Lisa Currie spoke to a selection of independent toy shops to find out how they are coping through the current climate.
Independent retailers all over Great Britain have been forced to close their doors. Some have put their business on hold, while others are finding ways to continue trading online or by offering a personalised delivery service for local customers.
Hazel McCarthy of Toy Corner, Galway, commented: “If you’d told me when I opened Toy Corner in November 2019 that in less than five months I would be creating an entirely new business model in the space of a week, I would never have believed you. But here we are – Toy Corner is now online. Where there are challenges, there is inspiration, and the product we’re most excited about is our Boredom Busting Box, a silver lining we’ve dreamed up in response to this time of social distancing.”
And Toy Corner are not the only ones adapting to a new way of retailing during this unprecedented time. Pandemonium, situated in East Sheen, London, has started delivering to the local area to keep business ticking over. “We actually made the decision to close our shop before it was officially announced,” explains shop owner Max Evans. ” I am in the store from 10am – 3pm Monday to Friday. The door is closed, but we continue to take in deliveries from those suppliers that are still processing orders. We are taking customer orders over the phone and through our website to deliver in the South London area free of charge. We are also helping other shops in the area with local deliveries, since many don’t have their own vans to do so.”
Whether closed completely or still partially open for online or local delivery, many toy shops across the board are utilising social media to connect with their customers and keep spirits up as lockdown continues. Kids Stuff in Wells is currently closed for business, apart from some local deliveries, but the shop’s Facebook page is still up and running. Lee Borastero, owner, added: “We have been very active on our social media accounts; posting lots of videos such as the Playmobil social distancing film, plus activities related to schoolwork, crafts and other fun activities to help keep kids occupied during this isolation period.”
Also making people smile in her local community is Lisa Clay of Armadillo Toys who added: “It is important to keep spirits high whilst we undergo the necessary measures. I have given out free rainbows and pavement chalks for passing families, so children can make their own hopscotch or write messages outside homes to cheer up local people. This has been a very confusing time and I wish all my fellow indie shop keepers all the best and the strength to carry on during this tough period.”
Read the full Talking Shop feature in the May issue of Toy World, featuring comment from many more indie retailers, here.