The Leicester toy shop that ‘can’t sit still’ during lockdown

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Joe (left) and Gavin (right) pictured in the store surrounded by their vast toy collection

By Jessica Smith

Leicester’s Vintage and Old Toy Shop, just outside of Highcross Shopping centre, is managing to keep busy this lockdown, with frequent Facebook Livestreams, a thriving Youtube channel and online sales.

Gavin Pate, 44, and Joe Hand, 44, owners of the well-established shop have been working hard behind the scenes during the country’s third lockdown, with hopes to reopen to the public again soon.

“We cant sit still – we’ve painted the shutters, made a film for Amazon Prime, A toy store near you, expanded the basement, and moved lots of our work online.

“This lockdown has made us work harder, and aged us tremendously. But our social media has exploded, we get around 50 messages a day from sellers and buyers.” Stated Joe.

The business has made the move to the virtual world, with a website, successful Youtube channel with over 1.15 thousand subscribers, and regular Facebook livestreams, to maintain the relationship with their customers. The old toy traders were open 6 days a week, 10am-4pm before the lockdown was imposed, but they’ve transitioned seamlessly into the online.

“We’ve created a Facebook sales page specifically for customers, and a ‘toy of the day’ post, because we try to be friends with our customers – we’ve even had to have frank conversations with customers about a lack of personal hygiene!” Mentioned Gavin, the technical backbone of the shop.

The pair currently have no date set in mind to reopen, relying on government guidance, but for now they maintain contact with their beloved customers online, making COVID-friendly adaptions to the shop, but sadly they have also lost friends and family to the illness.

Derby-born Joe says he has been shielding since March, with regular hospital visits for his poorly son, but still manages to maintain the presence of the shop online, preparing the shop for reopening.

“The shop has improved dramatically over time, due to myself and Gavin’s hard work, and we’re lucky to have some very loyal and supportive customers. We like to make it like time machine, making people gasp when they walk in.”

Fondly recalling their own favourite vintage toys, Joe stated, “The 3-inch Fisher Price adventure people, they’re weird but I love them.”

Joe’s all-time favourite is the 80’s classic Madball foam balls, sculpted to resemble grotesque zombies and mummies.

The pair look forward to reopening, but you can keep up with the latest toy sales and ‘toy of the day’ through their website, Instagram, Facebook, Facebook sales page and YouTube channel.