Meet the owner of the toy store who won’t stock electronics
“I’m probably the only thing here with an on / off button,” Tony Duffy said with a laugh. Tony, a 78-year-old toy store owner who refuses to stock electronics, has created a timeless wonderland of the imagination.
After 55 years at the helm of Duffy’s Toyworld in Dunleer, Co. Louth, Tony maintains that the joy on a child’s face upon entering the shop keeps him unwavering behind the counter.
And it’s not just the kids, either – about 30 percent of all Duffy’s Toyworld customers in Dunleer are adults, too ready to jump back into their own childhood with nostalgic toys like Monchhichi or Meccano.
Maybe it’s the sparkle in his eyes or his beard, but some kids even mistake Tony for Santa himself.
“My father opened this store in 1938 and I turned to toys when I took over the family business in 1966 at the age of 19, after his sudden death,” he says.
“I was the first Toymaster member in Ireland, then I started going to the world’s largest toy fair in Nuremberg over 30 years ago, where I was myself as a child in the world. wonderland, submerged by 18 rooms filled with toys and models.
“Then I started visiting toy stores and fairs all over Europe and America to make my store what it is now,” he says.
“” We have avoided selling electronic toys because we want to focus completely on feeding the imagination and developmental skills of the child.
“There is no switch here. We focus on passive toys that initiate play and can stimulate a child’s curiosity, imagination, persistence, and problem-solving skills.
“There’s nothing wrong with electronic toys, but it’s just something that I personally decided not to stock years ago.
“We also sell one of the largest lines of sensory toys in the country and it’s nice to see the face of an autistic adult pick up a puppet and use it here.”
Who are its biggest sellers?
“Over the years fashions change and the type of toys appearing on television changes, but the popularity of toys in the agricultural industry is timeless,” he replies.
“The demand for toys like Schleich, Lego and Playmobile has been constant over the past 15 years. “
He adds: “I look at the play value of an item when storing the store. As far as I’m concerned, the most expensive toy is something the child loses interest in after a day.
“In my opinion, what’s the point of having a toy that does everything if the kid is just looking at it?”
“The best toy for a young child is a box of bricks without instructions. They use their imaginations to build them and when they’re done, they flip them over and start over.
Tony says that as long as he sees the children’s eyes light up, he’ll stay behind the counter at the corner store. “When a kid comes in and says ‘wow’ when he looks around, then that made my day.”
He says he also laughs to see the adults’ faces light up when they spot the toys they had growing up.
“Toys like Monchhichis make adults tremble in their knees because they bring back such fond memories, and we have more model horses than John Wayne for adult children.
“For us, it’s all about the imagination and we only provide the tools for children and older children to use.”
And Tony says he has no plans for retirement as long as his health allows.
“We have had a lot of online sales since the Covid-19 hit, but I think there is no such thing as personal interaction and the satisfaction you get from seeing joy on the face. of a child – big or small – when you give him this toy. “