Hawkin's Bazaar is a British novelty gift and toy shop chain based in Beccles, England. Hawkin's Bazaar offers a range of unusual toys, gifts, gadgets and curiosities. They source out-of-the-ordinary products and to offer something different, a range of toys and gifts that will appeal to many ages and tastes.
What started off as a local toy shop at the Hawk Inn (hence the name Hawkin), became a niche mail order company in 1973, and since then has developed into a supplier of "things you thought had gone forever and things you never even knew existed". (Wikipedia)
On the 30th December 2011, Tobar Group who own Hawkin's Bazaar, entered administration, threatening the loss of jobs for 380 staff across 65 stores and their head office. The Group appointed Zolfo Cooper to act on its behalf. Hawkin's Bazaar (and indeed the Tobar Group) intends to keep trading until a buyer is found.
---BBC News - 7 January 2012---
'The Tobar Group, which employs 380 staff across a network of 65 stores, went into administration last month.
It was initially announced that 40 retail units and six concession stores were to close, with the loss of 302 jobs.
Another 14 will now shut, with the loss of 123 employees. Jobs are also going at the firm's Suffolk head office.
Joint administrators Zolfo Cooper said the latest closures would happen with "immediate effect".
Peter Saville, from Zolfo Cooper, said in a statement: "Despite today's regrettable decision regarding the additional store closures and redundancies, we remain hopeful of achieving a sale of the underlying business.
"We will be looking to work with potential interested parties during the course of next week with a view to identifying the best possible outcome for creditors and other stakeholders."
Retail Week 17 January, 2012 By Tiffany Holland
'A buyer is close to acquiring gift and toy retailer Hawkins Bazaar and its wholesale parent company Tobar Group, it is understood.'
---What They Stock---
I always loved looking at their catalogues before I began using their website and they alwasy have a great selection of quirky items.
Their website lists the following categories:
* fun toys
* unusual presents
* unusual party
* kids crafts
* cheeky gifts for adults
The Administrators are trying to keep it as a going concern so the website is still up and running - but no-one knows for how long.
Orders have been placed with them since the Administrators took over and as far as I know these have all been honoured - I received an order today so I have personal experience of that.
Standard Delivery - is within 5-9 working days, a postage is £3.50 on all UK orders.
I have always loved Hawkin's Bazaar catalogues sicne I first found them. When my sons were young I always ordered novelties for them for Christmas - and had to hide the catalogues as I knew they would want 'everything' out of them!
Hawkins specialise in things that could go in a Christmas stocking, quirky gifts and also retro toys - this year they even had Roland Rat mugs - from way back in the 1980s. They also do books (which I had for my sister) cuddly toys, games, crafting items and some adult stuff - they did have dog poo item this year which had a Christmas hat on -yuck!
Last autumn son and girlfriend came home to tell me they had found a super shop in our local town - Hawkin's Bazaar had opened and they had spent ages in there - they were most surprised when I said I'd been ordering from them for years.
Even with the website I also still liked to receive a catalogue as I found it easier and nicer to browse through.
I have never been into a shop but have had good service both ordering firt by mial order and later through the website.
The order I received today was part of a sale they had - 4 items for £10 - great value.
I do hope they can survive this crisis.
5 - as I love their items and they do give good service.
---Would I Recommend?---
Difficult one this. Yes I would recommend - I have ordered since they went into Administration and received my goods as expected - however no-one can say if this will continue - so it is 'buyer beware'.
---Current Email Reply From Website---
'Thank you for your email, it is with regret that I have to inform you that Hawkin's Bazaar went into administration on the 30th December, since then we have seen an increase in the number of the emails received and because of the changes created by the administration a delay in the time taken to respond to these emails. Please accept my apologies for this and we are working hard to ensure we reply as quickly as we can.
If your email is regarding the return of an item purchased from us or a delay in receiving an item please refer to the answers below, for any other type of enquiry we will get back to you as quickly as possible:-
Items bought from a shop which needs to be returned and your local shop has now closed.
Under the rules of the administration we are unable to offer refunds but we can still process an exchange or substitution. We will email you back with an account number and confirmation. Please do not chase we will process these as quickly as we can.
Items bought from a shop or mail order which need to be returned and your local shop remains open.
If possible, please return this to your local shop and an exchange or substitution can be issued.
Any Items brought through Mail Order
If you have received a product that is broken or defective as above we cannot offer a refund but can offer an exchange or substitution! We will email you back with confirmation.
I have placed an Order since Christmas and it has still not been received
The administration has created delays in the dispatch of some orders but we are hoping to get everything up to date by this Friday the 13th January. Please accept our apologies for the delay.
Outstanding personalised items
We will be writing to you all very soon to explain the situation regarding these orders.
Outstanding Hawkins Bazaar Shop Gift Vouchers
These currently can only be redeemed in our stores, a list of those remaining open currently is on our website, please click here to go to the list.
