Brian McLaughlin, Retail Manager at Toymaster, caught up with TNP to discuss the importance of keeping its members informed and the praiseworthy efforts of the independent retailers who are continuing to support their communities in spite of the challenges that they are facing
Firstly, how are you and the Toymaster team?
The main thing is we are all fine. The office is now closed and we’re now working from home or working remotely. But we’re keeping in touch with each other and our Toymaster members.
Do you feel the government is offering enough support for independent retailers and SMEs?
There’s a lot of information about the support on offer; one of the challenges is understanding the different areas of support and which ones are applicable for each retailer.
But the most critical bit of information is that with the help of the government, retailers can secure their staff for when they reopen in the future.
What support can you offer Toymaster retailers at this time?
We are keeping our members informed about what is going on, what support is available to them and we have been giving them all of the relevant information at the click of a button.
Another key thing that we’re doing is finding out about what our members are doing and sharing their great ideas with other members, as well as the public.
We also have an internal Toymaster forum that our members have been using.
Have you heard about any good ideas that retailers have had to continue trading effectively?
Our members have been using social media to communicate with their customers – to advertise what they’re doing and how they’re doing it, and to reassure them that they would be operating within government guidelines.
Some of our members have been offering free delivery to local customers, while others have been creating special self-isolation packages for families, where customers state the retail value of the package that they want, and the retailer creates a bundle to that value and delivers it.
Having spoken with Toymaster stores over the last couple of weeks, how are companies coping?
Pre-lockdown, our members were finding opportunities in certain categories – games and puzzles, arts and crafts, models and construction. The independents reacted quickly, placing orders and getting deliveries in for these kinds of products to keep their shelves full of these items.
Has the team had any other ideas or advice for Toymaster members?
One of the key messages from us is to continue supporting their local communities. We want our members to be seen as part of the solution and part of the community. Everything that they are doing, like the local deliveries and the self-isolation packs is part of that.
Do you see any opportunities in all of this?
With parents likely to see the benefits of the more traditional toys that Toymaster members and independent retailers do really well with, these categories will hopefully have a strong year.
A lot of our members are also continuing to push the shop local message. I think that this is just really bringing that messaging to the forefront.
How could Toys ‘n’ Playthings assist Toymaster retailers?
I think it’s important to communicate that there are still retailers open for business and to keep the trade updated on the good work that people are doing. By doing this, others may be able to replicate this work within their own communities.
New Toymaster Show Details:
2-4 September – Majestic Hotel, Harrogate