In this month’s Talking Shop, indie retailers tell Sam Giltrow how the Christmas and New Year selling periods went, and look ahead to the new products for 2022.
Tony Duffy of Duffy’s Toyworld, Dunleer, Co Louth enjoyed a ‘fantastic’ Christmas, in part thanks to appearing in The Irish Times, a TV chat show and an RTE programme called The Toy Shop, which featured family businesses. “These all showed the benefits of going into an independent toyshop and the high level of customer service we can provide,” Tony explained. “We had a large share of the airtime, due to our way of doing things differently here: we don’t sell any electronic or battery-operated toys.”
Despite turning 76 this year, Tony has no plans to retire. “I wouldn’t know what to do with myself – I have been running the shop now for 57 years,” he confided. “When I see young children come in and say ‘wow!’ when they see everything we have on offer, it makes my day. It’s just so lovely to see.”
Argosy Toys in Westcliff-on-Sea will be celebrating this year as it’s the shop’s 75th anniversary. Owner Paul Wohl has been behind the counter for 35 years and will also be celebrating his 50th birthday in 2022.
Paul told Talking Shop he also enjoyed a strong Christmas. “We were very busy,” he said, “and this wasn’t just in the immediate run-up, as we also enjoyed a terrific October, November and December. Since we re-opened after Christmas, I have been surprised every day with how busy it has been and I am confident we will have another buoyant year in the shop.”
Bhav Patel opened a new branch of Toy Galaxy in Watford just before Christmas, joining his existing stores in Barnet Ealing, Hatfield and Witney. “It has gone really well considering the limitations we had in regard to time, stock, logistics and staffing, ” Bhav told us. “It all happened very quickly, and I still can’t believe we managed to get up and running in just five or six days, but the process was very rewarding.”
In their Indie Viewpoint column, Mark Buschhaus and Stephen Barnes of Toy Barnhaus are looking forward ‘with cautious optimism to a more stable year ahead’. 2021 ended well for the chain, and overall, takings were up on 2019 figures. The guys told us they were looking to expand their green/sustainable toy offering. “Toys may be a small part of global trade, but all sectors need to do their part to help,” they explained. “We are keen to see what is out there from suppliers that is new and more sustainable.”
To read the full Talking Shop feature and find out what has sold well and what new lines our retailers are excited about, see the following pages in the February edition of Toy World.