A BICESTER toy shop is hopeful that after an 'horrendous' year for business due to the pandemic, it will be supported by its 'loyal' customers during lockdown.

Bicester Toys has remained open by doing a collection service where people can call the shop, requesting the items they wish to buy.

The store on Sheep Street, which opened around 10 years ago, could not afford to close with the run up to Christmas being one of the busiest times of the year for trade.

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Jason Messenger, one of the store's managing directors, said: "This year has been horrendous. It's been the worst year we have ever had. The first lockdown was extremely difficult as we bought in lots of stock for Easter which we were then unable to sell."

Business had just started to pick up again for Mr Messenger when the second lockdown was announced and so being able to do a 'click and collect' service is helping the shop to survive.

He said: "It's the second busiest time of the year. We have all our stock in and we've got to sell it somehow. So we decided to do collections and we can give customers a personal shopping experience.

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"We seem to have a loyal following of customers. This is the toughest we've ever known it. We're just doing whatever we can to survive."

As people are not allowed to browse inside the shop, Mr Messenger thinks it is unfair that people can go to supermarkets to buy toys still.

He said: "It's a shame that Sainsbury's can keep their toy aisles open and we can't.

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"We've spent lots of money on making the shop safe - like providing hand sanitiser and screens - and as a small independent trader can't trade, but people can go to Sainsbury's to get toys.

"We're lucky in the fact that children still love a traditional toy shop. When they go to a supermarket, it's not the same."

One of the unique features of Bicester Toys is that it has an 'in store theatre' where children can play with some of the products. Due to the virus, this has been stopped.

For enquiries and to make a purchase, call 01869 323946.