Both Melissa and Doug were raised by child educators, and their parents set them up in 1985. Three years into their relationship, while Melissa was attending college at Duke and Doug was operating at a marketing firm, the couple chose to begin a kids's business together. Their first venture was a production business that made fun educational videos for kids.
" Our aha moment was going to stores and seeing that something as fun as puzzles were dull, boring, and had no pizzaz," Melissa states. "They were simply flat, with no texture. We started thinking of our youths, and remembered that our preferred book was Pat the Bunny because it was so interactive.
It was an instantaneous hit in little specialized shops, and so the pair dropped their videos, which had landed in a few shops however hadn't gotten much traction. Melissa & Doug stuck to puzzles for another decade before expanding into other wooden toys, much of which are still best-sellers today, like the Pounding Bench, which has vibrant pegs you bang on with a mallet.
Toys were mostly made from wood and steel till after World War II, when a post-war real estate boom indicated these products were difficult to get, according to the American trade group the Toy Association. Fisher-Price the one of the very first toy companies to present plastic into its variety in 1950, and the launching of products 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 until 1953 that it started making interlocking plastic blocks. Melissa & Doug wasn't understood in the mass toy market until 1999, when the now-defunct chain Toys R United States purchased instructional toy company Imaginarium, which stocked Melissa & Doug. That year, the business also tattooed a deal with Amazon, which was then a popular internet bookseller ready to broaden into toys.
( Amazon at the same time signed a contract to make Toys R Us its exclusive toy vendor, an offer that Amazon violated by causing Melissa & Doug and a number of other vendors, resulting in a 2004 suit in between the two retail giants.) Doug attributes much of the company's success to Amazon: "It offered us incredible availability and was a significant facilitator of growth. High To Low.
Getting on Amazon early is probably the reason our older toys still offer truly well." During the early aughts, even as the business skyrocketed, lots of alerted Melissa & Doug that it was headed toward failure. Doug recalls participating in a big trade convention and being informed, "It's been actually great knowing you, however everyone is getting into tech.
On both fronts, the Bernsteins declined. These relocations, they believed, would be at odds with their viewpoint of open-ended play that is, minimally structured complimentary time without guidelines or goals. The American Pediatric Association considers this sort of play crucial for a kid's development, especially in terms of imagination and imagination.
Television and motion picture characters, for instance, already have names and characters credited to them, therefore toys featuring these characters determine how kids have fun with them; alternatively, simple products like blocks or paint much better promote imagination (Balance Board). Wood toys have long been related to open play and are a favorite of teachers, especially those who ascribe to the Montessori and Waldorf philosophies.
( Although Melissa & Doug had no official connection to either Montessori or Waldorf, both the company and these school motions saw significant expansion in the '90s and ' 00s). Today Melissa & Doug is among the largest 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 actually claimed the company sells more than $400 million worth of toys yearly; though the business decreased to share sales figures with Vox, an associate said the actual number is greater. Melissa & Doug's sales might seem like peanuts compared to Hasbro's $5.2 billion or Mattel's $4.8 billion, but the company has been able to compete along with these business giants.
Its items are inexpensive, however 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 products. The cost contributes to the superior appeal of the toys, which are all made in China and Taiwan.
" There's no parent that likes toys that make frustrating sounds, and when you're gifted one, they feel truly downmarket. However there's something truly sophisticated and raised about wooden toys." Still, the expense can be hard to swallow. "So stink 'n expensive," one parent lamented on the Bump. "A mommy had this [toy] at a playdate and I believed it was excellent until I saw the price!" Amazon customers have also called the company's toys overpriced, and kept in mind that they aren't worth the investment considering that kids tend to "lose whatever (Babies And Toddlers)." Melissa & Doug's toys are a favorite of millennial parents prepared and able to pay not just for quality, but virtue in what they buy their kids.
These moms and dads go with wooden toys because they think the toys are better for their infants' brains, and also the environment. And unlike plastic toys, wooden toys do not featured danger of BPA direct exposure, though Melissa & Doug did have to recall near 26,000 toys in 2009 because of soluble barium discovered in the paint.
" I love the toys because they are realistic-looking and creative for kids to play with, however are also aesthetically enticing," says Jodi Popowitz, a mommy and interior designer living in New York City. "When designing nurseries, I utilize them for decorating since 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, says the move was substantiated of concern that kids' days are being stuffed with school and extracurricular activities, leaving little room for unstructured time invested exploring backyards and building towers in living rooms.
Kids ages 8 to 12 spend approximately four hours and 38 minutes on screens a day, while kids 8 and under average two hours and 19 minutes, according to the safe technology nonprofit Common Sense Media. The AAP alerts that the overuse of screens puts kids at risk of sleep deprivation and obesity, and although it's still too early to identify the precise results screens have on kids, there are researchers attempting to glean some initial insights.