The documentary, which aired last night, delves into the magical world of traditional toyshops and featured a host of independent Irish retailers.
The Toy Shop was on RTÉ One on Wednesday, December 22nd. The focus of the brand new documentary was a celebration of the special role of toys in the lives of both children and adults.
A fascinating behind-the-scenes look at one of the most adored environments across the world, The Toy Shop featured a range of retail venues in the Republic of Ireland, their staff and their customers, from the youngest shopper saving up their Communion money for a special treat, to their eldest devotee, who has been going there since their own youth.
Children spoke about why they loved visiting and the stories they have created from their times in these spaces, while the business owners also revealed their biggest sellers and shared how parents can get “emotional” trying to find the toys their kids want for Christmas.
The documentary featured no less than 16 independent toyshops from around the country, offering an insight into the business of toys in a peculiar year. Despite the rise of online shopping, these shops survived and in many cases thrived.
The business owners discussed the power of toys and the special role they play in making dreams come true; from becoming a pilot, teacher, artist to opening a toyshop. Viewers had an insight into what goes into creating a space of wonder and excitement for young customers, and got a sneak peek into how a traditional toyshop gets ready for Christmas.
The toyshops which participated included:
- Nimble Fingers, Dublin
- Dublin City Comics
- Duffy’s Toyworld, Dunleer
- Co Louth; Mulligan’s, Omeath, Co Louth
- Bear Essentials, Bawnboy, Co Cavan
- My Old Toy Box, Belfast
- Tinney’s Toys, Letterkenny, Co Donegal
- McGreevey’s, Westport, Co Mayo
- Wooden Heart, Galway
- Little Ones, Ennis, Co Clare
- McGillicuddy’s, Listowel, Co Kerry
- The Toy Soldier Factory, Macroom, Co Cork
- Pinnochio’s, Cork
- RB Models, Clonmel, Co Tipperary
- Mark’s Models, Hawkin’s Street, Dublin
- May Roche’s, Abbeyfeale, Co Limerick
Tony Duffy, of Duffy’s Toyworld in Dunleer, Co Louth, was one of those interviewed for the programme. He said that as long as he still sees children’s eyes light up when they visit the shop, he will remain behind the counter. “When a child comes in and says ‘wow’ when they look around them, then that’s made my day.”
He says he also enjoys seeing the faces of adults light up when they spot toys they had growing up.
“I was the first Toymaster member in Ireland and then started going to the world’s biggest toy fair in Nuremberg over 30 years ago where I was like a child in wonderland myself, overcome by 18 halls packed with toys and models,” he explained. “Then I started visiting toyshops and fairs all over Europe and America to develop my shop into what it is now.”
Tony, who many children mistake for Father Christmas himself during the month of December, added: “There is nothing like personal interaction and the satisfaction you get from seeing the joy in a child’s face – big or small – when you hand them that toy.”
The programme was well received by viewers, with one saying on Twitter: “What a beautiful doc. Something very wholesome and pure to counter the constant negativity around us right now.”