Hamleys ... In a town near us!!
Last week, mummy and I were treated to something very very special. Our local shopping centre, i,ntu Lakeside, has been building the excitement for weeks with huge boards advertising a new Hamleys store opening. I remember going to the London store a couple of times, so I was really excited about one opening its doors so close to our home! Now mummy will have no excuse when I ask to go!
Well, to add to my excitement, we were invited to the private opening, a whole 2 hours before the famous toy store opened the doors to the public! As we walked closer to the store, I could hear loud music and all sorts of shouting and singing, there certainly was no chance of missing it! As we arrived, it was the first time I had seen the shop windows uncovered. Ladies dressed as rag dolls, a man in a shower cap, lots and lots of adrenaline fuelled staff members were there to greet us and to welcome us to their newest store.
Windows full of toys, and aisles bursting with colour was all I could see from the red carpet that was laid out the front, and I couldn't wait to get inside!
Have you ever been to Hamleys? It's a toy shop like no other. Staff members will greet you with a smile as they demonstrate the latest toys right in front of you, boomerangs fly above you and battery operated, yapping puppies run around your feet. There was a man on roller skates and another firing hundreds of bubbles from a gun. I was in heaven!
I made a new best friend at Hamleys that night. Her name was Leah, and she looked like a pretty rag doll. She looked after me, she sang with me, she chased me around the aisles in a game of hide-and-seek, she showed me loads and loads of toys and made me feel very very special. We played with a bunny that we named Cookie ...
... We sang 'Let it Go' together amongst the Frozen toys ...
... And we paused for a rest, snuggled up with the biggest teddy bears I've ever seen!
Every child needs that rare opportunity in life where they are able to run wild in a toy store, play with the toys and mingle with the staff (who, by the way, have the best jobs in the world!!) without hearing the calls from mummy to stay close and not wander off ... Just saying!
Frozen toys, water toys, cuddly toys, baby toys, construction toys, art toys, traditional wooden toys, character toys .... Hamleys has it all! Dress-up, board games, garden toys, developmental/educational toys, they really have covered everything, and have it all laid out in a customer friendly manner, making it quick and easy to find what you're looking for. Well, kind of quick and easy ... I challenge anyone to walk through the store without playing with at least one toy that has unexpectedly caught your eye! The store looks inviting with the tidy, well planned layout and the giant signs inviting it's visitors to play and have fun!
By 5.30pm, 30 minutes before the public opening, hundreds of families had gathered outside, eager to take a look inside the new store. However, the doors could not be opened until Hamley Bear had led his wonderful toy parade through the centre.
Leah joined her fellow rag dolls, along with their friends the toy soldiers, Sylvanian Family characters, Barbie, and many other 'celebrities' and marched through the centre, whipping up a frenzy of excitement amongst shoppers who had been unaware of the grand opening. They ended their carnival of fun outside Hamleys, bringing with them more curious customers who were keen to see what all the fuss was about!
The store was then officially opened, with a speech from a bellowing man in a top hat and the clanging of a bell, and at that moment, families rushed in in their dozens, taking in the 'new shop' scent and the untouched displays. Well, mostly untouched - they had a little tidying to do behind me!
Being situated within an already well populated shopping centre, Hamleys Lakeside does not have the flexibility with space as the famous London store, which is split along several floors. However, their space is used well, and in the next couple of months, visitors to the store will witness considerable expansion as there is a whole lot more waiting to be unveiled which is currently hidden as the building continues. Additional features promise to be just as exciting, including a party room which will be available to hire for private functions, as well as allowing the space for fun events to run during school holidays etc.
Trust us when we say - exciting times are ahead for Hamleys, intu Lakeside!
Take a look at the fun packed video of the event!
Mummy and I had such a wonderful time, and I even got some lovely presents to take home!
So if you have never been to Hamleys, I can't recommend it enough. It's more than a toy shop ... It's a toy experience!