In September’s Talking Shop feature, indie toy shops from around the UK tell Toy World what’s selling and what they are looking forward to in the run up to Q4.
This month, Toy World caught up with Liz Amphlett of Toytastik; Andrew Garthwaite of Rexys Reviews, The Dino Den; Brendan Will of Will’s Toy Shop and, of course, regulars Mark Buschhaus and Stephen Barnes of Toy Barnhaus.
In Chepstow, Liz Amphlett feels resilient. “I feel very fortunate to be in this industry because people will always buy toys – they won’t ever miss a child’s birthday, ” she explains, noting, however, that her customers are shopping more carefully.
Liz adds: “I think this is the time for independents to shine. We are always on the lookout for things you won’t find in the big chain stores.”
Andrew Garthwaite of Rexys Reviews, The Dino Den, is something of a specialist, with a bricks & mortar, dinosaur themed store. Andrew has been open for 18 months, and has been delighted at customers’ reactions. “When we opened, although customers absolutely loved the shop, I think they all assumed it would be nothing but a pop-up store. Yet here we are, a year and a half later and going strong.” With a loyal and hugely enthusiastic customer base, and regular repeat shoppers, the store has become something of a tourist destination. “The interest in dinosaurs and the demand for dinosaur toys will never become extinct,” enthuses Andrew. “Our main goal is for our shoppers to have an amazing experience – a sale is a nice added extra.”
At Will’s Toy Shop in Aberdeen, business has been good so far this year, ahead of 2022 on a year-on year basis. Brendan Will tells us that the business is celebrating an important milestone this year. “It’s our 125th anniversary! It’s quite unusual these days for an indie retailer to have that much heritage but Will’s has survived by evolving and adapting; we’re going through the process of becoming an official Pokémon Play Store, just another way we’re staying up to date, even after all these years.”
Toy Barnhaus describes most of the summer as “a bit of a washout” but adds that this doesn’t seem to have hurt sales too much. Mark and Stephen say their stores have benefitted from the slate of big movie releases – Barbie and TMNT Turtles especially. But it seems that it’s the low price points that are shining at the moment – Loom Bands is a continued success story, as well as classic Hot Wheels single cars and “anything that is tactile, fidgety or ASMR” with Crazy Aaron’s Thinking Putty and Slime Party proving popular.
September’s Talking Shop reveals what else is selling well for our indies – read the full article, which appeared in the September edition of Toy World, here.