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Startup rents toys

<p>After scouring the Internet to fill her house with only the best toys for her infant twin sons, Lori Pope hated to watch the clutter build as the boys lost interest.</p>

New service saves parents time, money and space


After scouring the Internet to fill her house with only the best toys for her infant twin sons, Lori Pope hated to watch the clutter build as the boys lost interest.





If you can rent movies, video games and even handbags online, she thought, why not toys?





That’s the idea behind Baby Plays, a Web-based company Pope launched in October that allows parents to receive four or six toys in the mail every month, assembled and ready for playtime.





Baby Plays subscribers visit the company’s website to browse among nearly 200 toys for newborns through preschoolers. Customers build a wish list of toys they’d like to rent, and Pope’s staff ships them to their door.





“It’s going to take a load off of moms,” Pope said.





The program has been great for Heidi Borden, a financial analyst from the Houston suburb of Katy who used to dread shopping for toys with her now 11-month-old daughter and two-year-old son.





“She wants to get on the floor and he’s running down the aisle and I’m just stressed to pick out something really good really quick, get in and out,” said Borden, 39. “It’s just a lot nicer to be able to do this online and not worry about if it’s something that they don’t like.”





As the co-owner of an oilfield supply business, Pope also didn’t have a lot of time to shop. To save time, money and space, she searched the Internet for a toy rental company. When she couldn’t find one, she decided to start her own.





Customers pay $28.99 a month to get four toys a month for three months and $35.99 a month to get six toys a month for three months. Families willing to sign a yearlong contract can get six toys a month for $31.99.





Baby Plays’ inventory includes popular toys by brands such as VTech, LeapFrog and Playskool as well as more obscure European manufacturers. Pope keeps at least seven of each kind of toy in stock so she can fulfil almost every request. She plans to double her inventory over the next two months.


 
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