A sure way to lose happiness...is to want it at the expense of everything else - Bette Davis

A sure way to lose happiness…is to want it at the expense of everything elseBette Davis

With all the discussion today both publicly and privately over factory sales – let’s just say, I’m needing to believe in the power of play more and more. I might have even coined that infamous phrase once, though I don’t remember, really. I suppose I can take lots of credit for things past, but does it really matter? And to think, gee…play meant something so very different in those days (queue the Wonder Years theme music). Be that as it may…the phrase ‘believe in the power of play’ isn’t even used much anymore, so who really gives a shit? Hasbro doesn’t.

In an imaginary time and place, Kitty...

In an imaginary time and place…

I do remember the days of those first factory sales when I worked for Tonner. They were fun – really fun! Marsha (and Marcia) almost lost body parts, John was impaled by an eight year-old, Charles’ kids were pushed into a doll hospital parts pile (we actually had bids on them) – we don’t even talk about Laura’s unfortunate encounter with another Wonder Woman fan (Sam) and the ‘task incident‘. People hunted and gathered, people embraced their love and hatred of dolls, people drank hot chocolate (some waited outside in warmed cars, bundles of wool, and shredded Elmos). This was the perfect moment to watch my fellow collectors become customers actually (as I was now on the ‘other side of the fence‘ – more on that later, kittens). And they would go stark-raving-mad over their favorite dolls sold at a pittance. And in those days (a scant 10 years ago), it was a pittance ($10 for a nude SYDNEY)!

Nude Doll...but still proud...

Nude Doll…but still proud…

Huge cardboard boxes filled with all the leftovers of past collections – a shame we would find that strategy sinister with Janet Lennon years later. Collectors fought, but had a ball – many lamenting though, over the fact they previously bought the same doll at full price. Sweetie, we had gajillions in over-produced dresses to sell that you might otherwise move in a gift set…so something had to be done. A side note: I apolgize for nothing, we tried to find clever and collectible ways of dealing with stupid mistakes by other people who were stricken from the company line-up.

I'm an AVATAR!!!

I’m an AVATAR!!!

Whatever. Imagine yourself behind the scenes when you opened the doors to an insanely popular doll maker’s front doors (well, the warehouse side entrance – but who noticed?). If Charlie Bucket could have lived on dolls, this would have been his golden ticket (assuming he could have survived the onslaught of rabid, sometimes violent lambs clawing for their favorite graven images). Oh, the drama.

Worship works...

Worship works…

Reality is – businesses have to do this. Especially at year-end when they are taking inventory (items they will have to pay taxes on next year). And Baby, if they have to apply taxes on something from a previous year – you are going to pay for it in prices the next year. Inventory accounting is a bitter bitch…as much as cash flow is…but it’s what a business is. Gone are the sweetness and light of company figure heads that made cheer and bright – enter the age of businesses who must be businesses to survive.

I didn't order this!

I didn’t order this!

I don’t like (often even hate) the fact that I was laid off for ‘business reasons‘ – if that’s really true…that’s one truth I may never know. So why dwell on it? Even if I was let go on personal reasons, it ultimately meant Tonner didn’t want me there anymore. So if you need to reduce one monumentally-talented individual to help your bottom-line and protect the ego of others (no sarcasm intended), or your business…then so be it. I would have done the same thing. Doesn’t make me like it…but that doesn’t really matter any more, now does it?

They didn't want him anymore...poor piglet.

They didn’t want him anymore…poor piglet.

For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. This is theory, of course – and we could get Sheldon involved – but why? It’s true. And it’s also true in karma (yes, I read). So in putting out your most vile of clearance sales (at least to your business partner retailers, who cannot compete with it), you should react in the opposite – launch a new collection! And it will come to pass – and they will come in numbers. You can defile one maker for all its ilks…but they all find a way to deal with excess inventory – some are more public than others – and its called the factory sale.

My doll buns are the best of doll buns in the doll bun world.

My doll buns are the best of doll buns in the doll bun world.

So…it’s a new SEASON of DOLLS! Get pissed off over the year-end clearance all you want – but you cannot escape the fact that it’s time for you to get excited again! The doll industry relies on it. The doll industry actually relies on many things that place the burden of business on the shoulders of the fragile collector. Offering new collections is one way to get you excited about a new year (though some excitement can be measured in drabs when creativity is lacking). Don’t you think it’s cyclical suicide that a company has to launch products just after it pisses out its last collection? Well, I do to…but fashion does it all the time – much of it is inevitable – unless you’re just waiting like little vipers for those prices to come down.

No, really...it's new...

No, really…it’s new…

Editions mean nothing anymore. You can always get it. Why not wait until you can get the best possible price? Well, let me tell you why. Aside from a little thing called demand (which is unpredictable), there are pricing paradigms and formulae that analyze not only the pricing, but the process by which a product is designed, manufactured and distributed. Mattel and Integrity Toys are actually making editions that sell out. They have collector clubs that not only work, they thrive.

Who's the cheap bitch now?

Who’s the cheap bitch now?

So it really is a double-edged sword…try to get the maximum price out of the gates – or level your revenue playing field by controlling your costs, and having a painstakingly ideal overview of what those costs are, and how they affect your bottom line. These are all simple cost-driven models they teach in the first year of business school. Funny how many people don’t understand this (‘rootable hair‘ – does Miss J not understand anything?)

Take due notice thereof and govern yourselves accordingly.

Two markets in one!

Two markets in one!

9 Comments on “Believe in The Power of Business…

  1. I am continually impressed with the subjects you will tackle.

    With regard to the 2nd to last picture, Cissy and Gene are my particular favorites, and I was delighted to see them, disheveled or not. The obvious contrast exists. Whilst Alexander gets Cissy all wrong – over designed and over priced for the regular line, never listens to collectors and thus, will reduce Cissy to a novelty item only available at Conventions, Gene has had a rebirth, in resin, mind you, with a basic doll priced at $325.00, and selling. There’s money out there, you’ve just got to tap into the right market.

  2. If I learned anything, it is stay small. Small = sold out everything, no discounting, highest quality products, doing the fun stuff you care about instead of moving product from one place to another. And yes, you did coin the phrase “believe in the power of play” as I recall.

  3. Business math tells it all. Each business model defines its creators. It also determines the “players”. Some collectors prefer the exclusivity of price and quantity so the companies that create smaller editions do seem to win the day. For the other producers, factory sales are a form of purging, as necessary as exhaling. And as you noted, they were even fun. Great blog post…. thanks!

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