Lucas loves cars: how a little boy inspired an Australian online toy store

When a mother couldn’t find quality toy cars for her son, she set the wheels in motion to start her own online toy store in Australia.

Helle Warming’s son Lucas had just turned one when he was introduced to the wonderful world of cars. For that first birthday, he received a number of car-themed gifts and one of them was a book which he became instantly addicted to.

“Each page featured a type of car,” Helle recalls. “One had a fire truck, the other had a car and another had a digger. He loved them all. After that, everything had to have wheels on it.”

As Lucas’ love for cars grew, so did Helle’s observation of the limited range of options available to boys like him. She noticed that while there was no shortage of matchbox cars, Thomas The Tank Engine or Lightning McQueen (from the animated Pixar film, Cars), classic wooden cars in timeless designs were hard to come by. That’s when the idea for her business, Lucas loves cars, began to take shape.

“I was sick of the cheap, plastic toys out there, and also with not being able to find any boys’ clothing or accessories with simple car designs,” she says. “I wanted Lucas to play with beautifully designed toy cars and wear high-quality boys’ clothes. When I couldn’t find them I decided to offer them myself. I thought, surely I wasn’t the only mum who wanted these for her son.”

Helle began approaching suppliers, many of them Australian small business that specialised in handmade quality wooden toys, and handpicked one or two items that fit her young brand.

She remembers a few larger suppliers advising her against picking such a small niche and told her that there are some toy cars that don’t sell very well. But Helle knew that those toys would have a better chance on her specialised online store than on a generic online one. And she was right – there were other mums looking for those exact toys and gifts. The feedback that began streaming in went, “My son loves everything in your store.”

“There are more and more smaller companies making handmade quality wooden toys now than there were when I first started,” she says. “These makers use quality wood, not balsa wood or laminate. It makes a huge difference to how the toys feel and how tough they are.”

“It’s a little more expensive but parents are willing to pay for quality because they now understand the value of these toys. They know good toys are kept and played with for a long time.”

Image credit: Sam Walker

Lucas loves cars is filled with toys for boys from infancy to age five. Aside from cars, Helle also stocks puzzles, eating sets, books, night lights and anything else that is of quality and that features wheels or dinosaurs. She admits that she has become a lot more car obsessed in the last couple of years.

Lucas is now nine and still loves cars. That passion has since led him to be the “rising star” of Lucas loves cars’ social media channels.

“He wants to be a YouTube star,” Helle laughs. “I put his videos on our social media channels and people love it. It works so well because he’s the inspiration behind the business and people who know the story know that he genuinely loves the toys.”