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Toy shop gears up for its 70th
12:00pm Friday 1st November 2013 in News
THOUSANDS of tiny feet have run excitedly through the door of Argosy Toys in the near 70 years since it first opened its doors.
The family run store, in London Road, Westcliff, celebrates its milestone birthday next year and is gearing up to mark the occasion.
Paul Wohl, who took over the store from his mum and dad ten years ago, has released fascinating pictures of the business over the years since it opened, in March 1944.
He believes it is the last independent toy store in Essex and the secret behind its continued success is its Tardis-like qualities.
He said: “On the outside it just looks like a little shop, but it goes backmore than 100ft. At any one time we have 5,000 toys in stock.
“My parents bought the store in the Eighties from the previous owner, who sold it when ToysRUs opened in Basildon because he thought the shop was done for, but we proved him wrong.”
Mr Wohl, 41, his wife, Natalie, 36, niece Natalie 25, and father-in-law, Richard Turner, 51, all work in the store.
And mum Bev, 70, and dad Rod, 66, still lend a hand when needed.
Mr Wohl said: “I think our appeal is we still offer an old-fashioned service.
We spend as long with any customer as they need and they know that we knowwhat we are talking about.
“We are not just here moving boxes around. It’s more personal.
“We choose our stock. We all have family and base our decisions on what the kids like at the time.
“Richard has four children and 16 grandchildren, so we get a good idea of what’s popular.”
While toys have changed over the years, some old favourites never die out.
Mr Wohl, from Leigh, said: “The big shift has been towards electrified toys. Toys never used to make a noise or light up, but now people think there’s something wrongwith them if they don’t. In a lot of ways, things have stayed the same. People still want hula hoops, frizbees and Lego.
That never changes.
“People still want Monopoly, Trivial Pursuit and Scrabble, though I find it hard to believe there is anyone left who hasn’t got Scrabble.”
In the run-up to Christmas, an old favourite is still on everyone’s letter to Santa.
Mr Wohl said: “This year Lego is still very strong. About 20 per cent of everything we sell is Lego. We have 200 boxes in stock.
“Teenage Ninja Turtles and Monster High Dolls are also in demand this year.”
The store is having a 20 per cent off event on Wednesday as part of the celebrations to mark its birthday.
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