The 'Russell' family once again have a toy store in Orange
“My parents Bob and Margaret Russell started the store next door over 50 years ago — Bob Russell’s Sports Centre and we used to have toys there — a lot of people in Orange would remember that,” said Kate Ellis, operator of Orange Sportspower and our new toy store, The Big Outlet.
Toys had long been part of the family business, said Kate, but a decade ago the decision was made to focus solely on the sports equipment.
“It was thought it was better for business if you focus on either sport or toys, not both, because you are not able to give it that 100 per cent and it was a big decision back then which way to go,” said Kate, who basically grew up in the business.
“I've worked in the shop ever since I can remember,” she said, “just fetching laybys from upstairs to start off. Even after I joined the police, I used to work on Saturday mornings here in the shop.
“I can remember, we would get phone calls at home on Christmas Eve or something like that and Dad would end up going out and helping people put a gym set up or bikes, they are really fond memories.”
Following the sudden death of her eldest brother David in 2017, Kate took over the family business and together with her husband Scott have since undertaken a complete refit of the Sportspower premises and now ventured once more into toys.
“We were getting a lot of feedback from customers that Orange has been really missing a specialised independent toy store — a real toy store I guess,” said Kate.
“And last Christmas, the amount of people who came into the sports store asking for toys… and that’s when we decided, let’s do it.”
The Big Outlet opened in February, during the renovation of the Sportspower store, and the range of products has continued to grow.
“It has been a work in progress; we have just been buying shelving and stock but now we are all up and running and ready to go,” said Kate.
“Now we are just ramping up to get everything ready for Christmas!”
The Big Outlet is an authorised Lego dealer and stocks a wide range of popular toys, bikes, scooters, games and puzzles.
“Being a small, independent toy store, we can offer different products to major chains, so you get a bigger better selection and we are also happy to make any special orders anyone would like,” said Kate.
“We have also been selling an unbelievable amount of puzzles and games… I’ve noticed that parents are now looking for ways to keep their kids away from technology and screens, so it is a good time to be selling toys and boardgames.”
With many people turning to online shopping, Kate said locals and those further away will be able to shop The Big outlet online.
But, by being completely run out of the Orange store, they can provide local shoppers with both convenience and friendly face-to-face service.
“That means if people buy stuff online, they have the opportunity to come here and change it — you don’t have the ability to do that with a lot of other online stores. We offer a full shopping experience; refunds, returns for warranty, and we still offer laybys” said Kate.
“Hopefully, selling online, we will be able to put more staff on, which again is a way we can give back to the community. We’ve employed a lot of people over the years and like to our support schools and sporting groups — It is really important for us as a family to give back to the local community.
“With the refit and new store we are investing a lot of money in our business, but when I look at Orange I see a growing, thriving economy. Sure, the drought has affected us, but we are enthusiastic about what the future will bring!
“We've been here for over 50 years and we are not going anywhere!”
The Big Outlet
154 Summer Street Orange