Mother and daughter duo Marlyn and Amanda Griffiths have made the big step in becoming business partners and the even bigger move of relocating from Lancashire to Cumbria to do so. They joined forces and opened The Rocking Horse Toy Shop at the Quarry Rigg Shopping Centre in Bowness on Windermere earlier this year.
Running a toy shop was not on the agenda for the pair, originally from Ormskirk. Amanda graduated from Lancaster University in 2009 with a degree in Biochemistry, whilst Marlyn had previously run a successful hair dressing salon near Liverpool.
However, Marlyn had been making a range of handmade children’s gifts, which with the support of her daughter had been selling at craft markets across Lancashire. Most recently they had opened a high street shop in Ormskirk; selling an extended range of traditional wooden toys to compliment their handmade items.
It wasn’t until Christmas 2014, on a holiday to the Lake District that Marlyn and Amanda decided to take the big step of re-locating their business and lives up to the area. The high street had been gradually disappearing in Ormskirk with many neighbouring shops closing down, so they were looking to relocate. However, on a chance walk on Boxing Day they stumbled upon an empty unit in Bowness and after much consideration decided this was the opportunity they had been looking for.
After much consideration and research they decided to relocate their business, and The Rocking Horse Toy Shop opened up in March 2015. They now specialise in traditional wooden toys that are carefully selected based on their quality and play value and not generally found on the high street
“We are constantly looking for toys that are not widely available on the high street, and having spent the last 4 years carefully honing our range, we believe the product range we offer is unique within Cumbria – you won’t find any electronic gadgets, plastic toys or merchandise from the latest TV program. We have many toys that grandparents will remember from their childhood, that have stood the test of time and are still loved by children today!”
The Rocking Horse boasts a number of brands exclusive to Cumbria, such as their Rocking Horses and retro metal race cars and fire engines, which often sell out in days of arriving. Their first year in business has exceeded their expectations and they’ve been overwhelmed with the support received from both tourists and local customers. They’ve even had repeat customers from far and wide who have travelled up especially to buy a unique gift from the shop.
The mother and daughter team seems to be working so far and they both enjoy different aspects of the day to day running of the business – Amanda takes care of the administration, while Marlyn takes care of the creative side of the business.
“As a family run business, we share the same vision for the future of the business, and it gives us the freedom to try out ideas and make changes that we wouldn’t otherwise be able to do.”
Marlyn and Amanda look forward to building on the success they’ve had in their first year. They’re constantly looking out for new products and always aim to have something new on the shelves that can’t be found on the high street. They’re currently busy planning their first Christmas in Bowness, with the arrival of some larger toys and festive products. In the long term they’d love to expand and have another shop or two in other Lake District villages, but for now they’ve got plenty to work on in Bowness!