City should tap into traditional toy market - Kevin Buckle

Ian Curtis of Joy DivisionIan Curtis of Joy Division
Ian Curtis of Joy Division
There has been a noticeable increase in the number of visitors from abroad this week after the recent school holidays meant we saw a lot of families visiting from all over the UK.

Many like to chat about the shop, whether it is a gentleman from Argentina telling me how hard it is to buy a Joy Division t-shirt there, or a young guy over from Hungary pleased to have finally found a Tool t-shirt.

For the European families, of which there were quite a few, it was more about the music with Taylor Swift, Lana Del Rey and Mitski being the most popular with parents indulging their children and telling me that the things they are buying are either very hard to find back home or far more expensive.

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We still get plenty of “old skool” Avalanche customers who want to say they have bought a Frightened Rabbit or Belle and Sebastian album from us and they regularly buy an Avalanche t-shirt too.

But most of our business is people visiting who discover the shop while in the centre and once in are tempted to buy something.

What we have done, I hope over the four years we have now been there, is manage to have something for everybody and it is rare for us to strike out completely if somebody gives us a list of bands they are looking for.

The only problem I have is that I’m regularly asked where else in the city should be visited.

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People somewhat understandably feel a place like Edinburgh will have some specialist shopping streets or areas, and it is hard to wholeheartedly recommend anywhere these days.

My usual suggestion is to walk up Cockburn Street, along the Royal Mile, down Victoria Street and into the Grassmarket with the proviso that there will be some shops of interest along the way, but by no means as many as people are hoping for.

There are of course still interesting shops dotted all over Edinburgh and if given a specific requirement I will try to point people in the right direction but when it comes to shopping areas it is a harder call.

I still think there is a need for a traditional toy shop in the city centre. Hamleys has closed in the St James I know but it was really the opposite of what people are looking for now. Much as with vinyl, parents have fond memories of more traditional toys like doll’s houses and forts and there is a massive market to be tapped into with the visitors.

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I appreciate there is nothing here I haven’t really said before but it does no harm at this time of year to try and remind those that do at least pay attention to my column, and maybe have some influemce over how the city centre moves forward, that positive and coordinated action is required if things are to ever improve.

At the end of a particularly stressful day of being asked odd questions I had a guy come in the shop and ask, “where is the shopping centre that is full of charity shops? I’m only here for the day and can’t find it”. I explained I knew of no such place. I later found out he meant Ocean Terminal!

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