DELAND, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) - Putting toys to the test is something the owners of the Wily Owl Toy Store in Downtown Deland have been offering to customers since they opened their doors in 2014. They want your kids to play, before you buy.
"You take a car for a test drive, why can't you take a toy for a test drive?" says owner Vin Philip. "That's our business model to bring kids back to playing with their families."
Philip says his goal is to help parents shop smarter with toys proven to keep your kid's attention and cut down on the toy box clutter.
"Our belief when we opened the store was to have kids actually get to play with what they want to play with. Anything in the store that's open is fair game, reveals Philip. So if they want to play with something we will take it out for them and let them play."
While toy testing is the Wily Owl'S business model, it's also a new selling point for big name stores like Target and Walmart. Both big box retailers are expanding their toy departments and adding 'toy labs' and 'play dates' with visits from children's favorite characters at hundreds of stores this holiday season. It's all in an effort to get a piece of the toy market up for grabs since Toys R Us closed its doors.
Toy testing is also another way for smaller stores to compete with the giants online.
"Online shopping is great, but a lot of people are disappointed with their purchase because they don't get to see it, touch it, don't know anything about it, Vin says. They're just going by a picture. Where here we instruct people, we guide them, we actually place people and their toys and it's kind of fun."