Nimble Fingers was established in 1962 by Robert and Hilda Tweedy. They initially sold handcraft items and sweets, but, before long, they began selling educational toys. In 1966, the country's first shopping centre was built opposite Nimble Fingers, putting Stillorgan on the map. Stillorgan was transformed from an area of small farm holdings and beekeepers to a burgeoning suburb.
Meanwhile Patrick Staunton came to Dublin from Westport to study at UCD. He qualified with a Bachelor of Commerce and in 1968 emigrated to Canada where he then worked for Macmillan publishers in Toronto and Vancouver. In 1970 he transferred to Europe and sold the company's books from Israel to Sweden. He was posted to run their Irish operation in 1971. Later he set up his own agency and publishing company. The original Ballymaloe cookery book was his first publishing venture in 1973.
In 1983 Patrick and his wife, Jean, purchased Nimble Fingers. That same year Patrick went to the Nuremberg toy fair for the first time, and hasn't missed one since. He returned with toys that had never been seen before in Ireland. Niche stock, coupled with publicity from The Irish Times and The Late Late Toy Show made the 1980s a milestone in the development of the business. Gay Byrne has said that the idea behind The Late Late Toy Show came from researcher Pan Collins going into Nimble Fingers and spotting toys which appealed not only to children, but to adults too.
Although the Irish economy faltered in the 1990s, Nimble Fingers continued to grow. Crazes such as TY Beanie Babies, Star Wars, Pokemon, Pogs and marbles enabled the shop to flourish.
In 2002 Patrick sent word to his two sons, both living abroad, to get back quickly to join the business or it could be sold. Gareth, his second son, returned that year and Ross, his eldest child, a year later. During the boom years they struggled keeping up in a small space. A survey done by Lego in 2006 found that the 1000 square foot of space had the highest sales per square foot of any toy shop in Europe. The two sons considered expanding but when economic recession hit in 2008 they were glad they hadn’t. Patrick, now semi-retired, continued working a few more years to help them through the downturn. Ross left the business in 2007 to pursue his passion for food. This eventually led to him opening his own café, Foodgame.
Gareth continues to operate the business today with his sister Katherine (not pictured), who joined in 2016, having returned to Ireland after a few years abroad. Many changes have been made over the years but some things have remained constant. Nimble Fingers has consistently offered high quality educational toys and art materials, along with a focus on customer service. Products are thoughtfully selected from a vast number of suppliers both nationally and internationally, with toys, in particular, being selected for their play value. Current product selections include educational and wooden toys, children's books, arts & craft materials and outdoor toys. Nimble Fingers is often described as a 'Dublin institution’. Its reputation has been built on quality and customer service.
The pandemic saw huge demand for trampolines, jigsaws and art supplies, so they were kept busy during this time. Their loyal customer base were extremely supportive during this time and made extra efforts to shop locally, even if lead times were long. In 2022 they celebrated 60 years in business, Gareth & Katherine reflected on their years running the business. Though they disagree on some things, they agree that they would not have reached this milestone were it not for the lessons learnt, and wisdom passed on from their Dad.