Customer Services Manager
Hawkin's Bazaar is a high-street store also available online and via catalogue, which sells a range of toys and gadgets, with a retro feel. It's strongly branded with bright yellows and greens. I've only used the high-street stores, so this review will only deal with that part of the Hawkins shopping experience :).
They began as a small local toy shop based in the Hawk Inn (from which it took the name Hawkin), before developing into a mail order company in 1973. From there it has gone from strength to strength, with over a hundred shops all over the UK.
The store I visit most often (Plymouth) is pleasantly arranged with plenty of space to move around and look at the products. You could easily take a pushchair or wheelchair in and be able to manouevre without stress. The store is popular and can get very busy at peak-times such as Christmas, but has enough floor space in its lay-out not to become too oppressive.
The staff are helpful and available, although they have a habit of offering me a basket when I'm just browsing or when I visibly have one small item, which makes me feel slightly pressured. But if you ask for help, their product knowledge is good and they can help you find what you're looking for quickly and easily.
The stores have table-top areas where toys can be demonstrated and you can try them out yourself. You're at liberty to poke and prod and play with most of the unboxed toys and gadgets on display without feeling you're about to get thrown out of the shop or anything! (It's great compared to shops such as Toys R Us where pretty much everything is boxed up on shelves and the closest you can get to testing out the toys is to watch promotional videos on screens in-store). They also have their walking toys such as robot rabbits and puppies wandering the store (with balloons attached to them so you don't trip over them).
They sell a range of toys which adults will recognise from their own childhoods and want to introduce their children to or possibly buy for themselves to relive their youth (like spinning tops & space-hoppers), as well as more modern ones (such as interactive monkeys and remote control cockroaches). You can find characters from old children's tv series in one form or another: BagPuss as a talking soft-toy, Morph as a make-your-own set in modelling clay. So there's a lot to appeal to my generation's nostalgia and plenty for the younger generation too.
Hawkins sell small party-bag or stocking filler toys in one section, varying in price between about 50p to £2. On their shelves, they have some traditional board games, puzzles and toys as well as books on how to do things like origami or cat's cradle. There are science toys, magic sets and make-and-do art and crafts. They also have humorous books (such as "Strangest Pubs in Britain" or "How to Smoke in Public without being Seen") as well as gadgets for the office or home like hanging alarm clocks or novelty money boxes. Its products are often things you wouldn't find anywhere else, and Hawkins prides itself on this. Hawkin's Bazaar describes itself as offering "a unique and extensive range of unusual toys, gifts, gadgets and curiosities. We are not just another toy-shop, or indeed just another mail-order company. We work hard to source out-of-the-ordinary products and to offer something different, a range of toys and gifts that will appeal to many ages and tastes." They boast their products are "things you thought had gone forever and things you never even knew existed".
The one thing I find problematic about the shop is the adult section where the products get a bit rude, like willy wigs and phallic cork-screws. It's not that I'm a terrible prude (I hope!) but it's a shop that the children love to go to and that corner of the shop is just not child-friendly. It seems an odd blend to have very child-centred things alongside hen & stag-night type doohickies.
We've bought some great unusual toys from Hawkin's Bazaar, but they haven't always been the best quality or lasted as long as we hoped.
For Christmas I bought my son their £15 table football game, but some of its bits were missing and the screws were the wrong size or didn't have the correct holes drilled for them when putting it together. The tool provided with it was an allan key cum screwdriver, but the screwdriver end didn't fit the screws that came with the game, which was bizarre and enraging. OK, it wasn't a massively expensive toy, but it shouldn't be asking too much to get all the bits and have them in the right places, surely? I also bought a colour changing nightlight/clock from them a while back, which stopped working properly after a month. So some of their gadgets are great ideas - I really liked the combination of colour-changing nightlight and clock, which was to help my son feel secure at night and help him tell the time so he knew when it was too early to get up (hopefully!) - but the quality just wasn't there.
All in all, it's always fun to look round Hawkin's, but keep your receipts!
Hawkins Bazaar is a chain of toy shops selling everything you need or want when it comes to little toys! I have only been in the shop once (and bumped into some girls in their 20's giggling over the range of "poo" items!) but have frequently used their online store and read their catalogue which they sent through.
They have a range of toys from pocket money (perfect fors stocking fillers) to nostalgic (anyone remember those toy red phones from the 80's), Christmas (I couldn't resist the wind up racing brussel sprout crackers) to a more grown up/slightly cheeky range. I commonly use the pocket money range and the quality is quite good but I do tend to look at it and think "is that it for my £15?". Their gifts range from 25p to about £45.
Postage from their online site is £4.99 how ever there is normally a free postage code (see my review on hotukdeals for details on how to find one) and you can get a % back via quidco (again I've done a review)-without the code I wouldn't bother.
This site/store is great if you want a few little bits as stocking fillers, and also for unusual gifts but do expect to spend more than you were planning!
