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Recently re-opened under the ownership of Dave Carter and Martyn Perry, the Arcade Toy Shop has taken residency in Dudley’s Fountain Arcade for almost five decades, offering loyal clientele a traditional toy shop. Rhys Troake finds out how the new owners have taken to the business and what’s planned for the rest of 2015.

INDIE PROFILE: Arcade Toy Shop

Can you tell us a bit about Arcade Toy Shop?
The shop in its current form, Arcade Toy shop, has been in the Fountain Aracde, Dudley, since 1968.

However, it was called Wadworth’s prior to this and Dave’s uncle, Brian, bought his first bike from there in 1936.

The shop is a true independent but it’s got a bit of everything for everyone, from wooden toys, to Scalextric. We really do have a very wide customer base and the shop is well known for this.

Can you tell us about the background of the store?
The shop is jointly owned by Dave Carter and Martyn and Jan Perry.

We all have a public sector background and Dave took voluntary redundancy in March of this year, after over 27 years in roles within the customer services area of Dudley Council.

Martyn and Jan continue to work there for the time being, but are looking to leave in the near future.

Dave’s mum, although being retired, loves to help out around the place a couple of days a week.

Our sons also work in the shop, so we have a broad range of ages and skills, which we are applying to the challenge of running a toy shop.

Can you guide us through the Arcade Toy Shop journey and taking over its ownership?
Having all worked in the public sector for so long, you get a bit jaded in the same job.

Its a job we all enjoyed, but with massive cuts year on year and less resources, it’s difficult to work in a job where you are prevented from providing a good service and large scale redundancies were on the horizon.

We heard the shop was closing and that Alan was looking for a buyer, so we had a chat with him and it all just went from there really.

Alan has been a great mentor and still pops in a few times a week when he is in town. We have been getting very positive feedback, so we are on the right track.

What sets you part from the competition?
We are small, local and give a friendly personal service to all our customers. We stock a bit of everything really and the shop was always known as the go to place for those hard to find items.

Many of our customers don’t like the toy superstores and prefer the experience of bringing their kids to a traditional shop. Most of our customers have been coming here for generations, as have we.

We also have a space rocket ride and everyone identifies us as the shop with the ride.

How is 2015 shaping up for you so far?
When we took over, the shop was in the middle of a refit, taking it back to its 1926 façade. So, due to the building works, many people thought the shop had shut.

In addition, Alan was retiring, so customers feared the worst for the shop.

During these three months we traded from a temporary unit in the Arcade and customers passed us by thinking we were newcomers and in some way stealing business from the well-known shop.

However, since we moved in around four weeks ago, things have gone from strength to strength, with sales climbing by the day, so 2015 is looking to be what we wanted it to be: a good first year.

Are there plans to take the shop in new directions?
We are looking to do online sales and get a whole new website set up, so we can look to grow the business.

We are doing much more on social media too, which is already paying off.

We have over 3,500 people following us and we are starting to get mail order requests for some of the many lines we post online, having just arrived from suppliers.

Are you looking forward to the rest of the year?
We certainly are. Every day presents a new set of challenges and seeing children go away happy is extremely rewarding. The people of the town are a great bunch and we are well supported with a very loyal customer base.

So, we are certainly looking forward to the coming weeks, months and years.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?
It’s just the start of the journey for us and we’d all like to say a massive thank you to Alan Caswell and his family for all their support.

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