A Quebec-based company called Brictek says it's benefiting from a Lego shortage in Canada.
The company, which makes Lego-compatible building blocks, says business has doubled in the past year.
Brictek was launched in 2012, shortly after Lego's patent for its classic building blocks expired. Brictek jumped into the market, manufacturing blocks with a similar look to Lego but with a price tag about 25 per cent cheaper.
"There's a ton of Lego already existing," said Bernard Rollin, president of Brictek.
"We can't ask the people to throw that product in the garbage to get a new set. People love the possibility to mix the product together," he said.
Evelyn Gould is the owner of Jester's Fun Factory in Fergus, Ont., one of the toy stores that stocks Brictek in Ontario.
She said Brictek has helped keep her business afloat amid the Lego shortage.
"We still have Lego on our shelves which is a shock to me. And I think what's happening is BricTek is starting to take over that market of having product available that's more open-ended. You can get just the basic bricks," Gould said.
Basic blocks a bigger seller
Gould said she's noticed a shift in Lego's focus to licensed kits like Star Wars and MindCraft since its patent expired. She said it's harder to get the basic brick set so products like Brictek are filling the void for creative play.
"What we call the accessory and the loose bricks and everything, it's a lot of our business," Rollin said, adding that giving children the tools to imagine and create is part of his company's focus.
"Take 20 kids anywhere between five to 10 [years old]. Give them a couple thousand blocks and look at what they are going to do with it and you will find that really really amazing," Rollin said.
According to Rollin, it's not just easy access to bricks but the company's philanthropic mandate that has resonated with consumers. When a customer buys a Brictek product at any designated partner toy store across Canada, Brictek donates a toy set to a community charity, who will distribute the toys to children who might not otherwise be able to afford them.
"That's the most important part for us," said Rollin. "Yes, it's a business, but it's also the involvement with the community to take care of the people who do not have enough money to buy it."