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Small Business Spotlight: Jollys Toys

Small Business Spotlight: Jollys Toys

Small Business Spotlight is our new content series that shines a spotlight on our fantastic independent retailers.

We chatted with Charlotte Croser, the owner of Jollys Toys. Jollys Toys opened in 2013 and is located in the market town of Thrapston, Northamptonshire in a quirky 18th-century shop. Jollys Toys caters for newborns all the way up to teenagers.

How did you get started with Jollys Toys?

I first opened online in 2012 - from my garage; I found my shop unit about six months later. I used to run children's shops for other people in London, and after some time living abroad and my daughter starting school, I decided to open my own.

My parents were booksellers and ran their own shop and mail-order business, so opening my own place felt like it was meant to be. I gained lots of experience working for Trotters Childrenswear, Igloo and Stepping Out (all in London) and Ocado in the buying team. It helped enormously to have this experience, supplier knowledge and years serving children and their families.

What's different about Jollys Toys?

Jollys offers a super personal service; we know so many of our customers that I curate a range of products that I know will appeal to them- I even have particular children in mind as I buy.

Every product I choose I consider carefully so that our shop is filled with something for everyone and suits different pockets and different tastes. I think that combined with a really small, quaint shop unit makes visiting Jollys a magical experience.

What's your proudest Jollys Toys moment?

The fact that we are still thriving after spending so many months closed due to COVID-19. Our customers were amazingly supportive...shopping with us online, doing click and collect and doing what they could to spread the word about us to their friends and family.

We have gained new customers for the long term because of that and I am so grateful. I am also extremely proud of the hard work I put in to keep the business going throughout what was a very hard time.

What was the biggest challenge Jollys Toys faced? How did you overcome it?

The first four months of the COVID-19 lockdown. I was unsure of what each day would bring, whether we would survive as a business, and getting hold of stock was hard work. I was also constantly exhausted.

It was amazing to have the huge support of my customers placing so many orders, but my small team were furloughed as I tried to stay afloat; I was driving all over to deliver orders, queueing for long periods to ship orders and juggling so much at once.

The hard work paid off. My team is back now and we are stronger than ever. The fight to keep going has given me even more energy to keep Jollys being the best it can be into the future.

What product categories do you stock and what are your bestsellers?

Jollys sells everything from baby gifts and toys, to teen games and fidgety gadgets. We stock very little which requires batteries and focus on toys, games and activities which get children thinking, playing together, learning and making.

Our bestsellers are wooden toys from Bigjigs Toys and Tooky Toy; games and puzzles from Orchard Toys and Usborne; books from Nosy Crow; and soft toys from Jellycat.

We also do really well with the Manhattan Toy baby range and Blade & Rose clothing for babies and toddlers. We have some niche suppliers too, like Tiny Treat Boutique and a local game called The Racing Tortoise Game.

What are your favourite toys and why?

I love Jellycat, it's my favourite brand in Jollys and customers love that I am a stockist. It's such a great quality toy and the range is just immense. My favourite games are Qwirkle and Labyrinth simple to learn but fun to master the strategy. My favourite toys this Christmas are the Beat the Clock Stop Watch Game from Tiger Tribe and Colour In Pillowcases from EatSleepDoodle.

What's next for Jollys Toys?

Finding new brands, perfecting what we do, keeping the magic of Jollys alive!

Shop at Jollys Toys

You can visit Jollys Toys at 28a High Street, Thrapston, Northamptonshire, NN14 4JH.

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