September 12, 2013 // Franchising.com // Toy trends tend to come and go. Hot products like Beanie Babies, Webkinz, and Silly Bandz have created a huge buzz in the toy industry, and every year toy store owners scour the International Toy Fair in New York for the next trendsetting toy that kids will go wild about. For the last few years that breakout toy hasn’t materialized. Until now. This year loom-mania is sweeping the nation, and kids all over the country are weaving rubber band creations with the much sought after Rainbow Loom.
The Rainbow Loom kit consists of a plastic loom, rubber bands, a hand tool, and c-clips. Kids weave together the rubber bands to create bracelets, necklaces, key chains, and even the occasional American Flag. Learning Express Toys locations around the country now host daily Rainbow Loom classes that cater to beginner, intermediate, and advanced level loomers. Stores also sponsor design contests, host "bracelet swap meets", and provide all the best looming accessories for their young customers. "We like to think of ourselves as the Rainbow Loom Headquarters," notes Learning Express Toys of Denville, NJ owner Diane Bowser. "Kids love that we stock our store with charms, organizers, and all the latest band colors. They’ll come in and show us a new design they’ve come up with, and the next week we’ll have them in-store store teaching that design to their fellow loomineers." Store owners have also found their own ways to get creative with the loom. Learning Express of Reno contributes how-to design videos to the Rainbow Loom YouTube channel, and the world’s largest Rainbow Loom replica was recently built at Learning Express Toys of Lake Zurich, IL.
Learning Express Toys Founder and CEO, Sharon DiMinico, attributes much of the Rainbow Loom’s success to its old fashioned appeal. "This isn’t a toy that lights up or requires an app; it goes back to basics," notes DiMinico. "The Rainbow Loom encourages social interaction, builds fine motor skills, and inspires creativity. We’ve come to discover the play possibilities really are endless with this toy." The Rainbow Loom is also proving to have universal appeal; the toy is popular with both boys and girls, and it appeals to a wide variety of age groups.
Fundraising is a keystone of the Learning Express Toys brand, and many stores have found ways to leverage the success of the Rainbow Loom to give back to their local communities. Learning Express of Woodstock recently donated a portion of Rainbow Loom proceeds to local parent groups, Learning Express of Shreveport donated bracelets created during their "sloomber party" event to local homeless children, and Learning Express of Baldwin Place held a Bandz for Boston event in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings. As a token of friendship, children from the Baldwin Place store sent bracelets to children at Neighborhood House Charter School where bomb victim Martin Richards had attended school.
The Rainbow Loom was invented by parentpreneur Choon Ng. A former crash safety engineer at Nissan, Ng was inspired to develop the loom after seeing his daughters weave bracelets out of small rubber bands. In the early days, Ng took the loom store to store—hopeful that local retailers would take a chance on his product. Learning Express Toys was one of the first retailers to recognize the loom’s potential. Back in July of 2012, franchisee Cindy O’Hara took a chance on the Choon's loom and ordered 24 pieces. Two days later she had to reorder, and soon looming was booming in her Atlanta based stores. Cindy then shared the product's success with her fellow 130 franchisees--a standard LE practice. The result: within a few months loom-mania had spread from Georgia to Massachusetts, California, and everywhere in between.
SOURCE Learning Express
Communications Director and Marketing Manager
Learning Express Toys