Amazon.com Inc. will announce today that it has acquired Back to Basics Toys of Herndon, which specializes in sales of nostalgic classics such as Raggedy Ann dolls, metal Slinkys and Tinkertoy-style wooden construction sets.
Back to Basics Toys will be featured as a "store within a store," with a direct link on Amazon's toys Web page. The move strengthens Amazon's position in a crowded group of e-commerce sites such as eToys.com and ToysRUs.com vying this holiday season for a share of the $27 billion-plus retail toy market.
The acquisition represents the Seattle Internet giant's latest move to expand its product line beyond books. Earlier this month, it purchased Tool Crib of the North, a Grand Forks, N.D., catalogue retailer that will serve as the foundation for Amazon's new online home-improvement store.
Amazon spokesman Bill Curry declined to disclose the purchase price for either company, both of which were privately held.
Back to Basics Toys was founded a decade ago in the basement of Eric Garfinkel's Washington area home. Garfinkel, then an official in the Bush administration, discovered one day when he took his young son shopping that he could no longer find "the good stuff that I remembered from my childhood."
"Timeless toys that are designed to fire the imagination," said Garfinkel, "belong in everyone's toy box."
So he and his wife, Diane, hunted down the manufacturers of some of their old favorites and created a black-and-white catalogue. They took out ads in New Yorker and Smithsonian magazines. In the first year, the start-up sold almost 10,000 toys. So far this year, Back to Basics Toys--which has only seven full-time employees--has sold more than 350,000 items and has taken in "millions of dollars" in revenue, said Garfinkel, the company's president. Its customer base now includes more than 600,000 people worldwide, he said.
Back to Basics Toys
Business: Sells about 500 classic and new toys that they say "must stand the test of time." About 93 percent of sales are by catalogue, the rest through the Internet.
President: Eric Garfinkel
Sales this year: More than 350,000 items
Favorite toys: According to an online survey with about 10,000 responses: Barbie was first, followed by Easy-Bake Oven, log cabin building set, Tinkertoy-style building sets and Etch A Sketch.
Favorite games: Monopoly, followed by Clue and Life, according to the same online survey.
Web address: www.backtobasicstoys.com
SOURCE: The company