Kiddiwinks is a family business with everyone involved. We are all passionate about LEGO products, right from children up to grandparents. We have a personal collection of well over 1000 different LEGO sets. The Kiddiwinks LEGO business is not just about the business, it is a way of life. Read below to find out how we started.
Overview of the business
Kiddiwinks Monobrand LEGO Shops provide the most extensive range of LEGO currently available. Due to the nature of the business of being only LEGO products, our shops stock an extended range of LEGO products that are not available at normal retailers. The range includes LEGO Educational products, extended lines, LEGO Books, LEGO Torches, DVDs, Electronic Games, Watches, Clocks, Keychains and other novelty lines. Where the standard assortment from LEGO SA is around 400 products, our range is in excess of 650 different LEGO products. Kiddiwinks provides this vast range of products at competitive prices, selling below the recommended retail prices
Products exclusive in Cape Town to Kiddiwinks include: The Architecture range, LEGO Educational products, The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings, novelties (keychains) and other individual products.
LEGO products can be purchased at one of the stores at Willowbridge Lifestyle Centre, Palmyra Junction or Blue Route Mall or online at www.kiddiwinks.co.za
Other than the product range, Kiddiwinks is involved in many LEGO activities. We provide Robotics training, entering many teams into Robotics competitions. LEGO parties provide a unique indoor party with planned, tried and tested and co-ordinated LEGO activities at your venue. LEGO Building Events are either just free build events or building a sculpture combined with a free build event. LEGO Team Building is coming. Watch this space.
It all began in 2002
The business started with a LEGO train set - perhaps an unlikely start, but that's how it was. Our oldest child, who was five at the time, wanted a train set and, after trying the model railway type unsuccessfully, we heard about a LEGO train. We went to every toy shop around Cape Town and could not get it. Next we went straight to the suppliers, LEGO South Africa, who pointed us to a certain shop who would order it for us. After contacting them, we were told they were doing stock-take and not ordering any new items at that time. We wanted to buy all the train sets plus accessories so it was not a small order, but we could not source it. LEGO SA said we could not buy straight from them unless we were a retailer.
At that time, Kiddiwinks was a children's clothing business, operating on the craft markets. We designed the clothes, made them and sold them mostly over weekends. So, we put forward a proposal to LEGO SA to say we wanted to sell LEGO products but as direct marketing from catalogues. It took much persuading that a home-based business using this approach would succeed, but we persevered.
So the business started and our first order was, indeed, our train with all its accessories. There was a minimum order quantity at that time and we took orders from people until we had half that amount, and then agonised over how to make up the necessary figure to place the order. Thus we slowly built up some stock.
We found that there was a large gap in the market where we were positioned in Rondebosch for people to get the LEGO products they wanted. We also appointed agents in other areas who did not carry stock but who did direct marketing and then collected orders from us.
Online begins in 2004
This was the first time LEGO products were sold online in South Africa. We developed the website ourselves, a time-intensive and ongoing project.
First LEGO-only shop begins 2005
Because of the demand for people wanting to collect their online orders, as well as the need to carry stock for the online business, we opened the first LEGO-only shop in South Africa. We operated completely from home, using our garage for storage and a store room was converted into a showroom.
LEGO Education 2006
In 2006, Kiddiwinks added the LEGO Education products to the product range, allowing home schools and individuals to get the products into their homes. No-one else in Cape Town sold the Education products then and this is still the case today.
FIRST LEGO League 2006
Kiddiwinks got involved in coaching and mentoring FIRST LEGO League (FLL) teams in 2006. This opened the doors to the robotics LEGO that was available. Learners from any school were invited to join us. In that first year, we entered four teams into the competition. Three of these teams qualified for Nationals based on their performance, and one of the teams won the research award in the Western Cape. We have been involved in FLL since then, with many more teams qualifying for both Nationals and Internationals.
Wholesale business 2007
Kiddiwinks started its wholesale business because of a need that arose as a result of a change in policy regarding order process. Orders were no longer a minimum quantity, but rather LEGO needed to be ordered by the carton, in some cases, up to 16 of one single item. We started supplying smaller retailers.
Online business takes a fall 2010
Many new online businesses were allowed to come on to the South African market. The number of online shops increased from three to over twenty within just one year. Many of these online shops did not carry stock and just ordered as customers required. Prices were thus marked up with minimal profit. The result affected the online business dramatically over the next two years.
First retail shop 2011
Due to the decline in the online business, we were forced to find a new way to expand the business. This led to the opening of our first formal retail store. Palmyra Junction was a new shopping centre that had grown out of a taxi rank. From the start, the centre had an exclusive, boutique, destination shopping emphasis and, combined with the fact that it was close to our home, meant a continued flow of LEGO for our existing client base.
LEGO parties 2011
Kiddiwinks birthday parties started, with a LEGO party completely supplied, including party favours and a gift for the birthday boy or girl. Unique games and activities all based on different LEGO themes were developed and students were found to assist in running the parties.
Second retail shop 2012
After the success of the first shop, many shopping centres approached us to open up a LEGO shop in their centres. We finally accepted a proposal from Blue Route Centre to open in the newly revamped mall. The plan was for the second shop to sell only LEGO products too. However, a supposed monobrand contract in place with another toy shop forced us to trade with 50% of non-LEGO products. The Kiddiwinks second shop opening in 2012 was then not an exclusively LEGO shop, but rather combined the die-cast cars (Bburago and Maisto), puzzles, wooden construction dinosaurs and cars and books. Subsequently it came out that no such contract existed and Kiddiwinks has moved back towards being monobrand stores.
Science shop 2012
Due to Kiddiwinks not being able to be exclusively LEGO, we made a decision to get a science slant and we opened a Science Shop at the Cape Town Science Centre in its new venue in Observatory. This was not located well and, combined with the fact that we could not access good, quality products, we decided to close the shop after just six months. The venue had included a LEGO training centre and party venue which was well used and left us needing another one.
Second LEGO-only shop 2013
At the end of the first week of December, we ventured out of our regular haunts, and opened a new shop in the Northern suburbs, in Willowbridge Shopping Centre.
Play Venue 2014
December saw the opening of a LEGO play venue for parties and training. Permanent LEGO robotics training and LEGO clubs are being planned.
- First direct marketing company of LEGO products in South Africa
- First online shop selling LEGO products in South Africa
- First retail shop in South Africa (although home-based) selling LEGO products only
- Longest running exclusive LEGO product shop in South Africa both in retail and online
- Longest running seller of LEGO Educational Products in South Africa
- Longest involvement in training teams for FLL within the Western Cape