This February we visited the Toy and Gift Spring Fair at Birmingham's NEC. It's one of the highlights of our year and it gives us chance to see lots of our current suppliers and check out their range of toys and games 'in the flesh' and to talk to sales staff about their products in details. It's fantastic fun as you would expect in such a lively and colourful environment which is literally jam packed with toys to look at and play with.
It also gives us an opportunity to check out potential new suppliers. There are literally hundreds of exhibitors in the toy and gift halls with thousands of products on offer. The challenge is cherry picking which items we think would be a good fit for our Manchester toy shop and our customers.
We always go with an idea of things we might want to source based on what products our shop might be missing, for example, craft sets that would appeal to boys aged 5-7, or baby comforters, or musical toys for toddlers for under £20, but of course it's very easy to become distracted by all the toys on display. It's also easy to spend time talking to existing suppliers whom we might only see once or twice a year and catch up on trade news as well as family and holiday news. I like to pretend this is networking, but in reality it's pure and simple chatting!
Networking with the Playmobil Team at Spring Fair!
Every year though we have always found at least one new supplier. In 2018 we brought Ooly's range of inflatable toys to colour into our shop as they were so different and the year before that we came across Ashwood Toys who do fantastic pocket money priced gifts such as Sandimals and Children's Watches.
This year we visited the Imajo stand which had a gorgeous array of rag dolls which we thought would be a lovely addition to our shop. Imajo's dolls are produced in ethically run factories in Sri Lanka and they also donate to the Viharamahadevi Centre for Child Development Centre, an orphanage located in close proximity to their main factory in Biyagama, Sri Lanka. Customer reaction to our new Imajo dolls has been positive which is really great.
As well as our new range of rag dolls, card buyer and merchandiser Ruth found some lovely new birthday card ranges to add to our extensive collection of children's cards. Ruth likes a bargain so is always on the lookout for beautiful, interesting and colourful cards that we can sell for under £2.50. Many customers comment on how great our card range is which again is lovely to hear as we really do try to be competitive yet sell cards and gifts which are great quality.
As well as the completely new ranges, many of our existing suppliers had lots of new products on display and it was lovely to see these 'in the flesh' not just in a catalogue or online. We ordered some great new products from the ever popular Top Model range of fashion design books as well as some gorgeous new toys from French wooden toy specialist Janod, plus a fantastic new range of Space themed toys from Playmobil and a selection of Dumbo soft toys from Rainbow Designs in time for the new film release.
They will all be hitting our shelves very soon, so if you've never been into our Toy Shop or not been for a while do call down - our shop is just off Didsbury high street on Albert Hill Street, right opposite the Post Office - and we are already jam packed with lots of lovely toys, books and games and once the Spring Fair orders come in we really will be rammed to the rafters. We do our very best to find lots of lovely toys with lots of play value and that offer value for money and take a real pride in our customer service and the part we play in our local community. If you're not local to Manchester then you can shop online, delivery is just £2.50 to mainland UK addresses and you can be assured that you're buying from a small independent business that really cares about it's customers.