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New Shrewsbury shop casting a spell on Harry Potter fans

By Lucy Todman | Shrewsbury | Shrewsbury entertainment | Published: | Last Updated:

All aboard, the next train to arrive on Platform 9¾ is the Hogwarts Express for . . . Shrewsbury.

Alexis Newton-French at Labyrinth in Shrewsbury

From chocolate frogs to Butter Beer, wands and capes, a little bit of magic has arrived in town.

And the owners of a new shop in the historic heart of Shrewsbury are hoping that muggles from across the region will pay a visit to their fledgling business.

Set up by husband and wife team Colin and Alison Newton-French, Labyrinth on Shrewsbury's very own Diagon Alley - Grope Lane - is the county's only shop specialising in Harry Potter merchandise.

Colin, a 54-year-old retired fire fighter, said: "We did have a unit in Telford Shopping Centre but the atmosphere just wasn't there. We did not like the sterility of the shopping centre. They were interested only in food and fashion. We decided that Shrewsbury would be the perfect place and when this shop came up we knew it was where we had to be.

Alexis Newton-French.

"At our shop in Telford we stocked dark and light side items such as fairies and dragons, as Alison is in to the mystical side of things. Harry Potter was really an afterthought. But we decided that once we came to Shrewsbury we would focus more on the Harry Potter side of things.

"We have been very lucky and have managed to get products from stockists who supply to Harry Potter in London. Our scarves come from the firm in Scotland who made them for the film and the capes are from France. We can't believe it really, things have just come together for us in a magical way. We never, for a moment, imagined it would be like this."

Since the shop opened last Saturday, items have been flying off the shelves and the house elves have been busy restocking. Hedwig and Dobbie have been a hit and wands as conjured up by Hermione, Harry, Snape and Voldermort are proving to be a flyaway success.

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"It has been crazy," said Colin, whose daughter Alexis, 20 is also working in the shop. "We are having to quickly get in new stock to keep up with demand. Alison is up all hours sourcing stock from all over the place.

"Everyone loves Harry Potter and the film captures the imagination, everyone wants to own a piece of it. We wanted the shop to offer the whole Harry Potter experience for our customers and it seems to have done just that. We have had people of all ages and from from all over the country coming to Shrewsbury to visit the shop. We even had one lady in New Zealand see about the shop on our Facebook page and she sent her mum along. It has been mind blowing, People have been very excited."

But it is not just for themselves that the couple from Telford have set up Labyrinth.

It is also for their son Tom, 14, who has special needs.

They are hoping that the store will be so successful that Tom has a secure future once he leaves school.

"We want to give Tom long term security and stability," said Colin. "We have to keep an eye on his future. He loves the shop but I don't think he gets it fully. He is into werewolves instead. He and his twin sister Tabitha are pretty laid back about it right now. But I am sure that will change with time."

Lucy Todman

By Lucy Todman
@shroptod

Senior reporter for the Shropshire Star and Shrewsbury Chronicle based in Shrewsbury.

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