ELC Supermarket and Trolley
Member Name: hlb2009
ELC Supermarket and Trolley
Advantages: A good idea
Disadvantages: really poor quality
When I saw this on the Early Learning Centre website just before Christmas I thought it looked brilliant and couldn't wait to buy it for Hope for Christmas. It was retailing at £60 but they had a special offer on where i got it for £50 plus free delivery so I thought that was a bargain. ELC usually have very good quality products so I thought this would be brilliant. I am,however, very disappointed by it's quality and flimsy nature.
=== ELC ===
The Early Learning Centre is a shop which has toys and games which are centered around learning but you wouldn't really know it as they're all fun! I remember going into Early Learning Centre shops when I was little and loved them as they always had a few toys out on display to play with. We have bought many toys from here since Hope was born 4 years ago and have always been really happy with them. They have stores on most high streets and sometimes inside Mothercare shops too. Their website is really good and they often have special offers on.
== The supermarket ==
When I saw this supermarket it looked great. Hope, who was almost 4, loves playing imaginative games and one of them is pretending to go shopping so this looked ideal for her. I remember when I was little a friend of mine had a little shop and I always wanted one. I thought that Hope would love this and although it looked quite large it would be worth it.
=== What you get ===
I think the box said you get 60 items in total which is impressive! It is just a shame that those 60 items are really poor quality so within a matter of days you're left with about 50!
You get a plastic stand which on the desk area has a little till that comes with some money in it (made from paper) and little buttons that you press and it makes a beeping noise and a drawer which opens when you press a button and gives a very satisfying 'ping!' when it does. You also get some scales on this desk area with numbers already stuck on on a sticker, these don't change when you press down on the scales. Next to the till is a shelf unit which is about 30cm high and comes with a slip of cardboard you post down the back of it and it has pictures of food on it so it looks like there is food on the shelf. The shelves are only thin but you can put bits of food on it although whether they stay on is another thing!
Underneath the unit there are two sides one has two plastic areas for you to put food and the other side has a fridge section and a shelving section. There are pictures already stuck on of various supermarket items so again it looks like the shelves are fully stacked. You can then choose prices to put on the shelves, these are little yellow stickers that come with the set and once you stick them on they stay on so you need to make up the prices straight away. The fridge has a door which opens and closes.
You also get a supermarket trolley which snaps apart if your little one is too rough where the basket part comes away from the wheels- quite how this happened I'm not sure but it was my 15 month old that managed to do it not Hope! This trolley has wheels so can be pushed around. You also get a selection of food- some cardboard boxes, some plastic tubes with labels on, others in the actual shape of food such as eggs.
=== It's appeal ===
It certainly looks appealing because it is really bright. The plastic is bold colours- red, blue, green and yellow all bright so that it does catch your eye and because it's rather large it is hard to not notice it! When Hope's friends come round they seem drawn to this and want to play and who can blame them as it does look impressive!
=== Play time ===
Hope loved this for about five minutes and this seems to be the same for her friends too. When we first got it out of the box she loved putting prices on the various shelves and she loves stocking the shelves with food. She sometimes adds her own things to them too- a barbie doll, a teddy and so forth. She likes to press the buttons on the till and to pretend to be shop keeper. I would say that she will play with this for about ten minutes before she grows bored, even when she is playing with her friends too which seems a terrible waste of money. Probably her favourite part of this shop is the shopping trolley both Hope and my little boy love pushing this around and collecting things from around the house and I can't help but think I would have been better off just buying her the shopping trolley alone and a little till or something. I do like watching her use her imagination and play shop when she does play with this but it's so short lived it's quite sad really.
=== Education ===
Of course there is an educational element to this toy, I think there are to all toys but this has several. One thing which we are helping Hope with at the moment is learning numbers, she can say them but recognising them written down is difficult for her so we are using the prices stuck on shelves to recognise numbers which is proving helpful. She is also learning about how prices are added up from what you buy and then that creates the total. She cannot add up big numbers or anything properly yet but uses her imagination and pretends to which I think is the beginning. Her dexterity is improved with this as she puts items on shelves and gets the money out of the drawer and her imagination is great. Imagination helps children to understand the world around them so its lovely to see her using it and she does a lot! We have also explained some morals to her such as waiting your turn when buying something and how important it is to wait until you have paid before you use an item. This is all very useful.
=== What I don't like ===
I am very disappointed with this. I can see the positives with the imaginative play and learning foods and so forth but the actual quality of this shop is appalling. I think it is an outrageous price to pay- £60 at full price- for something which is so poor in quality. When we first set it up we noticed that the fridge door is very temperamental. The hinges drop almost immediately and then the door snaps off. It is then really difficult to snap it back on place, I struggle with it and there is no way Hope can do it and this resulted in lots of upset and frustration on her part when I couldn't fix it and we would have to wait for Daddy to come home and fix it. Now the fridge door is never on as we have all got bored of it dropping every time it is touched. It now lies, abandoned in the toy box...however it is also broken on the front now too. It has a plastic film covering it so you can see into the fridge but part of this has peeled away leaving a quite sharp hole.
Another part that has 'gone wrong' is the till. It was New Year's Eve so less than a week later, when the button that opens the till fell into the inside of the till and not cannot come back. We have stuck all kinds of little implements into the tiny hole where it once was to try and pull the button back up but it's stuck. You can still open the drawer by putting your finger through the hole (sharp edges so be warned!) and pressing a little lever which then pings the drawer open. This is hardly okay for a four year old to do.
The stickers on the shelves are all peeling away, their staying power is very poor. It is only March and I think the majority have fallen away now leaving it looking a bit odd and bare. The actual structure of the shop is poor, the parts slot together but they don't seem to stay together, they keep pulling apart and we have to constantly snap them back into place.
It just all seems to be made from really flimsy plastic which is very surprising from this shop, we have never had problems before and I never expected it from such an expensive item. The trolley like I said earlier comes apart too which it isn't supposed to. I don't even know how he managed it but my 15 month old was able to take the basket part away from the wheels. I was able to put it back in place again but Hope couldn't.
The various food items which come with it are part okay, part not okay. The actual plastic food items are fine but the ones you had to stick stickers on or the cardboard ones are not. The cardboard ones came apart, they were made into boxes of cereal but they didn't hold position and just fell flat or the actual box just completely came undone. We have thrown these away. The ones which you stick labels on just come away- a tin of soup now is just a round, blue object after the label fell off. It just seems so frustrating that every single element of this shop has a flaw.
=== Conclusion ===
When I bought this I thought it was going to be a good investment. I knew that spending a lot of money was something we couldn't really do but I imagined that Hope would play with this for hours as would her little brother but just three months in and we have food items that have been thrown away, labels that have peeled off, a til that doesn't function properly, a fridge door that won't stay on and has a hole in it, a structure that won't fit together properly and a trolley that is able to be pulled apart by a 15 month old baby. I can see that this shop has potential, it has a good ideal with the scales, shelving, fridge, basket unit and so forth but it needs an awful lot of work doing on it for it to actually be properly functioning and worth paying £60 for. I keep seeing it in the sale now for half price... I don't think I would even pay £30 for it, I would advise to just buy a till, a basket of food and have your little one use their imagination by creating a shop for themselves. This is such a disappointment and it takes up so much room as well it's a shame. I definitely do not recommend unless you want to throw your money away and have a large area of space taken up and frustrated children...
Summary: So disappointing