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Former pharmacist opens Brandon toy shop with a difference

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A toy shop with a difference has opened in Brandon.

Karen Aris has moved her enterprise from the Charles Burrell Centre in Thetford to The Harvey Adams Centre on Wimbledon Avenue, Brandon, Suffolk.

The 46-year-old business woman used to run the Toy Den in Thetford but outgrew the premises there.

Karen Aris at the Toy Den. Picture by Mecha Morton
Karen Aris at the Toy Den. Picture by Mecha Morton

But not only has Mrs Aris expanded the toy side of her business, she has also launched activity and parent and toddler days, as well as business networking events.

“I just felt the time was right to expand and things have been going really well,” said Karen, who lives in Bury St Edmunds.

“The toy range has grown extensively and as the premises is now around seven times larger than our last, we have started themed activity events, parent and toddler days and business networking.

Karen Aris also has a range of clothes on sale.
Karen Aris also has a range of clothes on sale.

“There are a lot of people like me who run their own business and so I decided to start something for adults, too.”

Mrs Aris orginally began her business at car boot sales.

She then ran a market stall and has a unique approach to the toy market.

Everything at the Toy Den is ‘priced between 50p and £10 so that it is within reach of children’s pocket money.

“I haven’t come across anyone else doing this and we sell everything from toys, to hair accessories, make-up, jewellery, stationary and crafts,” said Mrs Avis.

“A lot of toy shops only sell items in packs of 20 for example, where as at the Toy Den, people can just buy one.

“We are also ecologically friendly and use minimal packing and also run a make-do-and-mend service.

"So if someone’s toy is broken, we will try to fix it.”

Activity sessions at the Toy Den are themed for things like slime, mosaics, mobile and terrariums. Parent and toddler groups are for children of pre-school age.

Mrs Aris also has a market stall selling toys at Newmarket, Brandon and Mildenhall.

She gave up her full-time job working at the pharmacy at Asda in Bury St Edmunds to run the Toy Den and its associated activities. Her daughter, Amy, 18, helps out.

“We opened at the end of August and have launched the sessions this month. People are welcome to come along,” she said.

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