Pretty, Fizzy Paradise

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Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Toy-Store Rambling

Ragnell showed me this and it reminded me of both the most annoying thing and the most awesome thing about working in a toy store.

Oddly, the most annoying thing about the toy store to me isn't customers, it's the organization. The toys are divided into sections, naturally. Action/Adventure, Sports, Bikes, Dolls, Baby, Games and Preschool. Two sections have short hand of "Boys" and "Girls". The Boys department being of course Action and Sports. The girls being dolls and toy kitchens.

I know in some sense it's a ridiculous thing to be irritated by. Action figures ARE primarily boys' toys. Dolls ARE primarily girls. just annoys me that in this day and age we still openly say that. Especially since we do get customers interested in buying sports equipment for girls or toy kitchens/play food for boys. And there's no poorer business sense than telling a ten year old boy that the tamagotchi he wants is in the girls' section.

I guess the outright gender association, while not unreasonable, just irks me. I split my time evenly between action figures and barbie dolls as a kid. (I admit, I usually stole GI Joe's guns and gave them to Barbie. But that's a digression). And I remember being uncomfortable when clerks thought I was lost and tried to lead me back to the dolls.

I also get annoyed by parents who go "Oh! He/She'll love this! Do you have it in pink?"

On the other hand though, I'm reminded of the coolest thing I ever saw at the store. There was a young father, maybe 28-ish. Very attractive. And his cute little daughter. She had to be about four or five.

Anyway. They were looking at bikes. And it was impossibly cute in the way that most families looking at bikes are as long as I don't have to get anything down for them from the ladder. :-) (ladder + bikes hanging from racks a foot above my head + distinct lack of coordination = not so fun time) The little girl tried a couple of different bikes. Barbie, Bratz, others. Then she found the one she liked.

It was a 12-inch boys Superman bike. All navy blue and red, with the "S". Very obviously a boy's bike. But she tried it and she really liked it. She was zooming across the room soon enough. I remember seeing the father look thoughtfully at the bike and waiting for the inevitable: "Do you have a version for girls?"

But he didn't. He just smiled. Took the kid and the bicycle. And bought it. No word about it being for boys. No trying to steer the kid toward the pink and purple monstrosities. He just bought the bike that his little girl wanted.

That made my day. Seriously. I can't explain why. It was just really cool to see. :-)


  • At December 27, 2006 11:35 AM, Blogger Zaratustra said…

    For some reason this reminds me of:

  • At December 27, 2006 11:38 AM, Blogger SallyP said… I love toys. I still have my Johnny West figures, including the RANCH which was the best present I ever got...although I imagine that they are a bit before your time.

    And who wouldn't want a Superman bike? I wonder if Dad gave it a try when they got home.

  • At December 27, 2006 8:28 PM, Anonymous "Starman" Matt Morrison said…

    Yeah. I'm reminded of every time I had some parent (I saw mom's do this too), pulling their daughters close and not letting them run around like their sons did at the comic book store. Like there was no chance there was something the girls might find enjoyable.

    Of course I did my best to enagage them and show them the games and something besides the "girl safe" area with the plastic unicorns and Betty comics.

  • At December 27, 2006 11:23 PM, Anonymous CrimsonThunder said…

    Had something similar happen (on a smaller scale) yesterday. After her doctor's appointment, the doc wanted to give my daughter (3) a sticker. He kept flipping through them, saying "another superman, this is no good" until he found a "pretty butterfly" for her. When he left she asked "Can I have a Superman sticker please?" so we got her one.
    When I finish proofing it, I'll have to send you my combination of the Action Figure and "Pink" toy store aisles...
    Disney Princess/JLA amalgams.


  • At December 28, 2006 1:46 AM, Blogger Ununnilium said…


    My sister likes girly things, but puts things that most people wouldn't consider girly into that section - for instance, she likes superheroes, but only *girl* superheroes. So I got her Marvel Legends Spider-Woman for Christmas, and she loved it.

  • At December 28, 2006 6:33 PM, Blogger 100LittleDolls said…

    I'll never forget this one time when I was working at a toy store and a little boy wanted a unicorn figurine that had pink hair. His parents were horrified. They tried to get him to choose a different, more boyish toy, but he held his ground.

    Instead of buying for it, they yelled at him and pulled him, crying, out of the store. I was utterly horrified. It still makes me depressed thinking about it. While toys are just toys, I really think, for the kids who aren't allowed to play with the items that are supposed to match with their gender, they can have a huge impact in regards to personal development.

  • At December 28, 2006 6:46 PM, Anonymous Hutch said…

    My fiancee works in the toy department at Wal-Mart, so I hear about this kind of stuff a lot. Every time she has to get a bike down for someone, they go "Are you SURE you can get that? Should we find a guy to get the bike down? Etc etc?" Naturally, it makes her really angry.


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