The weekend before last the entire geek family were the guests of Smiggle at their Arndale Centre store. We were there to immerse ourselves in their current product range, and to get a sneak peak at the new “Camo” range set to hit stores later this month. I must confess I had not heard of the Smiggle brand before, although the geekdaughter has come across them via her schoolmates.
The first thing that hit me on walking into the store was the amazing selection of colours. Smiggle’s style appears to be bright colours, funky design and all around fun. The shop isn’t big, but it is jam-packed from floor to ceiling with an amazing array of items. The vast majority are stationery items, in the kinds of designs that kids love, but that also appeal to adults as well. The majority of the products are what I would describe as “school essentials” – pencil cases, notebooks, lunch boxes and backpacks. We also found a selection of little “gift” items – the geekdaddy was rather delighted to find a “puzzle Python” – like a traditional puzzle snake but well over twice as long!
The geekdaughter found loads of things that she wanted. A lot of the products are scented, which she really liked. The items are mostly packaged into nice “sets” rather than sold individually, so you can get, for example, a matching set of 4 rubbers, or nice sets of pens. This fluffy watermelon notebook was definitely one of her favourite items:
The geekson wasn’t left out, and found plenty of items with robots, cars, monsters or other designs that appealed to him as well.
We all liked the new Camo range that the Smiggle staff unveiled for us. This seems to feature a lot of repeating patterns, and whilst the predominant colours that we saw were pink or blue, the designs were pretty unisex, and actually it was the blue notebook with a fish pattern on that the geekdaughter liked best. The new notebooks feature colour-changing technology, so if you hold the notebooks some of the design changes colour. This was sold to us as a security feature – you can see if someone’s been reading your secret diary if the colours have changed when you come to it.
Smiggle stationery is not cheap. I was hoping there would be a good selection of small items the kids would be able to spend their pocket money on, but there was very little below £2, even individual pens and pencils. To be fair, those pens and pencils are very well made, beautifully decorated, and in many cases scented, so I think the quality of the products justifies the price, but my kids were expecting to get a few items for a couple of pounds. We had most success with the sale table, where the kids could pick any three items for £5, which suited them well.
I have to say that I loved the Smiggle range, and it’s definitely something I will consider for birthday presents and treats in the future. It also appealed very strongly to the 8 year old geekdaughter, and I know she will be saving up to buy a few items for her school bag in September.
Disclosure: We were the guests of Smiggle at their Arndale Store in central Manchester. We were allowed in the store before it opened to the public, fed cupcakes and given a goodie bag at the end. We also spent quite a lot of our own money on the stationery whilst we were there!