December 26, 2000, 9:55 AM

Summertime…and the toy sales are high

Don Davis

Editor in Chief

Dark woods sparkling with fireflies, the enchanted face of a young boy and a contraption for capturing “lightning” in a bottle: EToys’ TV campaign for its new summer shop-estimated at $8 million-belies the drop of its stock in the terrifying NASDAQ dive.

The plan is to extend the holiday sell-a-thon year-round, says an eToys spokesman. “Most stores carry a few blowup pools and some beach buckets, but have no deep product line for summer. They are either trying to clear out the holiday merchandise, test-market toys for the coming holiday, or push products from the summer movies.”

Going the lemonade stand one better, eToys offers smoothie and snowcone machines, along with backyard camping gear, a musical hopscotch game, stargazing equipment and 38 styles of swimming pools. Out of 100,000 products in the company’s inventory overall, the new summer shop features 1,000 specially located or created items

In another bid to boost profits, eToys plans to add 500 private label goods by Christmas, including furniture and toy chests. “We can’t go head to head with Barbie,” says the spokesman, “but we can provide unusual accessories for her.” He confirms that such items could reap 70% profit margins.

E-retail consultant Keven Wilder considers the summer shop a smart move. “Administrative costs are high year-round,” she says. “They need to sell year-round....These pure Internet companies don’t have as many options anymore.”

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