An expansion at Dollar Dollar in the heart of Williams Lake has increased the sales floor by 10 per cent and will add more than 60 feet of display area.
This renovation will accommodate a brand new growing toy section in the store — high quality games, puzzles, crafts, models, puppets and toys.
Dollar Dollar owners Carl Johnson and Katalin Szauer say that this departure from traditional dollar store retail isn’t their first.
“We’ve always brought in items that cost more than a dollar. My customers gave me ‘permission’ to go up in prices and quality, and it began with cake stands. It started with cake stuff and went to remote control items, accessories and parts,” Johnson said.
That evolution continued with scrapbooking and card making, Szauer adds.
“We’re in the process of expanding those sections, bringing in high quality, good name card making and scrapbooking supplies,” she explains.
“We learn from our customers — they teach us what we need to carry so they can do what they love.”
Johnson’s background in store interior design and extensive experience in small town business gives him a great advantage when it comes to a successful expansion. He says his past projects include Teeter Totter Toys in Vernon and many others throughout the Okanagan Valley. “I did store set-up every week — sometimes three a week for 10 years. I’ve always been a small town business guy,” Johnson adds.
“The benefit of a small town business is that we can respond to what our customers want. We are located downtown in the heart of the community.
“I can look back on all the stores I’ve done: they’re all there to keep the core alive. That’s important. Without downtown businesses a city loses its identity.
“It takes a lot of determination to keep a small business going, and your costs are higher,” Szauer notes. “The appeal of a small business, though, is the relationship with customers — the high level of customer service.
“We turn ourselves inside out to bring in what our customers ask for. If it’s possible, we’ll make it happen.
“This expansion is a response to our customers — the retail scene is always shifting and we have to shift with it. We have to offer different lines than the big box stores.”
She explains that they needed more space to accommodate the new toy lines and still have room for seasonal items heading into Halloween and Christmas.
“We’re carrying Playmobil, Melissa and Doug and Ravensburger puzzles and games, and have more new lines on the way. This is a change in the type of toys we’ve traditionally carried. The quality with these new toys is meant to last,” Szaurer says.
“Grandparents will love our new toy section; so will young parents, kids, friends and families looking for a perfect gift and the environmentally-aware shopper. You can also get wrap, cards, ribbon, gift bags and balloons.”
Customer reaction to the new items already on the shelves has been very positive, Szauer says adding some of the Melissa and Doug infant toys come with a developmental aspect.
“There are suggestions on the packages for how to play with the toy with your child depending on how old they are. The listed activities for each stage come with labels like ‘sensory, fine motor, gross motor, logical, linguistic, creative, emotional, communication and self-esteem,’” she notes.
“These toys are great for day care providers and therapists who work with young children, and they’re a wonderful way for you to play with your children and engage with them.”
Johnson says that other new items include classic toys such as a wooden bench with a hammer and pegs.
“These are toys that we all played with when we were young — still interesting and fun. We’re bringing in ‘retro’ toys that are mechanical rather than high-tech, and we also carry a lot of good quality crafts for kids,” Johnson says.
“We have our eye on several other toy lines including John Deere and Lamaze for infants,” Szauer adds. “We also have some great surprises up our sleeve.”
Dollar Dollar is located at Hodgson Place Mall on Second Avenue.