Parking costs, stag and hen parties and business rates – why York shop had to close

Inside Toymaster York when it opened. Photograph: Facebook
6 May 2019 @ 5.53 pm
| Business, Shopping

The owner of the latest shop in York to close has outlined the reasons behind its demise.

James Colclough was a director of York Toymaster, which traded for two and a half years on Market Street.

The store was independent, paying to be part of the Toymaster group to use its branding and buying power.

But last week James made “the really tough call to close the store due to extremely challenging trading conditions in York.

“Sadly the very high costs of operating in York drove our decision to move rapidly to protect our other stores.”

For anyone following the retail difficulties in the city centre, his reasons will sound familiar.

York seemed ideal

Toymaster prior to its opening in 2016
An experienced retailer who runs a number of toy shops, James believed York would be an right for his business.

“As a small business we have traditionally had great success in bustling market towns and tourist locations which led us to believe York would be an ideal progression,” he told YorkMix.

“However the stark reality is that whilst York attracts many visitors with its heritage and incredible offer, we have noticed that our target shoppers including young families seem to prefer the out of town options – especially residents of York.”

Why? James said:

  • I believe one issue is parking, as this week I paid £30.90 to stay for a full day in the Castle Car Park, whilst it can be free at York Designer Outlet.

    In addition we found that Saturdays, normally our busiest day, was flat as shoppers were deterred by party-goers including stag and hen parties, which don’t really allow for families to enjoy the York experience comfortably and safely.

    Commercially for us the business rates bill of over £3,300 per month was not providing adequate value for money, despite all the fantastic things that do happen in York city centre.

Relocating elsewhere

Closed: Toymaster on Market Street. Photograph: Richard McDougall
The closure of Toymaster meant the loss of seven part-time jobs.

James said: “I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the customers who have shopped with us, especially the children who enjoyed spending their pocket money. They will have enjoyed their local toy shop.

“Particular thanks are also due to the fantastic and dedicated team of people that ran the York store.”

He said they wouldn’t be looking to open elsewhere in York, and instead “have chosen to relocate to a smaller market town”, as yet unconfirmed.

Following the closure of Toymaster, the chairman of York Retail Forum Phil Pinder called on the newly-elected council “to put party politics to one side and address the issues facing York by working together”.

He said: “If we want a vibrant High Street we have to listen to retailers, and work with them to ensure our city remains a great place for business to thrive.”