Escaping the 9 to 5 to do What You Love – A Toy Business in Oshawa
My name is David. My wife, Erin, and I started Families Come First back in August of 2007. It was part-time at first because we wanted to see if we could build something ourselves. We were getting tired of working for other people, just being a number, working the 9 to 5, and not really enjoying ourselves.
Hello! My name is David. My wife, Erin, and I started Families Come First back in August of 2007. It was part-time at first because we wanted to see if we could build something ourselves. We were getting tired of working for other people, just being a number, working the 9 to 5, and not really enjoying ourselves.
So we said, “Let’s try something else and enjoy what we do”. So we did just that and started off with approaching day care centers, nursery schools, and resource centers offering children’s books, toys, and games from about five different companies in Canada and the US.
We first started off with Usborne Books and they supplied us with all types of children’s books. We also work with Discovery Toys and another company named Family Past Time Games who make cooperative board games. The idea is that everyone has a goal, but you work together to solve it. There’s no one trying to be a winner and nobody becomes a looser if everyone works together as a team. This concept was a hit in the day care centers and nursery schools. These games were particularly appealing since children where at that age when they’re able to play together and work as a team, instead of just knocking down someone else’s blocks or what not.
A year later I was laid off from my previous job. I was working at a GM dealership and we said, “Let’s just jump right in and do this full-time”. So we did and we never looked back. We do literacy fairs, home shows, and exhibits to nursery schools day care centers, churches, any organization that wants us to be there. We set up all of our stuff and of course we use inFlow, which is just incredible with keeping track of all our inventory and printing of receipts for our customers. I just bring my laptop and a printer with me and it becomes a point of sale. The customers come in and they say, “We want these four items; we want these five ones…” I print off the receipt if they want a copy; if not, we can just email it.
What does your business offer?
We sell mainly toys, games and books. We also have magnets and what-not, but it’s all geared towards children from infant to early teen. We also have a website so people who can’t make it to those places can also go online to make purchases. We can ship the order to their home or to their place of business.
What makes you different or unique?
We go in with a positive attitude; we don’t call you up and we don’t put pressure on schools or your home. We have a monthly newsletter if you want to sign-up; we’re not constantly in your face saying, “This is what we have…Buy, buy, buy”. Of if you want to buy, you can go ahead and buy; if not, you don’t have to. We’re a more relaxed-type of business and people really like it; they keep coming back!
What are some of the day to day challenges you face?
The day to day challenges when we started this off was finding reliable software that could handle everything we dealt with: the handling; the shipping; the tracking of things; whether from our vendors or going to our customers, not to mention the inventory and the invoices to our customers.
What is your advice for small business?
First off, get inFlow Inventory. It will save you so much time. The next thing would be you have to have a realistic goal and stick to it. We have a sign here in the office that says, “You will win if you don’t quit”. No matter where we are in the office, we can see this sign. You have to stay positive and not get discouraged. It will be tough and slow in the beginning, but not everyone can be an overnight YouTube success. Just stay positive and your customers will pick up on that positive energy.