Launch Your Neighborhood Toy Store to the next level of Service and Stability
hopscotch toys has been part of the fabric of McMinnville life since 2001. Many McMinnville families have grown up with us and it is our hope that we can continue to grow with you. We want to always be the place that makes your children feel better when they have gone to the dentist, had their shots, or broken their arm. We want to be the bribe for good behavior, and the reward for good grades. We want to continue to help McMinnville families celebrate big things like birthdays and small things like going pee-pee in the potty. We want to be here. We are asking for your help. We need to raise $30,000 (our tilt number) this month to bring in Lego, order fresh merchandise, fix our furnace, update our website for online ordering, and do the things that will help us grow and turn hopscotch into a vibrant play-centric community business.
Beyond just staying, I have grand visions of what hopscotch can be. I would like to build a childrens stage in the back parking lot, and put in a lawn where parents can hang out and watch their children perform magic, puppet shows, juggling, poetry recitation, etc. in an open mic format. During the holiday season, I would like to erect a nativity with live animals. I would also like to get a fence/bike rack built along the front of the store so that there is no fear that children released at the front door will veer into the busy street before making it down to the little door. I want to bring in Lego, make our candy counter a candy store within the toy store, establish a small hobby department, and beef up my non-toy offerings for new babies. Art classes, science workshops, and game events will also be added and run consistently. But I need to be strong enough to get them off the ground.
While I like to believe I could pull through on my own, I know how much better hopscotch can be with your monetary and intellectual contributions. The reality is, businesses need capital to grow and thrive. The reality of our current economy is that, for businesses as small as hopscotch, traditional sources of that capital have all but dried up. I can’t do fancy stock offering, and I’m not going to get help from a government bailout or restructuring like the big banks or auto companies. I have to ask for investment from my community. To fully realize the hopscotch vision will take $65,000 (our campaign goal). Every dollar raised will help us be more stable and able to serve our community in greater and greater capacities. Put your name on our wall. Put our name on your chest. Come down to the store and see if we have anything on our shelves that would enrich your life. Invest in the future.
This is easily the hardest business decision I have ever made. I’m really good at working my tail off, not so good at asking for help. It is a testament to my determination to be here that I ask all of you to help hopscotch continue to be, and be the best it can be. That admission made, I now intend to launch into this with a joyous heart and make this campaign an enthusiastic celebration of community for everyone who participates. McMinnville really is the best. Thank you all for everything, past, present, and future.
Initially, when our economy crashed, I saw many customers take their business elsewhere to try to save a buck. Not all of it, but the fat that allowed us to function fully. At the same time, I had decided to invest in the future of the business by signing on to buy the building. Though this is a great move for the long term life of the business, it has increased our overhead costs at a difficult time. The last few years have been a struggle, but I look out my window now and see signs of a return if we can all just hold on a little bit longer. When I ran our numbers at the beginning of the year, optimistic about what we could do with more activities and parties, art shows, silhouette artists, and programs like customer rewards and birthday clubs to drive traffic, I had hoped we would be able to bring numbers up by 15-20%, but they have continued to slide. The biggest part of that slide now is lack of inventory. I have been holding on by taking on credit card debt, cutting payroll, taking extended terms with vendors, cutting inventory and holding off on improvements at the store. Consequently, even dedicated customers have come in and had difficulty finding what they want.
I know it flies in the face of conventional wisdom to tell your customers that you are struggling, but I feel like we are living in pretty unconventional times. Our downtowns have never been faced with anything like Amazon before. Competition used to be local. Now money is taken out of the community daily, not to support another local entity that does a better job of serving my community than I do, but by entities that don’t put a penny of that back, entities that don’t even pay taxes in our communities, taxes that support infrastructure like the schools, the fire department, and the police department. They don’t contribute a storefront, let alone a sense of local identity, or a raffle item for a school carnival. I have tried to stay positive, but I am literally dying here and I am not alone. All of our local businesses have taken a hit in recent years. So, before I just shrivel up and blow away, I want to reach out and see what you think I can do to stay here and ask for your support in doing so.
I know there are a million good causes out there. I feel strongly that Main Street America is one of them.Your local businesses support your local economy, hire local lawyers, plumbers, accountants, electricians, printers, designers, janitorial services, and of course, their own staff. None of those folks have ever been hired by a Wal-Mart exec, or an Amazon employee. Those local professional people spin that money around locally too, and all of us pay local taxes which pay our firemen,our police officers, our teachers, and our city officials. They keep the libraries and parks open, and the roads in repair. Dollars that stay local serve us all over and over and over again. When we can't afford to hire music teachers or firemen is Amazon really the cheapest?
Local prosperity is the best thing for all of those other great causes also. The food bank, the animal shelter, the womens shelter, environmental issues, all get tackled and cared for best in a community where the inhabitants aren't living hand to mouth themselves. More intentional choices can be made about the things we want to support with our dollars when we all have a few more dollars moving around. Whether it is investing in education, buying organic, sponsoring spay and neuter clinics, or volunteering at the local soup kitchen or habitat for humanity, good works are accomplished with dollars and time actively invested. The local businesses also give directly to local charities and schools. Wal Mart doesn't. Amazon doesn't.
A charming main street also increases your property value in a way that Wal Mart and Amazon have no chance of doing. If you are buying a home here, it is very much in your best interest to put your money where your house is. No one ever moved to McMinnville because they love our Wal-Mart.
Toy stores have the opportunity to introduce our children to community commerce in a way that other stores don't. This store is for them. Everything in it is geared to push their pleasure buttons. At a time when our kids are choosing more and more virtual relationships we give them an early relationship with their community. An early opportunity to learn what it feels like to know the lady behind the counter, to see her downtown, or in their school. Eventually they outgrow hopscotch and move on to the other shops downtown, but many get their desire to do that, to shop in real stores, and walk on real streets in their real communities from coming in here. That is a more important lesson than any of the educational or developmental things on our shelves can teach them. My passion, as you may have guessed, is not toys. My passion is McMinnville and community. Our local businesses matter in real substantive ways, it's not just fluffy feel good. Thank you for doing your part to support them.
It's a classic David and Goliath story. Throw us a stone! Or, paint us a tile. Give us the infusuion we need to transform into the kind of experience oriented community charged business that can ward off the Amazon creep (I use"creep" to describe encroachment, not as the other form of the word that would imply something creepy, insidious, heeby-jeeby inciting...You may read it however you choose).
Frequently Asked Questions
How do we know that our contributions will go to hopscotch projects directly?
Ask anyone who knows me. hopscotch is my 4th child. I will do everything I can to ensure it thrives. I am buying the building and that too is incentive for me to manage and strengthen my business. We have 13 years under our belt. I intend to have at least 13 more.
How do we decorate the tiles?
Acrylic paint for individual artwork, hand prints and the like. Screen printing for things like logos.
When will we get our tiles, t-shirts, and gift certificates?
We plan to distribute the first round after the campaign tilts, and then do another round on August 10th when it ends.
Why does the tilt happen at $30,000 and $65,000 is your goal?
Because $30,000 would give us the funds to move forward and add a few things, like bringing in Lego, and repair our heating and a/c unit (we are down to one). $65,000 would give us enough to make a lawn and build a stage out back, bring in Lego, launch programs, hire demonstrators, build up the candy counter, and really gain a whole new level of stability. It would be so incredibly awesome to reach that goal and bring those things to life!
When does my credit card get charged?
When our campaign tilts at $30,000.