If you’ve got children, we’re sure you are all too familiar with the amount of money parents waste on buying new toys. Kids are curious little things with very little attention span. Very often, a new toy is interesting only for a few days and pretty soon, it will either get stashed away or thrown away. And then the request for new toys come up. And thus, the expensive cycle carries on.
As parents, we always want our kids to have the best of everything. But, let us think about this for a moment. Is it really necessary to keep buying new toys just to keep the little ones happy? Are we teaching the right values to the children by offering them shiny new toys each time they get bored? Clearly, there should be a better way to entertain them without wasting money and without throwing away so many toys.
Here’s where the idea of toy libraries or “toybraries”, as they fondly called, steps in. Simply put, toy libraries are spots that store donated or old toys from kids who no longer want them. Other kids get to borrow these toys and return them as and when they’ve stopped liking them.
If you live in an apartment complex, and if you have time to spare, starting a toy library would not only be an engaging activity, you would help fellow parents save up on a lot of cash.
If the idea interests you, here’s how you can start a toy library.
1. Find the space
A reasonably large room in your own apartment, or even a section in common apartment facilities or even the clubhouse can be used. You can even pay rent to the association to use that space. Don’t worry, you can charge a modest subscription fee from parents to be part of the toy library. That way paying rent won’t be too much of a problem.
You may need to invest in storage arrangements. Shelves, baskets, even a computer to keep track of members, activities and toys.
2. Collect toys
If you have enough on your own, you can start with that. Circulate email, WhatsApp and social media posts announcing the launch of your toy store. Invite parents to donate their kids’ old toys. Offer a discount on subscription fee that is in proportion with the number of toys they donate. You’ll have people lining up to donate in no time!
You may need to do a round of cleaning of all the toys once everyone has donated stuff. Can’t really trust stashed away toys to be clean enough for kids to play with, can we?
3. Formulate structure & policies for the library
This is very important. You may even want to look into the legalities of it if you plan to make a franchise out of it. Or you can make a simple, non-registered one only for your apartment complex and the kids inside it.
You will still need policies on how damages to toys, delayed returns, subscription fee and late fee structures will be. This is a one-time effort. Don’t let this step discourage you from starting a library.
4. Host a launch party!
Officially kickstart the library with a small event. Preferably on a day that everyone will be free to attend. Click pictures, circulate on the Internet and in your internal communication platform for your apartment. If you have an ADDA, half the promotion can be done on it! Simply post pictures and also make an announcement in the discussion boards.
5. Encourage SAHM in your apartment to join
Every bit of help counts. And this could be an opportunity to network and bond with others in your apartment. If the initiative takes off well, you can consider expanding too! This is the kind of activity that can have fixed hours so it would not disrupt your routines too much, except in the very early days.
Trust us when we say this, toy libraries are doable. And also a huge benefit to everyone. Think of all the toys that are gathering dust in your home and realise that those toys can put a smile on a child’s face. Is that not worth a little effort?
Why don’t you get going right away? Take a look at all your child’s stuff you’ve put away. Maybe even share the pictures here for others to get motivated! Who knows, maybe you’ll even meet a business partner here in the comments!
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