Aaron Cianca, 5, of Mounds View played checkers at a Creative Kidstuff store in St. Paul.
Kyndell Harkness • Star Tribune file ,
Minneapolis-based Creative Kidstuff buys online retailer
- Article by: John Ewoldt
- Star Tribune
- May 8, 2013 - 9:07 PM
Creative Kidstuff is boosting the size of its toybox.
The Minneapolis-based company announced Wednesday that it purchased Sensational Beginnings, a catalog and online retailer based in Monroe, Mich.
Terms of the sale between the two privately held companies were not released, but each has revenue of $5 million or more, said Roberta Bonoff, CEO and president of Creative Kidstuff, which has 175 employees. Sensational Beginnings has 35.
Both companies were founded by working mothers. “We each saw a need for a specialty retailer that would help parents and kids find the best quality toys and products,” said Debbie Shah, president and founder of Sensational Beginnings.
Bonoff said that both Creative Kidstuff founder Cynthia Gerdes and Shah were motivated by their own struggles to find quality products with educational play value.
Despite similar missions, the companies have taken different approaches. Sensational Beginnings started as a catalog company and evolved into a catalog/Internet based retailer. It is known for its selection of costume play clothes and accessories, personalized products and larger products such as dollhouses, playhouses, art tables, pretend ships and art tables.
Creative Kidstuff, which gets about 13 percent of its revenue from online sales, has concentrated mostly on its retail stores, which are laid out for kids and well-staffed to answer adult questions. Bonoff said there are no plans for new stores, but she’s not ruling it out.
The two companies will maintain their own branding, although the two websites will show co-branding for the next several weeks. Both companies will maintain separate identities, with little overlap for now.
“There might be a little commingling of best sellers,” Bonoff said. Both companies’ catalogs will also be available in the stores.
Creative Kidstuff was founded in 1982. It has six retail locations in the Twin Cities and five airport terminal stores.
John Ewoldt • 612-673-7633
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