The onslaught of Christmas mail shots is heralded by the arrival of Hawkins Bazaar. Its always struck me that a Freudian slip or felleistungeen is in order as Hawkins Bizarre would be a more apt name.
The catalogues tag line reads "because lifes too serious" well perhaps it is but that doesn't mean the populace wants bombarding with expensive tat of the variety that crams the current catalogues 124 pages. Its addictive reading of the sort that you keep returning to again and again just for a giggle. I'm rather fortunate in being able to visit their tiny Chester high street shop saving me spending a fortune on postage (currently £4.99 or £9.99 for their express service) to purchase one or two inexpensive novelty stocking fillers.
The items within the catalogue are all quirky, mostly amusing but they don't really have any long term value. In principle I can see it being rather hilarious to proffer a box of "Bean Boozled" Jelly Beans to the outlaws at Christmas for granny to discover the peach one is actually "rotten egg" flavour whilst other seemingly innocuous looking jelly beans are vomit flavoured. Funny on paper not so funny in reality. A classic case of it seemed like a good idea at the time but it really wasn't.
Their only redeeming grace is once in a while you come across something that makes you go wow. Adult sized retro hoppers fab idea at £12.99 but a pack of two with horse shaped covers and jockey hats for £29.99? Great for a stag night perhaps.
That pretty much sums up the whole Hawkins Bazaar experience. Great on paper but in reality a one use wonder best consigned to the back of the cupboard. Not a place to shop after consumption of alcohol as your impaired judgement may lead to some horrific purchases of the "it seemed like a good idea at the time" variety.
For those who get carried away postage is free with all orders over £55 and if you sign up for their e-mail you'll regularly get money off promotions too.
Hawkin's Bazaar is a shop that has recently started to pop up in more and more city centres and seems to have taken over from the Gadget Shop for offering fantastical toys and games but in my opinion it goes over and above.
The store offers fantastic toys and gadgets at fantastic value. The toys range from a few pence to having a couple of zeros on the end but are all brilliant in their quality. I have been in a couple of these stores with my wife and she simply loves to get her hands on all of the items which thankfully the store are more than happy for you to do.
I have made a few purchases with things like bendy pencils, polystyrene flying dinosaurs and a ball with a mesh that when you squeeze turns into a weird and wonderful looking ooze ball.
The staff are excellent and don't bother you whilst you browse but will help you with any questions you have. I have also seen the staff put stuff behind the till for people to go in and pick up on their way home which I think is fantastic.
- Excellent staff
- Brilliant range of products
- Excellent value for money
- Nostalgic toys and some brilliant ideas for gifts
- Fun toys as they really should be
- Well made products
This is one of those stores I love to go in for a laugh and there is always something that will catch your eye thanks to the huge variety on offer.
I first discovered this shop last year up the Centre MK and since then I have become addicted. Hawkins Bazaar is a branch of novelty toy shops across the UK, they sell the most crazy unimaginable products from simple toys suitable for children to silly wacky gift ideas ideal for adults. There is also a website for the shop to order online from.
Inside Hawkins Bazaar is Sureal, you look around at every shelf and you see the strangest of objects in all their colours and forms jump into your eyes, it almost reminds me of something from a Roald Dahl book. I have been to many toy and gadget shops, but Hawkins really is like no other. They sell the most insane things, there is not one product I believe someone could not find interesting. I actually popped in yesterday and some of the things I was looking at were pens that make annoying squeaky sounds when written with, a rubber duck that changes colour in the bath, a remote controlled snake, champagne shot glasses, a fish that predicts the future in the palm of your hands, a book for immature people, slinky dog from Toy Story, Miniature golf kits, and jumping spiders...and this is only a handful of all the things they have.
To sum up, Hawkins Bazaar is a brilliant store, it's fun and exciting filled with fantastic products that both children and adults will love and I recommend you check the place out.
I have been in several branches of Hawkins Bizarre and I have been very satisfied with all of them. On every occasion the service of the staff has been brilliant, very friendly, approachable and fun.
I am usually in there because my 3 year old wants to look and it is always child friendly, things to test and instead of grumpy staff saying dont touch, its quite the opposite and he's encouraged to play! Infact its overtaking Early learning centre in his favorite shop list!
The products are generally fun, novelty things -a little out of the ordinary and they have a huge range...old fashioned toys, books, sweets, gadgets, games and jokes and tricks and - thats just naming a few! There really is something for everyone of any age.
For me the best thing is there is a large selection of pocket money bits and bobs for under £2 and they have always been good quality (except for the water snake that burst, although this has happened to ones bought from many places.)
I also like the fact that you can rely on this shop to find something a bit different if you are looking for gift ideas for those who have everything or fun bits for little presents like secret santas etc.
