Celebrating Taunton’s Oldest Independent Toy Store: Watkin Toys

Mike replied Sloco-MBE and said it was the closest he would ever get to getting an MBE.

Who said working in Taunton’s most famous toy store for 60 years didn’t give you a sense of humor?

This would not only give you a sense of humor, but also a sense of pride matched by the loyalty of your customers.

The Mike Slocombe I’m talking about is the owner and owner with his wife (Marlene) of Watkin Toys at 6 East Reach in the city center.

He has worked in the store for 60 years, but has owned it since 1989 when the original owners Mr. and Mrs. Watkin one day called him and he stepped in to buy the business.

Even though they ended their professional careers, their name stuck above the store door.

This is because it is a landmark in the city and possibly in the South West of England.

Entering the Watkin Toy Store is like stepping into an Aladdin cave of colors that overwhelms your senses.

Even the oldest person will instantly be transported back to his youthful days, when “real toy stores like Watkin could be seen all over the country.”

But how many are left today?

In Taunton, the Watkin toy store has stood the test of time since 1940, when it opened as a bicycle shop, but in previous generations it has gone from a bicycle shop to a toy store.

Somerset County Official Gazette:

And now it’s a landmark, Taunton’s oldest toy ship, which for Mike is a badge of pride that he wears with honor and pleasure.

It sells everything you would expect from a toy store and probably a little more than you didn’t.

On the shelves are miniature cars, dolls, puzzles, wooden toys, train sets, Scalextric sets, chemistry sets, jump ropes and hoops to name a fraction of the stock. .

Mike said: “What was it like working in a toy store for 60 years?

“It was a pleasure.

“What made it all work is customer loyalty.

Without it, we wouldn’t be here.

“Young children who first entered the store in the past 60 years continue to enter, even if they are adults.

“They always like to buy jigsaws or kit pieces for their railroad sets.

“Today guys are buying Lego and it’s not surprising because it is aimed at people aged zero to 100 years old.

Somerset County Official Gazette:

“Girls always buy Barbie dolls and dresses for the dolls.

“What’s amazing is what I’ve seen in recent years, it’s kids and even adults going retro. (Buy what you would describe as traditional toys and games)

“They are going back to traditional games, to traditional toys that were bought for them by their grandparents and who in turn bought them for their children.

“It seems that those who grew up with computer games missed out on traditional toys and now want their kids to enjoy, if you will, retro toys.

“What people (kids and adults) are looking for when they walk into the store is magic.”

And at Watkin Toys, this magic is experienced by young and old.

Somerset County Official Gazette:

Mike has told me a number of stories like that of the 80 year old man who came to buy a matchstick building kit that allowed him to build a model steam engine.

Mike said the good thing was it gave the old man something to do, it helped him coordinate his hand and his eyes and it was something he could say to his grandchildren. that their grandfather had built this with his own hands.

There were the children, like the young girl who left the store without a big stuffed dog.

She had seen the dog on a previous visit and would not leave on her second visit without the dog.

She wouldn’t allow Mike to wrap up, she wanted her dog as he was in the store.

Somerset County Official Gazette:

The joy felt by customers entering the Watkin toy store was the main thing on Mike’s mind when he attended the first major toy fair of the year.

This is the main fair where toy makers and toy buyers come together so that shoppers can see which toys will be in their stores at Christmas 2018.

Mike said: “It is interesting to see how toys influence children’s employment choices later in life.

“We had a kid who walked into the store and they only bought helicopters, then he worked for Westlands (helicopter maker).

“There was another one who bought Meccano who became a builder of a boy who bought Lego and became an engineer.

“I called a mom into the store with her daughter and asked her what she would like.

“Her daughter said she wanted a doll, diapers, etc., whatever you would need if you were looking after a child.

Somerset County Official Gazette:

“The mother said that she (her daughter) didn’t think she was too old for all of this since she was eight years old.

“I asked the mother what she did for a job and she said she was a nurse.

“I said your daughter is only trying to be like you.

“She didn’t believe me (at the time) but within weeks she came back and bought the lot.”

Working in the workshop as Mike said gave him pleasure but also a job.

This means he has never been unemployed and is busy every day.

Mike said: “When the post office was open in East Reach, moms would take their kids with them, but a number would go missing.

“When the police got the message, they were heading towards two stores, the pet store and the toy store.

“They would find the children in one of them.”

And today, the Watkin Toy store still weaves its magic as young and old alike find themselves captivated by what they find on the shelves.

A toy store makes kids love being kids and adults feel like kids again.

Somerset County Official Gazette:

The colors, the quantity of toys dazzle your senses and leave you unable to understand everything.

It is a magical and happy place for everyone.

For many, they must have felt like Peter Pan and for a moment wished they had never grown up.

Maybe someone in the right level of power in Taunton or maybe a number of clients should nominate Mike for an MBE, then he can be honored for his work with the community or his contribution to business.

But more than likely, that would be a perfect fit for its own toy story.

Somerset County Official Gazette:

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