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'We've got 20,000 arriving tomorrow': Former pastor back selling fidget spinners

Bree Winchester

Published: May 18 2017 - 5:00PM

You used to find Pastor Christine Thomson down in Tuggeranong, surrounded by her congregation.

But today you'll find her in the Canberra Centre, surrounded by frenzied kids and parents desperate to get their hands on a fidget spinner.

Ms Thomson, who was the pastor at Erindale Christian Centre between 2001 and 2003, is back in Canberra from her home on the Gold Coast capitalising on the global toy frenzy that is the fidget spinner.

She's selling between 200 and 300 of the "stress-relieving" toys every day from a makeshift stall in Civic, and will open six new pop-up shops across Canberra in the next week to cater to the massive demand.

For those who don't have kids under 16, a fidget spinner is the modern equivalent of a yo-yo.

It's a small aluminium or plastic toy with three blades that spin like a fan. The fidget spinner is advertised globally as a toy that "helps people who have trouble focusing or fidgeting by acting as a release mechanism for nervous energy or stress". 

Fidget cubes are also part of the craze, with each side of the cube offering an activity. One side has a fake light switch, while another features a small ball like the one you'd find under an electronic mouse.

Ms Thomson retired from the church in 2006 and is now a regional sales manager for Queensland-based toy company Positive Mental Attitude (PMA). It was on a trip back to the ACT a couple of weeks ago to visit her son at ADFA that she saw an opportunity for fidget spinners.

"I realised no-one here was selling them," Ms Thomson said. "And I was like - I've got to get them to Canberra!"

On behalf of PMA, Ms Thomson booked a pop-up stall at Canberra Centre and immediately sold out of fidget cubes. She launched a stand at Erindale shops on Thursday, with Majura Park Shopping Centre, Canberra Outlet Centre, Cooleman Court, Marketplace Gungahlin and Tuggeranong Hyperdome opening over the weekend.

"We've got 20,000 arriving tomorrow," she said.

"Canberra is going crazy for them."

Ms Thomson couldn't say how long the craze would last - "how long is a piece of string?" - but said PMA had Batman and glow-in-the-dark fidget spinners on their way to Canberra and were desperate to find casual staff to sell the hugely popular toys.

"We want people that are bubbly and outgoing with good energy, who love kids and can handle fast-paced sales," she said.

"We've booked all seven stalls until early June with the possibility of extending and we've booked every school holiday until the end of the year - so hello Canberra!"

While some schools nationally have banned fidget spinners because they're a distraction, Queanbeyan East Public School principal Fiona Senior-Conroy said the spinning toys were welcome in her classrooms.

"We allow them in classrooms for children who need the sensory item as a learning tool," Ms Senior-Conroy said.

"Some children need their sensory processing needs met and to do that there's a range of different tools like stress balls, or some like to have weight placed on their legs so they might have a little weighted blanket.

"Age-appropriately, a fidget spinner is something small that kids can have in their pocket that might relieve that stress for a child."

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