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Carol Brooks and Helen Portman

sisters and owners, The Toy Corner, Malvern We purchased our toy shop six years ago and have built on the existing business. The last 18 months have been hard work, but the Summer did pick up and there are tentative signs of improvement. We missed the Autumn Fair, so are catching up with the new lines as reps call in, and Lego, as always, looks great. Paddling pools, water pistols, Nerf guns and any ball games went well this Summer; we are going to see what the New Year brings before deciding on next Summer’s lines. We try to link in with World Book Day by having a competition in-store which we encourage the local schools to enter. We obviously stock up on dress-up, especially knights and princesses, and face paints always go well. Customers are already buying for Christmas and placing

orders in our Christmas Club, which is earlier than last year so fingers crossed that it keeps going. We are getting requests for Lego Friends and Peppa Pig, but otherwise nothing has stood out yet. We think that the Nenuco doll with cradle will be a big seller, if our supplies hold out.

The independent voice...

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Eggnog slushy, anyone? H Lindsey Bayley

owner, Children’s Choice, Derbyshire Our business started in February 1990 and we feel lucky to still be around. Belper is a very nice town and we are now seeing the children of the children that used to buy from us when we first started. We are a toy shop with both traditional and modern toys, but we are also school uniform outfitters, embroiders and printers and we have had a very very busy Summer. Parents tell us that it is easy to get the children to come in to try on their school uniform as they have to go through the toys first! If they are good, quite often their parents buy them a toy and this all helps. By the end of this week I have to get toys clearing in my mind and do some more ordering for Christmas, but this year I have decided to steer clear of the very high price point toys, or at least just only take a few. We are ready for World Book Day with various dressing up

outfits, and because we are a garment supplier we can help customers bring to life their own ideas, too. I really don’t try and predict Christmas anymore, as we tend to sell a variety of toys. We will be having a ‘one week only’ sale during the school half-term with free-to-enter competitions.

i all, well that is another month that has absolutely fl own by for us! Trade for September was overall very good, and we believe that by moving the stores around early for Christmas, we certainly benefi tted from some early Christmas sales. After the last month, we have both cancelled our gym memberships after moving the amount of pallets that we have taken in.

Overall last month, our strong trade was primarily fuelled by pre-school sales. We have

defi nitely benefi tted from the closure of Early Learning Centres in the areas around our stores, and have increased our ranges accordingly. The products that are going particularly well are Doc McStuffi ns, with the role-play toys from Flair being especially popular. Thomas has certainly had a strong year, with items from the new King of the Railway movie being well received. However, if they bring out any more engines, we will have to open another shop to fi t them all in. Among non-licensed pre-school, a range that is well worth looking out for is Wow Toys. With great brightly-coloured packaging, it is a brand that our customers are starting to trust and buy into. Outside of pre-school, one of our key bestsellers throughout this month, and it has

already been mentioned on several Christmas lists, is the Robofi sh. It is a great stocking fi ller, and it is a great way of having a pet, and not having to feed it or clear up the mess. Also, another line that we thought may be seasonable, but has proven to still be very popular is Chill Factor from Character Options. It is still fl ying for us, and looks like it will continue for the rest of the year as kids like slushies whatever the weather. And due to the amount of stock that has arrived this past month, our personal favourite slushy of Vodka and Red Bull has been our saviour. Generally this time of year, we are fi nishing off the last of the 2014 previews for our main suppliers. The last couple we have just done were Flair and Mattel, where we saw some really exciting products for next year. The next key launch from Flair of the Toilet Trashies should now be in stores, and we are sure will be a hit like the others. Another hit from Flair is the lunch rolling out just before we placed our orders. I am sure they know us too well now, and I expect we doubled our order. As you are probably well aware now, we do enjoy our food. May we congratulate all the previews so far, as the food has been truly excellent (and the products were pretty good too). With the October half-term coming round fast, we generally start to clear down our

diaries now, and truly get focused for Christmas. The Christmas party has been booked, January sale product ordered, now comes the easy part; sell as much of our stock mountain as possible. What we are seeing at the moment is that our promotional key lines are going very well, as the early customers look around for bargains. Some categories are starting to build already, with our sales of boxed games trading ahead of last year. Even with everything going on, it is still important not to forget the everyday lines, with whoopee cushions and marbles always popular. With our fi ngers crossed, the advent calendars seem to be selling rather well, as the “Shard mountain” at Toy Barnhaus has started to come down a few fl oors. With all the planning we have done, we are confi dent that Toy Barnhaus will deliver a

great Christmas this year, or no Turkey for us on Christmas day if not. Until next month, happy trading.

Mark Buschhaus and Stephen Barnes, Toy Barnhaus Toyworld 23

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