Sad, but true, it seems like Utrechters are falling out of love with toys. Or at least with toy shopping as a recent report has stated that the future is looking bleak for toy stores in the Netherlands.
It seems that their average annual turnover is decreasing, and that more and more of them are closing. While the approaching holiday season may be a boost for some toy stores, it is already too late for others.
This is largely due to the shift to online shopping, where there is still growth in toy sales. In the first half of 2018 the Dutch spent 18 percent more on toys online than in the same period last year. Half of Dutch expenses on toys were spent online. Another challenge for toy-only stores, is the fact that toys can also be bought in other stores like supermarkets.
The toy industry in the Netherlands stopped growing in 2009, according to a study by ABN Amro and consequently, the number of physical stores has dropped rapidly.
Sadly, for Utrecht, one toy store that will not survive the year is Pim’s Olifant on Springweg.
At Pim’s Olifant you will not find well-known brands that are advertised on children’s channels around the festive season. The toys here are the old-fashioned type. Toys that your parents would remember and perhaps still have stashed away somewhere. Toys that would last and not be broken easily as todays plastic wares are. The toys at Pim’s Olifant are rarely plastic, and don’t require batteries or chargers.
Pim’s Olifant was opened by Ineke Stuivenberg and her partner Marion in 1996. In 2011 it was voted the Quality Toys Shop of the year, but despite this, the store will be closing its doors in mid-December. the decision was made due to declining sales as it seems that children and their parents y no longer want to purchase quality toys.
Everything is geared today on what is seen on TV and children ask for what they see there. It is apparent that the small toy shop can’t compete with the big toy giants.
The biggest problem traditional toy shops face is that they can be undercut so easily by the big stores. They face what could be seen as unfair competition from bigger chains. Toys are obviously seen by them as loss leaders. They make their profits elsewhere with little thought or care for smaller businesses.
Wooden sheep from Pxhere
Sadly, there was no more money to invest into Pim’s Olifant and they therefore had to make the heart wrenching decision to close their doors. With that another part of Utrechts history is lost. Old traditions so hard fought for in the past are now disappearing. Is this what you want as a city?
It is too late to help Pim’s Olifant, but what about the other traditional shops in Utrecht. Perhaps you had better pop in to one of them and spend your money, before you pass it by and find that bit is no longer there.