Understanding the Brain Teaser Section

In most bookstores, specialty toy stores, museum gift shops, and department store, you’ll find a brainteaser section.  Usually a shelf or two tucked in between board games and jigsaw puzzles, these brainteaser sections are full of all sorts of gadgets that make you go “Hmmm,” or “Argh!!!”

To the untrained eye, a brainteaser section might look like a hodgepodge of things that you’re more likely to throw across the room than actually solve in this lifetime. But if organized properly, puzzlers of all ages and aptitudes should be able to find something that piques their interest.

When purchasing products for a brainteaser section, I recommend considering difficulty level, price point, puzzle type and the materials of which the puzzles are made. Buying product with these four different variables in mind will ensure that your assortment is well-rounded and appeals to as large audience an audience is possible.

Difficulty Level

Difficulty level can be determined by how long it would take the average person to sit down and solve this puzzle having no prior knowledge about the puzzle or how to solve it.  Puzzles considered easy should take less than five minutes to solve and should be mostly made up of impulse items retailing for under $5. Puzzles that takes anywhere from 5 minutes to 5 hours could be considered a moderately difficult puzzle and should make up the majority of a brainteaser section’s assortment.  If the manufacturer provides a difficulty rating (usually a range of 1 to 4 or 5 stars with 1 being super easy to 5 being omg-pull-your-hair-out hard) a moderately difficult puzzle would be anything in between either extreme of that spectrum.  Finally, it’s important to have some super hard puzzles in the bunch to attract the interests of seasoned puzzle solving experts and more importantly, to convey value to your customers.  The thinking goes, if it’s more difficult, I’ll spend more time trying to solve it and since I’ll be occupied with it longer, it’s worth more money. Pound for pound, harder puzzles outsell easier puzzles.

Price Point

It’s important to offer a wide range of price points in a brainteaser section to capture the most common buying scenarios.  Small, easy puzzles that sell for less than $5 will capture impulse purchases, especially if there’s a demo set available to tempt shoppers as they pass by. The rest of the assortment should be made up of puzzles that range between $10 and $20 MSRP, which is a price that conveys enough value for a gift to be proud of, but doesn’t break the bank.

Puzzle Type

Puzzle type is an important variable that retailers may not consider if they aren’t familiar with all of the different brain teasers available on the market. The first and most widely recognized type of brain teaser is the twisty puzzle.  Ever since the Pyraminx hit stores in the late 70’s, twisty puzzles have seen a healthy sales cycle that swings from popular to super-crazy popular every seven years. After twisty puzzles, a well-rounded brain teaser section should offer some assembly puzzles. These are wooden objects that must be taken apart into it’s individual pieces and then put back together. You’ll also see disentanglement puzzles, which are the metal equivalent to the assembly puzzle; essentially two or more noodle-y pieces of metal that must be taken apart and relinked back together again.


The kind of material that these puzzles are made of should be considered in a brain teaser section as well.  Usually, if you offer an assortment that ranges across the other three variables, you’ll naturally have a wide variety of materials. Twisty puzzles are almost always made of plastic, assembly puzzles of wood, and disentanglement puzzles of metal.

A brainteaser section can be organized by any of these variables but for brick-and-mortar stores we recommend organizing first by puzzle type and then by material.  Twisty puzzles look better next to other plastic items and should stand apart from assembly or disentanglement puzzles.

If you don’t have any brainteasers in your store, or are looking to step up your game, Project Genius offers a starter-pack assortment that represents all aspects of these four variables and comes with plenty of demo sets to make for an attractive, well-rounded brainteaser section.

Fidget Puzzles

Fidget puzzles are in high demand these days. From what we've seen on our social media platforms and on the ASTRA forums, customers across the nation are eager to find little trinkets to keep their hands occupied.

If you are looking for fidget-friendly gadgets, we've got you covered.

Although our brainteasers are a lot of fun to solve, their satisfying clicking sounds and rotating movements are just as fun to play with while concentrating on other things.

We've also created a window sign for you to attract customers passing by who are specifically looking for fidget toys.

Finally, check out the video we created to introduce you to one of our best selling fidget-friendly puzzles, the Pyraminx:

Why We Puzzle

Your brain is a muscle and needs exercise to stay in shape. Challenging your brain by engaging in thought provoking activities like brainteasers keeps it strong and promotes overall mental health. When you pick up a puzzle and start strategizing over the solution, you’re taking your brain the gym to get it shape. Think of puzzles as your mental cross fit class.

The short-term benefits of solving a puzzle are easy to spot. It’s enjoyable, thought-provoking, and rewarding when solved. But the long-terms benefits are often overlooked. Working with brainteasers on a regular basis has been proven to:

  • Increase brain processing speed
  • Improve memory
  • Reduce the risk of dementia
  • Improve concentration.

Like all exercise, variation is important. So, if you ‘ve been showing off your math skills with IcoSoKu, take a break and work on MindJewel to flex your ability to think visually. Once you’ve solved that, switch gears to a Meffert’s puzzle and take your brain for spin with Gear BallPyraminx, or any one of our many rotational puzzles.