Mastermind Toys Announces Largest Expansion in 33 Year History

Toronto-based Mastermind Toys has announced that it will open at least 11 stores in 2017, which is the most in the retailer’s 33 year history. The company is now Canada’s largest specialty toy and children’s books retailer, and it continues to seek out new markets as it sees tremendous success with its strategy of selling products that are also educational. Mastermind Toys also recently launched its new eCommerce site:

The company is booming and last month, it reached a milestone when it opened its 50th store location in Peterborough, Ontario. “It’s an exciting time for Mastermind as we celebrate the opening of our 50th Canadian store, a significant achievement for our business,” said Jon Levy, Chief Toy Merchant, CEO and Co-Founder, Mastermind Toys. “Growing our brand and increasing our store count in underserved communities is a top priority for Mastermind in 2017.”

Humphrey Kadaner, President and COO at Mastermind Toys, explained that even though the company is only announcing 11 stores this year, there could be more if sites are found and deals are done. The expansion will be particularly Atlantic Canada-heavy as well — the retailer will open a total of five stores in the Maritimes, where it currently has no stores. Mastermind currently operates in five provinces: Ontario, Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

The 11 confirmed locations for 2017 (two are already open) include the following: 

  • Lethbridge, AB (opened January 2017)
  • Peterborough, ON (50th store, opened April 2017)
  • Saint John, NB (Summer 2017) 
  • Winnipeg, MB (Summer 2017)
  • Dartmouth, NS (Fall 2017)
  • Halifax, NS (Fall 2017)
  • Moncton, NB (Fall 2017)
  • Greater Edmonton Area, AB (St. Albert) (Fall 2017)
  • Ottawa, ON (Orleans) (Fall 2017)
  • Toronto, ON (Rosedale/Summerhill) (Fall 2017)
  • Fredericton, NB (Late Fall 2017) 

“The demographic indicators and retail market potential in Atlantic Canada are very strong, and represent a major growth opportunity for our company,” said Mr. Levy. “We are confident consumers will embrace the Mastermind concept - a fun and engaging shopping destination offering the very best in specialty toys and children’s books, free-gift wrapping and a team of experienced in-store product experts.”

When we last interviewed Mr. Kadaner about two years ago, Mastermind Toy’s real estate strategy involved opening stores in highly educated, high income parts of the country. He explained that since then, the company has found tremendous success in various different markets and hence, Mastermind has expanded on its original goal store count — 75 was the target two years ago, and that’s now been amended to a projected 80+ locations nationwide by the year 2019. By the end of this year, Mastermind will operate at least 60 stores, with 1,100 employees and over 50,000 square feet added to its retail footprint. 

Mr. Kadaner noted that in the fall of 2017, Mastermind Toys will open a location in one of the country’s wealthiest areas — Rosedale/Summerhill. Located at 1133 Yonge Street, the new store will serve adjacent neighbourhoods that also include affluent South Hill, Forest Hill and Deer Park, and it will also be steps away from the Summerhill TTC subway station. 

Various other markets are expected to see Mastermind Toy stores, including Vancouver Island, the BC Interior, Northern Ontario, as well as more stores in existing markets in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. The Vancouver area could also see more, though retail real estate can be challenging to secure in the expensive, densely populated region. 

Mastermind Toys also just completed a revamp of its website, featuring a fresh new look with bigger images, brighter colours, and simpler navigation, as well as an expanded product selection and a faster checkout. New features make it easier to search the product selection and find out about the latest store news and events. There’s also a convenient new Gift Finder tool to curate gift lists that can be saved and shared with family and friends. Customers can also buy gift cards (both physical and digital) in any denomination, redeem them, and check balances while on the site. This fall, the web initiative will be expanded further with the added capability of being able to search in-store inventory online in real time. 

Mastermind Toys was founded in Toronto 1984 by brothers Andy and Jon Levy, who wanted to offer shoppers a classic toy store experience. Its first location measured only 300 square feet, selling children's software and home computers. It carries thousands of educational toys, books, games, arts and crafts, puzzles and science kits. The Levy brothers partnered with Birch Hill Equity Partners in 2010, facilitating the company’s national expansion.

*Photos were supplied by Mastermind Toys. 

Canadian Retail News From Around The Web: May 18, 2017

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