Both Melissa and Doug were raised by kid educators, and their parents set them up in 1985. Three years into their relationship, while Melissa was going to college at Duke and Doug was working at a marketing company, the couple chose to start a kids's company together. Their first endeavor was a production business that laughed at academic videos for kids.
" Our aha moment was going to shops and seeing that something as enjoyable as puzzles were dull, boring, and had no pizzaz," Melissa states. "They were just flat, without any texture. We began considering our youths, and recalled that our favorite book was Pat the Bunny since it was so interactive.
It was an instantaneous hit in small boutique, and so the pair dumped their videos, which had landed in a few stores but hadn't acquired much traction. Melissa & Doug stuck to puzzles for another decade before broadening into other wooden toys, a number of which are still best-sellers today, like the Pounding Bench, which has colorful pegs you bang on with a mallet.
Toys were mostly made of wood and steel until after The second world war, when a post-war housing boom implied these products were tough to get, according to the American trade group the Toy Association. Fisher-Price the one of the very first toy companies to introduce plastic into its variety in 1950, and the launching of items like Mattel's Barbie in 1959 and Hasbro's GI Joe in 1963 officially 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 till 1999, when the now-defunct chain Toys R United States bought educational toy company Imaginarium, which equipped Melissa & Doug. That year, the company likewise tattooed a handle Amazon, which was then a popular web bookseller ready to expand into toys.
( Amazon all at once signed an agreement to make Toys R United States its unique toy supplier, a deal that Amazon breached by causing Melissa & Doug and a number of other vendors, resulting in a 2004 suit between the 2 retail giants.) Doug attributes much of the business's success to Amazon: "It gave us unbelievable accessibility and was a major facilitator of development.
Getting on Amazon early is most likely the reason our older toys still sell truly well." During the early aughts, even as the company soared, lots of warned Melissa & Doug that it was headed towards failure. Doug remembers participating in a big exhibition and being told, "It's been actually great understanding you, but everyone is entering into tech.
On both fronts, the Bernsteins refused. These relocations, they thought, would be at odds with their approach of open-ended play that is, minimally structured leisure time without guidelines or goals. The American Pediatric Association considers this kind of play essential for a kid's development, particularly in regards to imagination and creativity.
Television and film characters, for example, currently have names and personalities attributed to them, and so toys featuring these characters determine how kids have fun with them; on the other hand, simple products like blocks or paint much better promote imaginative thought. Free Shipping. Wood toys have long been associated with open play and are a favorite of teachers, particularly those who ascribe to the Montessori and Waldorf philosophies.
( Although Melissa & Doug had no formal connection to either Montessori or Waldorf, both the company and these school movements saw major growth in the '90s and ' 00s). Today Melissa & Doug is one of the largest toy companies in the nation, 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 offers more than $400 million worth of toys every year; though the company declined to share sales figures with Vox, a representative said the actual number is higher. Melissa & Doug's sales might look like peanuts compared to Hasbro's $5.2 billion or Mattel's $4.8 billion, but the business has actually had the ability to compete alongside these corporate giants.
Its products are affordable, but not precisely inexpensive - Wooden Toys Plans. Play food sets and wood stacking blocks cost around $20, which is more than double what a brand like Fisher-Price charges for comparable items. The cost includes to the exceptional appeal of the toys, which are all made in China and Taiwan. Wooden Rainbow Stacking.
" There's no moms and dad that likes toys that make irritating noises, and when you're talented one, they feel actually downmarket. But there's something really sophisticated and raised about wood toys." Still, the expense can be hard to swallow. "So stink 'n pricey," one moms and dad lamented on the Bump (Wood Blocks). "A mommy had this [toy] at a playdate and I believed it was terrific up until I saw the price!" Amazon reviewers have actually also called the business's toys overpriced, and kept in mind that they aren't worth the investment since kids tend to "lose whatever (Balance Board)." Melissa & Doug's toys are a favorite of millennial parents prepared and able to pay not just for quality, but virtue in what they purchase their kids.
These moms and dads select wooden toys due to the fact that they think the toys are much better for their infants' brains, and also the environment. And unlike plastic toys, wooden toys do not come with risk of BPA direct exposure, though Melissa & Doug did have to recall close to 26,000 toys in 2009 since of soluble barium discovered in the paint.
" I love the toys because they are realistic-looking and imaginative for kids to play with, but are likewise visually attractive," states Jodi Popowitz, a mom and interior designer living in New york city City. "When developing nurseries, I utilize them for decorating because they're the perfect toys to go on a bookshelf.
David Hill, an assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of North Carolina School of Medication and a program director with the AAP, says the move was substantiated of issue that kids' days are being crammed with school and extracurricular activities, leaving little space for unstructured time invested exploring yards and developing towers in living spaces - Set.
Kids ages 8 to 12 spend an average of 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 Sound judgment Media. The AAP warns that the overuse of screens puts kids at risk of sleep deprivation and obesity, and although it's still too early to determine the specific effects screens have on children, there are scientists trying to glean some initial insights.