Games, puzzles, activity products in demand as schools close

Local stores see parents shopping for boredom cures during pandemic
By Christine Simmonds | Mar 18, 2020
Photo by: Christine Simmonds Planet Toys has games, toys and activities for kids.

Camden — Planet Toys in Camden is selling many products aimed at giving children something to do while they say at home.

Garrett Hilchey, owner of Planet Toys, said the store is busy for this time of year. Parents are coming in to buy games, toys and activities for their children during the school closure and suggested self-isolation caused by the coronavirus.

Hilchey said he does not have data from past years to compare sales with, because this is the first time the store has been open for the full month of March since 2015.

Usually though, Hilchey said, this is the slowest time of year. That is why the store has closed in years past for some or all of March.

However, with children in the Midcoast no longer attending school physically until at least April, sales have been higher as parents search for ways to keep their children occupied.

Hilchey said most people are buying activities like, “puzzles, board games, card games and art supplies."

Hilchey also said sticker books and activity books have been popular.

The CDC has recommended that people stay home and avoid large groups to slow the spread of the coronavirus. The latest numbers are groups of less than 10 people.

Even though there is no school, parents have been encouraged to keep their children at home. People can be contagious with the virus for more than a week before showing any symptoms, and can be ill without having the symptoms listed on the CDC website.

Hilchey said he has more supplies coming in, including gifts for Easter and even hand sanitizer. Hand sanitizer has become very difficult to find in stores in the last two weeks, as all stores are sold out.

There are also more puzzles coming in, though the store already has many to choose from.

Hilchey said the store also has chemistry sets and science activities to complete at home, as well as books and toys to play with.

“Things are changing from day to day,” Hilchey said, “But we will try to stay open, and pay attention to what is going on.”

Hilchey said he has told staff they do not have to come in to work if they do not feel comfortable. He is often on the floor running the shop by himself anyway.

While he does not have hand sanitizer available for customers to use currently, Hilchey said he has been cleaning and sanitizing all surfaces between customers with bleach wipes, including the pens used to sign credit card slips.

“I’m a germaphobe anyway,” he said.

Once the hand sanitizer comes in for the shop to sell, Hilchey said he will have some on the counter for customer use.

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