Meet Walmart Canada’s “Chief Toy Officer”

By Stephanie Fusco

It’s hard to imagine a more fitting job for someone born on Christmas Eve than choosing the toys that children across Canada will receive during the holiday season.

For Marc Ruffolo, it’s his reality - and an honour he’s humbled by year after year. Marc is responsible for leading the team that makes the company's purchasing and merchandising decisions for the toy category.

Officially, he’s the Senior Director, Toys, but these days he’s unofficially known as Walmart Canada’s Chief Toy Officer – a title his kids love to brag about.

My kids tell their friends that Dad brings Christmas to everyone in Canada. It’s the best job in the world. We’re in the business of selling fun to our customers and we know our decisions are going to impact what’s under the tree,” he explains. “It’s extremely humbling. This is the time of year when you get to see the fruits of your labour.

Walmart is Canada’s #1 toy shop and the company has seen continued strong sales growth in toys this season, a testament to the team’s dedication to finding the season’s top toys.

Marc joined Walmart as a category manager in toys right as his children were born, about 9 years ago. While he moved briefly into the company’s confectionary business, he returned to toys in a leadership role 4 years ago. The return to toys gives him a chance to be a kid again and involve his children in his work, testing toys together as a family.

It also gives Marc the opportunity to see some of his own childhood favourites back on shelves. “My favourite all-time item in the past 4 years leading toys is the Lego Mario Starter kit, which came out last year," Marc shares. "It’s the best of both worlds, combining Lego with classic video games – something I love, as a child of the 80s”.

Finding the top toys for Walmart’s customers each season means making decisions more than a year in advance – the Walmart team will soon start purchasing for next year’s holiday season. The team is hands-on, testing toys and having fun as they make purchasing decisions. His team leverages key insights, strong relationships and gut instinct to bring a little bit of magic and a lot of choice to the toy aisle.

This year’s assortment of trending toys includes those aligned to what’s popular on streaming networks and in children’s programming, creative activities and buildable fun like Lego sets. Walmart really is a one-stop shop for parents looking to bring joy this holiday season.

As for what’s under Marc’s own tree this year, his 7-year-old son Max has asked for the LEGO Luigi Starter Kit (a Walmart Top Toy) and 8-year-old Jacob is hoping for PlayStation games like NHL 2021 and FIFA. After a long year, Marc wants to celebrate his birthday in style and enjoy downtime with family. But, if Santa’s willing...he wouldn’t mind an Apple Watch, too!