Edinburgh remembers Jenners toy shop as doors close for final time

It used to be the mecca for jangling purses full of hard-earned pocket money - an oasis of toys from floor to ceiling.

Thursday, 7th March 2019, 7:20 am
Updated Thursday, 7th March 2019, 7:27 am
Jenners store on Princes Street in Edinburgh

But with the world’s best-renowned toy retailer Hamleys vacating the basement outlet of historical Princes Street department store, the future of Jenners has been called into question.

The branch officially closed on Saturday after only two years in Edinburgh.

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Jenners famous toy shop has closed for good

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Christmas shopping - Santa Claus at Jenners - Edinburgh

Shoppers hoping to visit the acclaimed toy section of the store were met with a sign that read ‘The Basement is now Closed’, with access blocked off.

House of Fraser bought Jenners in 2005 and when they stopped running the toy department, giving the space instead to Hamleys as a concession store in September 2007.

It lasted until 2009, before Belfast retailer Toytown took over. It was then followed by the UK’s largest independent toy retailer The Entertainer before Hamleys returned in April 2017.

Opened in 1838, for decades it dominated Princes Street as the beating heart of the capital’s shopping experience, bringing imported, high-end clothing, food and cosmetics.

And for city kids, the brightly coloured cavernous department was bursting with lego bins and the latest gadgets – a treasure trove of toys.

For many it will spark a pang of youthful nostalgia but shoppers and visitors to the department store are worried the closure of Hamleys sign of what the future could hold for Jenners.

“This is sad,” said Lyndsay Simm. “My daughters loved going to up the town to Jenners toy department when they were younger.

“There are no proper toy shops in Edinburgh City Centre now, the shops and hotels are geared up for tourists.”

Elaine Mclennan said she was dismayed with the state of the department. She added: “Jenners was an Edinburgh institution but over the years since then, the shop has been left to crumble. The toy store was for many years iconic but a recent trip last year left me dismayed.”

Malcolm Reid said: “It was a disgrace. It is a shadow of its former self. The racks of clothes were like a jumble sale with half empty floors, filthy walls and carpets. It was quite shocking as to how far it’s fallen. The decline started when House of Fraser took it over and has sped up since Mike Ashley bought House of Fraser. I can’t see it lasting much longer.”

Although shoppers were quick to point out that the decline of the toy department started in 2007.

Kelly Griffiths said that Jenner’s toy shop was “so much better when it was Jenners toy shop” adding it was “actually one of the cheaper toys stores.

She added: “But then when Hamleys came in, prices went up and people stopped going.”

“It’s a sad day – I remember it being great when I was a kid, even when my son was younger, but Hamleys is well overpriced.” Lesley Watt said.

Amy Kirkland said: “Hamleys stuff was only average quality at best, and their brand stock was overpriced”.

Hamleys first appeared in Jenners in 2007 but closed less than 18 months later. In 2017 it announced it would be returning to the basement of the Princes Street department store. Its second demise has come less than two years on.

Hamleys and Jenners were unavailable for comment.