With over one and a half million YouTube subscribers and an avid following on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest, Lucky Penny Shop is the go-to source for family-friendly, entertaining and informative toy demonstrations.
It isn’t easy to get and keep an audience of that size engaged and there are a lot of sites dedicated to unboxing toys. That’s where Lucky Penny Shop separates itself from the pack. They are less of a review site and more about demonstrating toys to let the audience make their own judgments. On this edition of The Friday Five, I asked Dave of Lucky Penny Shop what initially inspired him to create his videos and establish a YouTube channel. I was also curious to find out what his favorite toys are. With over 5,000 demonstrations on YouTube, he’s seen pretty much every toy out there.
What inspired you to create Lucky Penny Shop (LPS)?
Lucky Penny Shop was a natural progression that originated from an eBay Store with that same name. The eBay store was filled with vintage items, many of which were toys and games. Creating the YouTube channel was part of the social media land grab to make sure we secured the same name on all of the top social media platforms.
In 2010, we decided to make short videos of each item up for sale to add to our eBay listings. This worked great, especially for toy collectors that liked seeing close-up details and any potential shortfalls with the item. Seeing them being played with and actually working was a big selling point. Surprising to us, an early Disney Poppin’ Pals toy, was gaining substantial views. Because of the viral like climb in views, we were notified by YouTube that we should be monetizing our videos. Then shortly after that, another video based on McDonald’s food sets started going up in views. The comments, however, were less than nice and people were genuinely upset that we did not show how the toy actually worked. That was a “good” red flag to us that we might have something here with all of these toy videos. I went on the hunt to get all of the McDonald’s sets to make videos of each one in action and the rest, we can now say, is history!
What’s your strategy for choosing the toys to feature on your YouTube channel? Where do you typically source the toys & games you feature on LPS?
Surprisingly, the strategy is really just analyzing our back catalog of videos, seeing what does the best in a short time and then finding items that fit within those product lines. Some of our best videos are maker sets, kids’ ovens, slimes, novelty toys, and funny board games!
There are items I have spent a year looking for to complete a set I can present on video. The McDonald’s maker sets are a good example because it took over 6 months to find all of the sets in the right condition with all of the original parts. Our Easy-Bake Oven Series was finally completed, thanks to you sending us your 1970 Super Easy Bake Oven. I still can’t find one in the original box and it has been over a year!
I would like to add that we do get a lot of retailers, manufacturers, and sales reps wanting to send us items to show on our channel. We are selective and only enter into free product relationships. We do very few, if any, brand-type deals; like other segments of YouTube which rely heavily on them to generate revenue. It is important to note that we must follow all FTC guidelines, even for receiving free items.
What’s your favorite pre-1980s toy? What’s your favorite modern toy?
That is a real tough one because I have probably handled 1,000’s of toys like that. Since I’m a long time toy collector, I have been fascinated by any toy pre-1980 and never focused on one brand or type of toy. In one sense that is good because I’m not restricted, but in another sense, it opens the door to a lot more toys! As soon as I see an original toy in the package that is older, I buy it! I know it will end up on video at some point in the near future. I bet a lot of toy collectors cringe when I open a vintage toy that has been sealed for so many years. I find it rather rewarding to be the first person to open it and explore what it does and how it works.
In regards to modern toys, I have to say I gravitate to the slimes, putty, and unique sands that have gained popularity in the past few years or so. They get big views on YouTube! Part of our viewership are people that like the sounds created by playing with the item and doing fun things with it. The slimes and sands are a perfect example of that. If I can go a little deeper, that is what is referred to as ASMR, which I only know from Googling it and from comments from our watchers about how much they enjoy the sounds young and old alike.
On another note, and important to include, is that the passion for me is the kids! I enjoy showing them all of the cool new toys, but also toys that kids played with in past generations. I consider each video a historical example of the toy, now documented forever in video form. I envision my grand-kids one day watching these videos to learn about what toys their parents played with and enjoyed.
One of the challenges of product reviews is maintaining objectivity. With over 5,000 videos on your site, how do you strike that balance between being honest about something you don’t like and being considerate?
Good question because I do watch other toy reviewers and that is one thing I have never considered myself. I have always called myself a toy demonstrator! I just show the item, and usually leave out my personal agenda. Kids are smarter than what most adults would consider; they do not need me, to tell them if something is bad or good. Just by watching and seeing where I might struggle or not get the desired results, they can make an educated decision about the product.
Unfortunately, many kids these days develop early cynicism and lose their “inner child” way too early. Worse yet, they were never given the option to embrace it and experience it long term. I hope these videos show that you’re never too old to have fun and enjoy life, even if it is playing with toys when they get older.
What’s next for the Lucky Penny Shop brand?
The Lucky Penny Shop brand is actually two YouTube channels now. I do all of the videos on LPS and my business partner does all of the videos on the second channel. Part of the future is expanding the content to involve more play-time, education, and general fun with the toys we have in our inventory. The second channel, Lucky Surprise Eggs, is the first evolution and trend into these new areas.
It is good that in the business we are considered a brand and have worked hard to position ourselves in such a way that others look at us that way. YouTube is flooded with channels which are there to emulate and capitalize on the traffic of channels that are near the top. Having a brand identity will differentiate us from the crowd and keep Lucky Penny Shop in business for many years to come.
Look into the minds of movers and shakers in the play industry – five questions, one fascinating person.