After opting for a career change Janis Phillimore, director at Imagido! knew opening a toy store could be a risk. Now her expectations for the online store are growing as she reveals how successful her first year has been.

My first year as an indie: ImagiDo!

How long has your store been open for?

The online store has been open for 19 months.

Why did you choose to open the online store?

I had been child minding for nearly ten years and was looking for a career change, so I decided that opening a shop that catered for child minders, nurseries and schools seemed like a good step to take.

I knew it was a big risk, which could so easily have failed, but it was something I really wanted to try.

How has business been since opening?

Right from the word go, business has been better than expected. We now operate from a unit and I employ four members of staff. We are a growing business and sales have been up month-on-month for us since we opened.

2014 was your first Christmas, how successful was that for you?

2014 as my first Christmas was a real eye opener. I had assumed that it would be my busiest time – I have a toy shop after all. However, December was our worst month to date for sales – taking in half of November’s sales.

I have put this down to the fact that the majority of our customers are from the childcare sector and buying for their business rather than for their children/relatives, and so their Christmas toy budget was spent in other toy stores, selling the more popular Christmas toys. Our products are more educational and possibly not on many children’s lists to Santa.

What industry trends have affected you since the opening of your store?

None that I’m aware of.

What are your expectations for the store?

My expectations are for the store to keep growing at the rate it has been, and I have realised that I have a specific customer in the childcare sector, so I will concentrate on taking the business in that direction.

What advice would you give other retailers who are just starting out?

Always listen to your customers, they know what they want, not you.

About Robert Hutchins

Robert Hutchins is the editor of Licensing.biz and ToyNews. Hutchins has worked his way up from Staff Writer to the position of Editor across the two titles, having spent almost eight years with both ToyNews and Licensing.biz, and what now seems like a lifetime surrounded by toys. You can contact him by emailing robert.hutchins@biz-media.co.uk or calling him on 0203 143 8780 You can even follow him on Twitter @RobGHutchins if ranting is your thing...

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