Mark Buschaus spoke exclusively to Toy World about the opening of the new Toy Barnhaus in Staines.
The new store will not only provide an extra boost to the local area, but has also provided employment for six members of Toys R Us staff who lost their jobs when the toy giant entered administration. The new Toy Barnhaus is in the same mall as a Toys R Us pop-up shop which closed in April. Before the closure, Mark had been liaising with the area manager – an ex-Woolworths store manager – to see which staff members they could look at taking on.
As a result, the Toys R Us staff members have now found employment with Toy Barnhaus. Mike O’Conner, who had been with Toys R Us since 2009, has been appointed manager, while Mia Glenn has been made assistant manager after working for Toys R Us for around two years. Four other staff members have also been taken on as customer assistants by the Toy Barnhaus duo, and the store is actively recruiting for weekend staff in a rather novel manner – Playmobil figures are stationed outside the shop with signs advertising the positions available.
Commenting on why he and Stephen Barnes settled on Staines, Mark said: “When we consider new locations we always look at malls and shopping centres. Staines-Upon-Thames is quite an affluent area and is still growing. A new Primark opened recently which has increased the footfall substantially. We opted for the pop-up as it’s around 18 miles from our Epsom location and a manageable size. It’s not one of our bigger shops but it’s ideal for testing the water, and we would look to expand to a bigger location in the future if Staines proves viable for the business.”
The new store’s soft launch will take place on 12th June, with a grand opening event planned for Saturday 16th. Facepainters will be onsite from 11am-4pm, Toby Toymaster will make an appearance, and customers can enjoy a free gift with purchase. A Name a Playmobil Figure competition, in collaboration with Elmsleigh Shopping Centre, will also be running throughout the day.
Mark added: “We are very hands on when it comes to running the business, Stephen and I, and we felt confident that one more shop was realistic and do-able for us. We’ve always said ‘no more stores!’ – even when we had just one – but we do think that eight is the magic number for us. We’ll never stop keeping an eye on areas for expansion, but we have no desire to get so big that we cannot still be toy shop people first and foremost; customers will often find us manning the tills at our stores. It’s not easy out there in the retail space, but when things are tougher, we work harder to understand our business and customers.”