Barkingside traders launch new business association to promote their shops

After making one of his own business dreams come true, a Barkingside toy shop owner is working hard to improve the wider retail experience in the area.

Gary Diamond, 56, who runs Toyology, in High Street, Barkingside, is teaming up with other shopkeepers to promote the Barkingside Traders’ Association.

A previous Barkingside Business Partnership ceased to exist soon after Gary realised his ambition of opening his own toy shop in October 2010.

But along with Steve Eaton, of Eaton Hair, in High Street and with the support of Redbridge Council, they have been putting their efforts into the new association.

Gary said: “In some ways it [the partnership] just fizzled out.

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“The association is very well supported by the council. With their help, we restructured and decided to break the link by calling it something different.

“At the moment, it’s in its infancy and we need to spread the word ourselves.”

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The association has been resurrected over the past six months and the group plans to put on events to promote Barkingside shops including at Christmas.

Gary said: “Hopefully together with some funding we can do things so that we create a better shopping environment in Barkingside, to get the most out of it.”

He added “a core of people” is involved at the moment.

He took the plunge into starting his own business with his best friend of more than 50 years, Mark Roberts.

Gary previously worked as a buyer for independent stores and said that if he has an expertise, it’s in toys.

He said: “Toys were a major part of all the other businesses I was involved with.”

The shop is also involved in another promising initiative – the pilot being set up by Ilford North MP Lee Scott and charity Interface to help young disabled people find employment.

Gary has met with the two parties and sees value in the scheme. He said: “It’s something that benefits everybody in the long run.

“It’s better for the country, it’s better for the parents and the young people and it could be beneficial for businesses.”

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