Its hard to find anything negative about this shop really, I have found things slightly cheaper online but for me the fact i can try before I buy & no p&p charges makes up for the slight difference in price.
definitely worth checking out!
50 shops across UK +online store (although there is a £3.95 p&p charge for orders under £50)
Who said toys are just for children? Especially when it comes to Christmas, this is a store I can't resist browsing around. It's like stepping back in time and into the future simultaneously with the different types of toys and novelties in Hawkins, and there's always something to look at.
Hawkins Bazaar started off as a toy shop at the Haw Inn, becoming a 'niche mail order company' in 1973. So since the mid-70s, Hawkins has grown and expanded with over 56 shops across the UK. They describe themselves to be a shop full of 'things you thought had gone fo ever and things you never knew existed', which I think it spot on.
In addition to their stores, a paper catalogue and extensive website are available for your perusal and to order from. The website is presented well, with a fun yet practical appeal, which is easy to navigate and search. Adding items to your basket, which can range between under £1 to over £50, is easy and the process of ordering overall is relatively straight forward. Delivery costs £3.95, though is free for orders over £5. The delivery service is trustworthy and quick, though I still prefer to peruse the store first so I can see things in the flesh, which is much more interesting than simply looking at it on a screen.
There's a good range of gifts, toys, novelties and gadgets, some of which are currently popular and so you would expect in any good toy shop. Others are more unique and unexpected; either things you remember from your childhood that you thought were long gone, or things so strange you didn't think they existed! It's this variety that appeals to such a varied range of different people, small and big people alike, with different tastes. I've never had any funny looks from children when I've been in there excitedly looking through the toys, because there's usually a lot of adults in there doing likewise!
The layout it usually quite neat and tidy, although it has quite a chaotic feel to it sometimes. There's a lot in each store and they can get very busy, especially as peak times such as Christmas. That said, the staff always seem to be very friendly and helpful, so if you have any queries or can't find what you're looking for, they should be able to help you.
The prices are about average and not over-priced in my opinion when compared to other outlets. If they have a sale on, it's definitely worth a look because I've seen some good discounts in there before. It's one of those places that I would recommend you definitely have a look around it you haven't already as you may be pleasantly surprised by what you'll find!
Stuck on ideas to get for a christmas stocking filler the website came up on a search engine. I had already seen the shop in town and knew how good the products were. A site containing all kinds of gifts from the past was ideal for some nostalgic memories to bring back to the elder members of my family. Not to mention newer items as well!
Hawkins Bazaar is a site jam packed with all kinds of goodies ranging from a jim'll fix it soap on a rope to a flying pig! It is set out in an easy to understand set up, each link clearly displayed so you instantly know where to go and what to do! If you have absoloutly no idea where to even start looking there is a list of 20 pages to choose from. Each one having a name so as to tell you what kind of page you are looking at. These are all shown on the left hand side of the page under the title of 'departments'.
World of Hawkin
Art & Craftiness Stockings
Fun & Playfulness
Strain the Brain
Last Minute Mayhem
The layout is bright and cheerful in colours of greens, reds and yellows. In the top right hand corner you can see your account status. Showing the amount of products in your basket, the total cost so far and the last item you bought.
Once you have set up an account you can then order a free catalogue which allows you to see any new products without going online!
Also on the right hand side you can see the Hawkins top 10 products. A list of the most popular items bought on the site.
Following this is a list of all the Hawkins Bazaar shops which exist and where they are located, also showing any new ones which are to be opened.
Along the top of the page it gives links to:
HOME BASKET/CHECKOUT MY ACCOUNT/LOG OFF INFO & HELP SHOPS in bold and other mini links underneath it so you fully know where to go if you are stuck.
On the left hand side it includes a quick search, maybe you saw something earlier on and can't remember which section it was under, or you've seen an item on another site and want to see if Hawkins sell it as well!
If you remember the product code you can even type that it and it will come up with the item you are looking for. Each item has a code underneath it so if you can't find it again just type it in the box!
A downfall would be the p& p, always costs about £5 no matter how much your item costs
Following that you have a contact address in case you need to find something out which you don't already know..maybe a complaint or a question.
Overall Hawkins Bazaar is the perfect way of finding items which you wouldn't be able to find anywhere else unless you knew exactly what you wanted. It gives great new ideas suitable for any age!
I first came across Hawkin's Bazaar a few years ago when someone brought in a catalogue into work and I flicked through it thinking what great gift ideas. I then went onto there website www.hawkin.com to have a further browse as they said they had more goodies online. I will concentrate on the website for this review but they do also have 46 shops around the country and if you get the catalogue (since I ordered online I seem to receive one every few months) you can order over the phone or via a postal form.
Hawkin's sells so many different items and coming up to Christmas you can get great stocking fillers from 25p or a fiver, including wind up toys, bouncy balls, funky pens. The website is fairly easy to navigate and on the home page you can click on stocking fillers, toys, games, gifts, books and new product. They also have a gift finder where you can put in details like age, whether it's a gift, something silly or unusual and a price range to help you get ideas.
