Just when Calease Phillips, a single mother from Farmingdale, had given up hope of finding a Hatchimal — this holiday season’s “it” toy — in time for Christmas, she received a Facebook message from Levittown resident Maureen Phillips (no relation) asking if she was interested in buying one.
Calease Phillips, who was quoted in a Newsday story about the Hatchimal craze, had already told her 8-year-old daughter, Jordyn, she wasn’t getting one.
“I said ‘I’m sorry, honey, but it’s an egg; you’ll get it for Easter,’ ” said Calease Phillips, 39.
“And then I get this message, which said ‘Hi Calease, I know this is bizarre, but are you the same woman that was in today’s Newsday? There’s a chance I’ll have an extra Hatchimal. . . . No, I am not looking to make any money. . . . Whatever the stores charge is what I would sell it to you for.”
The toy, a multicolored egg that “hatches” into an interactive creature, retails for $59.99 and has flown off store shelves and into what some parents have called “the black market for Hatchimals,” selling on sites like Craigslist and eBay for as much as six times the retail price.
A few weeks ago, in hopes of finding a Hatchimal, Phillips woke up at 4 a.m. and waited, alongside other “crazy parents,” in a long line outside a Target store. She scoured the internet, but says resale prices were “outrageous” and “unaffordable.”
Maureen Phillips, 50, says she was shocked at Hatchimal prices too, but dug into her savings and spent about $600 on the toys on eBay. Three of her nieces, ages 5, 7 and 8, had Hatchimals at the top of their Christmas lists.
“I had never bought anything on eBay, but I needed to buy these toys, so I started bidding and ended up with an extra,” she said. “I didn’t think about it much, but I was sipping my coffee and I saw the newspaper on my dining room table. It was still in the bag. I hate to admit it, but I almost never read it. Still, something told me to grab it and I did, and I opened it up to the Hatchimal story.”
As soon as Maureen Phillips read about Calease Phillips, she knew what she had to do.
“I was married and I couldn’t have children, so whenever I can make a difference in a child’s life, I jump at the opportunity,” she said.
Maureen Phillips and Calease Phillips agreed to meet in the parking lot of the Trader Joe’s in Plainview.
“I went to hand her the money, and she would not take it,” said Calease Phillips. “She said ‘Merry Christmas’ and only asked for two things: for me to pay it forward whenever I could, and to record my daughter opening the Hatchimal and send her the clip later so she could see her reaction.”
“It’s pretty unbelievable, but she didn’t just give my daughter a Christmas gift. She gave me the best Christmas gift ever.”