Smyths have their say on throwing Santa out of store

Wednesday, 19th December 2018

SMYTHS Toys have today responded to reports that a local charity fundraiser was thrown out of their Tamworth store whilst dressed as Santa.

We reported on Tuesday that Santa was thrown out of the toy superstore whilst purchasing gifts for local children after arranging to meet three families at the store on Monday night so that they could choose gifts for Christmas.

In response, Smyths Toys have told Tamworth Informed that this is the explanation of the incident from their duty manager in the store: “[On Monday] night a gentleman dressed as Santa pulled up to the store and entered the store. He did not say who he was or what he was doing.

“He began to give out sweets and take pictures with children in the store. We advised him that he couldn’t do this on the premises as we need to get disclaimers signed and also that he had not previously mentioned to us that he would be doing this.

“We advised him that he was able to take photos etc.. outside but not in the store. He then got a little irate with us and swore at us. He then mentioned that he was buying gifts for charity which we said we would lend them a hand but was told that they were okay and didn’t want any assistance.

“We are not against helping local charities out as we have previously helped out local schools and even Aston Villa FC with toys for pupils and for children in hospital.”

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‘Santa’ told Tamworth Informed: “The idea was that the parents of three of the families we had chosen met us at the store to buy gifts.  I told each of the families to choose goods to the value of £500.00 each and that when they got to the till we would step in and pay for them.”

In reply to the response from Smyths Toys, supporters of ‘Santa’s Little Helpers’ have taken to Facebook to air their frustration.

Naturally, other readers have responded to give their support to how the store dealt with the incident.

Despite being thrown out of the store by security, Santa’s Little Helpers still went on to purchase trolley loads of toys within the store as they did not want to let the families down.

‘Santa’ Said: “We spent around £1,350 in the store as it is the biggest toy shop locally, we could not let the families down.”

Rob Bowker from Tamworth, formed a group of local volunteers – ‘Santa’s Little Helpers’ to raise funds for less fortunate families in the area.

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The idea behind the group is that four local families have been nominated and that these families get to choose presents.  These presents are then wrapped up and taken by Santa, who then delivers them in a personal visit on Christmas morning.

This year, £4,500 has been raised, with funds being donated by local residents and collections taking place within the town, including bag packing by Santa’s Little Helpers in Tamworth’s Home Bargains store.

The families are chosen with the help of local charity Simon’s Heroes and Flamingo Entertainments who work closely with community groups in the area.

Rob Said: “We were not filming or taking pictures inside the store, so I do not really know what permission I needed.  One customer did ask if she could take a photo of me with her child and she did this on her phone. This is something that often happens when I am in character.”

Rob Bowker as Santa Claus
Rob Bowker as Santa Claus

He continued: “I walked into the store dressed as Santa and was approached a member of staff who told me I had to leave as I did not have permission to be there from Head Office.

“I was just shocked, she even got the security guard to escort me out of the store. I told the lady, what we were doing and why we were there but she still said I had to leave.

“I had to wait outside the store whilst the Santa’s Little Helpers Team went inside and paid for the presents for the parents who we were meeting there.”