Last night, any children who happened to be on Oxford Street had a reason to celebrate as a new UK branch of The Toy Store had its ribbon cutting ceremony.
The Middle Eastern chain was started in 2004, and spent two years searching for an ideal location for a new flagship store in London before converting a former Top Shop outlet at the West One Shopping Centre. This branch, which is set out over two floors, is the largest independent toy store to open in London in 250 years.
Director of Purchasing and Licensing Geoff Sheffield said the opening is “a massive statement as a brand” that they can “be in as amazing a location as this.”
Speaking to the Retail Gazette, Sheffield also reflected on how the branch is attempting to appeal to modern consumers. With today’s kids walking around with i-Pads and phones, Sheffield said that retailers will either “embrace” the modern world “or fight against it”, and those that do the latter will soon find themselves “behind the times.”
Interactivity is definitely a focus for this outlet. There a number of games and panels around, all of which are placed at children’s head height. Staff can be seen dressed as different children’s characters or showing customers how the newest toys work, and popular brands such as K’Nex and Meccano have interactive displays. Sheffield said that it was all part of a strategy to get kids off of their phones by creating an environment that they can enjoy and interact with.
Gareth Davies Marriott, the UK General Manager of The Toy Store, stated that brand has a good relationship with Hamleys, its main rival in the area. There are ongoing talks with Hamleys, as well as other nearby kid-friendly brands such as Gap Kids, to organise a group scheme that will encourage parents to bring their children to central London.
The ribbon was cut by two children from the Shooting Star Chase Children’s Hospice, the brand’s charity partner. Davies confirmed that the charity will receive all money generated by the upcoming carrier bag levy in the store. Dressed as Luke and Leia from Star Wars, the children were accompanied by a number of storm troopers, all dressed in the three colours of The Toy Store’s sign.