This December I have been busy working in my local independent toy shop. A friend owns it and she promised me coffee and some wages if I helped her out. I like both of those things, so I cheerfully snapped her hand off.
The toy shop in question is a lovely establishment, packed full of gorgeous toys and games. Not a behemoth the size of ten football pitches; like Sodom and Gomorrah but with Barbie dolls and LEGO. It’s thankfully very different to that, it is an incredibly pleasant place to shop and work (there’s coffee, remember) and I’ve enjoyed my time at the tills immensely.
Now follows some thoughts and observations from my time in a toy shop during the busiest toy selling month of the year…
A fairly obvious one to start; the most successful shoppers are the organised ones. Those who come with a list of things they’ve already checked out on the website, or phoned ahead and we’ve put it to one side for them. You’re awesome, we love you. We love the lady who had everything listed on a spreadsheet. We love the “combat shoppers” who come in, blitz the shop and get all their shopping over and done with in half an hour. You wonderfully organised people, we salute you!
If you’re buying for someone else’s child it helps to have a vague idea of what they’re into. If they’re four and into pirates we can sort you out. If they’re four and you have absolutely no clue, we give it our best guess, but half an idea is a starting point.
If you want a really big expensive item like a train table or a dolls house we might have to order that in especially for you. This can’t happen on Christmas Eve. I’m sorry.
We love the people who appreciate our collection of silly seasonal hats, antlers and elf ears. Sadly we don’t sell them, but feel free to make me an offer I can’t refuse.
We’re small and local and that makes us chatty and friendly and a bit above and beyond helpful. Yes I am sorry that I wrap presents so slowly, but just look at it, it’s a work of art!
Approximately 99.9% of the customers are very lovely. It’s a toy shop, we sell happy things in packages. There’s no grumpiness or snark, no shouting or fighting over the last Furby (we don’t sell them anyway), it’s just an incredibly nice place to work.
Working in a toy shop in December has been hard work, but so much fun. I’ve met some lovely people; cooed over tiny babies, given reindeer food to toddlers, chatted dinosaurs, scooters and slime with children. Hidden vast packages under the counter for parents on a Christmas mission. I’ve wrapped, packed and taped presents, curled ribbon, priced up a thousand items, made hundreds of cups of coffee and loved every minute of the most fun job I’ve ever had in my life.
If you ever needed a reason to shop locally or pop into your local independent toy shop, then if it’s that brilliant just working there, then it can’t be a bad place to shop either.