“Am I in the right place for the Dino trail?” asks a customer to Weasel and Bug, the new toy shop on Watergate street.
Founded by St Helens based Katie Jones, the store sells traditional wooden toys, clothes and more. Before the shop Katie worked as an RNLD (registered nurse for learning disability) and also worked in a home for people with mental health problems. After the birth of her daughter she decided to open up a shop selling quality wooden toys, with the philosophy that “that toys should be powered by children not batteries. Plastic toys are thrown away and nothing is kept for future generations.”
The shop stocks toys from many UK based suppliers. These range from Ragtail, a luxury rag doll company, all with hand finishing to Orange Tree Toys and others. One of the shop’s most popular ranges is Velcro fixed wooden toys which children can pretend to chop. “We even have wooden sushi!”
“Weasel and the Bug” started out on facebook originally, and then moved into Chester market with a physical stall.
“We wanted to come to Chester because its a nice family area, there’s culture and things to do and the people are lovely.”
After looking at a few local markets, Chester was the preferred option. “We had good fun there, it did alright, but its no secret that the market is quieter than the rest of Chester, which is sad because its a really fantastic place..”
After the indoor market , Weasel and the Bug traded on the farmers market followed by the Christmas market. Katie praises the Christmas market saying it was well organised and promoted , but “very cold!”
After securing a business loan and support from her local business chambers, Katie signed the lease on the premises on Watergate street (formerly an Ecig store). She is happy to be part of the community of independent shops on Watergate Street, which apart from Costa has few chain stores. The shop with its low wooden beams is “full of character” she says.
“Everybody is really lovely..Moor Hall antiques, EVA, Corks Out.. The Town Crier has been in to welcome us and Watergate deli bought cakes in to welcome us!” Katie also praises the CH1 bid group for their support saying that “90% of the people make a purchase after coming in to see the dinosaur trail”
On the challenges of running a small business Katie says, “if you love something and you have the passion for it, its not hard! There’s pressure but its nice to come to work. The business rates could be better, but come April next year we won’t have business rates to pay. The council and the government have done something about it. As for rents, I’ve got a good shop in Chester city centre and you expect a premium for it. My landlord is lovely .
“We are more than a shop, we have a Read and Rhyme session every Wednesday from 10.30 for all ages of children!” Katie says children are welcome to play in the shop and parents can relax with a cup of tea.
Weasel and the Bug are at 19 Watergate street and trade from 10-5.