Childhood passion for toy dealing paves way to successful for Halifax business
When people see Simon Haley and his nine-year-old son Oscar together they often remark on how alike they look. And it goes deeper than looks, with both sharing a love of toys.
For Oscar, it’s Hot Wheels cars and electronic stuff, says Mr Haley, who has been running the Collectors Old Toy Shop on Northgate in Halifax for the best part of four decades.
His shop stocks most of the main original toymakers, Dinky, Corgi and Matchbox, displayed in tall Victorian cabinets, and ranging in age from 100 years ago to just 10.
Among the oldest are antique lead figures and there’s the odd folk art toy.
Mr Haley’s passion for dealing in toys started in childhood.
He said: “My parents used to do antique markets and they’d give me a little stall at the end and I’d sell old toys, old bottles that I’d dug up, and anything that was a bit quirky to enhance my pocket money.”
His childhood hobby paved the way for a lifetime in dealing and in 1984 he opened the Collectors Old Toy Shop, which sells mainly model railways, cars and aeroplanes and novelty toys.
Before the pandemic collectors from France, Germany, Spain and America would beat a path to his door. “I’m hoping that side will come back,” he says.
Mr Haley says the toys are popular among “ageing rockstars and TV celebrities” but is far too discreet to name names.
Having been in the trade a few years means he now sees a new generation turning up.
“When people hit the age of 40 they start to reminisce and collect things. They may have come in with their parents and now they’ve got kids – it is all different generations.”
As for whether Oscar follows in his dad’s footsteps, only time will tell.
“Everyone calls him mini-me. He’s unique in a way as he likes to actually play with his toy cars and his Lego and that type of stuff. He’s not sat in front of a computer screen.
“At the end of the day he will be his own individual. He might want to be a rocket scientist. He does seem to want to design things.”
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