Meet Austin Birney the owner of Mr Wolf toyshop in Hexham.
I opened the shop in 2014 with my wife Lindsey. We have two children and when we were thinking about what type of business we wanted to open we found that there wasn’t anywhere locally that was offering good quality toys. We wanted to create a magical experience for children but also a toyshop that adults could enjoy and would bring back happy memories, somewhere where we could offer that personal touch and recommend the best product for the customer rather than what was the most expensive.
How has the business had to adapt during Coronavirus?
Before the first lockdown we had just flown back from a major toy fair in New York, little did we know how much things were going to change from that point. We already had a website and before Covid we were doing a very small number of deliveries from online sales, but in the first few days of closing the shop we had over 50 orders coming in. It went from zero to crazy overnight, we were working around the clock to process all the orders. We also started a click and collect service for local collections, as well as a local delivery service which we would personally deliver to the immediate area. Our customers have been amazing throughout and have really stuck by us and we have also been discovered by people much further afield.
"Our customers have been amazing throughout and have really stuck by us and we have also been discovered by people much further afield."
What can people expect when they shop locally?
When you shop locally you can expect your local retailer to provide more than just a product, they will take the time to understand what it is you’re looking for and find the perfect item for you. In a market town like Hexham where more than 60% of businesses are independent you will find lots of products that you can’t find anywhere else.