A Blackpool firm is writing its own Toy Story series by expanding its toy shop business.
Playtime UK, which operates the Stuff It brand. making cuddly character toys for theme parks and seaside shops, has unveiled a 2,000 square foot toy shop.
Owner Paul Jelley said the move meant that Blackpool has its first big toy shop outside the town centre.
The family firm first opened a toy business online run by Paul’s wife Emma and then converted part of its warehouse at Wellington Point, Squires Gate.
The business has done so well that they have expanded into the warehouse nearby, that was formerly run by Paul Gaunt for his furniture business, with £100,000 of stock.
The new shop, which replaces the old one and has so far created one new job, is child-friendly with murals created by local artist Chris Fenn and the Jelleys rescued shelving and units from Blackpool Airport.
Paul Jelley said: “With our previous operation we could not display half the stock we wanted to, so when this warehouse became available we took it on for our wholesale operation with a plan to open a proper toy shop where children can come in and physically see and handle the toys as opposed to just looking at things on line.
“Many people these days don’t want to go into a town centre to shop so this is an alternative.
“There is only one traditional toy shop in Blackpool centre and out of town, people have had to go to Preston.
“We want to get established and then expand the shop here.
“We have all sorts of plans including a cafe. There is up to 10,000 square foot of space here we can expand into.”
He said the opening event this week attracted huge crowds with people queuing to get in and lots of children’s film characters making a public appearance. Store manager John Greaves said: “The opening day was phenomenal which was a great reward for the weeks of hard work in getting this all together.
“We want to give the customers the best possible experience and get our name out there.”
Paul added: “We pushed hard to get open for the school holidays and build up for Christmas. After that we will look to expand further.
“The idea is to have a full range of stock from pocket money prices right up to ride-on toys, back to school items and the big names in toys.”