Andrew's wooden toy story success
Growing up, Andrew Wallin didn't have many expensive toys.
He had to make do with what little he and his brother, Daniel, possessed.
But the pair would spend hours playing with a wooden garage someone had made and handed down to them.
Little did Andrew know that it would spur him on and become the centrepiece of his career as he owns Wooden Toy Shop, in Ribchester, which operates as an online business.
The 29-year-old ex-carer bought the former The Spotty Green Frog five years ago and in 2014 he rebranded the firm as Wooden Toy Shop.
He operates from a warehouse in Bee Mill, Preston Road, Ribchester, sending out orders to customers.
He has two other staff members, John Milne and Tony Johnson, who take online orders and pack the items for delivery.
He says: “About five years ago I saw The Spotty Green Frog was up for sale and I thought ‘why not give it a go?’
“I bought it and worked out of hours whilst I was a part time carer at Bowgreave Rise Home in Garstang.
“But it got a bit too much so I stopped working at the care home three years ago and started working for myself.
“A lot of the high street shops are closing down because of overheads and extra expenses and everyone is turning to the internet to buy their goods, so I have captured a good market.
“Our customers are all internet-based and come from all over the UK.
“I believe there is no one out there that has the range of wooden toys that we have here.
“Our range of traditional wooden games will take people back to their own childhood when a game of dominoes might have been followed by tiddly winks, snakes and ladders or pick up sticks.
“Although some people see games and toys as precious reminders of a bygone era, many of today’s toys are stylish and contemporary.”
As Andrew recalls his own childhood growing up in Australia, he remembers the enjoyment he had from playing with a wooden garage with his brother.
He adds: “As a child I had a lot of hand-me-down items because we could not afford much.
“I didn’t have many favourite toys, but one I remember was a brown garage my brother and I used to play with.
“It was second hand and someone had made it.”
Andrew, who moved to the UK 20 years ago, loves the freedom of being his own boss and the joy his items bring to families.
He says: “I like working for myself as I work the hours I want, I enjoy talking to customers on the phone. I get a lot of pleasure in knowing children will be excited when they open their presents and see one of the toys I have sold.
“There are numerous benefits of wooden toys which add to their appeal, for example they are more eco-friendly when compared to modern toys made from man-made materials.
“Not only this, but as they are built to last, these toys benefit from longevity and are often passed down from generation to generation, meaning they offer excellent value for money, hours and hours of fun and a lifetime of cherished memories.
“Our toys and games offer many developmental benefits.
“We understand how important it is for children to learn through play, so many of the toys we have chosen to sell encourage kids to play creatively, socially and imaginatively.
“The items we sell will help with the development and improvement of fine motor skills and they will challenge little ones to learn how to concentrate and solve problems, although we insist that fun is their number one priority.”