AN independent collectable toy store born out of a passion for toys has celebrated its first birthday at a Portsmouth shopping centre.
Sonner Toys in Cascades Shopping Centre in Portsmouth is the first store that managing director Harry Strevens has opened after three years of trading online – first via eBay and then his own website – and he’s built a mini-empire that is a collector’s dream.
Looking back over his first year of business at Cascades, he revealed it has been a significant learning curve.
He said: ‘Beforehand, it was something that made sense. Portsmouth has nothing like Sonner Toys and there is a whole society and community that has a similar passion to what I have.
‘There’s a wide variety of people that are interested in our range, especially Hot Toys, Funko and NECA, and we attracted a lot of interest at the beginning. For toy collectors, we stock everything and even if people do not come in and buy something, a lot of shoppers always stop by to look in the window at some of our best products.
He found that the hardest period was during the middle of the year, as they opened just before Christmas and had a successful opening month.
He said: ‘We found ourselves having to make changes, like stocking more collectors’ items than toys, to try and fully differentiate ourselves from the rest of our competitors.’
The shop also stocks special edition items, such as the Infinity Gauntlet - an iconic item from the Marvel comics and most recent Avengers movies.
It is the last one at Sonner Toys after the rest were snapped up earlier this year, selling for £1,000 each.
Harry now plans to open two more stores in Hampshire.
He’s also just agreed a deal to become an exclusive seller of a new Pokémon range and will be introducing a series of events to complement his products.
The store held a birthday party on November 2 and 3, with discounts, competitions, giveaways and cake.