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A new toy every week for your children? Why not?

DNPUN38353 | 4/23/2011 | Author : Anindita Mitra | WC :1022

Kids get bored with their new acquisitions within a week. Step into toy libraries that give kids a gamut of toys to play with — and whisk them away before the novelty wears off

With the summer vacations looming large, parents are at their wits’ end to keep kids occupied, while children cannot help repeating for the nth time the constant refrain “I am bored. I have nothing to do.”
Older kids can be sent to summer camps or be enrolled for activity classes, but what do you do with the little ones that stay at home? Hold on to the frayed edges of your sanity, grin and bear seems to be the consensus.
Taking some of the burden off are toy libraries in Bangalore that are ensuring kids get to play with different, educational and fun toys that keep them occupied.
What’s even better, they get replaced as soon as the kids get bored of them, they are home-delivered and are safe for your child to play with and you can even arrange the whole deal online. So look up some of the players here and open an account for your child, before you get bankrupt buying toys on every single trip to the mall.
Some of the more popular ones in Bangalore are Rentoys, Toys-on-rent and Cuboid Toy Library. Toys-on-rent and Cuboid cater to Bangalore, though both have plans of expanding soon, while Rentoys caters to Hyderabad and Mumbai as well, and will soon open in New Delhi and Kolkata. The reason behind their quick success is pretty simple. As Manoj Kumar, one of the founders of Rentoys pointed out, “Kids outgrow toys very fast and as parents we keep buying more. It leads to not only a hole in the pocket but also clutter at home due to unused toys.” Toy libraries address both these problems effectively.
A toy library also takes care of the boredom factor and the pocket by providing a steady supply of new toys without parents being afraid of spoiling the child with constant gifts.
And an added boon is the fact that you can browse and order online to have toys delivered at home. This saves a lot of time for working parents.
Prajakta S Kapure, founder of Toys-on-rent said, “Working parents find it easy to browse online and order. They can do it from their office as well. In fact, our expansion plans are directed towards the other metro cities, where such parents have an established comfort with going online to save themselves time.”
Of course, money is a big factor too, what with the lowest plans starting at about Rs249 (each library has a distinct set of plans depending on the number of toys you want to subscribe to). The monthly memberships for these libraries work out to be a fraction of the price of a branded toy.
Rentoys, with its founding team of Neeta Verma, Shilpa Prasad and Manoj Kumar, started its pilot project on September 2009 and became fully operational in Bangalore in January 2010.
Kapure, a software engineer formerly, started Toys-on-rent about a year and a half ago. “I stopped working after my kids were born and with the time I had, I started Toys-on-rent. It was mostly self-funded, though I took some help to develop the website,” said Kapure.
Sonal Agarwal started Cuboid in August 2010 and it was a totally self-funded enterprise. Agarwal’s experience with her six-month-old daughter who’d outgrow toys every fortnight nudged her towards taking an effective step in bailing out other parents in the same situation.
The Rentoys team too started it with their own funds, though friends pooled in some money as well.
Kumar said that parents had some initial hesitation about renting toys, but the concept did take off well. Kapure too started things on a small scale and now with 200-plus members, is looking to expand in other cities.
Agarwal faced some initial hiccups too. “It took some time for us to make it clear to parents that this is not just about affordability; this is more about making the child eco-friendly and learning the art of sharing things with other kids,” she said.
Most of these toy libraries cater to children below seven years of age. But Kapure points out that parents with younger kids tend to rent more. “Children between six months and three years are in the learning phase and outgrow their toys easily. Older kids are more attached to their personal toys. However, for kids in a slightly older age range, we have activity toys like scooters or skateboards, or educational toys, which find a lot of takers,” said Kapure. Kids between one and five form the bulk of Cuboid members, though Agarwal said, “we keep some board games for parents too.”
Safety is of paramount importance here. All libraries keep toys only from brands that are committed to producing safe toys for kids. Most go for durable toys that are hardy and have fewer number of component parts, so kids can’t swallow or otherwise harm themselves with these.
Rentoys cleans, sanitises and shrink-wraps toys after each use. It uses natural cleaners and performs stringent quality checks on toys before issuing them.
Kumar said, “We trust only top quality international brands and consistently monitor their product and safety reviews. We also perform mechanical and physical inspection of toys after each return.”
Parents are requested to return the toys after a preliminary cleaning or dry cleaning as required. Cuboid too keeps a sharp eye on toys and goes only for brands that are trusted. It disinfects and steam cleans the harder toys before shrink wrapping them for delivery, while soft toys are laundered, dried and then wrapped. Toy-on-rent too keeps branded toys with minimum parts and sanitises them before delivering.
If a toy is damaged by a member, most of these libraries either charge them for replacement parts or the cost of the toy if it is beyond repair.
Cuboid makes toys available for parties too, while Toy-on-rent has short term rental plans for people who expect guests with small children coming over for a short stay. Rentoys too has a short-term plan for such situations and is trying to work on a party special one-off package as well. It also has a toy donation drive for underprivileged children.
m_anindita@dnaindia.net

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