RIYADH: If you have visited one of Riyadh Season’s zones, such as Boulevard Riyadh City, Winter Wonderland or Combat Field, you might have spotted a lot of young people clutching stuffed animals or banana-shaped soft toys — and it is not only among children that they are proving popular.
The cuddly toys are prizes that can be won by playing games at stalls set up in the zones. You have to pay to play, of course, but some savvy individuals have realized that there is a profit to made by selling their prizes online.
Majed Al-Malki, for example, is 19 years old and has won more than 50 of the toys so far during Riyadh Season.
“When I started winning stuffed toys, I did not expect people to ask me to sell them, and they are offering thousands of Saudi Riyals for them,” he told Arab news.
People love to collect the soft toys for a number of reasons, he said, whether it is to to decorate their homes, show off their skills at the games that award them as prizes, or simply to build a collection.
“When you are carrying a big toy, it is like you are driving an expensive car,” Al-Malki said. “People immediately want to talk to you and want to buy the toy from you.”
He said that someone had offered a friend of his about SR4,000 ($1,066) for his prize but the owner refused to sell it because it was the first toy he had won.
Al-Malki said he got into the business of selling the toys he won after a stall owner asked him to play for free to promote the stall and its game of skill, which involved throwing a ball.
“On the first day, when I played for free, I couldn’t win anything but on the second day I came and paid SR160 and I won a stuffed tiger,” he said. “After that, I knew how to throw the ball in the cones.
“Instantly, someone stopped me and offered me SR800 to sell it — and I did. I continued to come daily and win every day. I had about 50 models of various stuffed toys.
“The supervisors were watching me at Winterland because they believed that I was cheating due to the many times I have won in these games. Still, after they made sure that everything was legal, they encouraged me to continue.”
Some prizes are more valuable than other, Al-Malki said. For example, the banana toys are common prizes and so there is not much profit to be made from them, unlike the large stuffed animals.
“Bananas are easy to win but there is high demand for the panda, the tiger and the dragon,” he explained. “I sold a tiger for SR1,400.”
Not everyone is tempted by the chance to make a quick profit from the prizes. Tala bin Qassim, a 20-year-old college student, said that she was stopped by many people who begged her to sell a stuffed toy she had won but she refused.
“I won a giant red dragon from one of the kiosks in Boulevard Riyadh City last week,” she said. “Five people stopped me that day, wanting me to sell the dragon.
“The game cost me only SR50 and one guy offered me SR500, yet I still refused to sell as I wanted to give it to my 2-year-old nephew.”
Al-Malki sells his prizes online through a bedding website and is turning a tidy profit but does not expect the trend, or his new business, to last long.
“I think this trend of collecting toys is seasonal and will end by the end of Riyadh season,” he said.
Riyadh Season began on Oct. 20 and continues until March under the slogan #Imagine_More.