A look inside Gravesend’s Nuxley Toys

PUBLISHED: 11:21 16 July 2012

Jean Ray and son Richard who run Nuxley Toys

Jean Ray and son Richard who run Nuxley Toys


For people who complain they don’t make toys like they used to a trip to Gravesend could change their mind.

From dolls houses to jigsaws, Nuxley Toys stocks them all and after four decades in the business it is still going strong.

Jean Ray, founded Nuxley in 1976 and although shops in Belvedere, Bexleyheath and Welling closed, the shop in Milton Road continues to do good business.

She runs the family business with her husband David and her son Michael. The Ray family employ just one member of staff from outside to keep the business ticking over.

The 72-year-old said: “We’ve been successful because we’re a family run store.

“We don’t pass the buck, we don’t belong to any syndicates and we don’t have a press office. If something goes wrong we’re to blame and we try and give the best customer service possible!

“This makes customers come back. You’d be amazed at the number of young men who come in and comment on the smell of the shop and how soothing it is.”

The shop got its name from Nuxley Road in Belvedere, where the first store was built almost four decades ago.

Mrs Ray, who lives in Crockenhill, Swanley, thinks the rise in demand for electronic games has helped the demise of the traditional toys which Nuxley stocks.

She commented: “We’ve always offered cut price traditional toys and I think there will always be a place for them in the market.

“Over the years our bestsellers have included Star Wars, Barbies, dolls houses and a variety of fancy dress outfits.

“But the real big ones at the moment are jigsaws, and not just for children. Adult jigsaws have become very big business and they currently make up about one sixth of the shop.”

Although resisting the urge to modernise against strong corporations in the market such as Argos and Toys R Us, they have an eBay online shop where they sell jigsaws, dolls houses and other items.

It was with great disappointment that the Welling shop closed in March, both for Mrs Ray and her customers. She has commented how much she enjoyed the Bellegrove site, but parking and delivery problems meant the store had to bow to the inevitable.

This made four staff redundant, one of whom had been working in the shop for more than 30 years.

But Mrs Ray is not worried about the same situation arising in Gravesend. “The problem with the Bexley stores were rising rent and parking problems, which made it hard to receive deliveries and even harder for customers to park. We had to be there by 6am to receive deliveries, which became increasingly hard to do as I reached my seventies!

“Gravesend will continue going strong. We’ve got a great client base and we over something most toy stores don’t.”

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