UK farm that turned to toys amid BSE outbreak celebrates 30 years of successful trading

The family owners of a farm that was forced into diversifying back in 1989 amid the UK’s major BSE outbreak is now celebrating 30 years of successful trading as a toy shop.

The site in Little Smeaton, in North Yorkshire, was among the many farms across the UK who had to open up secondary businesses as a means to get by, when they lost a large number of livestock to what was known as ‘mad cow disease.’

The farm owners, Neil and Belinda Metcalfe moved into toy retail in 1989 when they established their thriving business Adventure Toys. The pair began trading online in 2000 with a website they say now ‘accounts for 75 to 80 per cent of the business.’

In recognition of their 30 years of successful trading, local MP Rishi Sunak paid the farm a visit last week, when he said: “This is a very successful farm diversification business, and unlike any others I’ve come across.

“They didn’t take the obvious diversification options and have carved out a niche for themselves as a major toy retailer in the area. It’s an excellent example of how a new business can get established, grow, adapt, and thrive in a rural location.”

The toy shop stocks dolls houses, train sets, musical toys, and features a creative play area. It also features an acre-wide garden display area where outdoor toys can be tried before being purchased.

The shop now also serves as service and parts operation for two major manufacturers.

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