The thing I like about Hawkin's is that I can often get something different that I wouldn't be able to get in my usual town centre. They do games for adults and children, I got my Nephews a shark game a few years back which you would press on a tooth until the one that triggered the jaw to shut was pressed and they loved it, they still do it for £5.99. They also have different trumps games like Mullet trumps and crap trumps and lots of the puzzles that you have put together from around £2.99.
They have a big crafty section where you can buy kits to make fairies, dolls furniture, paper airplanes and more complicated items with a wide range of prices and that stuff I would have loved to receive when I was a little girl!
They also have retro gifts and toys like space hoppers, spinning tops, wooden toys and fuzzy felts. There is also a book section which has books from Just So stories through to the Hilarious Bad Cats which I got someone last year, which has a load of pictures of cats in dodgy poses with funny captions.
On the website once you have clicked into a section like gifts, you are then given the option of browsing everything in that category or narrowing it down into Novelties, Science, cracker fillings or the gift finder range to make it easier to find what you looking for.
Ordering from the website is simple, you just add it to your basket, it then takes you to the next page where you can carry on shopping or checkout, it also has a slightly different way of selling things by saying "people who bought this didn't buy these!" and shows you some random products.
The delivery price is £4.95 which I find is a bit steep when you don't want to buy much though you can get free delivery if you spend over £75. They claim to deliver between 2-3 days.
Now on previous years I have never had a problem with there delivery and my bits have usually turned up within a week (I do tend to only order form them at Christmas so I do expect delivery to take a little longer) but last year my order hadn't turned up after a week and a half so I gave them a ring. They were very polite and friendly and explained it had been delivered and left in my porch, but this I found very odd as I don't have a porch nor does anyone in my street as we are a road of straight off the pavement into your house house's. They were very apologetic and offered to send the stuff out again, but as I had left my shopping a bit late it wouldn't have arrived in time and so I asked for a full refund which I did receive. Obviously I wasn't very happy as there were bits in there that I couldn't find elsewhere and wanted to give to people. Now I may not be so happy using them again but my products ending up arriving anyway and I got a full refund too. I'm not sure if this was a mistake on their part or excellent customer service but I wasn't ringing them to find out incase they took the money back again!
I have got their Christmas catalogue and will no doubt end up ordering some bits from them again this year as I have seen some things I would really like to get but I am trying to budget myself this year and the delivery cost puts me off. But I would recommend anyone that hasn't visited a Hawkins Bazzaar to pay a visit to the website as you can get some great gifts for people that you may not be able to get elsewhere.
I only came across this shop 3 years ago, when i was walking about in Portsmouth. I went in and had a look around at all the different things they sold Toys, Games, Clockwork toys, Experiments, Musical intruments, Bath items such as ducks & wind up frogs and much more.
Remember them fotune teller fish you used to get from crackers which curl on your hand? Remember a cup with a ball and string attatched to it and you had to get the ball in the cup? This is the ultimate shop to ring back all your childhood memories!
I was looking for work over xmas and decided to apply for a xmas temporary position there. My application was successful and I began work there in Oct.
It was a while before I got used to where everything was anc when customers came in the shop asking for specific things I wasn't too sure what they were on about so I had to get someone to help me, but a few weeks later I knew what everything was and where they were. I was on about £5.80 an hour, which i thought was good.
***So what do Hawkins Bazaar sell?***
Its a very large selection of toys, gifts & novelties such as paintball guns, stunt kites, pogo sticks, Games & puzzles glow in the dark items, art & crafts creative sets, Grown up stuff including your own home brewing kit, Candy bra's, handcuffs and other items. Science & experiment kits, books, clockwork toys, candy grabbers, coin pushers, Wooden toys and items, the list is endless,
They also have a great pocket money section which kids love. Prices can start from as little as 30p! They also have a very impressive glow in the dark section which is located in a black painted part of the shop and includes glow stars, glow sheep, glow bracelets & necklaces, glow glasses and head bands, glow skeletons, glow ducks and more!
Working here over christmas was extremely busy, it was non-stop all day and customers were spending as much as £200.00 a time on stocking fillers, gifts and games for christmas parties. I remember looking up at the queue, and there was a queue of at least 25 people which was going right round the shop and to the front door again!
It is literally serving and filling up non-stop over xmas, you have to always be on the go! It was very enjoyable whilst i worked there as you get to interact with the customers a lot to help them and you also get to demonstrate products. You get a christmas bonus and you also get staff discount which i think is 30% (but please dont take my word for it), I did work there a while back!
After the christmas rush it does slow down a lot and the days are very slow and quiet, but thats every part of retail! Staff I worked with were friendly and chatty and we all got on very well as a team.
