It's Your Business: C-U area tops in per-capita toy spending
Dear little girl and boy land,
When you dwell within it,
You are ever happy there."
It's hard to believe that when Glen McDonough composed those lyrics for Victor Herbert's "Babes in Toyland," he could have been referring to Champaign-Urbana.
But that's what newly released statistics from SizeUp business intelligence seem to indicate.
SizeUp crunched retail toy store sales for U.S. metropolitan areas and found the place with the highest per-capita revenue was the Champaign metropolitan area.
According to SizeUp's figures, each person living in Champaign, Ford and Piatt counties spent an average of $341 to $360 on toys.
That was three times the amount that the second-place metro area — Providence, R.I., and its neighboring communities — spent on toys. Folks there bought an average of $111 to $120 on toys, according to SizeUp.
In third place was Salisbury, Md., with average per-capita spending on toys of $91 to $95.
The other metros in the top 10 showed more restraint when it came to toys, generally plunking down amounts between $60 and $75.
Joan McNally, a public relations spokeswoman for SizeUp, said the firm bases its figures on data from the Internal Revenue Service and corporate earnings statements, among other places.
But she couldn't say why Champaign-Urbana seemingly goes overboard on toy buying.
"I don't know why," she said. "That's part of the beauty of it. This produces some very surprising results."
Is it that folks around Champaign-Urbana have juvenile tastes?
That they have lots of kids and grandkids?
That they just can't help splurging on toys, even if they have to cut back on food, housing and the necessities of life?
Cathy Stickels, buyer for and manager of Art Mart Toys in Urbana, said she was surprised by the numbers.
"We definitely have customers here who are willing to spend money on quality toys," particularly educational toys, she said.
"But I guess I'm surprised that we're that much higher than other places with university employees," she said. "We have a nice business, but not like that."
Clearly, something is going on with those figures. It could well have something to do with Champaign-Urbana being the home of Hobbico and Horizon Hobby — in essence, the world capital of radio-controlled planes, helicopters, boats and automobiles.
Although Hobbico and Horizon Hobby don't operate retail stores locally, they do a tremendous mail-order business with consumers, as well as supplying toy and hobby shops.
Indeed, Eric Simundza, a product manager with SizeUp, said what seems to be driving the Champaign numbers is JR Service America at 4105 Fieldstone Road, C — the home of Horizon Hobby.
"That's where the bulk of revenue is from," Simundza said, noting that the distinction between retail stores and mail-order business can be fuzzy.
So maybe, just maybe, Champaign-Urbana is Toyland. Move over, North Pole!
A rose by any other name
— Farm Credit Services of Illinois will change its name to Farm Credit Illinois, effective with the new year, according to Rod Stoll, vice president of public relations for the Mahomet-based agency. That name will more closely resemble the national Farm Credit brand, he said.
— The 88 West apartment complex at 2001 Moreland Blvd., C, has changed its name to Nantucket Cove Apartment Homes. The complex is managed by McKinley Properties.
Bank to close branch
Regions Bank has announced plans to close its office in Clinton on March 14.
Customer accounts will be transferred to the bank's Northtown office in Decatur, at 333 E. Pershing Road, according to Evelyn Mitchell, a spokeswoman for Birmingham, Ala.-based Regions Bank.
Regions is closing one other Illinois branch, in the Crawford County community of Palestine.
The Regions Bank office at 111 S. State St. in Champaign is not affected by the consolidations.
Restaurant week approaches
The Champaign Center Partnership is putting together plans for Center City Restaurant Week, which will start Saturday, Jan. 25, and run through Saturday, Feb. 1.
Unlike last year, when restaurants were encouraged to offer special fixed-price meals at specific price points ($10, $20 and $30), this year restaurants will be asked to plan their own specials, said Erin Lippitz, the partnership's executive director.
Lippitz said she hopes to have information on participating restaurants within a couple weeks.
File this away
SafelyFiled.com LLC, which has engineering offices in Champaign, has partnered with the American Senior Benefits Association to market the SafelyFiled product as ASBASafe, according to a release from the company.
The new ASBASafe website organizes, stores and retrieves important documents in paper or digital form, enabling families to keep track of important paper and digital files.
The American Senior Benefits Association has more than 800,000 members, and the site enables them to keep track of assets such as insurance policies, rarely used bank accounts and pension benefits.
Mark Snow, SafelyFiled's Chicago-based CEO, said the SafelyFiled product was created "because we realized that we often put our insurance policies, birth certificates or even children's immunization records someplace we considered special, someplace we would always remember — and then we could not find them when we needed them."
With SafelyFiled's product, "you always know where documents are. They are secure, organized and easily located," he said.
The documents are encrypted, both when stored and when transmitted to a computer or mobile device.
Susan Hinrichs, who lectured on computer security at the University of Illinois, is SafelyFiled's chief engineer and creator of the system.
ASBASafe is a customized version of SafelyFiled's consumer website, designed to satisfy special requests made by ASBA members.
SafelyFiled was founded in 2011.
Contact Don Dodson at 351-5227 or 800-252-3346; by email at email@example.com; or by regular mail at The News-Gazette, c/o It's Your Business column, P.O. Box 677, Champaign, IL 61824-0677.