Indie Profile: Hubbard's Toy Cupboard

Since the opening of her first toy store in Hinckley, Caroline Hubbard, owner of Hubbard’s Toy Cupboard, has revealed that a second store could be on the cards in the future. Here, Jade Burke finds out why fantastic customer service is key to the business and how the retailer stands out from the local competition.
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Tell me a bit about your business and how the store began? 

Hubbard’s Toy Cupboard began around three years ago in Hinckley. I have lived in Hinckley all of my life and I realised that there was a bit of an area missing. 

Plus, I was previously a teacher, so my toy shop has got an educational twist to it. 

What types of toys do you stock in store?

All of the toys are educational. I stock Orchard Toys, Fiesta Crafts for its threading, Papo Toys for its role play, and I also have Brio for its mathematical benefits. So there is quite a good range in here.

What do you look for when sourcing new toys?

I look for durability, because obviously children aren’t gentle are they? And I also look for the educational side of toys as well.

What is having the biggest impact on your business?

Unfortunately it’s the gas works outside – I have my entire street dug up at the moment. However, there’s not really a big impact on me around here, I have got my regular customers so I’m very lucky I suppose. I thought the new Sainsbury’s would impact the business, because it opened just before Christmas, but luckily so far it hasn’t.

There are also no toy shops in Hinkley, we have Argos, Wilko’s and places like that, but not a specific toy shop.

How do you engage with your local community?

I’m actually on the Carnival Committee so I’m helping to organise the carnival for next year.

I like to think I do quite a lot for local charity events, but I also try and go out and about and talk to different people.

How can people get in touch with you?

We are online, so we have got an online store. We have got an email account and customers can also ring me or come into the store.

How important is social media to you?

I do most of my advertising on Facebook. I use Facebook for my shop all the time, and every two weeks when I update my window display I put it all on Facebook. I have got nearly 2,000 followers online now.

It doesn’t cost anything, so it’s a good way of keeping in touch. We also link our Facebook to Twitter, so whenever we put something on Facebook it instantly goes on Twitter at the same time.

How do you stand out from other indie stores? What makes you guys different?

Obviously the educational twist is a big way we stand out, and hopefully customer service, because we try to offer fantastic service. For example, I recently had a customer who said she comes in because of the great customer service. 

We also try to do as much as we can for our customers and make them relaxed when they come in. I allow children to touch the toys and I have got a train set that they can play with. It’s about trying to make the parent at ease, because a lot of parents get stressed when the children come in. 

I don’t open all the boxes for the children though, my goodness that would be mayhem. But we do allow them to pick them up and touch.

What services do you offer? 

We offer a free gift-wrap service, and we also do a little personal shopping for customers. For example, we have people who come in and say they need a present for a four year old boy and we give them ideas of what they can buy within their budget.

What does the future hold for Hubbard’s Toy Cupboard? Will you be opening any more stores?

Well I hope to, that’s one thing I’m looking at for this year.

But trying to find somewhere else is the issue. I would love to go to a different city, but there is only me at the minute. I would still want to stay in a little town because I think you can get lost in a big city as an indie.

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