Inside Toyland By Christine L. Williams

1261 words - 5 pages

Inside Toyland, written by Christine L. Williams, is a look into toy stores and the race, class, and gender issues. Williams worked about six weeks at two toy stores, Diamond Toys and Toy Warehouse, long enough to be able to detect patterns in store operations and the interactions between the workers and the costumers. She wanted to attempt to describe and analyze the rules that govern giant toy stores. Her main goal was to understand how shopping was socially organized and how it might be transformed to enhance the lives of workers. During the twentieth century, toy stores became bigger and helped suburbanization and deregulation. Specialty toy stores existed but sold mainly to adults, not to children. Men used to be the workers at toy stores until it changed and became feminized, racially mixed, part time, and temporary. As box stores came and conquered the land, toy stores started catering to children and offering larger selections at low prices. The box stores became powerful in the flip-flop of the power going from manufacturers to the retailers. Now, the retail giants determine what they will sell and at what price they will sell it.
One of the first things Williams noticed in the store was the workers themselves and the genders and races of people and the hierarchy of positions in both stores. In both toy stores, they had directors at the top, then management, supervisors, the associates, security, and cleaning crew. In Toy Warehouse, the directors and management were all white males except for Olive an African-American women, and the associates were both men and women, all of different races. The men mainly worked in the backroom and the women were the cashiers. The security officers at Toy Warehouse black men and the cleaning crew was three Latinas. They were also not unionized. At Diamond Toys, they were all white except for two African-American women and one Latina, who made up the cleaning crew. They were unionized. At Diamond Toys they sold “whiteness”, people see white people as being more educated and Diamond Toys sold themselves as a toy store that had expert workers who were educated at what they did. They catered to the upper-class white women adults who would be buying the toy for the child. Toy Warehouse though, sold to the children. Their ideal customer was the white middle-class mom. They played on their low prices and child friendly atmosphere. At both places, the manager who did the hiring used interpellation, a stereotype view of who should work where in the store and the employees themselves ended up taking on that stereotype and acting in the manner appropriate. If the manager had a certain person in mind for the position, for example, Toy Warehouse employed white women as cashiers; it would leave men out for the job, or the same with race. An example of Interpellation at Toy Warehouse was when an African-America man named Deshay who normally worked as a merchandiser, finding lost UPC’s and setting out the...

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