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Saturday, October 20 2018 01:26

Blain's Farm & Fleet Toyland Tradition Grows for 2018...

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The holiday shopping season is officially upon us, and as promised, the #ToyWars are in full-effect with retailers stepping up to serve families who may be saddened by the loss of Toys "R" Us this year. While the big guns have been getting much of the press, there's quite a few smaller, regional retailers who are upping their game, and one is an old favorite of mine - Blain's Farm & Fleet. Family-owned and with just 39 locations across Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa and Michigan, they might not be a familiar name, but they're a store that I've always enjoyed stopping at, particularly as a kid. In fact, while the closest store to us is over 20 miles away, my mom still does occasionally check out the location near her for their annual Toyland tradition, and as of today it's open for 2018 - promised to be bigger and better than ever. For over 60 years, customers have lined-up in the darkness prior to the 7am store opening, but this year there's even more fun to be had.

For the first time, the stores will come alive with elves, and there will be elf-themed giveaways for the kids, as well as an incredible selection of toys at amazing prices. And the Toyland celebration will spill over into all departments of the store with Saturday-only doorbusters throughout the store on October 20, 2018.

Farm & Fleet's Toyland 2018:

Bert and Claude Blain originally started Toyland as a way to say "thank you" to their friends and neighbors, transforming a portion of the store into Toyland each year 12 weeks before Christmas.  "My father, Bert Blain, used to say that every child deserves to have a Merry Christmas," says Jane Blain Gilbertson, CEO and President of Blain's Farm & Fleet. "When people asked my dad how Blain's could afford to offer these amazing prices, he would always respond, 'Toyland is about making friends, not making money.'  We plan to make this year's Toyland extra special for our new and long-time friends, young and old."

With the closing of the Toys R' Us chain, Blain's identified a need in its communities to provide an even stronger selection of toys and to bring more excitement to the Toyland experience. "The retail marketplace is changing.  Many retailers are struggling as Wall Street private equity firms take over beloved stores like Toys R' Us, which went bankrupt under private equity ownership," says Gilbertson.  "Blain's Farm & Fleet proudly remains a family-owned Midwest-based company.  We live where our customers live, and we know that we will have to look them in the eye if we disappoint them, so we always strive to do the right thing for our associates and neighbors. Always have and always will."

This year, Blain's Farm & Fleet stores will provide an enhanced Toyland experience.   Customers will find the Blain's elves: Gingersnap, Otto, Pipper and Jingle come to life with fun, animated antics. Blain's Farm & Fleet associates will be giving out elf crafts and stickers to the kids, while supplies last.  Beyond Toyland, shoppers will find "can't miss" doorbusters in every department of the store.

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Also, in keeping with the Blain family's "give back" spirit that infuses so much of the company's culture, Blain's stores will host the Kids Helping Kids toy drive.  This program helps collect and provide toys to local children for families in need.  Blain's Farm & Fleet invites its neighbors to donate new, unwrapped toys by dropping them in bins in the Blain's Farm & Fleet stores.  Blain's will match the donations with up to $200,000 in toys, so more children in their communities can have a Merry Christmas.   "We call it Kids Helping Kids because this is a great opportunity for families to begin teaching their children the joy of giving," says Kristin Stewart, Chief Marketing Officer for Blain's.  "Originally, Jane developed Kids Helping Kids to teach her own daughters about the importance of giving.  Giving back to the community is a Blain Family tradition."  The campaign runs from the start of Toyland all the way to Christmas, but donating toys early, in October and November, helps local organizations receive, organize and distribute toys to families in need in time for Christmas.

"We know our customers have lots of options when they shop during the holiday season. When customers come to Blain's Farm & Fleet, we want them to experience the Blain's difference," says Gilbertson.  "That difference should be clear in the excitement of Toyland, the personal service you receive from our knowledgeable and caring associates and the way we give back to the community.  To us, that's just being good neighbors.  We're proud to be a true partner in each of the communities we serve."

Check out https://www.farmandfleet.com/toyland/ for more!

James Zahn

James Zahn is not a journalist, nor a blogger, though he may be credited as such by others, or even accept the title... depending on the circumstance.  Instead, he considers himself largely to be an "entertainment and lifestyle writer," bringing 25+ years of experience in the entertainment and publishing industries into the family realm as THE ROCK FATHER™.

As a media personality, commentator, adventurer and raconteur, James now finds himself raising a pair young girls - The Rock Daughters™ - along with his wife from their Illinois home.

He is a member of The Toy Insider Parent Advisory Board, has contributed to The Toy Book and writes a regular Star Wars column - Transmissions from a Galaxy Far, Far Away for The Pop Insider. He also regularly serves as a Brand Ambassador and spokesperson for several Globally-recognized pop culture and lifestyle brands in addition to consulting for a number of toy manufacturers. 

Creatively, James has directed/edited music videos, lyric videos, and album trailers for bands such as FEAR FACTORY, has appeared as an actor in feature films and commercials, written comic books, and performed in bands. He currently serves as an artist manager and video director for PRODUCT OF HATE, whose debut album was released by Napalm Records in 2016, distributed by ADA/Warner Music in the U.S. with Universal Music handling global.

James and/or his work have been featured in/on CNN, FOX Business, NBC, ABC, WGN, G4, The Chicago Tribune, BusinessWire, Babble, Fangoria, Starlog and more. He's appeared as a music expert on CNN's AC360 alongside Anderson Cooper, and has been interviewed by Larry King. In the past he served as a writer for the Netflix Stream Team,  Fandango Family and PBS KIDS, penned articles for Sprout and PopSugar, and was a contributor to Chicago Parent.

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