Both Melissa and Doug were raised by kid educators, and their moms and dads set them up in 1985. 3 years into their relationship, while Melissa was attending college at Duke and Doug was working at a marketing company, the couple chose to start a children's service together. Their first venture was a production business that laughed at educational videos for kids.
" Our aha minute was going to shops and seeing that something as fun as puzzles were dull, uninteresting, and had no pizzaz," Melissa states. "They were just flat, without any texture. We began believing about our childhoods, and recalled that our preferred book was Pat the Bunny because it was so interactive.
It was an instantaneous hit in little specialized shops, and so the pair dropped their videos, which had actually landed in a couple of stores however had not acquired much traction. Melissa & Doug stayed with puzzles for another decade before broadening into other wood 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 primarily made from wood and steel until after World War II, when a post-war housing boom implied these materials were difficult to obtain, according to the American trade group the Toy Association. Fisher-Price the among the first toy business to present plastic into its selection in 1950, and the launching of products like Mattel's Barbie in 1959 and Hasbro's GI Joe in 1963 formally made plastic a more popular toy material than wood.
It wasn't until 1953 that it started making interlocking plastic blocks. Melissa & Doug wasn't understood in the mass toy market up until 1999, when the now-defunct chain Toys R United States bought academic toy company Imaginarium, which stocked Melissa & Doug. That year, the company likewise tattooed a deal with Amazon, which was then a popular internet bookseller ready to broaden into toys.
( Amazon simultaneously signed a contract to make Toys R United States its special toy supplier, a deal that Amazon violated by inducing Melissa & Doug and a number of other suppliers, resulting in a 2004 lawsuit in between the 2 retail giants.) Doug attributes much of the company's success to Amazon: "It provided us incredible accessibility and was a major facilitator of growth.
Getting on Amazon early is most likely the reason why our older toys still offer really well." During the early aughts, even as the business skyrocketed, lots of alerted Melissa & Doug that it was headed towards failure. Doug remembers going to a big exhibition and being informed, "It's been truly nice knowing you, but everybody is getting into tech.
On both fronts, the Bernsteins refused. These relocations, they believed, would be at odds with their philosophy of open-ended play that is, minimally structured downtime without guidelines or objectives. The American Pediatric Association considers this kind of play important for a child's development, particularly in regards to imagination and creativity.
Television and movie characters, for instance, already have names and characters credited to them, and so toys featuring these characters dictate how kids have fun with them; on the other hand, simple products like blocks or paint better promote imaginative thought. Hape Pound Tap Bench. Wood toys have actually long been related to open play and are a favorite of educators, particularly those who ascribe to the Montessori and Waldorf approaches.
( Although Melissa & Doug had no official connection to either Montessori or Waldorf, both the company and these school movements saw significant growth in the '90s and ' 00s). Today Melissa & Doug is among the biggest toy business in the country, behind Hasbro, Mattel, Hallmark (which owns Crayola), and Spin Master (the business behind Hatchimals and owner of the Paw Patrol IP).
Reports have claimed the business sells more than $400 million worth of toys yearly; though the business declined to share sales figures with Vox, a rep said the real number is higher. Melissa & Doug's sales might look like peanuts compared to Hasbro's $5.2 billion or Mattel's $4.8 billion, however the business has been able to contend alongside these corporate giants.
Its items are budget friendly, but not exactly inexpensive - Wood Blocks. Play food sets and wood stacking blocks cost around $20, which is more than double what a brand name like Fisher-Price charges for similar products. The rate contributes to the superior appeal of the toys, which are all made in China and Taiwan. Fine Motor.
" There's no parent that likes toys that make bothersome noises, and when you're gifted one, they feel actually downmarket. But there's something really advanced and elevated about wood toys." Still, the expense can be hard to swallow. "So stink 'n expensive," one moms and dad regreted on the Bump (Classic Wooden Toys). "A mom had this [toy] at a playdate and I thought it was fantastic till I saw the price!" Amazon customers have likewise called the company's toys overpriced, and kept in mind that they aren't worth the investment since kids tend to "lose whatever (Shop By Age)." Melissa & Doug's toys are a favorite of millennial parents ready and able to pay not just for quality, however virtue in what they purchase their kids.
These parents go with wooden toys since they believe the toys are much better for their children' brains, and likewise the environment. And unlike plastic toys, wood toys do not included risk of BPA exposure, though Melissa & Doug did have to remember near to 26,000 toys in 2009 because of soluble barium discovered in the paint.
" I love the toys because they are realistic-looking and imaginative for kids to play with, however are likewise visually attractive," states Jodi Popowitz, a mommy and interior designer living in New York City. "When creating nurseries, I utilize them for decorating due to the fact that they're the best toys to go on a bookshelf.
David Hill, an assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine and a program director with the AAP, says the move was born out of concern that kids' days are being crammed with school and after-school activities, leaving little space for disorganized time spent exploring backyards and constructing towers in living spaces - Stacking.
Kids ages 8 to 12 spend approximately 4 hours and 38 minutes on screens a day, while children 8 and under average two hours and 19 minutes, according to the safe technology not-for-profit Typical Sense Media. The AAP cautions that the overuse of screens puts children at danger of sleep deprivation and weight problems, and although it's still too early to determine the exact impacts screens have on kids, there are researchers trying to obtain some preliminary insights.