Sunday, September 21, 2008

Children's Palace and Child World toy stores revisited

Had some new Children's Palace and Child World items to share. So lets take another look at my all-time favorite toy store.

New to my collection:

A Children's Palace & Child World Ertl toy truck, in the box

Close up of the trailer

An old Child World toy truck by Majorette, on the card

An old Children's Palace toy truck by Majorette

A double page CP/CW video game ad from Marvel's Robocop II adaptation

Peter Panda puffy stickers

Some CW/CP items graciously sent in by readers

From Bernard, a former Child World employee was nice enough to take pics of some of the memorabilia he had saved.

From Brandon, an excellent shot of the old style CP store sign.

From around the web: (i.e. photos are not mine, I'm just sharing what I've found)

A Peter Panda board game

An old store pic

Former store locations around the US

So, so, so close...
In my constant search to find a photo of the old Omaha Children's Palace location, I found this great old pic of the store prior, to CP. The spot was occupied by a Handy Dan (long defunct Hardware store chain)

A must read
Here's a excerpt from a reader of the original Children's Palace post

"Dr. Geektarded, I had the pleasure of helping to open the store in Omaha. Unfortunately, this is the only time I have ever visited your fine city. I was involved with over 20 store openings.

I also remember when they filmed "The Color of Money". We were excited that Children's Palace (CP) would be in a major movie. I recall that CP was paid $25,000 for a day of shooting for the scenes. This equated to one days average sales for that location. The "customers" in the scenes were filled in by store personnel and their families. I still watch the movie on occasion.

Dr. you ask what happened to all of the clearance items? Well, we sold them! (obviously) But here is the rest of the story: The reason why CP had so many "old" items was their "pack-away system". We would store all boxed merchandise above the area in the actual aisles of the store. All pegged items (i.e matchbox, hot wheels, seasonal) would be boxed up and stored in the warehouse. Here is where the issue happened. As the store sold down items like Matchbox cars, we would get another few cases in on our truck so we would fill the shelves with this product. The overstock Matchbox cars in the pack-aways stayed in the warehouse, never seeing the light of day. This inefficient way of stock balancing was one of the many factors to the demise of CP. Ideally, today's retailers have eliminated the back stock all together as to not tie up these dollars. I recall meeting a Matchbox collector who asked to see any unopened cases in the warehouse. He was like a kid in a candy store as he looked through the 5+ year old cases.

During the closeout procedures, we had incremental markdowns that were sent down by corporate for 10 weeks. (i.e. 10% off, 20% off) It was in the last few days that we went from 70% off to 90% off retail prices. We continuously pulled the old pack-aways out of the back room as merchandise sold down. WOW.... all of these old items came out!!! Old Mego figures (like the Spiderman you have pictured. I bought a case of 6 for 50 cents each!)Michael Jackson dolls, Starting lineup, and so on... I bought several items... but I couldn't buy them all. I still have these items MOC. I only had one child then (age 1) and boxed them up. Now, I see these items on EBAY so I never let my kids play with them. (Shame on me)

The last hour of the last day, my liquidator consultant had me put up a sign that said "Everything you can fit in your cart - only $10". Needless to say, everything was gone within the hour. I took a video camera and video taped some of the mayhem on the last day. Fortunately, I had a job lined up and was paid nearly 3 months severance/remaining vacation pay if I stayed to the end."

I'm was so happy to hear about this "pack-away system". That explains all the old stock and why the aisles were literally packed to the rafters. At the Omaha location, on the shelving above the new stock, was this Tetris like packing of old boxed vehicles, playsets, etc. Then, along the back of the store was more boxed toys and aisles of carded toys. And lastly, the front entrance of the store was filled with closeout items too. Huge displays of Masters of the Universe, Voltron, Gobots, Rock Lords and the like, years after they had run their course.

The store was probably 1/3 closeout items. It was honestly a crazy way of doing business, but all those old toys are some of my fondest memories of the chain.


Anonymous said...

Anyone reading this work in the store warehouse? Remember the "interesting: graffiti on the inside of the trucks? We were forever writing insults to the "apes" at Obetz (Ohio distribution center, outside of Columbus) about how they loaded trucks, or to Avon for the latest silly idea about how to run the store. Staff at Obetz responded in kind - I doubt anyone in Avon ever saw the inside of a semi-truck.

We would also do "truck splunking" when some item we needed was on the truck, but we had no room in the warehouse to unload the truck to find it. One would end up tunneling between the loose boxes with a flashlight (if you were lucky) looking for the Pound Puppies or the Cabbage Patch Dolls.

Nickdoctorwho said...

D'you know, I may still have my old Peter Panda plushie (3" tall) up in my closet somewhere. Must remember to dig that out and get you a picture of it.

Sally said...

I am trying to help out my sister who, for some reason is discussing an old toy store that was located in Cheektowaga, NY in the old Thruway Mall. Her friend says it was a Child World (aka Child Palace) but I am not sure...does anyone know if there was a location in Cheektowaga or Buffalo, NY

Sabrina said...

I am a hopeless nostalgic who fondly remembers the old Child World store in Wayne, NJ, about 20 minutes from my house. I can still remember how my parents used to take me there to buy Strawberry Shortcake and Care Bear miniatures for $3 each, and Atari video games for $6 each. I really enjoyed seeing those old photos on your blog; it brought back even more great memories of my childhood!

