At the recent Toymaster Show, Sam Giltrow caught up with a selection of indie retailers to find out how business is faring.
Chris Blatcher, Toymaster chairman and owner of JAC Stores in the Isle of Man, said it was great to be back at the show and to see all the other members enjoying it too.
With three stores, two in Douglas and one in Ramsey, Chris reports that business has been good, although he expects the rest of this year to remain challenging. “We are all being faced with increased costs and have seen our online competition becoming increasingly fierce, but we are coping,” he tells us. “I think the toy market has shown great resilience; it’s encouraging to hear that the majority of indie retailers are holding up and doing reasonably well. Being able to adapt your businesses is the advantage of being small and nimble.”
Based in Cheshire, Mandy Harrop of Goslings Toymaster, was also enjoying the show. “It’s so good to be back after two years and we love the relaxed environment,” she enthused. “We all share tips and information on how to deal with problems – what’s great is that nobody is trying to outdo anyone else and we just all want to help each other.”
Mandy was delighted to see product in the flesh again, having noticed that customers are becoming more hands on when they come into the shop. “They want to see the product and ensure they are getting value for money; kids especially love to see what they are buying, so it’s vital to get the product mix right,” she says.
Kate Hateley is group toy buyer for British Garden Centres and was attending her first Toymaster show. She described Toymaster as ‘one big family’, and feels that membership has provided many benefits to BGC. “The Toymaster team is fantastic, and you know there’s always someone to help, whether you have a problem with a supplier or you just need advice,” she says. “Since I took up my role, I’ve seen many garden centres expanding their toy departments. Sometimes it’s about finding the right demographic for the range but because we have so many centres, we do have the flexibility to try things out.
Kate was attending the show on a similar mission to many other visitors. “At this time of year, I like to give our whole range a bit of a shake up and a review. It’s when I start to get organised so we have everything in order for the Christmas trading period,” she explains.
To read the full article, in which our indie retailers share their current success stories in terms of product, as well as what they are looking forward to bringing in later this year, read the full article, which appeared in the June edition of Toy World, here.