated items like blocks or paint better promote imaginative thought (Play Food Set). Wooden toys have long been connected with open play and are a favorite of educators, particularly those who credit the Montessori and Waldorf approaches.
( Although Melissa & Doug had no formal connection to either Montessori or Waldorf, both the company and these school movements saw significant growth in the '90s and ' 00s). Today Melissa & Doug is among the biggest toy companies in the country, behind Hasbro, Mattel, Hallmark (which owns Crayola), and Spin Master (the business behind Hatchimals and owner of the Paw Patrol IP).
Reports have declared the company sells more than $400 million worth of toys yearly; though the company decreased to share sales figures with Vox, a representative stated the real number is greater. Melissa & Doug's sales may appear like peanuts compared to Hasbro's $5.2 billion or Mattel's $4.8 billion, but the company has been able to contend along with these corporate giants.
Its products are economical, but not exactly low-cost. Play food sets and wood stacking blocks cost around $20, which is more than double what a brand like Fisher-Price charges for similar items. The price adds to the superior appeal of the toys, which are all made in China and Taiwan.
" There's no moms and dad that likes toys that make bothersome noises, and when you're talented one, they feel truly downmarket. But there's something truly advanced and raised about wooden toys." Still, the expense can be difficult to swallow. "So stink 'n costly," one parent lamented on the Bump. "A mother had this [toy] at a playdate and I believed it was fantastic up until I saw the price!" Amazon customers have actually also called the business's toys overpriced, and kept in mind that they aren't worth the investment because kids tend to "lose everything (Wooden Lacing Apple Threading)." Melissa & Doug's toys are a favorite of millennial parents willing and able to pay not just for quality, but virtue in what they purchase their kids.
These moms and dads choose wooden toys since they think the toys are better for their children' brains, and also the environment. And unlike plastic toys, wooden toys don't included threat of BPA exposure, though Melissa & Doug did have to recall near 26,000 toys in 2009 because of soluble barium discovered in the paint.
" I enjoy the toys since they are realistic-looking and creative for kids to play with, but are likewise aesthetically enticing," says Jodi Popowitz, a mommy and interior designer living in New york city City. "When developing nurseries, I utilize them for embellishing due to the fact that they're the perfect toys to go on a bookshelf.
David Hill, an assistant teacher of pediatrics at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine and a program director with the AAP, states the move was substantiated of concern that kids' days are being stuffed with school and extracurricular activities, leaving little room for unstructured time spent exploring yards and constructing towers in living spaces.
Kids ages 8 to 12 invest approximately 4 hours and 38 minutes on screens a day, while kids 8 and under average 2 hours and 19 minutes, according to the safe innovation not-for-profit Sound judgment Media. The AAP cautions that the overuse of screens puts children at threat of sleep deprivation and obesity, and although it's still too early to determine the specific effects screens have on kids, there are researchers trying to glean some initial insights.