Both Melissa and Doug were raised by kid teachers, and their parents set them up in 1985. 3 years into their relationship, while Melissa was going to college at Duke and Doug was operating at a marketing company, the couple decided to begin a children's business together. Their first venture was a production business that laughed at educational videos for kids.
" Our aha moment was going to stores and seeing that something as enjoyable as puzzles were dull, dull, and had no pizzaz," Melissa states. "They were simply flat, with no texture. We began considering our childhoods, and recalled that our preferred book was Pat the Bunny due to the fact that it was so interactive.
It was an instantaneous hit in little boutique, therefore the pair ditched their videos, which had landed in a couple of stores however hadn't acquired much traction. Melissa & Doug stayed with puzzles for another decade before 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 up until after The second world war, when a post-war housing boom suggested these products were hard to get, according to the American trade group the Toy Association. Fisher-Price the one of the first toy business to present plastic into its assortment in 1950, and the debut of products like Mattel's Barbie in 1959 and Hasbro's GI Joe in 1963 formally made plastic a more popular toy material than wood.
It wasn't till 1953 that it started making interlocking plastic blocks. Melissa & Doug wasn't known in the mass toy market up until 1999, when the now-defunct chain Toys R Us purchased instructional toy company Imaginarium, which equipped Melissa & Doug. That year, the business also tattooed a handle Amazon, which was then a popular web bookseller ready to broaden into toys.
( Amazon at the same time signed an arrangement to make Toys R Us its exclusive toy vendor, a deal that Amazon broke by causing Melissa & Doug and a number of other suppliers, leading to a 2004 suit in between the 2 retail giants.) Doug attributes much of the business's success to Amazon: "It provided us extraordinary accessibility and was a major facilitator of growth. Melissa Doug.
Getting on Amazon early is probably the reason why our older toys still offer truly well." Throughout the early aughts, even as the business skyrocketed, many alerted Melissa & Doug that it was headed towards failure. Doug recalls attending a big exhibition and being informed, "It's been truly good understanding you, but everyone is entering into tech.
On both fronts, the Bernsteins refused. These moves, they thought, would be at chances with their approach of open-ended play that is, minimally structured spare time without rules or objectives. The American Pediatric Association considers this sort of play essential for a kid's development, particularly in terms of creativity and imagination.
Television and film characters, for instance, already have names and personalities credited to them, therefore toys including these characters determine how kids have fun with them; conversely, uncomplicated items like blocks or paint much better promote imagination (Shop By Age). Wooden toys have actually long been related to open play and are a favorite of teachers, especially those who credit the Montessori and Waldorf philosophies.
( Although Melissa & Doug had no formal connection to either Montessori or Waldorf, both the business and these school movements saw significant expansion in the '90s and ' 00s). Today Melissa & Doug is among the largest toy business in the country, behind Hasbro, Mattel, Trademark (which owns Crayola), and Spin Master (the company behind Hatchimals and owner of the Paw Patrol IP).
Reports have claimed the company sells more than $400 million worth of toys every year; though the business declined to share sales figures with Vox, a representative said the actual number is higher. Melissa & Doug's sales may look like peanuts compared to Hasbro's $5.2 billion or Mattel's $4.8 billion, however the business has actually been able to compete alongside these business giants.
Its products are budget-friendly, however not exactly inexpensive. 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 rate contributes 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 frustrating sounds, and when you're talented one, they feel truly downmarket. But there's something truly sophisticated and raised about wood toys." Still, the cost can be difficult to swallow. "So stink 'n pricey," one moms and dad lamented on the Bump. "A mama had this [toy] at a playdate and I thought it was excellent till I saw the cost!" Amazon customers have also called the company's toys overpriced, and noted that they aren't worth the investment considering that kids tend to "lose everything (Play Food Set)." Melissa & Doug's toys are a favorite of millennial parents willing and able to pay not just for quality, however virtue in what they purchase their kids.
These moms and dads go with 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 come with danger of BPA exposure, though Melissa & Doug did have to remember near to 26,000 toys in 2009 because of soluble barium found in the paint.
" I love the toys since they are realistic-looking and creative for kids to have fun with, however are also visually appealing," says Jodi Popowitz, a mom and interior designer living in New York City. "When designing nurseries, I utilize them for decorating because 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 relocation was substantiated of issue that kids' days are being packed with school and after-school activities, leaving little room for unstructured time invested exploring backyards and constructing towers in living rooms.
Kids ages 8 to 12 spend approximately four hours and 38 minutes on screens a day, while children 8 and under average 2 hours and 19 minutes, according to the safe technology nonprofit Sound judgment Media. The AAP alerts that the overuse of screens puts children at threat of sleep deprivation and weight problems, and although it's still too early to determine the specific results screens have on kids, there are scientists attempting to obtain some preliminary insights.