Business Spotlight: Interview with Sue Pyatt, Co-Owner, Kinder Haus Toys in Clarendon

How long have you been in business?

My store came into being in 1982. We opened in the Lee Heights Shops in a tiny space of only 650 ft2. When we started the business, my husband and I had two little girls, ages 9 and 11. But there was a bit of a complication as I was expecting my third child! I figured if I waited for the perfect time, it would never come, so the store opened in April and a baby boy, Jeffrey, came in June.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of being a small business in Arlington?

The greatest advantage is our Arlington customers, who want quality toys, books, sporting goods, and clothes for their children and are very appreciative of our store. Because we had great customer support, we grew and are now a big 5,000 ft2 store. The only disadvantage is that parking can be a problem sometimes.  

How did COVID change your business?

We took a tip from the neighborhood restaurants and swung into action with curb service. We advertised on Facebook that customers could call in, see pictures, and charge on the phone. It worked!

How do you know what will be big sellers vs. duds?  

We never know for sure, and a few duds do happen. But I’ve learned which catalogs of toys are popular with our customers. I also see a few trusted reps and attend toy fairs. Reading trade magazines and the Wall Street Journal can be helpful. Listening to customers is very important, as is being flexible. Most toys in our store are winners.

What kinds of things still surprise you after so many years in business?

After 40 years, people still tell us they love our store, and it is a favorite. We never ever get tired of hearing this.

What else do you as an owner feel is important?

When you surround yourself with good people, they will make you look good. I am grateful for Everett, Laura, Dylan, and Angela and I appreciate the fine high school students who have worked for us from Lyon Park and Ashton Heights.