Three independent toy shops are on the shortlist of retailers in the running to be named Britain’s Best Small Shop of 2018.
The Best Small Shops competition, managed by the Independent Retailers Confederation (IRC) sponsored by booost, the brand new loyalty, gift and promotions app for independent retailers and their customers, celebrates the commitment and creativity of independent retailers on the UK’s High Streets and the central role they play in their local communities. The winner will be announced at an event at the Houses of Parliament on 13th November.
Whirligig Toys in Tunbridge Wells prides itself on its richness of stock, in-depth product knowledge and enthusiasm, saying the fact that each product has been tested and explored by all staff members, has helped it build a reputation as creative toy experts. It was the first toy shop to be awarded The Let Toys Be Toys toymark. It is involved with local causes that are of educational value and is happy to donate goods and sponsor events, mostly involving schools and libraries.
Wise Owl Toys in Worcester, a traditional, educational toy shop with a special section for left-handed people, opened 24 years ago initially as a “Left Handed” shop but for the last 19 years as a traditional, educational toy shop. Children come to the shop for specialist handwriting help as well as for different, inspiring and fun toys with an educational bias.
Owner Mark Stewart commented: “At Wise Owl Toys, we have games and other products out for children and adults to play with. We love to demonstrate and play games with our customers and have been the biggest seller in the UK of the game Dobble for three years running. We also run free activities for children in the summer holidays called “Wise Owl Wednesdays.”
Toyville, an independent toy shop in Bristol, runs free in-store workshops for children and a monthly board games night for adults. It stocks a huge range of items under £10 that are perfect for classmates’ birthday parties, encouraging families to come in on a Saturday morning for last minute gifts. It also has a large board games library and a table at the back of the shop so that customers can try before they buy.
Mark Walmsley, chairman of the Independent Retailers Confederation, commented: “Despite all of the bad headlines and the high-profile closures of larger stores, we firmly believe that specialist independent retailers can thrive in this climate by delivering a truly unique retail experience. The Best Small Shops competition enables us celebrate this unique industry, the passion, service, flexibility and knowledge of independent shop owners offer and show customers what makes independent retailers so special.”