Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Product test: The London Children's Map

Being booksellers with a young family, we officially 'don't get out much' so it was nice this weekend, with the shop closed Monday (more on that below) to have the opportunity to take the boys on a big trip to London.

We have lots of activity books for kids in the shop, but we rarely get the chance to test them out. Last year we started stocking the brilliant London Children's Map from Guy Fox, and it's been a big hit with customers. Alex and I decided we were going to put it to the test - with a trip by train and underground to the Science Museum.

At the risk of this turning into a "what we did on our holiday" post, there were a number of firsts taking place during the trip: first trip on a train (Alex that is, not me), first trip to London (ditto), first trip on the Underground, and finally - first trip to the Science Museum (I'd last been there aged 7, as far as I could remember).

The London Children's Map is a simplified map of London, with all the major sites on both sides and (this is the big exciting bit) a sheet of stickers so that you can record all the fun things you did on any trip to London.

Here's Alex looking suitably excited on the train with his stickers:

And here's the map (Alex was in top demonstrator mode at this point - this didn't last once we arrived at Paddington):

Anyway, we had a fantastic time in London (despite me coming down with a healthy whack of man-flu as the day wore on which left me sniffling and grumpy the rest of the bank holiday).

Just in case there's any doubt, the Science Museum was utterly brilliant. It's debatable who had the more fun out of me, Alex and his Grandad (who was there as well).

They've got this water feature in the basement called "The Garden" for 3-6 year-olds which is great fun, and loads of hands-on stuff for youngsters throughout the building (I would like to shake the hand of the genius who designed the device that allows kids to fill baskets and ferris wheels with split-lentils and have the kids haul them up and drop them down chutes all over themselves to much screaming - excellent).

Here's what the map looked like once we'd stuck all the stickers on at the end of the day:

Before you ask, Guy Fox didn't pay us for this review - we just love the company and their products. But this is the opportunity to test the map - and it passed with flying colours!

I had this nagging thought the whole of the Bank Holiday that perhaps we should be opening on a Bank Holiday Monday, especially now that the weather is getting better. In fact, perhaps we should be opening on a Sunday too. I guess it comes down to whether or not we think we can offer something compelling on a Sunday (coffee and croissants?) which would make people seek us out. It's a tricky one - I know some independents open on a Sunday, but...what to do?

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