***So where can I find a Hawkins Bazaar shop?***
There's currently over 30 shops across the UK, some areas to name are Basingstoke, Bromley, Cardiff, Exeter, Guildford, Milton Keynes, Reading, Winchester plus other locations.
You can order online from their website as well which is www.hawkin.com there's details about careers with Hawkins bazaar, where shops are located, and you can even fill out details to get their catalogue sent to your home or go to your local store to pick up a copy. Delivery take between 4-5 working times.
***What are the quality of the products like?***
The quality of the products are very good and well made, although you always get a things which come in faulty due to a manufacter's fault and clockwork toys, which dont actually work. If you ever find that you have purchased an item like this you can take it to the store within 15 days with the original receipt for a full refund or exchange.
This is a brilliant and fun shop to work in, but do be prepared to be very quiet after the xmas rush. Its an enjoyable environment to work in with friendly customers, who always like to chat.
You can find a gift for anyone in this shop, if your browse in this I guarantee you will leave this shop with at least 1 item, whether it's a fortune teller fish (from crackers) or a rubber duck covered in hearts, your guaranteed to buy something! Prices are very reasonable and if things are slightly damaged you can normally get them for a bit cheaper.
One warning though, if you shopping for xmas presents please make sure you order it early before the mad rush! I remember seeing a lot of dissapointed customers because they left it until the last minute to get an item and we were out of stock as well as the website!
If you do want a product staff will go out their way to try and find it for you, and if they haven't got the product in store they will give you a voucher which entitiles you to free P & P, if you ring them up and order the item
I've been buying from Hawkin's Bazaar for a few years now - usually I end up doing a big raid round about Christmas time and then again during the sales. They fill a niche which I think was left when the Gadget Store went oout of business, selling toys and gadgets for the young and young-at-heart.
The things on Hawkin's Bazaar range from toys from the past - retro space hoppers for example, or humming tops, or domino rallies - to shiny new gadgets, such as an underwater light show you can play with in the bath. I signed up to receive their catalogue, and can usually spend a happy hour or two leafing through and giggling at the toys.
That said, a lot of their stuff can be quite expensive, and is cheaper available elsewhere. If you do find something you like, it is worth checking it isn't available elsewhere - eBay often has it a pound or so cheaper.
I used to moan and groan a lot about the postage - £3.95 per order and free postage only starts on orders above £50. However, in recent years they have started opening a lot of small shops just before Christmas so you don't have to order online and pay postage any more.
Only once have I had an issue with delivery - a parcel showed as packed but undelivered for a week before I got around to calling. A nice customer service man checked and informed me it was waiting on one item which had gone out of stock. I cancelled that item and the package arrived a couple of days later, but it would have been nice if they had been proactive in contacting me about the issue, especially in the days before Christmas.
Shopped for a lot of gifts with them this Christmas - December 2007. Have just got an email from them to say they now can't deliver before Christmas even though we ordered weeks in advance, then when I try to phone them, they are shut on Christmas Eve - they fail to deliver their products to all those 100's of children and then had the temerity to go home! They aren't answering emails, they have taken their phone numbers off so you can't speak to anyone and they have shut up shop !!! I will NEVER shop with them again, they cannot be trusted and they have left me with no gifts to give out at Christmas. I think they are an awful company who should be utterly ashamed of themselves
I first heard of Hawkin's Bazaar about 18 months ago, on a mailing list for home educators. This is a shop which specialises partly in traditional gifts, and also, increasingly, in the strange and unusual. The gifts are mostly aimed at children, but there is a selection for adults too. If you want an inexpensive present for someone who appears to have everything, I can highly recommend Hawkin's! They do have a web-site with a good search facility, but my eyes tend to get tired looking at pictures for too long, so I ordered their catalogue. This can easily be done from the site (http://www.hawkin.co.uk) and is free even to customers outside the UK. I received it within a few days (not bad since I was in Cyprus!) and was immediately entranced by it. It's a glossy paper catalogue with a cover in bright primary colours. It's only about 50 pages long, but full of the most fascinating gifts and gadgets. Once on the mailing list, I receive further copies of the catalogue about twice per year. The current one, which arrived around a month ago, is (not surprisingly) intended for Christmas. * Brief history * Hawkin's have been supplying retailers since 1973, and have been producing a gift catalogue since 1980. They now have a small chain of shops around the UK as well, useful for seeing the products before buying, if you happen to have one locally. However they do have a good exchange policy, much like that of Argos - no reason has to be given for returning unwanted goods, and a full refund will be given. * Traditional toys * One strong appeal of Hawkin's is that they supply gifts and games which are reminiscent of toys from forty or fifty years ago. This isn't immediately obvious from the current catalogue, which is designed to appeal to modern children, but amongst th
