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INDIE RETAILER FOCUS Fergus & Fogg’s Toy Emporium

Having travelled the world with his canine pals Fergus and Fogg, Adam Allton-Nee returned home to open his dream toy shop. Robert Hutchins discusses nostalgia, expansion plans and ‘free-popcorn Saturdays’

Tell us about your store. Ours is a very new independent toy emporium opened in Tamworth, Staffordshire only three months ago.

The idea had been there

for a few years, and a move back to the UK finally let that dream happen. Fergus & Fogg’s Toy Emporium is named after our two dogs, Fergus and Fogg. We bought them as puppies and they travelled the world with us. I was reading Around the W


in 80 Days at the time and named Fogg after Phileas. That book matches our store theme: toys from around the world with an air of tradition, excitement and nostalgia.

What actually got you into selling toys? I am originally a Design and Technology teacher. I loved making things by hand and I love mechanical and wind up toys. I think that’s how it all started. We stock traditional,

vintage and retro toys, as well as new versions of the classics. We have no toys that contain batteries or any that are electronic and repetitive. As a parent of two boys of eight and three, I am constantly on the look out for toys that don’t drive me crazy. I just want customers to find toys that they played with as a child and pass this on to their children. We try and deliver the whole experience to the customer as they walk in.

So, what is the ‘whole experience’? We offer free popcorn on Saturdays from a vintage style popcorn machine and blast out classic musicals that everyone remembers. We stock theatre puppets, finger puppet theatres, spinning tops, Jack in the boxes, rocking horses, rock n hoppers, wooden balance bikes… the list goes on. Anything retro

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or traditional sells really well. People are looking for nostalgia, a sense of comfort and reminiscing about better times and we aim to provide that.

What’s selling well for you guys and what do you look for in product? We try to stock more handmade or fair trade and wooden toys as possible. Our soft range of knitted dolls from Pebble in Bangladesh does extremely well. I think people like to know they are giving back when buying the product. We have a pocket money section selling flick books, kaleidoscopes, yoyos, etc. all for under £5. These do really well with people looking for quick but well made gifts.

What has local response been like? We are in a lovely market town in the Midlands, which at present is lacking a variety of stores. Our only competition is Toys R Us, which stocks completely different product to us. The response so far has been outstanding. We have many customers come in just to thank us for opening a beautiful store in a town, which really needs regeneration.

How do you engage with your local community? We are linking with local charities and trust funds to raise money. We have organised a Teddy Bear’s tea party and all proceeds will go to The Caitlin Rose Trust Fund. We also had a competition with all local schools where they had to design a mascot for us.

What current industry trend is having the most impact on your business? Of all things, it’s Loom bands. I really don’t want to sell them in my store, as they don’t match what we are trying to achieve. But, the good thing about this is that we have made a killing selling Traditional Knitting Dolls. We also brought in wooden looms and bracelet kits and these have flown out. We have tried to sell a traditional version of a modern toy and this works.

What’s coming up in the next 12 months? We are trying to open a second store within a 20 mile radius of our current shop. We are looking at premises and hope to open in the next six months. I’d like Fergus & Fogg’s to be a chain, but stick to the morals and traditions at the core of the business.

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