Dispatches from the retail front line (September)

Recently I was staggered to look in a newsagent and see a Spider-man comic, with a free giveaway of a toy plastic gun attached.
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This toy gun was black with no orange end as required by law, also this comic was in easy reach of children who could take it up to the counter and buy with no questions asked.

Under-16 rules didn’t seem to apply, nothing in small print for the cashier to miss. Now, I’m not an expert but surely laws should apply to giveaways as well as purchase.

Have Trading Standards tried to catch out any newsagents by sending in kids to buy the latest copy of Spiderman Comic? TSO has recently written to me to confirm they did a test purchase of a toy gun by a minor and failed. I wonder if they had tried to buy any comics with illegal guns strapped to them?

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a comic with a packet of fags strapped to it and you can imagine the outcry if a comic for, I don’t know, Ninja Turtles had a free knife strapped to it.

We responsible retailers have spent all summer telling children that they aren’t able to buy a brightly-coloured water pistol and no they can’t buy Super Soakers because of a stupid policy of a company giving a major retailer exclusive distribution.

Parents come in seriously pissed off because little Jonny/Jessica has dragged them to the toy shop to buy a water pistol because the nasty man won’t sell it to them.

But it did make me wonder how our European partners also treat some of the more daft laws we have in place.

My experience with our foreign friends is that the French will think it doesn’t apply to them; the Swedes wont care as long at it has a light on it and it is made of wood; the Dutch will have already adopted the law on draft proposals; the Spanish will ignore it; the Germans will think it is a pop at them for starting the last two major world wars and the Italians will be too chaotic to enforce them and the newer states will think it doesn’t apply to them as they aren’t really in Europe. Only the British enforce it.

Now I have no problem with safety laws and regulations, but I do feel that responsible retailers are the ones who seem to get all the hassle. Can you imagine anyone on a Sunday market or any market come to that getting the same crap about waste paper and cardboard? The same will apply to batteries next year. Maybe it is about time that TSO departments concentrated on those who break the law and don’t care rather than go for an easy target and try to catch out the responsible retailers.


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News from retail's front-line

So, another round of shows over, and didn't they seem quiet? Toy Fair seemed quieter than last year, which is bad news when you consider it was not spread across two halls.

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