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SMYTHS SUPERSTORE South Aylesford Retail Park

The board game selection stretched almost the length of the store, with games for young children, such as Hungry Hungry Hippos and Mousetrap to older titles like Cluedo, Pictionary and much more. I explained to the girl at the desk what I was after. “I’ll just call someone to

help you.” Her walkie-talkie crackled. “What?” said the

male voice on the other end. She explained my situation as her radio fizzled. “Yea, in a sec,” he replied. A moment of silence passed. “Let me check the computer instead,” she said. “How about looking at a game like Beat the Parents?. “It’s a fun game,” she added. “If not, there‘s always Trivial Pursuit.”

Verdict: Smyths Toy Superstores has a lot to offer with a great mix of product and fun and exciting displays. The customer service showed as many strengths as it did weaknesses and there seemed a real desire to accommodate my request, despite the shortcomings. I did eventually discover the owner of the voice on the other end of the radio.


A Niki Minaj Bop-It, encouraging me to either “Hit It” or “Spin It” announced my presence to the almost silent room. The shop boasted four

large rooms, bursting with product, stacked floor to ceiling. “Need a hand there?”


asked the friendly and perceptive store manager. I explained that I was looking

for a game for a family with two kids aged seven and ten. “Beat the Parents is a

brilliant way to get the kids and the parents playing

47 High Street, Canterbury

together.” She explained that with a set of easier questions, the children could always play it on their own to get the practice in, and then challenge the parents. It was a solid idea and suited my needs perfectly.

Verdict: A welcome sight in yet another High Street department store, ToyTown had a lot to offer, spanning all ages and tastes. The service was very personable, especially considering it was approaching closing time. I felt a few more questions could have been asked to deliver a bespoke service.


Kent delivered another very high scoring collection of shops for the Mystery Shopper this month. Full credit has to go to The Groovy Frog for striking the right balance of quirkiness and welcoming service. The café was a nice touch too. While it did carry

various mainstream board games, the comic book shop highlighted the merits of the lesser- known titles, offering a wide variety of product. Meanwhile, Kids Korner


Situated on the lower floor of Fenwick’s is a toy zone that knows how to brighten up any trip to the department store. Stepping off of the

escalator, I was greeted by the roaring jaws of a Grossmans’ animatronic T-Rex and the light sabre of an imposing seven foot LEGO Luke Skywalker. Shelves were brimming with the latest releases from Hasbro, LEGO, Playmobil and

much more. A far wall was dedicated entirely to model railways, while a collection of plush animals populated a section fluffy enough to dive head first in to. However, spotting the wall boasting titles such as Logo Billionaire, Battleship and Monopoly, I set off on my mission for the ideal board game. “Need any help there,

mate?” asked a friendly gentleman, taking time out

from his shelf filling duties. I explained my task of finding a game for the whole family. “I’ll tell you what’s a great

game, if we have it,” he replied excitedly. “Linkee.” A great suggestion. “Only problem is,” he continued, “the questions may be a bit too hard for a seven year old. But there is talk of a younger version coming shortly.” We fell silent, only momentarily disheartened.

St. Georges Street, Canterbury

“But never mind,” he continued, rediscovering his mojo, “we’ve got plenty else to choose from.” He talked me through the

lot, from Marble Run to Bop It, admittedly not board games, but still a lot of fun. “Ah, here we go, this is

perfect for kids and adults,” he beamed triumphantly. It didn’t surprise me when he handed me Trivial Pursuit Family Edition, I was beginning to think it was all they played in Kent.

Verdict: This Toymaster toy shop was a hidden gem in an otherwise ‘penny-a-dozen’ town centre department store. The shop delivered excitement with fun products and in-store theatre. The service was enthusiastic and very friendly. There was a good selection of games to choose from, but in the end I felt I was offered the safe bet. 4/5

certainly held its own, with over 4,000 toys and fancy dress lines covering two floors.

The service was friendly but just fell short of going that ‘extra mile.’ ToyTown and

Fenwick’s drew level, bringing excitement to the High Street with their hidden gems. While the service was

excellent, a few more questions asked would have helped deliver a unique experience. And full credit has to

go to Smyths, who despite seeming a bit short on staff endeavored to perform highly.

August 43 4/5

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