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Barnstaple’s Youings Toymaster celebrates 60 years of trading

The Barnstaple toy retailer, Youings Toymaster and model shop is celebrating 60 years of trading from the same high street spot this year.

In a story reported by The North Devon Gazette, the retailer is celebrating a successful six decades as it has watched businesses come and go from its spot on the corner of High Street and Boutport Street.

The family-owned business shares the same 60th birthday as two of its favourite trademarks – LEGO and Paddington Bear.

Mary Youings, owner of Youings Toy Master, said the shop opened its doors in 1958, opposite where the family first started trading as a tobbaconist in 1884 in Boutport Street.

She said: “The family owned all of this property around here, and the model shop was the first thing to open.

“What is now the toy shop was at the time a restaurant, and when it became vacant I wondered, what shall we do?

“I asked the in-laws if we could rent it from them and start to sell toys. I’d never even been in retail before, but it was just one of those things…One of those things turned into this and, well, here we are 60 years down the line.”

When Mary’s son Peter finished school he joined the business, and he nows runs the wholesale side while Mary continues to be involved in the toy shop.

The toy shop is managed by Nicky Tossell, who has been there 12 years, and the model shop by Graham Bice, who has worked for the business for 26 years.

Nicky said the shop had a very loyal base of customers, with generations of the same family returning time and time again.

“We get a lot of people bringing in their children and saying things like, ‘I remember coming in here when I was six’, which is lovely,” said Nicky.

Mary said the world of online shopping had affected the business over the years.

“If the big boys can’t a go of it, I’m not sure there’s much future in the high street,” she said. “But we have a lovely customer base and I think being a small, family-run business helps.We’re very grateful we’re still here, through some reason or another.”

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