David Riley, founder of The Toy Loan Company, with his daughter.
(L - R): David Riley, founder of The Toy Loan Company, with his daughter.

Teacher’s North East sustainable toy subscription business is ‘all fun and games’

A teacher turned entrepreneur is proving that setting up a business is child’s play, with the launch of his own toy subscription service.

David Riley set up The Toy Loan Company in July after moving home and realising how many toys his two children owned but never played with. After setting aside a toy box each month filled with different toys that had been in storage, he was amazed by how keen his children were to play with their old toys and inspiration struck.

He explained: “When we were moving home, we noticed that the majority of their toys were just sitting in cupboards, drawers and storage boxes and were never being used. So, to make more use of them, we decided to buy a storage box and pull out old toys which they could start playing with again.

“Then, once they got bored of them again, we would just replace the toys with more old ones that would keep them entertained. More often than not, they got more enjoyment out of cheaper, older toys than their expensive ones too, they just wanted something different to play with all the time. That was when I realised we were really on to something.”

Inspired by their experience, David began looking into how he could turn the concept into a business, leading to the launch of The Toy Loan Company. However, unlike more traditional subscription models, The Toy Loan Company also incentivises parents to return the toys that their children get bored of playing with.

By then re-gifting toys, the company reduces its carbon footprint and drives down costs, making it more environmentally and economically friendly for all.

David added: “It is essentially a toy subscription service. Customers simply pay a monthly subscription and in turn they receive a new box of toys based on their individual interests. Parents tell us what their child’s interests are and their age, and they will then receive a new box of dinosaurs, diggers, dolls or superhero figures, whatever it may be, every month.

“We also sell one-off gift boxes too, which are popular for Birthdays and Christmas and are perfect for those who know a child’s interests but often struggle to find the perfect gift. The entire model is a lot cheaper than having to buy brand new toys every other month and hugely reduces toy waste, so it’s having a real positive impact on people and the planet.”

Prior to launching the business, David received free business support from the North East BIC and began working with a business adviser to perfect his business plan.

He concluded: “The BIC were great. Having no experience of running a business, they made the entire process seamless and talked me through everything I needed to know. They also helped me draft and perfect my business plan and make sure it was the right avenue for me to go down. They’ve been a huge help.”

By Matthew Neville – Senior Correspondent, Bdaily

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