Barkingside toy store to close its doors in the face of Westfield’s retail power

Store manager Gary Diamond in happier times at Toyology

Store manager Gary Diamond in happier times at Toyology - Credit: Archant

A Barkingside toy shop is closing down after falling victim to the popularity of Westfield in a difficult trading environment.

Toyology in High Street is set to shut its doors on March 23 after supplying shoppers with the latest games and must-have gadgets for just under three years.

Owner Gary Diamond said the shop had been losing customers to the giant Westfield shopping centre in Stratford and pinpointed his store’s terminal decline to last summer’s Olympics.

He said: “It’s more than disappointing, it’s very sad.

“Our clientele changed since Westfield opened. Customers we had before we don’t have now.

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“When the [Olympic] torch came to Barkingside, Barkingside was bombed. But after that, our figures never recovered.

“Lots of people that left were going to Westfield and we never got them back.

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“That was a big factor.”

Mr Diamond, who took the plunge to run an independent store with his best friend of more than 50 years, Mark Roberts, said prior to the Games, Toyology had attracted customers from outside the local area.

He added: “The other reason is the high street, all high streets including Barkingside are in decline at the moment.

“There are issues with our high street with parking and with the variety of retail.

“That added an element.

“When you look at Christmas, if you went to Westfield you had Christmas lights and all the atmosphere.

“When you look at us, we had half a dozen lights there and not a lot going on, you can’t compare the two.

“We’ve got the increase in the internet that’s had a detrimental effect.

“It’s not one thing but it became difficult to carry on.”

On Twitter, the business owner told customers the store hadn’t had the right footfall while thanking them for their support.

Toyology is now holding a closing down sale, with reductions of up to 60 per cent, with a planned closing date of March 23.

Mr Diamond will also be resigning his position as vice-chairman of the Barkingside Traders’ Association.

He said: “I’ll still be involved in the toy industry in some way but not in the retail side of things.”

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