An iconic piece of British retail lands on Malaysian shores this Christmas with the arrival of South East Asia’s first Hamleys Toy Store on November 30, 2013 at 1-Utama Mall in the Klang Valley.
Thanks to Bag of Love and EverQuest Events, I was invited to an intimate bloggers/ media ‘tete-a-tete’ with one of the Directors of GRV Toy Store (the Hamleys franchise holder for Malaysia & Singapore), Mr. Kim Manaf, who was on hand to talk about Hamleys first foray into Malaysia.
As luck would have it, I was also able to kill two birds with the one stone on this occasion and the gathering turned into a real-life Spot-the-Blogger fest.
I crossed paths, for the first time in flesh & blood, with some of my favourite blogs in town – Shopaholics Anonymous (who happens to be my favourite beauty lab rat of all time because she tries stuff so I don’t have to), Sharonsree, Pen My Blog, Shades of Splendour, Winter Blossoms and even the inimitable Plus Size Kitten (aka Mama Butterfly of Butterfly Bloggers fame)!! A highlight was also meeting Mi Mi (Founder of Bag of Love) for the first time and yes, she really is as lovely and gorgeous in person as she appears in the magazines.
I also managed to spot some other beautiful beauty bloggers; Claudine from Little Eyes of Mine, Lizz Chloe, Seven2SevenMom,and Bell. Admittedly, I was a little starstruck by this gaggle of blogging beauties, many of whom I’ve been blog stalking for as long as I’ve been obsessed with BB cream so yes, it was a big and beautiful blogging day for yours truly. I was hoping to catch up with blogger/ photographer Laura G. Ashley who writes the most dreamy beauty/ photo blog but missed her because of an appointment 😦
Anyway, aside from this gloriously giggly ‘reunion’ of blogging beauties I had never until this day met, we were all here for the main event which was to gather intelligence on this mega concept toy store to hit this town by next week.
Now, if you haven’t heard of Hamleys then you’re in for a quite a ‘toy story’ and if you have been lucky enough to browse a Hamleys abroad before then you’ll be excited to know that Malaysians can expect a red letter Hamleys experience right down to the iconic pillar box red Double Decker London bus that decks out every Hamleys store in the world so yes, the idea is that Hamleys will be an amazing destination for our toy shopping right here in Kuala Lumpur.
As Hamleys opens its doors here in Malaysia for the first time ever, you would be forgiven for thinking you had stumbled into Santa’s own workshop and indeed it seems that Hamleys is no ordinary toy shop but a stupendous gallery of gamely delights designed to appeal to the young and the young-at-heart.
Mr. Manaf kindly shared the company’s plans for Hamleys here in Malaysia and enthusiastically declared that no expense has been spared to recreate the uniquely Hamleys toy shop experience in our sunny climes. GRV is also planning on spreading its wings and adding more Hamleys outlets around other parts of Malaysia and Singapore so expect another Hamleys store at a top mall near you soon.
This bit of news had me all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed because Hamleys, everyone assures me, is a sight to behold. Imagine row upon row of sparkling new toys on more displays than your eyes can take in, and the best part if all – toys for customers to try before they buy!
I love it already because I am one of those touchy-feely types who simply adores having my paws all over the loot!
According to Mr. Manaf, one of the signature experiences of any visit to Hamleys in London is the amazing plethora of demo toys for customers to play with and this will be a feature available at Hamleys right here in Malaysia too.
In addition to this, there will be an army of Hamleys toy associates on hand daily to amuse and delight customers with interactive toy demonstrations so there should never be a dull moment for young and old alike.
Indeed, Hamleys Toys is a retail experience of a rare vintage. Standing at more than two and a half centuries old, yes that’s 250 in human years, this toy shop is not only the great, great, great granddaddy of toy shops but a seasoned and much-loved British retail brand that is almost as old as the trees.
For you trivia buffs, Hamleys is even older than Harrods and I thought Harrods was old but apparently the ‘Big H’ was only founded a good 70-odd years later in 1834 so it’s a baby compared with Old Hamleys.
The first Hamleys store opened in 1760 by William Hamley and has to the present day expanded to 30 stores around the world in as many as twelve countries.
And what, you might ask, makes Hamleys stand out from all the other toy shops around town?
Aside from being laden in toys from floor to ceiling, Mr. Manaf promises a complete visual and tactile experience in a store that will be equipped with some amazing play centers that have been designed so customers can see and use their toys in action.
These play areas will include a shooting gallery for toy guns, a real wet tub to bobble bath time toys in, a landing pad and wall for scaling remote-control helicopters as well as a party room for private bookings, storytelling sessions and of course, free cuddles and plenty of photo-ops with the life-sized resident Hamleys Bear mascot and his darling sister, Hattie Bear.
As with all Hamleys stores, there will be the usual suspects from Mattel, Nerf, Marvel and Playskool, and all other the major toy brands we expect from a general toy store but what’s extra about the product range at each Hamleys store is that it will also include Hamleys own signature brand of toys and these can only be found exclusively at Hamleys stores around the world and apparently, they’re very, very good.
Notably, Hamleys is extremely fussy about their suppliers and stresses that all their toys adhere to strict global health and safety directives to ensure that the toys stocked at Hamleys will be safe and kind to little hands.
Anyway, if you’re a big toy fan or know some little ones and happen to be around 1-Utama next weekend you can drop in as Hamleys is finally open to public on the last day of this month.
As part of its Grand Opening celebration, Hamleys flagship store at 1-Utama will be presenting the first 500 shoppers with an Angry Bird card game (worth RM20.90), and for Ben 10 fans there will also be a visit from Ben 10 Bloxx. Free popcorn will also be available for visitors on opening day.
Hamleys Flagship Store @ 1-Utama
[Disclaimer: Unless where indicated, all images are via Hamleys website or courtesy of Hamleys Malaysia]