I don’t remember how I first got the rumor, sometime in early 2015, that Stockholm was getting a real LEGO store. I rejoiced at the prospect of a brand store experience instead of getting my sets off unloved mass market shelves in the back of Toy R Us:es or even more boring, online shops.
Then I saw an address and went there to find something I didn’t expect.
Someone was building a LEGO-only independent toy store!
Before I met Mr Gill, I met his sigfig
When Mr Gill opened his store on March 21, 2015, he brought something new to the LEGO scene in Stockholm. A place for fans to gather, a place where we could geek out together, and a place where anyone who’d say “it’s just a toy” got so much more than the bricks.
Australian ex-restaurateur James Gill fast became everyone’s friend. In this epitome of a local community store, he offered the products we all need, at fair prices and not skirting the fact that MSRP (list price) gives stores the margins they need to grow and improve. He educated consumers on the value of shopping local instead of draining their neighborhood economy. Not what a kid (or their parents) might expect when popping in go get their toys on a weekend afternoon.
A few months later Stockholm did get a brand store too and joined London (pre-Leicester Square flagship store) and New York on the list of cities with two great stores serving LEGO fans exclusively.
A difference here was in how they serve us.
LEGO’s store has the exclusives that we could now get with a smile instead of in a mail order box.
Mr Gill was the place to hang out, play, photograph, compete, and more.
We’ve gotten used to sudden Instagram posts from @mr_gill_stockholm with something new and awesome we never thought we could do with bricks.
For example, the display window challenge.
Mr Gill had his own brick wall, and during these challenges anyone could come in, build with anything from the wall for 10 minutes, and their creation would be on display in the shop window. Mr Gill would then pick a one of the builders to win something.
But we didn’t care about winning.
We cared about being part of something unique.
Unfortunately, some stories have unhappy endings, and this seems to be one of those.
On March 21, 2017, after serving LEGO fans for exactly two years, Mr Gill is moving on. Maybe in search for what could make a community store work in Stockholm. Whatever he may find I know it will be something else that makes the world a better place.
Until then: Thank you, Mr Gill.
It’s been a blast, and instead of being sad over what we lost I will be looking ahead to your bright future.
David “davirasm” Rasmusson
PS: If you want to join the very (b)last speedbuild on March 19 at Mr Gill in Stockholm, just sign up here and enjoy !