Just in time for the happiest season of the year, SSI Group, Inc., the no. 1 specialty retailer in the Philippines, brings the iconic toy brand, Hamleys, to the country with its first store in Central Square, Bonifacio High Street opening on December 20, 2014 at 12:00PM. With over 250 years of experience in bringing smiles and laughter to children, Hamleys Central Square will be witness to familiar smiles and laughter that Hamleys is known and trusted for all over the world.
Growing up in Cornwall, England, William Hamley might have become a tin miner. Or a fisherman. But William had other ideas. He dreamed of opening the best toy shop in the world and in 1760, he did, cramming ‘Noah’s Ark’ with every kind of toy, from rag dolls to tin soldiers. Over the street-sellers’ calls and horses’ hooves ringing on the cobbles, you could just make out the delighted cries of children as they approached the window. By the time Queen Victoria came to the throne in 1837, Hamleys was already a London landmark. Families flocked to William’s ‘Joy Emporium’.
So successful was the shop that in 1881 a new branch opened in Regent Street. To cope with the public’s growing appetite for playthings. Hamleys added a further five floors of toys! We can only imagine the spectacle, as toy theatres, puppets, pedal cars and miniature railway trains jostled for space in the largest toy shop in the world.
Hamleys faced hard times in the late 1920s, along with everybody else. In 1931, the picture looked bleak and the shop was forced to close and its fleet of horse-drawn delivery vans was stilled. But this story has a happy ending. Walter Lines, the Chairman of the Tri-Ang company, bought Hamleys and worked hard to bring customers back. In 1938, his efforts were rewarded. Queen Mary gave Hamleys the Royal Warrant! Even being bombed five times during World War II did not stop Hamleys. Wearing tin hats, staff served at the shop entrance, rushing in to collect the toys then handing them over at the door.
The Festival of Britain in 1951 brought a Grand Doll’s Salon as well as a vast model railway to amaze children –and their mothers and fathers. When she came to the throne, Queen Elizabeth II showed she still remembered the toys her grandmother had given her. She in turn gave Hamleys toys to her own children. In 1955, her Majesty honoured Walter Lines with a second Royal Warrant as a ‘Toys and Sports Merchant’. But it was the children’s smiles that truly rewarded Walter Lines and his staff.
Arriving back to the present, we find Hamleys in its famous location at 188-196 Regent Street, London, England. Step over the threshold and you enter a world of joy and wonder. Over the squeaking, bleeping, whizzing and chiming of toys, you hear children laughing excitedly as they goggle at the sheer choice over seven floors of toys and games.
The familiar sound of children cheering and giggling would be heard in Central Square now that Hamleys is opening in the Philippines. A second toy shop in the country is set to open next year to bring smiles and laughter to more Filipino children.
From over 250 years ago, the toys may have changed, but the same delighted faces will be seen on anyone who enter the Hamleys toy shop –whether in Regent Street, Central Square or other parts of the world.
In the Philippines, Hamleys is exclusively distributed by Stores Specialists, Inc. (SSI) – a member of the SSI Group – and will open at Central Square on December 20, 2014.