This holiday season, some parents are turning to a new toy-rental website called Toygaroo to put more under the tree for less. Similar to Netflix, but for toys, Toygaroo provides a regular, rotating supply of toys so kids frequently get new goodies in the mail throughout the year. Here, a brief guide:
How exactly does Toygaroo work?
The online toy-rental service lets parents subscribe to plans that range in cost from $24.99 to $52.99 per month. In exchange, kids get four to eight toys a month, or every other month with the lower-end plans. At the end of a rental period, parents put the toys back in the box they came in, slap on a supplied FedEx label, and send them back. Toygaroo pays the shipping costs.
What sort of toys are available?
The site advertises more than 500 toys that can be browsed by brand, category, or a child's age — from "newborn" to "5 and up." The younger set can enjoy a wide array of hot toys like the LeapPad Explorer Tablet, but offerings for older kids are more limited. While "Toygaroo offers a wide variety of toys… most are geared toward the toddler and early elementary crowd," says Paula Ebben at Boston's WBZ-TV. "There's no real sophisticated electronics or toys designed for older kids."
And parents are pleased?
"It's the ideal situation for the holiday time," says Paul Reinsmith, a Boston dad. "You can stuff toys under the tree for under 50 bucks. If you were out there buying them, there's just no way you could do that." The company claims its model helps reduce clutter, saves money, and provides more stimulation for kids' brains by regularly giving them new toys to play with.
Don't the toys get dirty and gross?
The Toygaroo website promises "no yuck factor," and details a three-step sanitization process. Toys are steam-cleaned at 212 degrees to kill germs and bacteria; then doused with an organic, bleach-free cleaning product used by hospitals; then checked by a sanitation inspector before being shrink-wrapped. Reading about the sanitization process is "sobering," says Chris Matyszczyk at CNET. There's something not quite right with, "on the 12th day of Christmas, my daddy gave to me a sanitized toy that some other little kiddy had already played with for a month and stuck in their mouth."
What happens if a child doesn't want to give a toy back?
The company recommends that families hang onto any particularly beloved toy for an extra month. If, at the end of the extra month, the child is still attached, parents can purchase the toy at a discounted price.