Owner closes toy store on Sundays because ‘life is for family living’

Photos of Tony Duffy at his toy store in Dunleer, Co. Louth which he has run since taking over from his father in 1966. He decided to close on Sundays, despite strong demand for Christmas photos from Seamus Farrelly

One of Ireland’s oldest toy shops has taken the unusual step of closing on Sundays in the run up to Christmas, as the owner believes ‘life is for family living’ .

As shoppers up their game with just three weekends, the 55-year-old owner of Duffy’s Toyworld says his decision to close the shop on a Sunday after more than two decades of being open was inspired by the lockdown .

“We’ve been open on Sundays for about 25 years, but during the Covid-19 lockdown I toyed with the idea of ​​closing as I really started to realize that life is worth living,” said said Tony.

“I started enjoying the day with my eight grandchildren because the other days I have off they are at school.

“So I finally took the bull by the horns and decided that Sunday was going to be family day for me and my staff.

“And now I really look forward to my Sundays.

“I also realized that it was not fair for my staff to work so hard every day, including Sundays, to take care of other families, and then be too exhausted at home. Christmas Eve to really enjoy Christmas with their loved ones.

“I just decided that if I couldn’t earn enough for the other five or six days of the week, well, what’s the point.”

“We’ve been closed a number of Sundays now and customer feedback has been positive and encouraging. Everyone says I’m absolutely right.”

Tony (76) took over the family business in 1966 aged 19 when his father died suddenly and turned it into a ‘no-button’ toy paradise.

“We have avoided selling electronic toys because we want to focus entirely on nurturing a child’s imagination and developmental abilities.

“There are no switches here. We focus on passive toys that initiate play and can stimulate a child’s curiosity, imagination, persistence and problem-solving skills.

“We also sell one of the largest sensory toy lines in the country and it’s nice to see the face of an autistic adult pick up a puppet and use it here.”

“Toys like Monchichis make adults’ knees wobble 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 kids and big kids to use.

“We stock a lot of small in terms of ranges that promote open-ended play and role-playing toys.”

The Dunleer, Co. Louth independent toy store has not been affected by any of the expected stock shortages due to rising container prices.

“All of our stock is sourced from Europe, so we get our orders from Spain in three days and from Poland and Germany in eight days. The only issues we had were due to Brexis implications and customs clearance.

“We had some shortage issues initially, but only because we didn’t buy enough stock, so I had to go back to my suppliers and ask for more.

“At the moment we have probably the largest range of puzzles in Ireland and Schleich toys and people come here from all over for the wooden toys.

“A couple got in their car at 5.30am and drove here from Kerry to spend a few hours picking out toys and it’s a story that’s reflected here all the time.”

About 30% of its customers are “big kids” who flock to the store to buy toys from yesteryear such as Monchichi, puzzles and model farm machinery.