Into the Spotlight, sponsored by Huddersfield-based Scriba PR, is a regular feature which highlights some great businesses. Here we profile Imagine Toy Shop in Holmfirth which celebrates its 20th anniversary in June.
Fun-loving toy shop owner Maggie Tibbenham admits she’ll never be rich but said: “There’s more to life than money.”
Mum-of-one Maggie, 42, runs the Aladdin’s Cave that is the Imagine Toy Shop in Holmfirth and for her it’s as much about the customer experience as it is about pounds, pence and profits.
Maggie, who has a nine-year-old son, will go miles out of her way to ensure families enjoy their visit to her shop – and she’ll even dip into her own pocket to help.
“Sometimes it’s not about the money,” said Maggie. “If a child gets upset and their parents can’t afford the toy they want I will give them something small as a gift.
“I will never be rich, of course, because I give out so much. Some shops never give anything away and even charge for bags.
“I put money into the shop all the time, dressing up or decorating for Halloween or Christmas. I adore my shop.”
Maggie, originally from Poland, might work up 25 days without a break. The shop opens seven days a week and when she’s not in the shop she’s out meeting customers at a toy fair or event.
Having lived and worked in many different countries Maggie’s adopted home is now Holmfirth but she describes herself as “European.”
She was a business manager for several upmarket retailers, including Selfridges and Harvey Nichols, and had the opportunity to buy the shop she spent a lot of money in as a customer.
The previous owner was retiring and Maggie bought the business in 2018. She’s modernised it and has a website with free local delivery that Maggie says is often faster than Amazon Prime. She also has a strong social media following.
The shop celebrates its 20th anniversary in June and Maggie is planning a special celebration weekend on Saturday and Sunday June 10 and 11.
“Twenty years is a big achievement for any small business when people can shop online or go to big stores,” said Maggie. “Small shops should be supported and celebrated.
“On our anniversary weekend we’ll have a big birthday cake to share with our customers and we’ll have a raffle with a hamper and toys, special offers and champagne for the adults and fizz for the children. We wouldn’t be here without our lovely customers.”
Maggie works hard so that children – large and small – can play hard. She sources her toys and other products from near and far. While she supports other local businesses, she’ll also buy products from France, Spain, Sweden or elsewhere.
“I like unique, timeless and quirky,” said Maggie. “We’re not like Smyths Toys or Aldi or Morrisons where you walk down the aisles and there’s a billion toys and you just go and leave and don’t remember who served you.”
At Imagine you’ll find the most popular best sellers – such as Pokemon and Lego – but you’ll also find the unexpected. Maggie encourages customers to spend time browsing without the pressure. “They’ll always find something,” she said.
Nostalgia sells and parents get lost in their childhood memories at Imagine. “Spirograph is really popular now because adults remember that from their own childhoods,” said Maggie. “They tell their kids they’ve got to have one because they used to have one.”
Jokes, pranks, stink bombs and fake cigarettes are also a big seller. “People just love the jokes,” said Maggie.
It’s tough for small businesses and independent shops and Maggie throws herself into everything that goes on in Holmfirth to make sure Imagine gets noticed.
She dressed as Nora Batty (above, right) for last weekend’s Last of the Summer Wine 50th anniversary celebrations and is counting down to the Holmfirth Duck Race on Sunday July 2.
For last year’s duck race she made massive ducks out of waste cardboard and had a craft table for kids outside the shop which went down a storm.
Will Maggie dress as a duck this year? “Maybe,” she smiled. “I’m crazy enough.”
Maggie’s big wish is for people to support their local, independent shops. “People take them for granted,” she said. “If people don’t support them then one day they won’t be there.”
Imagine Toy Shop can be found at Norridge Bottom in Holmfirth and the website is www.imaginetoys.co.uk.