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Why Our Toy Rental Subscription Program Got Started

Why Our Toy Rental Subscription Program Got Started
I had a great conversation with Accelerator Centre the other day about the challenges I had as a first-time mom in trying to support my son's learning and development through play. Those challenges are what motivated me to start Toy Exchange Club.

We also chatted about why the toy rental program operates on three-month cycle. We discussed some of the concepts and values that I hope this program helps to foster in our young members and why this is so important to me on a personal level. Lastly, I explained how and why our business model operates outside of the standard economic model we're so used to.

Have a watch!

(Apologies for the irony of the disposable coffee cup on the table - I was getting over bronchitis and needed water to keep the coughing under control, but I forgot my water bottle.)

The Lifecycle of Our Educational Wooden Toys

The Lifecycle of Our Educational Wooden Toys

Have you ever wondered what happens to our educational wooden toys after they're retired from our subscription boxes?

Something we don’t speak of often, is that we are one of the few innovative companies that are contributing to the circular economy. If you aren’t familiar with the term (and not many people are), the circular economy is, “a model of production and consumption, which involves sharing, leasing, reusing, repairing, refurbishing and recycling existing materials and products as long as possible. In this way, the life cycle of products is extended.” (Ref.)

Extending the lifecycle of toys is our main focus, and we clean and re-circulate them as many times as we can. That being said, we always have toys on-hand that are not being actively cycled through our program. As you can imagine, there are many reasons that products are retired from our toy subscription boxes, such as:

  • we’ve updated our collections
  • we've replaced a product with a different model 
  • a toy has a bit more wear, like scratches and dents, than our aesthetics standards allow for.

While these toys may not meet the needs or standards of our subscription boxes, they still have plenty of playing and learning opportunities left to offer. So, what happens to our products after they’re retired is really important.

Wooden toys from the toy rental subscription boxes

The passion that drives me as a business owner is in operating as sustainably and ethically as possible. And while many people understand that our educational wooden toys are made without plastic and our rental model is quite sustainable, there is so much more that we are working on. Since our toys are high-quality, we pay living wages to our employees, our packaging is made sustainably and ethically, and our circular model requires two-way shipping, we are not really able to discount our subscriptions. This leads me to an ongoing challenge that I've been having with our business model: it's not entirely inclusive. It’s only available to families who have adequate disposable income.

This is why I wanted to partner with the Guelph Public Library. This partnership increases access to age-appropriate, educational wooden toys for families with diverse incomes. Guelph residents can now rent these educational wooden toys using their library card. In addition to increasing access, the partnership helps deepen our contribution to the circular economy. The library's program extends the lifespan of the toys and further reduces the need for families in our community to purchase toys new. This means that fewer toys and less packaging is ultimately headed for the landfill.

Toy Exchange Club's circular economy business model

Read more about our partnership in Guelph Today news.