When you speak to Joe Hand, owner of Leicester Vintage and Old Toy Shop, it’s clear that he’s
a man who’s living the dream – a passionate vintage toy enthusiast, who’s running a quirky, charming and colourful business right in the heart of the city.
He spends his days scouring the nation (and the internet) in search of the rarest, most beloved vintage toys to sell at his store, alongside fellow enthusiast, Gavin Pate.
Stepping into their shop, is like stepping into a time warp – a warm hub of vintage nostalgia, and the pair are well known, not only in the city, but also across the wider toy collecting community, thanks to their successful Youtube channel.
The channel, which currently boasts 10K subscribers, features a popular segment called ‘Toy Shop on Tour’. It sees Joe and Gavin take a riveting road trip across Europe, sourcing a wealth of treasured toys as they go.
“We all collect for different reasons, but the reasons are all based loosely around nostalgia, and that’s what the show’s about,” explained Mr Hand, who has been running Leicester Vintage & Old Toy Shop since 2008.
“It’s about two friends going out – looking at toys they love, and buying as many as they can. It’s a real passion project, and great fun!”
‘Toy Shop on Tour’ is filmed by Matt Holt of Leicester’s Spoon Jar Films, who is described as an “invaluable member” of the toy loving team.
In a recent ‘Collector Special’ episode, the trio even got the chance to meet Jonathan Ross – a celebrity toy enthusiast, who was keen to share his impressive collection with them down in London.
“His toys were amazing, and he was amazing,” said Mr Hand of the experience.
“We thought there would be an entourage, but no, it was just Jonathan – just him being himself, really getting his nerd on and talking about stuff that he loves!
“He made us a lovely cup of coffee, he was very down to earth, very easy to talk to. He spent four and a half hours with us – just really generous with his time and his knowledge. It was a really nice lifetime experience,” he went on to reveal.
“He was so excited to be able to talk toys, to people that perhaps understood it. It was difficult to stop him! He was just on a roll of showing off his collection, which was absolutely epic.”
Asked to sum up the experience of filming with Jonathan, Joe said: “It was a privilege to be there and film with him, it really was. There were toys he had that I’d never seen before, and when you’ve seen as many toys as I have, that’s an amazing thing in itself!”
Leicester Vintage & Old Toy Shop can be found on East Bond Street, just behind the Highcross.
To find out more, visit the shop’s Youtube channel at: www.youtube.com/@leicestervintagetoyshop
By Louise Steel