Fidget spinners are all the buzz — in more than one way.
The steady hum of the toy can be heard from across a room. They are also flying off the shelves at Kid to Kid.
Store owner Christy Muhlbauer’s initially thought it was “silly,” a trend that might not last. But then her employees asked her to order some.
“We ordered them, and it’s just been crazy,” she said. “You can tell when it’s a grandma and a young man at in the afternoon what they’re here for. Most people aren’t buying one; they’re buying three or four. We recently had a customer come in for her grandson. They left and came back in, so I thought something was wrong, and she said, ‘No, my 40-year-old son asked me to pick one up for him, too.’ ”
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The decadelong owner of the children’s consignment store — located at 154 Rolling Ridge Drive in College Township — can’t quite explain the popularity of the fidget spinner, which was intended to be used as a stress reliever for those with special needs.
“I don’t know, I honestly don’t know,” she said. “I personally can’t make them work very well, but some people can make them do all sorts of things. I guess it’s just the new thing.”
While the fidget spinners are selling quickly, the store also boasts big ticket items uch as height chairs and strollers, which are popular among parents.
But, if you go behind the scenes, there’s a greater purpose at Kid to Kid.
Q: Why did you decide to become the owner of Kid to Kid?
A: I worked here when it first opened while I was going to Penn State, and I really loved the concept and the owners. Then I got married and went to work for Penn State, because that’s what everybody does apparently. When the previous owners were selling they contacted me and knew how much I loved it and asked ‘What do you think?’ I said yes, because I really do love it. I love the idea behind it, the recycling, the whole repurposing of it and what we do for the community.
Q: Why is it important for the community?
A: We do try to do a community service. We are here to recycle and repurpose items that could possibly go to a landfill or just get lost. People don’t seem to pass down items in family or to friends as much as they used to, so this is a place where they can get a return on their investment, plus a place for people to stretch their dollar a little more.
Q: How is it different to be the owner as opposed to being the employee?
A: It really is very different, but I also see everything from my employee’s eyes, too. I couldn’t do it without them. We are a complete team. ... And I’m really appreciative that they care about this store and the customers as much as I do. So, truly, it was a big jump, but the previous owner had done such a great job of having me involved in reports, closing procedures, opening procedures and so much of the business before that I had experience. Plus, she stayed on a while after I bought it, and we’re great friends.
Q: What is the most valuable lesson you learned from the previous owner?
A: It’s more than a business. We’re serving the greater good for the community. We’re a family here. We’re small business. We’re trying to not just be the Wal-Marts and the Targets.
Q: Social media has certainly been a difference maker for businesses. How have you tried to use it to your advantage?
A: Social media is a big part (of our business) just because that’s what everyone is geared toward now. It used to be radio and newspaper, and now it’s about being online. Everyone Googles or looks things up online. Luckily, with a franchise, they help us. That’s good, because I am not tech savvy at all. Another advantage of having young employees is that they help with that, too. Everyone has a strength, and we use it.
Q: How much do you learn about shoppers when they come in?
A: A lot. We see a lot of parents and grandparents every couple of days. We enjoy getting to know them. Tuesday is Grandparent’s Day, so we do get a lot of faithful grandmas that come in to shop. And the kids that shopped when I first worked here are now coming in and they’re moms, so it’s come full circle.
Q: Are there any favorite experiences you’ve had here?
A: It’s all of the generosity. We’ve had people that have donated or paid it forward. We had a gentleman not too long ago that sold items to us, and he said to pass on the store credit to the next person who checks out. (The next person) happened to be a young man, 6 or 7, and he saved his own money to buy a toy. Then he didn’t have to spend his own money, because of the gentleman who donated his store credit. The little boy was just so touched and so was his mom. The generosity of customers is what really makes it all worth while.