Small Business Spotlight: The Olive Branch
Small Business Spotlight is our content series that shines a spotlight on our fantastic independent retailers.
We spoke with Julie Logan at The Olive Branch toy shop in Castle Donington. Situated in the heart of a bustling East Midlands village, Julie, Alex and their daughter Holly opened the shop doors in October 2016.
The Olive Branch has an extensive collection of games, books, and classic & modern toys for babies, toddlers, and children. There's even a dedicated Rainbow Room for the local community to enjoy parties, workshops and classes in.
How did you get started with The Olive Branch?
Owning and running a toy shop was never something I had thought of doing but a series of events in the Summer of 2016 lead to us doing exactly that! We bought the shop premises from a friend with the aim of renovating and renting out the building.
However, at the time when we were thinking of renting the place out, I was unexpectedly made redundant. We started thinking about whether we should open a shop of our own. A friend suggested the village needed a toy shop and somewhere children could enjoy choosing a gift or spending their pocket money.
We visited the Harrogate Gift Show in July 2016 and tentatively selected a limited range of wooden toys. We opened in September 2016 and decided to give it a go until Christmas. A rainbow over the shop on our opening day told us we were on the right track and the rest is history!
What's different about The Olive Branch?
The Olive Branch is not just a toy shop, it's a family business and a place where everyone is welcomed and valued. Our connections with the local community are very important to us and helping and supporting people is at the core of what we do.
To us, The Olive Branch is a symbol of reaching out to those around us, extending a hand of friendship to all who visit. We aim to put a smile on the face of everyone who comes into the shop!
What's your proudest The Olive Branch moment?
For me, my proudest moment is simply turning the lock and opening the front door of our store. I get the same buzz today as I did on the first day of opening. That sense of accomplishment, entering a retail world I previously knew very little about.
Growing through the first five years of our business and surviving the biggest of all challenges through COVID. Being here for our customers and community: yesterday, today, tomorrow. Sometimes, it's the littlest of actions that invoke the strongest of feelings!
What was the biggest challenge The Olive Branch faced? How did you overcome it?
The pandemic - closing our doors to people was the hardest thing. Because we love seeing and communicating with people face to face, it was so hard to close our doors. During the pandemic, we were down at the shop to pick and pack online orders and customers were waving through the window and wanting to come in and say hello. It was soul-destroying to have to say "sorry, you can't come in" - it was completely alien to how we like to operate.
What product categories do you stock and what are your bestsellers?
We stock a unique collection of contemporary and classic toys, books and games for babies and children. Many of our best-selling products are eco-friendly, including the very popular Green Toys made from recycled plastic milk bottles and the new Bigjigs Toys 100% FSC® Certified wooden toys.
Our customers like to know that their choices support a more sustainable and planet-kind future. Toys that are durable are very popular, especially if they can stand the test of time to be handed on and enjoyed by another younger child or kept as a family heirloom.
What are your favourite toys and why?
Wooden toys are a favourite - they're timeless, long-lasting and eco-friendly! I love toys that inspire children to imagine and encourage open-ended play, filled with fun and learning.
Classic toys like Snakes & Ladders that remind us of our childhood and bring back special memories will always be a favourite of mine too. Toys Don't need to be fancy or expensive to take a child's attention. A simple kite reminds me of hours spent on the beach on the East Coast with my own hand-made one!
What's next for The Olive Branch?
We are looking forward to another action-packed year, continuing to grow and explore new avenues. We are constantly working to welcome a new generation of Olive Branch customers and moving with the times on various social media platforms to find them!
As the new season approaches, it's always exciting to work with new and existing suppliers to select new products for our portfolio that complement our eco-friendly ethos. In addition to our Castle Donington store, we are always busy improving our online shop to ensure our customers near and far all receive fantastic products with friendly and knowledgeable service. The future is exciting!
Shop at The Olive Branch
You can visit The Olive Branch at 67 Borough St, Castle Donington, Derby, DE74 2LB. Or you can shop online here.