This week we sat down with the fabulous duo behind Bargain Boutique. This sensory toy business was created by Tobias, aged 9, with the assistance of his mum, Laura.
They are hoping to raise enough money to open a penguin sanctuary in the future. But for now, they are working their hardest to keep going and expanding.
They are also offering 10% off your first order (not including shipping) when you mention The Butterfly Patch when ordering.
Details of how to order and get in touch are below. But first, let’s find out a little more about the business!
1. Tell me a bit about yourselves and your business
Laura: I’m Tobias’ mummy, and I help him in the business. He does all the shopping, and we do stalls in the garden. So, Tobias is the sales manager.
But on a day-to-day basis, Tobias does all of the shopping, I do all of the social media side of it, because he’s only 9 so I don’t really want him to be stuck to a phone.
The background behind it – I’ll let Tobias tell you…
Tobias: In lockdown, I used my pocket money to buy some fidget poppers and in 2 weeks I sold 300. So, mummy said here’s your pocket money and I said no no, I want to continue doing this.
All the money goes towards building a penguin sanctuary.
2. So, are penguins your favourite animal?
T: They’re my favourite animal! Some species are endangered and there are lots of different species. Some actually live in Africa and warmer countries.
Some live in colder countries but there are lots of threats to them.
And there are already penguin sanctuaries and like charity shops for penguins, but I don’t want to just donate to that, I want to make sure the job gets done.
3. How has setting up the business gone?
L: It’s literally gone from these fidget poppers which we sold on Facebook and then Tobias turned around and said that he wanted to continue, we were like ‘right okay, let’s set up the page’!
And it’s literally gone from 0 to nearly 2k followers now, it’s unreal!
He’s got probably about 15-20 orders a day. We’re providing a lot of schools and a lot of special needs schools as well. We just have to keep on top of it.
My background is a PA (personal assistant), so I’m quite organised, lu
T: Our biggest order was shipping to America!
L: Yes, and Ireland and Wales!
4. How do you pick the toys you sell?
T: We get them from all over, we look for loads of new things coming out every week, so we try and get new stuff.
But some people are still new to this, they like the fidget poppers - so we still have to get the old stuff.
L: We’ve also joined wholesale toys companies, so I’ll get it up on my page and I’ll be like ‘right you just choose what you think’.
And so far there hasn’t been one thing that he’s chosen that hasn’t been a big hit!
But as Tobias said, some people are still new to this we sometimes hear ‘oh what’s a fidget popper?’.
You really do have to cater for everyone and one of the biggest people we cater for is for autistic children.
We’re really passionate about that, it’s just amazing. So that’s why the range is so big because we’re catering for the trend but also catering for the autistic spectrum.
T: We do the garden stalls because people that are autistic like to see and feel everything.
5. And do you have a favourite from the items you sell?
T: I definitely have a favourite – the reversable octopuses.
L: They’re probably mine as well.
T: They come in so many different sizes and colours and they’ve even got ones which have different eyes, they’re just so cute!
You can also use them to show your emotions.
L: Tobias loves cuddly toys, so the reversable octopuses they’re really good because they show whether you’re happy or sad.
A lot of autistic children can’t actually talk so it just helps the parents know ‘I’m in a good mood’/’I’m in a bad moon’. But Tobias just loves cuddling them!
He’s got reversable penguins as well!
But I also love the timers. The liquid timers, they’re things that you turn upside down and then the liquid slowly moves down.
T: It works because of the density of the water and oil. So, the coloured oils inside, because of the density of the oil and water, the oil moved through the water so it just looks empty with something going through it. It doesn’t even look like there’s any water in there!
It just looks like there’s oil moving around – it’s really clever how it works.
L: Tobias loves science, he wants to be a scientist.
T: I don’t know what I want to do but I know I want to work in science!
6. You mentioned you do garden stalls, what do does look like?
L: It’s crazy! So, I do a lot of the setting up, because it takes about an hour and a half.
Tobias usually does certain bits - so Tobias will do all the fidget poppers, putting all them out and octopuses.
After the set up it’s literally full steam ahead. Sometimes we’ve had a garden stall and we’ve probably had about 150 people.
T: I recommend people things depending on what they’re looking at!
And even the rain doesn’t put us off! Most of the time when we do it for some reason it rains but it doesn’t stop us because we just have the canopy.
L: It’s just fun, it really is. I’m 38 and he’s 9 and I feel like I’ve got a new lease on everything!
Because of the lockdown as well, meeting people - a lot of people have said that the garden stalls are socialising the children again which is just amazing. It’s just fab, it really is.
T: The best part of it is seeing people’s faces when they walk into the garden stalls and see everything.
L: What do they do? They go from normal eyes to…
T: Wide-eyed wonder!
L: We’ve had screams before!
7. And you also travel to car-boot sales?
L: The car-boots are brilliant – they’re so good and for us. It’s about getting out there and the car-boots are huge! So, I love doing the car-boot but Tobias is not so keen on them…
T: I don’t because for the first 2 hours nobody comes and we’re just waiting and then all of the children who wake up at normal times arrive… oh my god it’s too busy, we go from not busy enough to too busy!
L: But the car-boots are great. And the reason why we started doing the garden stall was because we were due to be doing some car-boots and it just kept on raining, so they’ve cancelled.
My partner turned around and said why don’t you just do a garden stall, and I thought this isn’t going to work but it has and it’s crazy!
8. What kind of people do you meet when you’re doing stalls?
T: We have lots of autistic people come but also there are so many people that come to every single car-boot, every single garden stall and they’ll come every single time!
L: And it is a kind of friendship because you get to know their lives and we do get a lot of the same people.
A lot of the people we find, me especially because I’m the one that does the messages, is that people want to talk, they want to tell you their story.
So, for me, it’s opened up my eyes massively to what’s actually out there and the struggles that people actually have.
But what we’ve noticed as Tobias’ parents is that because of this business, his confidence has skyrocketed!
Especially the garden stalls, because when he’s here, he’s in his own environment- very relaxed. His confidence has really improved.
So that in itself for us is such a great achievement.
9. And what are your hopes for the future of the business?
T: We’re hoping to ship to other countries and get a lot more people in our business. We’re hoping to get a warehouse and get the penguin sanctuary!
L: I think it’s about being on top of everything as well.
I do a lot of research, researching what things children want and what’s popular on TikTok. I think it’s about being really on top of the game, not just ‘we’re selling some fidget poppers’.
This is his business so we’re going to do everything in our power to ensure this continues because there’s no reason why it shouldn’t.
Also taking advice from our customers. A Lot of our customers say ‘oh do you sell this?’, ‘ no but we can get that for you!’ and it’s just a two way kind of relationship.
Just to carry on as we’re going, and Tobias wants us to get even bigger!
T: To the moon!
10. Have you got a message to our parents and what’s the best way to find you?
T: Id say everything you get from here goes towards the penguins!
L: You get a service with us, it’s not like ordering something from amazon.
T: You get to see, you get to feel the toys.
L: And it’s a more personal service for sensory and fidget toys.
It’s not just oh can I order this – we find out about the children; we find out loads. You become part of them.
The best way to find us is via Facebook. From the page, just message or WhatsApp us.
Getting to sit down with Tobias and Laura was really fantastic, it’s amazing seeing a small business thrive, especially during such a difficult time. We wish them the best of luck in the future!
Mention The Butterfly Patch and receive 10% off your first order! (This doesn’t include shipping).
Are you a small business? We’d love to sit down and chat with you!
Email email@example.com or leave a comment below to get in touch!
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