INDIE PROFILE: The Big Shop

At over 60,000 square feet of retail space and interactive displays, The Big Shop (formerly Snetterton Park Models) has been in operation for 15 years. ToyNews talks to MD Trevor Warner.
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Can you tell us a bit about your store?

We are one of East Anglia’s best kept secrets. Born out of The Model and Toy Expo, The Big Shop is exciting and unusual, largely due to its size.

We have over 60,000 square feet of floor space, divided into seven halls filled with thousands of toys and loads of displays, including the LEGO Dinosaurs, train layouts, various dioramas, arts, crafts, play areas as well as the World’s Largest Handmade Ship by Bravo Delta.

What got you into selling toys?

The Big Shop has been developed from the initial idea to build a radio-controlled racetrack. Over the years, we have added more brands, all of the well known names and we are building more of the lesser known ones, too.

I believe that the expansion of general merchandise ranges by the major supermarket chains has had a detrimental effect on the High Street, as well as the small indie shopkeeper. I see The Big Shop as a chance for the indie to fight back with a retail offer and service second to none.

What kind of toys do you stock and what is your in-store strategy?

Our range of stock is arguably among the best in the country. We have the majority of our items on display, out of their boxes and in the many glass- fronted cabinets we have in the shop.

I am a great believer in letting customers see the products before they buy. We believe that a visit to The Big Shop can very much be a family day out. There is so much to see and do. We are open seven days a week and the shop is often crowded with visitors and shoppers.

We get lots of compliments for our store. We had one visitor recently who told us that visiting our shop was like going back to the old days, which was great.

Tell us about the local area.

We are based in Snetterton, in Norfolk, next to the famous race circuit. The Big Shop is essentially the rebranding of Snetterton Park Models Shop, which has operated from the site for 15 years.

Our core business has always been revolved around making shopping a family attraction.

How do you promote to your local community?

We are planning a manufacturers’ show for the public to be held in 2015. The site is over 60 acres, so we have plenty of space. The full details are still being worked out, but the event is very likely to begin with a Christmas Toy experience this year.

We have begun an advertising campaign on Heart radio which has started to pay dividends in attracting customers who appreciate the opportunity to visit and shop at such a unique shopping destination. Then we have the restaurant, named after Lady Moe a donkey mascot who became famous for completing a flying mission over Germany in the war.

What online operations do you guys have?

We have a website and sell on Amazon, but our core has always been in bricks and mortar. In the last few months, we have noticed a drop off in online shopping, with customers wanting to see and feel the goods before making a purchase.

Being a multi-channel retailer, we were able to adapt and quickly react to this shopping trend.

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