People didn’t have to look far to find the perfect toy to give this holiday season as Funtime Toys and Gifts in Yelm experienced a rush of customers before Christmas.
Heather Ekland, the owner of the store, said she’s pleased with how sales ended up, despite a sluggish start to the holiday season.
“It was a little bit of a slow start,” Ekland said. “But in the last week or two, things have been very, very busy — just really busy. The community really comes out and shows up, and I really appreciate that.”
With current supply chain issues, Ekland said she was at first worried since she’s the go to toy store in the city, but she worked hard to keep her shelves well-stocked.
“My (representative) told us back in January that we were likely to see supply-chain problems in the months of October, November and December, and so I kind of took that information and ran with it,” Ekland said. “I stocked all year long.”
She said she bought what she could for the store in preparation.
“I was absolutely terrified of being the toy store at Christmas with no toys because of the supply chain problems … but obviously, we don’t have that problem,” Ekland said. “We have plenty.”
Ekland said the COVID-19 pandemic took its toll on the store, which opened just months before the March 2020 shutdowns. Without the support of the community, ideas from other small businesses and the Yelm Chamber of Commerce, Ekland said her business wouldn’t have made it.
She said the “solid community spirit” saved many Yelm businesses, while other communities with less focus on small businesses saw more stores close because of the pandemic.
Christmas sales this year showed that Pokemon cards are still a must-have item for the holidays. The Playmobil brand also had a strong showing this year.
“I only just managed to get in the Lego,” Ekland said. “Lego would usually be a really hot one, but nobody knows I have it.”
Overall, Ekland said the store’s financial standing is relatively stable. She plans to implement new ideas in the new year, which includes offering more homeschool curriculum in her inventory.
Even with the challenges, Ekland said she enjoys her job and wants to continue to bring joy to the community in the form of toys.
“There’s a need,” she said of her store. “There’s a need in town for (a toy store). The homeschooling families need a place to find curriculum. They need educational toys and games and things. And it’s nice for people to not have to go all the way to Olympia to get the things that I have here.”
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