Local Toy Retailer Thrives With Unique Approach

Geppetto's Has 8 Store Locations Around San Diego County

A San Diego retailer is bucking the trend towards high-tech gifts by offering low-tech -- sometimes even no-tech -- toys.

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Geppetto's has eight locations scattered around San Diego County. The retailer specializes in selling toys that rely heavily on a child's imagination, not electricity. Those toys include simple balls and building blocks, to Legos and Thomas the Train sets.

"So there's some things that are low-tech but really more things to develop your imagination," said Geppetto's President Brian Miller at the retailer's Otay Ranch Town Center location in Chula Vista.

The company's philosophy has helped them thrive in a world dominated by retailers like Walmart and Target.

"We're not a big-box store so we pare it down to the best toys for your kids," said Miller.

"There are a lot of parents that are out in the market that really want to make sure their kids have a different experience from the iPad, the iTouch, and all the video games that they're inundated with," said San Diego State University branding and marketing professor Miro Copic.

Copic said parents value the hands-on experiences that spark creativity and imagination.

"They're kind of one of the few places to go for these toddler and young kid tactile toys," he said.

It helped Geppetto's grow in sales every year since Miller took over as president 19 years ago. The toy store even survived the downturn in the economy, as Miller said sales stayed flat but never went backward.

"We never ever had a year that was lower in volume than the previous year," he said. "So even when the economy was tight, people still bought something for their children."

Miller said sales are up a couple percentage points in 2011 from 2010. Those numbers may even improve during the final days leading up to Christmas.

"Right now, we're trending to be up a couple percentage points but the next week could really make a big difference," said Miller.

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