In my mind, whether Ms. Bellafante
is correct or not in her
analysis, it is beside the point. We all know that too many Americans think the toy industry consists of the limited number of products they see in a Wal-Mart
or Target. That is not good news for an industry that possesses over a million individual SKU's.
Bellafante blames the big mass merchandisers for the problem. She notes that many smaller manufacturers and their wares do not show up on the shelves of the big box retailers. In other words, you can have a Wal-Mart or Target in your area and still live in a toy desert.
article by stating:
It is particularly important and even poignant that we celebrate Kathleen and ASTRA at this time. The New York Times Columnist, Gina Bellafante, in a column entitled "The Great Divide, Now in the Toy Aisle," decries the absence of a sufficient number of specialty toy retailers in the marketplace. Not because she is against the big mass merchandisers but because the independent retailers are unique in offering toys that do not sell in the quantities demanded by the big box retailers.
Bellanfante notes that these toys that come from smaller companies frequently offer a level of educational content, creativity and design that enrich the lives of those who use them. She
points out that specialty toys stores now largely serve more affluent communities. She
believes that those who have access to these toys, the affluent, are a step ahead of those who do not.
calls areas that lack specialty retail stores "toy deserts." Here is how she
puts it:"… we might begin to think, in essence, about toy deserts and the implications of a commercial system in which the least-privileged children are choked off from the recreations most explicitly geared toward creativity and achievement."