Toy shop owner at Robin Hood's Bay, near Whitby, adapts to survive challenges of financial climate

A Robin Hood’s Bay woman has spoken of how she’s had to adapt her small independent toy shop business to cope with the current financial climate.
Louise Gerhardsen of The Toy Shop, Robin Hood's Bay.Louise Gerhardsen of The Toy Shop, Robin Hood's Bay.
Louise Gerhardsen of The Toy Shop, Robin Hood's Bay.

Back in 2019, mum-of-two Louise Gerhardsen had high hopes for her new toy shop, in the seaside village.

Little did she know, it was to be a rocky ride.

The dream of an independent toy shop had begun when Louise’s first child, then three, had birthday money and stood sobbing as the only local shop to sell wooden trains was closed for the ‘off peak’ season.

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And so, the toy shop was born - an emporium of wooden toys, hand-made dolls and traditional toys, such as metal spinning tops.

Louise said: “Small businesses have definitely felt the pressure in recent years; covid and national lockdowns, Brexit leading to increased import taxes and the knock-on effect of rising wood prices have affected many items, wooden toys being no exception.

The summer of 2023 was hard for the shop.

People fell in love with our shop, walking around in wonder, faces full of awe, but people didn’t have the extra pennies for non-essential treats such as toys, when on a day trip to the seaside,” said Louise.

"The current financial climate is affecting the majority of people and with this, has come a steady increase in publications sharing money-saving hacks.

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"As people are looking for ways to stretch their budgets and make the most of their money, social media platforms have become popular channels for sharing money-saving advice to improve financial wellbeing.”

Louise, who is passionate about supporting local, small businesses, had a tough decision to make - to keep the shop in the bricks and mortar store and risk losing the business altogether, or develop her existing business website.

She opted for the latter and hasn’t looked back since.

Growing an online community of parents and toy lovers, Louise regularly shares free creative, activity ideas to keep little ones entertained.

Her current series ‘Ask the expert’ includes Q&A sessions with experts in the field of sleep, diet and wellness to offer help and support for parents nationwide.

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Louise said: “Closing the physical store was never the plan but the business has had to adapt to weather the current financial climate.”

Residents and holidaymakers can enjoy free local delivery of toys, to postcodes in Whitby, Scarborough and Robin Hood’s Bay.

As warmer weather approaches, The Toy Shop will be selling their sustainable beach toys including fully-recyclable, silicone buckets which can be rolled up into a rucksack or suitcase, perfect for day trips to the beach and even holidays aboard.

Louise hopes one day will see the doors of another store open, but for now, you can find her treasure trove of heirloom toys online and at various markets and country shows across Yorkshire.