Adding a twist to the Retailer of the Year Awards, this year’s Superhero Awards celebrate those who have gone the extra mile during this challenging year.
Phil Ratcliffe, president of the BTHA and chair of the Retailer of the Year judging panel, paid tribute to the winners and the toy industry overall. “This is a change from our usual awards. We made a conscious decision this year in the retail landscape to take a completely different tack on the Retailer of the Year awards and celebrate the retailers who have gone the extra mile. We are not using our historic categories, instead we are celebrating altruism and innovation and we have received lots of entries demonstrating this”, he explained.
“This year we have decided not to award an overall Retailer of the Year as toy retail from every quarter contributed massively. Over the last 12 months, retailers across the industry, both small and large, have shown great spirit and dedication in adapting and shaping their business to help support and provide for customers despite the challenges they have faced throughout the continuing pandemic. We are mindful that there have been many great acts of support and generosity during the pandemic across the industry but the panel can only judge those who entered or were nominated.”
The following retailers have been recognised for their efforts throughout 2020:
- Toy Corner from Galway, Ireland
- The Trading Post from Kingsbridge, Devon
- The Entertainer
- Smyths Toys
These retailers all displayed great community spirit in various ways such as by partnering with other local businesses and providing toys and packages to local food banks and those in need during the pandemic, as well as providing free resources online and curating toys in boredom busting boxes to keep children occupied whilst at home.
We spoke to The Trading Post’s Julia Wingate, who said: “I’m overjoyed with the award – and shocked! We really try to link in with and support our local community, and that is noticed and paid back in kind. Our customer base comprises local residents and tourism visitors that return year after year, which is lovely for us. We are positive about the rest of the year; things were buoyant coming out of lockdown in December and people were clearly keen to support their local retailers. There’s a genuine passion among shoppers about helping indies, and also about being mindful of what they buy and where they buy it from. I’d like to thank the BTHA for this award, not only for acknowledging my shop but for continuing to draw attention to all toy shops, which have been working so hard under such challenging conditions.”
This year the BTHA also introduced the Superhero Awards, in order to recognise and celebrate staff within retail who have gone above and beyond normal service this year. The winner of the inaugural Ultimate Superhero Award is Lisa Clay of Armadillo Toys who has continued to deliver excellent services to her customers and community, whilst using innovative ideas to make safety restrictions in her shop child-friendly and fun. Lisa worked every single day throughout lockdown and delivered toys to customers herself as well as sorting postal orders and arranging for collection. Lisa also created her own character, Sally the Social Distancing Spinosaurus, who had socially distanced dinosaur footprints around the shop as well as Sally’s Special Sanitising Station, among other initiatives and activities.
“I feel amazed that I’ve been recognised when up against the big multiples and online retailers,” Lisa told Toy World, when asked how she felt about her award. “It’s so special, and I’m really proud. I’ve tried hard to champion independent toy retailers and have been very vocal on social media. It’s so important to me that we don’t lose our indie shops. I’m grateful that the current lockdown is taking place when it is – the first quarter is never the biggest – and I’m optimistic that we will bounce back in the spring. I’ve been working so hard during the lockdowns, 10 hour days plus weekends; I nearly broke myself working so much. But, that has put me in a better position during this third lockdown. The vaccination programme is now gathering speed and I am sure that when we can open and trade normally, things will be good. I really hope all indies can make it to the other side of lockdown.”
Alongside Lisa were lots of brilliant examples of how individuals went above and beyond to help their community this year and in turn have been awarded a Superhero Award. Their efforts ranged from volunteering for the NHS, helping in their local community, raising funds and volunteering for local charities. A full list of the Superhero Award winners can be found below.
- Lisa Clay of Armadillo Toys
- Nouman Qureshi, eBay
- Craig Whiting, The Entertainer, East Kilbride
- Julie Robbins, The Entertainer, Jersey
- Karen Stacey, The Entertainer, Brent Cross
- Layla Owen, The Entertainer, Llandudno
- Chantel Lopez, The Entertainer, Ashford
- Inna Nikolova, The Entertainer, Stratford
- Jade Oliver-Deacon, The Toy Shop Okehampton
- Lisa Dyson, Games Crusade
- Kelsey Davis, The Entertainer, Hereford
- Paul Hart, The Entertainer, Telford
- Karen Emery, The Entertainer, Area Manager
- Kelly Martin, The Entertainer, Brighton
Lisa Dyson of Games Crusade told Toy World: “I was very surprised to receive the email regarding the award from Matt [Jones], so much so that I thought it was a scam. I had to Google him to make sure that he was a real person and associated with the BTHA! It was so nice to receive some good news, especially as at the moment we are again closed and back to operating behind closed doors. It really cheered me up. I am once again offering local delivery and postal delivery, and trying to do local deliveries rather than click & collect where possible, to comply with government guidelines and keep my customers safe. I am also trying to post on social media as regularly as possible with a variety of topics. For example, last week the post showed my husband and I trying out the sledges we stock, showing customers how good they are via photos and videos. It was a lot of fun.”
Andrew Laughton, Chairman of the BTHA commented: “It has been incredibly heart-warming reading through all the inspiring efforts by individuals and retailers who have shown great creativity, selflessness and spirit whilst adjusting to keep not only the toy industry going but also helping those in need during these difficult times. Whilst we have highlighted just a few of the extraordinary efforts we are sure there are many more unsung heroes that we are unaware of. The real winner this year was toy retail in general and we are grateful to the whole toy industry which has done masses this year. I’d also like to give a special thank you to Golden Bear who have created the bespoke Superhero awards for us. The toy industry has proved just how special it is this year in coming together and I congratulate everyone involved.”
Winners of the Toy of the Year Awards will be announced by the TRA in the coming days.