Toy World spoke to a selection of indie retailers who were able to re-open their doors from 15th June.
Indie retailers have proved resilient and adaptable throughout the pandemic, and with ‘non-essential’ shops able to re-open from 15th June, they have shown their resourcefulness yet again and adjusted to new ways of retailing.
Bhav Patel, Toy Galaxy, told Toy World, “I have no doubt that, for the next few months, trading is going to be challenging. There has been a mixed reaction to the lifting of lockdown measures, and I am not sure how this is going to translate into sales. Even if a lot of people choose to return to the high street, we will be forced to limit the number of customers in the shop at one time. We have worked hard on a strategy for reopening, as it is important that we do all we can to make customers feel safe.”
With many members of the public feeling anxious about adjusting to a new way of shopping on the high street, store owners have been working hard to make the experience worthwhile, all while staying safe and adhering to government guidelines.
“I have a created a character called Sally the Social Distancing Spinosaurus – Sally has left footprints all around the shop for the children to follow,” enthuses Lisa Clay of Armadillo Toys, Leeds. “I have also created a sanitising station with Sally’s Special Sanitiser for customers to use, and we’ll be running Sally’s Colouring Competition, among other activities. I have also enrolled one of the Playmobil big figures. The Playmobil policeman is wearing a face mask and will act as our queue marshal outside the shop, sporting a sign on his chest with instructions for customers.”
Lisa told us that she is doing everything she can to make the ‘new normal’ child friendly as well as safe. “I want customers to adhere to the appropriate measures, but there is no reason why we can’t make them more exciting and fun,” she explained.
With appropriate guidelines in place, Neil Armstrong from The Toy Book Warehouse in Pickering, told Toy World what products he expects will be in demand moving forward: “As well as Lego, I expect lower price point items to start selling again. This has been a trying time and parents will be on the lookout for ways to keep kids occupied and give them a treat without spending too much. Arts and crafts has been doing well, particularly Galt and Crayola; everyone’s got the bug now and I expect this category will remain strong.”
“The retail landscape has been vastly changed by the pandemic,” added Clair Letton, Wigwam Toys, Brighton. “Perhaps, for a while at least, we will see customers putting their money into products with durability and longevity, rather than disposable fad driven items. Being able to monitor and be responsive to customers’ demands will be crucial going forward.”
Read the full Talking Shop feature, which also contains comment from Heaths, Goslings, Howleys, Salter Street Toys and Models and The Toy Shop Okehampton, in the July issue here.