Why kids toy markups get under my skin

I have two Frozen fanatics in my house. These kids would love to own an official Anna and Elsa dress or two. In fact that’s all my 5 year old asked for this past Christmas, but all that was available locally was toddler-sized. We bought her the cheapie toddler dress from Target because Santa doesn’t let kids down like that, but it’s just too short for her and it’s apparently “very scratchy”. I get it, kid, I get it.

So, what happened to all the non-scratchy Anna and Elsa costumes, you ask? Someone somewhere is hoarding all the Disney Store dresses and crushing little kids dreams everywhere. I’ve made approximately 1,508 calls to the local Disney Store and the Disney section at our local JC Penney’s inquiring about said dresses, and I’m sick of getting the same response.

They don’t know when they will get more, but I can call back tomorrow.

I know that it’s not their fault, but every time I hear it, I die a little inside. I don’t want to have to try this hard to spend $70+ dollars. Because, friends, I can think of about a million other things I could easily spend $70 on without having to hunt. And the seller would gladly take my money in exchange for whatever it was I was buying. Because that’s how commerce works.

But, not with some kids toys it doesn’t. Some toy manufacturers have messed with supply and demand and it’s pushing people like me to the black market. By that, I mean Amazon, and ebay, and Craigslist, where sellers are swooping into stores and loading up on kids toys in order to resell at a higher price. And, we’re not talking $15 or $20, we’re talking huge markups… just because they can.

This is a real listing. For ONE HUNDRED NINETY DOLLARS. For a costume. Utter craziness.
Elsa costume
I want to make one thing clear: I know this is a frivolous costume. We’re not talking life-saving medicines; we’re talking dress up clothing. Kids don’t need dress up clothing, they need love and affection and sustenance.

That being said, with a birthday coming up and a trip to Disneyland on the calendar, this is the one thing I was hoping to wrap up for my daughter this year. She plays Elsa all day long using all sorts of my clothing and housewares that she fashions into a costume. While I admire her rich imagination and her endless creativity, I also want my skirts back.

Thus my search began. And, let me tell you, there is nothing more frustrating than seeing a Disney Store exclusive item with the designation “NWT” going for 3 times its value on a secondary site. It makes me hate that seller who loaded up on coveted LITTLE GIRL’S DRESSES with the intent to make a quick buck off their parents. Seriously, people. These are collectibles, these aren’t being bought for display, they are TOYS.

But, on some level, I get it. I’ve taken economics, I understand how free markets work. But, on another more personal level, I just can’t understand the person that does that, knowing that the people they are really hurting are little kids who want to play dress up. Little kids who think that their parents can work miracles to get that coveted dress for Christmas or their birthday. Little kids with absolutely no concept of what things cost.

I sound like a bitter and desperate woman, right? Yes, that just about describes me.

This is what a mom sounds like after embarking on a 5 month long journey to find a Frozen dress before her kids’ first Disney trip. And, while the trip is a surprise, that doesn’t mean that the kids don’t already have their hopes set high. Their imagined Disney trip is always drawn like this:

Yes, that’s my daughter in an Elsa dress surrounded by Elsa and Anna. An Elsa dress that some ebay seller is auctioning off to the highest bidder and profiting from while moms like me are hiding in closets hoping their kids don’t overhear “Frozen” and “Elsa” while calling around from store to store to find.

I know it’s ridiculous and I should just spend the money for the marked up dress if I want it so much, but I just can’t do it. Like you, I have a budget, and $150 dresses for kids simply does not fit in any sort of budget I can get behind. Plus, I refuse to go black market on principle alone.

That leaves Etsy sellers or making one on my own in the wee hours of the night so my kids don’t see or hear. I’m almost at that point.


These kids? They don’t ask for much. They just want a Frozen dress or two.

Have you seen any kids toys marked up crazy amounts recently? What do you make of this?

Comments (3)

  • For my son’s first bday Jake and The Neverland Pirates all we found was Jake costume and my son was short and kid of chubby like Cubby, so I wanted to dress him up like him but no where to be find and I tried Etsy buy I just can’t bring myself to $80 on a one time dress up. But Zulily will have dress up dresses ranging from $20-$50 I’ve seen Frozen costume too but its first come first grab and it takes a really long time to ship. My daughter is only 9mos now but I can’t wait until she starts playing dress up!

    Lizbeth Castro
  • My so loves TMNTs. There is one toy which is impossible to find!! I travel a lot and have stopped at every Toys R Us I have seen (plus Walmart, Target, etc) it is nowhere!!! But on Amazon and EBay it can be found!!! A ten dollar toy…. Between 100 and 200 dollars!!! I just can’t do it!!!

  • Oh, WOW! Spending almost $200 on a kids’ costume is not something I could ever do 🙁 You’re right about the mark ups though. I’ve seen some pretty wild numbers for items my little one has wanted. Yikes.

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