Patrick Lonzi said...

I live in Cheektowaga myself. I remember going to Child World often when I was younger. It was in the plaza with the Thruway mall. I got my first Nintendo system there and also my first Gameboy. There was also another Child World on Transit rd. The Thruway mall location was knocked down along with the Mall itself shortly after the Galleria mall opened. The Transit rd location I believe was gutted and the building reused. It was easier to reuse since it didn't have the Castle shape like the one at the Thruway Mall.

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daria said...

The two Marden's photos are from Portland, Maine, Pine Tree Shopping Center, as is the black-and-white photo of the old-style and new style stores (the pic above the first Marden's photo). The old style store is now Joann Fabrics (has been since the new store opened in the early 80's). I visited the Child World castle at its clearance sale in 1992, when I was a senior in high school. I think I still have some balloon-animal balloons from there, somewhere.

The castle is gone from Pine Tree now; the plaza was remodeled in 2005-6 when they built a new Lowe's.

sassykat64 said...

My daughter received a Peter Panda for her first Christmas and has kept it with her til it literally fell apart which was right after she graduated from Ohio State. She now has her first child and I would love to find a Peter Panda for my grandson. If anyone can help me with this please contact me at Thanks!!!

Nickdoctorwho said...

Hi, me again. I also have the old "Video Catalog" from the late 80s/early 90s. I bought it a few years ago on eBay because I had a few vague flashes of it and had to see it again. It also stars a very young Lacey Chabert--a name you don't hear anymore these days.

RE: Sassykat64

Good luck trying to find a Peter Panda. I'm afraid you won't have much luck finding an authentic one. I'd say your best bet is to try "Build-a-Bear" workshop for "those special parts" to make one. Or, if you can't stand the BaBW and all that it stands for, all you need is a run-of-the-mill plush panda (a hand-puppet works even better!), a soft, blue, denim-like material, red/white striped cloth (the shirt) and yellow fabric paint for the name. The overalls should be simple enough to make; the shirt can be nothing more than material sewn onto the overalls so it's all one piece.

Oh, and, you'll need some really good reference photos. Luckily, Geektarded has provided plenty of these.

Lastly, consider yourself fortunate that Child World went with so innocuous a mascot as Peter Panda; I somehow doubt a mascot like "Charlie Cthulhu" would go down quite as well. (Then again, given the popularity of Davy Jones from "Pirates of the Caribbean"...)

Anonymous said...

Wow, I loved Children's Palace! Toys R Us will never quite match it. I can still remember going there and being amazed at all the toys they had!
You can actually find Children's Palace and Child World shirts on these sites:

scarlet reynolds said...

I came across your blog searching the internet for UK toy stores. Before I could leave your blog allow me to express my point of view here. Toys are vital tools that help foster the mental, physical, emotional and social development of boys and girls. Toys are basic instruments for the development of children’s fantasy, thoughts and creativity.


You have given very good place to me to take my little kids.

alisondra said...

I wish I was able to visit the store we had here in Fargo, ND more than I did. I recall the front of the building more than anything. I'm just about 25 years old and I remember vaguely red walls by the checkouts and toys stacked to the ceilings. My friends who grew up here thought I was nuts when trying to refrence this store because no one knew what I was talking about. Only a few older people I've asked recently actually recall something about it. I believe after they closed the store they took down the castle front quickly. I can't remember if anything besides Bed Bath and Beyond occupied the space. The store is connected to a strip mall of random stores with a TJMaxx, the area is called TJMaxx plaza. Wish I could find out more about Fargo's mom told me she didn't think it was here for very long. I have been missing my childhood more than ever lately, wish we still had this!

kevin kenefick said...

I worked at the Levittown Ny Childworld during my high school years from july 88 to june of 91. I didn't know it then but this was my favriote part time job. I still could call what was in the asiles to some piont. Asile one games. Two models. Three car, four action figuers nija tutrle ghost buster and gun toys. Five sports. Six stuff amiales and cabage dolls. Seven barbee dolls eight lego. Nine baby suplies. Then bikes

patrick said...

hi i was a huge fan of child world.I went to all the the stores in the chicagoland area.I have a peter panda store dollar still and i have been looking for 20 years for any more of the money.It was just like geophrey dollars at toys'r us.I haven't found a 5,10,20 or any other single at all.Does anyone else still have any of the peter panda dollars?

sixtiescinema said...

I was part of original staff that opened the Child World in Levittown, New York in 1979-80. My uncle Arlo Steinicke was the first general manager and got me the job though he left before the store had its grand opening. I was 18 and going to Nassau Community College. Remember first day they had me try to put a bike together and it was a disaster. Smartly moved me to stocking the shelves. My first part time job and had so much fun. Worked with a great group of people whose names escape me except for Kerry Noe? who had a boyfriend. Few of us would go out drinking after work. Can't remember why I quit but I did in I believe 1982. Tom Lisanti

Anonymous said...

I used to work at Child World in Danvers, MA from 1986 until they closed in 1992.

Its amazing how little information there is about Child World / Children's Palace on the web - just a few pictures & forum discussions.

So I decided to try to change that - check out - I'm looking to add new content & correct any inaccuracies on the site.

Toys Were Us...

Kookoolillibertine said...

I just found a picture of myself when I was about four years old posing with Peter Panda.

Kookoolillibertine said...

I just found a picture of myself when I was about four years old posing with Peter Panda.