e pages it's still possible to spot items such as: ~~ Newton's cradle - those metal marbles that swing on fine strings, clacking against each other in different combinations. £4.99 for an 11cm high version. ~~ Make-your-own Pinocchio marionette - all the components, including clothes and even glue (though not string), to construct a 26cm high working puppet. £17.99 ~~ French knitting doll - we used to make these from old wooden cotton reels, but that's no longer possible with modern plastic ones. Hawkin's sell one, shaped a bit like a pepper grinder, with wool and instructions provided. £2.99 ~~ Space hoppers - those bouncy rubber balls that you can sit on to hop around the room. Adult-sized strong ones in varying colours. £16.99 or three for £39.99 ~~ Springy (or Slinky, as we used to call them) - like a coiled spring that can be set to 'walk' downstairs. My grandmother had one of these but I've never seen them in shops. £2.50. * Modern toys * There are an ever-changing range of modern toys to suit almost any child. For instance you can find miniature radio-control cars in various designs, an alien gyroscope - a gyroscope with two glow-in-the-dark alien figures that can be attached, or two plastic rockets, with catapult launchers, and parachutes enabling them to drift down safely. Prices range from about £5 to £10 for items like these. * Stocking fillers * There are a huge range of tiny gifts, suitable for children's stockings. The catalogue has pages in the centre listing inexpensive gifts by price. For instance: ~~ Under £1 - among other things you could buy: a mini-springy, a clear water pistol, a set of sixteen mini jacks, a small 'four-in-a-row' game, a pot of sillly putty, a bag of marbles, a mini crayon set, or a mini satin purse. ~
~ Between £1 and £2 - in this range you could choose from (among other things) - a good magnet, various wind-up plastic toys, a jester's stick, a mood ring, a compass, a toy hammock, or a kaleidoscope. ~~ For party bags, or for stockings for several children, there are multi-packs of various toys such as rubber creepy-crawlies, packs of crayons, stickers, and tiny notebooks. They range from about £1.50 to £2.99 for packs of four or six. * Books and music * For those who aren't interested in toys, Hawkin's sells quite a range of quirky books, and unusual musical instruments. In the main catalogue, there are only a few books listed, such as 'Could do better': collected school reports of the famous (£5.99) or 'E-tales': circulated jokes, Darwin awards and internet humour (£6.99). There's a separate catalogue available listing over 100 books of this type, which can also be found at the Hawkin's book web-site http://www.hawkinbooks.com. As for music: in addition to some inexpensive children's pseudo-instruments, there are a few more serious ones, such as a chanter, suitable for starting to learn the bagpipes, with accompanying CD; an Irish tin whistle, also with instruction booklet and CD; a cymbala (a metal-stringed instrument from Russia) and even a didgeridoo. Each around £20. * Educational items * There are some very interesting educational activities available too, such as a barometer, a 'zoomscope' microscope which operates at any angle, a magnet set, a gyroscope, a tank of sea monkeys eggs, or a crystal-growing set. All under £10. * Games and puzzles * There are a number of games and puzzles, traditional and modern, for the whole family. The nicer ones are fairly expensive, but would last well, such as a bagatelle board for £ 59.99, or
a set of mah-jong - the original Chinese game, played by four people using tiles, which is £29.99. For someone who likes crosswords, there's a 6-metre giant crossword with over 2000 clues for £6.99. * For teenagers * If you want to buy something a little unusual for the teenagers in your life, and none of the above appeals, there are various juggling accessories, such as juggling rings or a diabolo, mostly under £5. You can even buy a unicycle, strong enough for an adult, for £89.99, or if you're really extravagant £249.99 will buy you a 7-in-1 games table, with equipment and boards for table-tennis, pool, table-top football and more, all of which pack away inside to leave a smart wooden table when not in use. * For adults * There are some 'adult only' gifts, such as ironing board covers with scantily-clad models, whose clothes disappear completely when the iron gets hot, or a rucksack designed to take wine bottles; there are also gifts scattered through the catalogue which could well appeal to adults as much as children, such as an artist's mannequin, a 'round tuit', a mug to make cafetiere style coffee for one, Simpsons fridge magnets, beer-making equipment, or a safe disguised as a book. * Sweets and misellaneous * In addition to all the above, there are various inexpensive sweets available, some pleasanter than others! There are various dispensers for jelly-beans and chocolate, from a Santa figure through to a reindeer which dispenses chocolate from its rear end! There is a cracker kit, gimmicky soaps, a ship-in-a-bottle to build, a jumbo party popper, a clock that goes backwards, activity calendars.... indeed, it's hard to think of anything of this sort that Hawkin's don't do. * One minor criticism * Without wanting to be sexist, it does seem to me that this catalogue is rather mo
