Thursday, February 16, 2012

Quality vs. Quantity

I've come to the realization (especially lately as my sons' birthdays approach) that there is a lot of, for lack of a better word, "crap" for sale these days. I don't need something that makes a ton or noise or lights up or whatever because my children could care less if it did any of those things. In my search for a tow truck for my son for his birthday, I have come upon so many cheap, plastic toys that won't last more than a week or so in a household with two very imaginative and active little boys.

Why even bother making such a product? The answer is simple, "To create a product as cheaply as possible to turn a higher profit." You can find these products everywhere. They are made overseas with cheap labor and then "marked up" in price for the consumer to purchase. We've received some of these cheaply-made plastic toys for our boys and they inevitably break or fall apart within a week's to a month's time. Then I find myself trying to super glue them back together (usually to no avail) and having to explain to my 2 year old that "It broke," and has to now be thrown away since its no longer usable. More money is then spent to find a replacement.

Is there a cost-effective solution to this problem? I would argue, "yes." Melissa and Doug offer some great wooden toys and puzzles that have lasted the longest in our house. The boys can beat them up and wood just "takes a licking and keeps on ticking." Now the paint inevitably gets scratched up a little bit but the functionality of the toy remains and my kids love them. They are a little more expensive than some of the "cheaper" plastic stuff but you can still get a great deal by using 40 and 50% off coupons to use in-store at Michaels and A.C. Moore.

Plan Toys also offers wooden and eco-friendly toys. We have a set of blocks from them and they have also withstood the test of time (and little boys' rough play). Their website offers a list of retailers. I know I got our blocks from when they were having a 15% off sale. I also know that Amazon carries their stuff as well. And if you do Swagbucks, you can earn gift cards for Amazon just by watching videos, doing surveys, and answering polls. I've gotten many a gift card this way without having to "sign up" for anything.

Another great way to find quality toys is to scour thrift shops, garage sales, craigslist and consignment shops in your area. Not only could you find a great, quality toy but you often save even more money and help the environment by buying used.

I'm sure there are a number of other companies out there that makes some great quality toys. Do some research and read reviews to find what you are looking for. Don't be afraid to wait a bit to see if you can catch a sale. Holiday weekends are prime for sales...

The ultimate point that I'm trying to make is I'd rather buy quality than quantity. If I have to keep buying replacements for the cheaper toys, I end up spending more in the long run. I get the most "bang for my buck," if you will, by buying the boys a little bit more expensive toy they can enjoy for a long time rather than a lot of cheap ones that will break and be unusable in a short period of time.

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