Here in the UK, official LEGO brand stores are a rarity. Other countries enjoy multiple LEGO stores, however recently there were only three around out little island – including none in the North. This has all changed recently, with new stores opening in Manchester and Sheffield. I checked out the Grand Opening of the Sheffield store to share with All About Bricks readers what was going on.
The official Grand Opening Event took place from Friday 31st August to Sunday 2nd September 2012. Each day had a different giveaway attached – the first 300 customers to spend £25 would receive a child’s t-shirt on the Friday, an exclusive LEGO Store set (3300003) on the Saturday or a mini-figure three pack on the Sunday. Needless to say, the LEGO Store set tends to be considered the most popular of the three. A postcard was also sent out to those on the LEGO mailing list which could be exchanged for an additional free gift.We attended on the Saturday, and tied into the day was an AFOL early opening. This meant that between 8am and 9am fans who follow the hobby online could turn up, skip the queue and get 10% off purchases as well. We arrived at around 8.30am, and the plan was being revised as we got there. The queue for regular customers was already extremely long, too long according to Meadowhall security – which meant the AFOL hour was about to be cut short, and regular customers would be allowed into the store.
I tried to make the most of this quiet time, as it was unlikely there would be much elbow space once everyone was admitted! There was a healthy showing of AFOLs, and it was nice to see those dedicated to the hobby getting a guaranteed shot at the free LEGO Store set. The free gift in return for the postcard turned out to be a Mini TIE Fighter (8028). In retrospect, I should have kept the postcard as it’s a more unique and desirable addition to my collection than another Mini TIE Fighter!
Wisely only a set number of visitors were allowed in at any one time, and despite this the queue for the checkout was still huge, snaking all the way round the store. The queue to pay, and the queue to get in the shop, remained until 11am, when the free LEGO Store sets had run out.
The store itself is spacious, well lit and bright. The underside of a giant LEGO brick hangs above visitors lighting the shop, a very cool touch. There are also a variety of displays in-between shelves around the edge of the store, some of which are extremely cool, all adding to the LEGO vibe. The store was well stocked, with notable new items available such as the Advent Calendars and new exclusive Collectible Minifigure based packs. What was a shame, however, was the limited selection of exclusive key chains, magnets and similar accessories – considering the Sheffield store is larger than Milton Keynes, the actual product selection seemed more focused on regularly available LEGO. This is probably not a problem for the average customer, but for big geeks like us it’s a bit of a shame.
Lord of the Rings had special focus in-store being the newest theme, with a large window display also dedicated to it. The other window featured some of the large awesome exclusives. There was also the opportunity to build with standard bricks elsewhere in the shopping centre.
Overall, the opening was successful and well handled. The only real drawback was that the Mini TIE Fighter was a disappointing giveaway. The store itself is nice, and will finally serve collectors in the Midlands and North with more opportunity to buy exclusives and build mini-figures.