May 28, 2007
The latest fuzzy fad at home on Web, tooBy Mary

Another toy craze has hit the Rochester area. Merchants can’t keep up with consumers’ demand for Webkinz — stuffed animals with secret codes that allow access to a virtual world online.

Introduced in 2005 by Ganz gift company, the Webkinz animals resemble Ty Inc.’s Beanie Babies and are sold at gift shops and specialty retailers.

“It swept the country in different phases,” said Lisa Filice, co-owner of Lisa’s Hallmark stores at Eastview Mall, The Marketplace and The Mall at Greece Ridge. “All of the sudden, it took off here.”

Webkinz became popular in Rochester about three months ago. Now they sell out almost immediately when a shipment arrives, Filice said.

Last Thursday morning, there were five Lil’ Kinz left at the Eastview Mall store — a smaller version of the stuffed animal that retails for $8.99 at Lisa’s Hallmark.

“It could be as big as Beanie Babies,” Filice said.

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