Indie profile: Wigwam Toys

With a brand new site on the way in the summer for customers to buy from, the future is looking bright for Wigwam Toys in Brighton. Here, Clair Letton, owner, tells Jade Burke about childhood Monopoly tournaments, the importance of the local community to the business and what issues are currently impacting the store.
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Tell me a bit about your business and how the store began? 

Wigwam Toys is a family run, independent toy shop in Fiveways, Brighton. We moved to Fiveways from Hove when expecting our first child 10 years ago.

There was a toy shop in Fiveways at this address when we moved in, and we frequented it regularly. I have always wanted my own shop and knowing the area, we felt we had a good idea about what the shop should stock and how it should look.

What types of toys do you stock in store? 

We carry many products including LEGO, Playmobil, Sylvanians, Micro Scooters and Jellycat soft toys, but we also go out of our way to find design-led toys and gifts, traditional toys with a modern twist, books and things made by members of our local community.

We are a small shop in a residential area, and as such many of our customers come in several times a week. We need to make sure there is always something new for them to look at and it works well for us to do small, regular orders from our suppliers.

What types of toys do you specialise in? 

The toys we stock have to be value for money but without sacrificing quality and play value. I know how disappointing it is when our children are given a gift that just breaks, or fails to live up to the hype on the box. 

We are particularly drawn to traditional, retro inspired, design led toys and gifts.

What services do you offer customers in store?

We are only a small shop, but we go out of our way to make it a positive shopping experience. 

We have dedicated playlists for the shop, a play table for children, we gift wrap for free and put on community events such as organising the local late night shopping and supporting our local schools, nurseries and charities.

What is having the biggest impact on your business?

The local council introduced parking restrictions in our area, and this had a huge impact on our trade. 

I set up the local traders association and we petitioned the council to allow a period of free parking outside the shops. We won our case and as of April 1st, the pay and display bays in the area will be free of charge for one hour. 

What toys did you play with as a child?

My brother and I both read a lot and both board and card games featured heavily. We would get together with our friends in the street and have day long Monopoly tournaments. Our grandmother was also a big puzzle fan, so there was always a jigsaw on the go. 

What is the best thing about owning a toy store?

I love going to the fairs and discovering new and exciting products – when the deliveries arrive it feels like Christmas.

What are your future plans?

In the future we are working on our webshop. We are delighted with how it looks and it really reflects the colourful nature of the shop.

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