Exclusive: Just the two of us – Toy Barnhaus on their lockdown experience

Published on: 9th June 2020

Mark Buschhaus and Stephen Barnes discuss the challenges and opportunities of retailing whilst in lockdown. 

Just after the bank holiday weekend, Mark and Stephen were excitedly waiting for a big announcement from Boris, hoping for a bit of clarity. They didn’t feel that they got much of that initially, but started to make plans for the confirmed opening of non-essential shops – albeit wondering what the situation would be in shopping malls, where most Toy Barnhaus shops are based.

“Currently, we have 80 of our staff on furlough, and we made the decision to top up their salaries to full pay for as long as the business can sustain it. Ironically, the only two who are not furloughed are both of us,” write Mark and Stephen, who have been running a successful online operation from the back of the Toy Barnhaus in Crawley – and have had to learn how to do so very rapidly. However, they see the bright side: “It’s a huge plus to have benefited from this intensive learning experience, while at the same time protecting our staff and the future of our business.”

They go on to explain how else they have had to adapt, and pivot from the ways in which they are used to trading, sharing details of what have been the best sellers for the Toy Barnhaus chain: “If you can secure supply of a hot line, you can sell it in significant quantities,” they confide.

All stores in the chain have been getting ready to welcome back customers, and Mark and Stephen stress that they only want to open when it is completely safe to do so. The duo concludes: “This is a time where sharing best practices and good ideas is beneficial to us all, supporting both suppliers and retailers. We are all in this together and we can all bounce back stronger. Stay safe everyone.”

Read the full article in the June issue of Toy World, here.


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