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‘Massive nostalgia’: The end of an era when London’s famous Sylvanian Families shop closes | Toys

Nineteen-year-old Molly Bell arrived in London from Brisbane early last week. By Wednesday, she had reached a small toy store on an unremarkable street in north London to make her dream come true.she had to move fast Sylvanian Families shop, sales toy animal of the same name and its habitat will close on April 22nd, more than 30 years later.

Since 1992, this charming Highbury shop has attracted thousands of anthropomorphic animal collectors. This enchanted cave evokes a bygone idyll.

“I saw a store closing on TikTok in Australia, and it may seem absolutely crazy, but I bought a plane ticket,” says Bell. It’s hard to find in Australia, and the appearance of this shop was also irresistibly attractive.”

Hundreds of collectors have made a final pilgrimage to the world’s only independent shop dedicated to Sylvanian Families since the closure was announced in January. Most came from England, but there are also many from Europe, especially the Far East. Arisa Ming, a Chinese national studying in the UK, came to replace her mother. She said, “My friend here is going back to China soon and is going to take some animals with her. They sell them in China, but there are no other stores that look as beautiful.”

Sylvanian Families was first made in Japan in 1985. Epoch still produces the series and sells it in the UK. The concept was to create a forest world of toy animals such as rabbits, bears, and cats for children in high-rise apartment buildings in Japanese cities. This is part of the reason they have been so successful in the Far Eastern countries.

But even in the UK, its appeal is enormous (over 60 million Sylvanian dolls have been sold since the late 1980s) and persists as a hunger for a bygone era and escapism from today’s fast-changing world. I’m here.

Sylvanian Families in a shop in North London. Photo: Antonio Olmos/The Observer

The Highbury shop was opened by Angela and Simon Harwood, who ran the Sylvanian Families Collector’s Club in their spare time. It still has its owners, but they are retired, and the shop has been run for several years by Ben Miller Poole, who turned his love of childhood collectors into a career.

“Sylvanian Families are timeless classics,” he says. “They have good health. They have no problems other than deciding what to eat at the picnic.”

This “sanity” has also been nurtured on websites such as Mumsnet. The post included a message from the mother that the Sylvanian Families animals, along with their homes and small cars, encourage imaginative play.

Millar-Poole said: In most families, the first collectors have children who carry on their love of Sylvania, so we’re second-generation fans. “

People like Amanda Waples from Saffron Walden with two daughters, Martha and Ella, who are in their twenties. “We’ve been going out regularly over the years, often on birthdays,” she says Waples. “After that, we had a picnic in a nearby park, recreating the Sylvanian Families.”

Her daughters are no longer avid collectors, but they keep Sylvanian toys in their parents’ attic.

According to Miller-Poole, Sylvanian Families’ continued success is “because it is the antithesis to technology-based toys and screen-time activities”.

Families gather to buy toys at the Sylvanian Families shop.
Families gather to buy toys at the Sylvanian Families shop. Photo: Antonio Olmos/The Observer

Susannah Quincy, who has three young daughters, agrees. “When I was a kid, it was a dollhouse. Time has stood still.”

The Harwoods’ closing of the store and sale of the property has not only resulted in a surge in customers, but also a huge increase in demand on eBay for the animals and characters that are no longer produced, sometimes fetching hundreds of pounds. .

“Unfortunately our closure is part of a trend in which so many independent toy stores are disappearing in the UK,” says Millerpool. At least after the doors close next Saturday. will continue to be sold in large stores and on the Sylvanian Families website. says Miller-Poole.

As a manager, he wore the Sylvanian name tag, like everyone else who has been associated with the company for the past 30 years. He was the shopkeeper’s rabbit, Rocky. The website is taken over by Harwood’s daughter, who becomes known as Daisy Timbertop, a Sylvanian brown bear.

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2023/apr/15/london-sylvanian-families-shop-shuts ‘Massive nostalgia’: The end of an era when London’s famous Sylvanian Families shop closes | Toys

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