Our Story…so far!
Whirligig Toys was founded by Peter Allinson in 2012. Peter describes himself officially as a full time toy researcher, and unofficially as the company’s ‘Big Kid’!
Originally a primary school teacher, Peter has been a life long maker and crafter and can often be found surrounded by balls of wool, great fabrics, bits of wood or playing a game. Peter found that most toy shops he visited seemed to stop at pre-school age, with little to buy for his nieces and nephews who were all 6+.
Whirligig is his solution – creative toys for children of all ages who love to make things and get involved!
And the name?
For those of you who remember Brighton in the 1970s, this is the Brighton Sputnik which lived on the seafront between the piers. Peter and his dad always called it the ‘Whirligig’ – so the shops are named after Peter’s dad, Jeffrey.
Whirligig Toys started out in Brighton, and has grown across the South East. Our award-winning shops aim to be different by design and are full of our wonderful discoveries.
Our online shop also features many of our favourite toys and we now sell worldwide.
Whirligig Toys was the first toyshop in the UK to be recognised by Let Toys Be Toys, a wonderful campaign that promotes gender neutral toys. We’ve gone on to win many other awards and are very proud to be different in our industry and stand out for who we are.
And this is our friend, Whirli The Robot – our company mascot. You’ll spot him in each shop, crocheted by the owner, Peter. Whirli gets into all sorts of mischief and is the instigator of many of the fun things that happen in the shops!
Peter Allinson at the House of Commons in November 2018 with our commendation as one of the UK’s top 25 independent retail shops.
Ruth George MP, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Small Shops, told those attending that she was delighted to “celebrate the creativity you bring to your businesses and the contribution you make to your communities. Strong independent retailers bring people into town centres.”
“Being shortlisted for the Best Small Shops competition is such an honour,” says Peter. “We were delighted to be recognised as a retailer who is making a difference on the high street and giving our customers an excellent experience. The small shops in Brighton, and across the country, contain so much innovation. They are run by passionate people who really know what they are talking about and who provide a stimulating environment where people love to shop. Whirligig is all about giving children memorable experiences through toys and play. We love what we do and our customers really respond to this. It’s great to have support from our local MP and many others from across parliament. We think this has been a great initiative and we were proud to be involved.”
Brighton Science Festival 2018
Whirligig was delighted to take part in the Science Festival, partnering with our friends at Timberkits to create automata workshops which the children really enjoyed. We introduced them to the Cams and Linkages kits which generated so many ideas!
A great day out that we hope to repeat again soon.
Let Toys Be Toys Award 2018
Whirligig represented the toy industry at the Mayor of London’s Equal Play Day in October 2018, discussing and debating the way we present toys to children. We met up with our friends from the Let Toys Be Toys Campaign who gave us our new award – the first multi site retailer to receive the award for all our shops. This short film tells you more about how we work.
And we have a great team!
We’re all people who love toys and have great fun making up the samples – that is why we know so much about them when you are shopping!
And our customers seem to like us too!
We are very proud of our reviews and your involvement in our story.
“Found this shop on a visit to Brighton in Summer and have just ordered and received lots of Christmas presents for friends children. Website was clear, easy and straightforward to use, very speedy service and all items were very well packed and look great – thank you so much, we will definitely use you again!”
“Creative toys will get your kids’ brains active. Love this place for kids’ birthday gifts.”
“The toys are a mixture of nostalgic,crafty, fun,educational, but mostly NOT PLASTIC and not the kind of thing you will find discarded under your sofa a few weeks later, thank goodness, and the prices are competitive ranging from a few pounds to a few tens of pounds for something extra special.”
“At last, a toy shop that sells proper toys and staff that love what they sell!!!”
“When we visited they had the most amazing little gems! Everything was unique! If you looking for that special little something for that little one this is a definite must visit!”
“Came in today to your Chichester shop with my mum and little daughter. Lovely shop and shall be making regular purchases. Such lovely imaginative and retro toys. Perfect.”
“I LOVE the Chichester shop! It never disappoints. The staff couldn’t be more helpful. As a man not in to shopping, this is always a positive experience.”
“I highly recommend Whirligig Toys as a great shopping experience.”