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Being in business is far from child’s play and friends and business partners at Toy Toon on Elgin High Street overwhelmed with public reaction to social media appeal


By Chris Saunderson

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IF you think being in business is child’s play then think again.

Livi gives Chris a hand as they head to the building site.
Livi gives Chris a hand as they head to the building site.

Covid and the cost-of-living crisis have been the biggest challenges in recent years to hit all sizes of businesses in Moray.

Small businesses in particular can feel the pressure more with fluctuating trading conditions impacting footfall.

Toy Toon is an interactive children’s play cafe in Elgin which was opened in September 2022 by lifelong friends and mums Katy Larkworthy and Jacqueline Main.

Emma has fun at the flower shop.
Emma has fun at the flower shop.

The former nurse and primary school teacher created a bespoke play centre based on local landmarks and themes.

It has built up a good customer base but in May the business experienced its wort month since opening when footfall dropped off significantly.

Katy Larkworthy and Jacqueline Main loves being in business but admit it has been tough.
Katy Larkworthy and Jacqueline Main loves being in business but admit it has been tough.

That prompted Katy and Jacqueline to put out a heartfelt message on social media for people to use their cafe or there was a very real risk of it closing.

“May was a really quiet month, quite unprecedented and we had hardly anybody through the door,” said Katy.

“We were honest and said if it carried on that way we wouldn’t be able to stay open.”

Added Jacqueline: “We would really love to be able to employ staff and offer work opportunities for people.”

The pair were blown away by the response from people following their post and that has shown them that their “shop has a big heart”.

“Business is still new to us and we are learning as we go. We have a lot of great fun with our customers and there is a real sense of community,” said Katy.

Reach for the stars. Chris has fun with Livi in the Elgin Space Station.
Reach for the stars. Chris has fun with Livi in the Elgin Space Station.

They have had customers travelling from as far afield as Aberdeen and the Black Isle.

They have had lots of bookings, with some people even booking birthday parties a year in advance.

Katy said: “We have had hundreds of messages and emails, and people launching hugs at us. So many people saying ‘we can’t lose Toy Toon’ and that it is needed.

“Business Gateway have been absolutely fantastic and a really good support.”

Time for a rest after a fun session with Jacqueline and Katy's children.
Time for a rest after a fun session with Jacqueline and Katy's children.

They said the cost of premises and business rates make it hard for business owners in the centre of Elgin.

“We designed this place ourselves and got AM Joinery to do the work,” said Jacqueline, “we have invested five figures in the business.”

For now, the future looks bright for Toy Toon and the business partners, fiends and mums are determined to keep working hard to provide a unique experience for children and their parents.


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