A Nottinghamshire business owner has revealed what goes on behind the scenes at a toy store over Christmas.
Matt Kirby, 43, and his wife Sian have been running their toy business since 2002, but decided to expand and open their own store, Crocodiles Stores, in October last year.
Located at Manvers Business Park in Cotgrave, the store is well stocked with the latest toys, games and dolls as well as more traditional favorites.
Now as we approach what will be their second Christmas, Matt has unboxed what promises to be another busy holiday season.
“We’re actually starting to plan Christmas in January,” the father-of-three said.
“So in just a few weeks we will be stocking up on products for next year.”
In addition to the physical store, Crocodiles is also accessible online and through Ebay and Amazon offering next day delivery, keeping staff members vigilant.
In January, Matt and Sian will be heading to the annual London Toy Fair where they will start with small quantities to see how well the products are doing.
Then, throughout the summer, orders are placed for Christmas based on current trends or constant favorites.
When choosing what to order, Matt said, as well as more classic items, he makes choices based on what’s likely to be popular.
He said: “Some of the big sellers this year were the Fortnite action figures, which was an extremely popular online game.
“But you almost have to predict it, because it happens so quickly and if you wait it will be too late.
“We knew Frozen 2 would be important as well, so we choose where to invest.”
But in addition to the bestsellers, Matt also pointed out how the store has become a “destination” for some shoppers.
“We have seen Games Workshop very well,” he said.
“We’re more of a destination store for brand followers who want to come see and touch the numbers.
“I think people tend to visit because they know what they’re looking for or they know they can get advice here.
“It’s really nice to see customers here rather than just ordering online.”
Speaking about the first year of operation as a store, he said: “We are doing quite well all year round, especially with preschool orders.
“But we have lines at the door when we have special events – sometimes it’s a little too busy!”
Thinking back to the past year, Matt also noted that there was a “down market” with children losing interest in toys earlier.
“My belief is that these are the pressures of gadgets and phones,” he said.
“But because of this, the preschool market has grown and families are very keen to make sure young children have more traditional puzzles, coloring books, and toys before they jump into technology.”
Matt is part of a team of eight who work year round, with additional temporary staff to help with the last minute Christmas rush.
“It’s a little scarier now with Black Friday as well,” he added.
“It used to be that we had busy October, November, and December months, but now everything tends to fall back to Black Friday and we do three months of sales in the last month of the year.
“We had a delivery yesterday, and today they are all gone.
“But I could never imagine having a real job. We’re a small team and we all do everything. Everyone works so hard.
“Our last day of shipping is December 23rd and we’ll be full with weekend orders and last minute giveaways.
“But luckily my wife is very organized with our own gifts and I spend time with my family for a few weeks.”