re geared to men and boys than to women and girls. There are some 'girlie' items such as hairbands, bracelets, or a jewellery box, but they're not toys, and seem almost a concession to females. While I could find several things in here that my sons would have loved when younger, and some which they appreciate now, there's very little (other than one or two of the games and books) which would have appealed to me in my teens. There were no gifts at all from the catalogue which I would really appreciate now! Having said that, though, everyone is different and we did manage to find some 'uni-sex' presents for girls from last year's catalogue. * How to order * On the back page of the catalogue is a straightforward order form, where you can fill in the item code number, the description, and the quantity you want. Although it's possible to order online, I actually find it easier to use the order form, at least to jot down everything I want to buy, since this saves a great deal of time! On the back is a section for details needed for any personalised gifts. The form can be posted, or the order can be made over the phone. Credit cards or sterling cheques are the only methods of payment. * Postage and packing * For UK orders under £45, the p&p charge is £2.95, or free over £45 if ordered online. For next-day guaranteed delivery the cost is £6. Republic of Ireland and Europe are somewhat more, but again there's a fixed cost whatever the size of the parcel, so if you order a large amount at once it's quite reasonable. For further afield than Europe, they charge depending on what's ordered, and will give a quotation. *Delivery * Orders are generally dispatched within five working days of receipt, but the catalogue warns that it's best to allow up to 14 days in the busy p
re-Christmas season. Personalised items need up to 28 days. * My experience * I made a fairly large order this time a year ago, requesting delivery to Cyprus. Although at the time it was not yet in the EU, I was only charged the European rate of postage, which was good! The parcel arrived about ten days later, delivered by a courier. I had to sign for the box when it arrived. Everything was well-packed, and nothing was missing or broken. Some of the items were a little smaller than I'd expected, but on the whole I was extremely pleased with what I'd bought. The silly putty did go gungy and unusable after a couple of months, but the wind-up toys continue to work, the Newton's cradle is still in good condition, the juggling equipment was excellent, and the books were amusing and much enjoyed. * Conclusion * The catalogue is fascinating, with amusing write-ups for some of the items, and good photographs of almost everything. Every time I look at it, I seem to find something different! I would recommend it to anyone. If you don't want it for Christmas gifts, it's useful for quirky presents at any time of year, or for children's parties. If you want to make your order online, it's still much easier to browse through the catalogue and make a note of the things you're interested in first. One big advantage to the web-site, however, is that it can tell you if something is out of stock, and it will also sometimes include extra items which aren't in the catalogue. All in all I find Hawkin's a very useful catalogue to keep around. If I had an unlimited budget, I would use it far more often. The stock seems to change somewhat every time I get a new one, and it would be tempting to spend a large amount buying small bits and pieces for
almost everyone I know!
I have been using Hawkins Bazaar for a couple of years now and I don't know how I got by without it. Its great around Christmas time especially for all those people who are hard to buy for and great for any other time of the year too birthdays or maybe a little treat for yourself! Basically Hawkins Bazaar sells anything and everything! It sells a wide range of toys and gifts for both adult and children with the stock regularly changing and being updated. It has a large section on books where you can get titles such as 1000 places to see before you die, the BBQ bible and a jokelopedia for the kids - it even sells a snowman in a box in this section, just add snow! There is a section on gadgets which includes a moo coo clock - like a cuckoo clock wut with a cow (yes they are fab!!) a host of other clocks as well as light up martini glasses. It also sells multipacks of things such as fortune telling fish, whistles etc, stuff that would be great if you were making you own christmas crackers or need something to put in kids party bags. They also sell a range of edible novelty gifts like russian roulette chocolates and chocolate potatoes as well as lots of childrens toys. A large selection of traditional wooden and tin toys are also available. Prices are very reasonable witha large lelection of stuff under £1 and even more under £5. All items that I have received have been of excellent quality and have not been disappointed with any of my purchases from here and believe me I have made a few! The website is extremely easy to navigate with the emaphasis on fun - its big bold and bright! It loads very fast and is nice and simple to use. All products are accompanied with relevent pictures and an amusing write-up about each item. If you register with the site, you can join the birthday club where they will send you email reminders when it's someones birthday with suggested gift ideas
- great if you have a head like a seive! Of course you can shop online securely - just fill in your credit card details and delivery address. If you don't like to shop over the internet you can also place orders by telephone and even request a paper catalogue from the site which is free - theres and orderform in there to order by post. Hawkin also have a small chain of shops around England including branches in Caterbury, Norwich, Exeter, Salisbury, Southampton, Tunbridge Well, Winchester and Windsor. The shops are small and do not carry all of the stock on the website but they are always worth a visit if you are nearby. They also have special offers only available to internet ordering. Delivery is £3.95 and oders are usually despatched within 7 working days. If you are not happy with what you have ordered simply return it within 7 days for a full refund, no questions asked. If you are too impatient, there is even an online tracker to see what stage your order is up to and whether it has been sent out! I am usually a frequent visitor to this bit cos I am always excited to get my goods!! I am looking forward to my next Hawkin purchase! Even if you are not looking to buy anything I can guarantee that you can't leave this site without doing so but it's worth a look even if just for the amusing write ups! Happy shopping... www.hawkin.com