Where is your store based?
Our store is based in Market Street, Tamworth, in Staffordshire.
How long has your store been open for?
The store has been open for a year and a half. The other co-owner, Adam Allton-Nee, opened the store on an impulse after he saw a vision when he walked past an empty shop in the town where we grew up. and that’s where it all began. I came in to the business later.
Why did you choose to open the store?
Setting up a business with little business knowledge is a steep and tiring learning curve but very enjoyable, most of the time. Allton- Nee started the business alone so it was hard to juggle all the balls and family life too.
The decision for the stock he chose and initial reason for the shop was due to the mass of electronic and repetitive toys. He wanted to bring back a more traditional childhood with role-play and improvisation like we had.
I came in as a customer at the beginning and we became good friends.
How has business been since opening?
Initially sales were very good but dropped off after Christmas for a couple of months.
Over the last six months sales have climbed dramatically with a 23 per cent increase in the last quarter. And we have the knowledge of what January can be like, so we have lots of things planned to boost sales.
What industry trends have affected you since the opening of your store?
We tend to see ourselves as offering a unique and individual experience and different toys too, so we aren’t really affected by industry trends. We choose what we like and what’s a bit different and it seems to work. All our toys are wooden, tin or fair trade and traditional.
What are your expectations for the store?
We are very positive about the future. The increase in sales shows we are sitting comfortably in the market place now.
We have a lovely customer base where we are, so we would love to expand into a bigger store and possibly branch into other areas such as interiors, to create a true children’s emporium – we have lots of ideas. Failing that we will be looking to open a second toy shop in another local town.
What advice would you give other indie retailers who are just starting out?
I would say be prepared for hard work with very little financial return in your first year. Be proud if you break even. So many times you will feel like giving up but you need to give customers a chance to become regulars.
Also try and find something that’s unique. You have to be passionate about what you choose as your business, as your energy alone won’t see you through. It is our passion for a beautiful shop and a love for toys that kept us going.