Teacher shows starting a business really is child's play after setting up The Toy Loan Company

As well as helping your pocket, the enterprise also helps the environment.

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A teacher turned entrepreneur has set up his own toy loans company after seeing how quickly toys were being discarded and consigned to the cupboard by his own children.

David Riley set up The Toy Loan Company in July 2023 after moving home and realising how many toys his two children owned but never played with. After setting aside a toy box each month filled with different toys that had been in storage, he was amazed by how keen his children were to play with their old toys once again and inspiration struck.

David Riley with some of the items in the toy boxes.David Riley with some of the items in the toy boxes.
David Riley with some of the items in the toy boxes.
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David said: “When we were moving home, we noticed that the majority of their toys were just sitting in cupboards, drawers and storage boxes and were never being used.

“To make more use of them we decided to buy a storage box and pull out old toys which they could start playing with again.

“Then, once they got bored of them again, we would just replace the toys with more old ones that would keep them entertained.

"More often than not, they got more enjoyment out of cheaper, older toys than their expensive ones. They just wanted something different to play with all the time.

"That was when I realised we were really on to something.”

David Riley was inspired by his own children to set up the business.David Riley was inspired by his own children to set up the business.
David Riley was inspired by his own children to set up the business.
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Inspired by their experience, David began looking into how he could turn the concept into a business, leading to the launch of The Toy Loan Company. Offering a wide range of new and used toys for children of all ages, the subscription service ranges from £20 to £30 per box of toys each month.

Parents subscribing to the service can also swap some of their children's 'old toys' for new ones, with the donated toys then re-gifted to other families.

As well as saving parents money on having to purchase brand new toys which children may often lose interest in after a relatively short period of time, the initiative also reduces waste and potential carbon emissions.

David added: “It's essentially a toy subscription service. Customers simply pay a monthly subscription and in turn they receive a new box of toys based on their individual interests.

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“Parents tell us what their child’s interests are and their age, and they will then receive a new box of dinosaurs, diggers, dolls or superhero figures, whatever it may be, each and every month.

“We also sell one-off gift boxes too, which are popular for birthdays and Christmas and are perfect for those who know a child’s interests but often struggle to find the perfect gift.

“The entire model is a lot cheaper than having to buy brand new toys every other month and hugely reduces toy waste, so it’s having a real positive impact on people and the planet.

"The goal now is just to get more families on board.”

Prior to launching the initiative, David received free business support from the North East BIC and began working with a business adviser to perfect his business plan.

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David said: “Having no experience of running a business, the BIC made the entire process seamless and talked me through everything I needed to know. “They also helped me draft and perfect my business plan and make sure it was the right avenue for me to go down. They’ve been a huge help.”

Business adviser Hina Joshi has supported David on his journey.

She said: "The Toy Loan Company is providing an affordable, easier way for parents to buy toys for their children while also helping to tackle the ever-growing issue of waste within the manufacture of fast consumer moving goods.

“It’s a really impressive business and we would like to wish him all the best for the future.”

Go to The Toy Loan Company website to find out more about the service and to sign up for a subscription.

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