About Us

Our Mission: To Help Hobby Retailers Grow.

The HobbyTown story begins in Lincoln, Nebraska (where our national headquarters remains today). Merlin Hayes, Mary Hayes and Thom Walla founded HobbyTown Unlimited Inc. in 1985 and opened the first franchise store in 1986. Today, there are more than 150 stores nationwide, making us the leader in the retail hobby and specialty toy industry.

Our Franchise Owners take pride in providing unparalleled customer service, achieving higher than industry average inventory turns and retail sales per square foot. In our stores and online, we are constantly testing new products and technologies to increase sales. We grow through innovation, and our Franchise Owners are empowered to explore new product ideas and make independent buying decisions. In turn, we provide them with business intelligence and national sales data to help them optimize their inventory strategies.

Our Vision

We have become the foremost resource and destination for family fun and entertainment by embracing, supporting and maximizing the strengths and diversity of each Franchise Owner.

Our Core Values

We Bring It Every Day

We energetically share our passion for hobbies with contagious enthusiasm. Customers will always enjoy an exceptional shopping experience that exceeds expectations. Bringing it is not a spectator sport, bringing it is making (not watching) things happen.

Cultivate Growth

We believe growth is achieved by exceeding the expectations of each individual customer. We relentlessly pursue the development of ourselves and others to foster growth. We believe growth is a process that requires consistent effort.

Lead & Serve

We lead by aspiring to be our best and giving our best to others at all times. We serve by always maintaining a positive and welcoming environment for all. We aspire to be an asset to our community by making free time awesome!

Keep Calm & Hobby On

Wisdom and knowledge come with experience. In the face of adversity, we stay calm and focused on finding a solution or a better way. We always seek to first understand, act, then hobby on.

Providing Great Times for our Customers and Franchise Owners for Years.

  • 1980
    Lincoln, NE
    Opening of 1st Store
  • 1981
    Lincoln, NE
    Partnership Opened 2nd Store
  • 1985
    Colorado Springs, CO
    1st Franchise Awarded
  • 1992
    San Antonio, TX
    Opening of 100th Store
  • 1998
    Mr. Hayes and Mr. Walla Sold 45% of Company to Eight Employees
  • 2011
    Partnership with Firelands Group began
    Helion Animus 18SC RC Truck Product Launch.
    Includes proportional Electronic Speed Controller (ESC) and 380 size brushed motor for outstanding performance and speeds over 20mph.
  • 2012
    1st Partnership for the first Co-branded Locations in Aurora & Lakewood, CO
  • 2013
    Ares Ethos QX 130 RC Quadcopter Product Launch
    Includes advanced 3-axis gyro and 3-axis accelerometer control system for agile flight and flight stability in winds up to 7-10mph.
  • 2014
    FPV (First Person View) Product Launch
    products now allow handlers to video pilot their PC aircrafts and other RC vehicles.


  • Thomas A. Walla

    Thomas A. Walla

    Thomas A. Walla, co-founder of HobbyTown and former President of HobbyTown located in Lincoln, Nebraska. Mr. Walla continues to be involved in the sale and operation of HobbyTown franchises.
  • Bob Wilke

    Bob Wilke

    Bob Wilke was appointed President of HobbyTown in August 2009. From 2000 to August 2009, he served as Senior Vice President. Both positions were held in Lincoln, Nebraska. He assists in the sale and operation of HobbyTown franchises and continues to be involved in the administration of the Franchise Services team, analysis of franchisee performance and consultation of store owners on all aspects of store operations.
  • Todd Anderson
    Vice President of Operations

    Todd Anderson

    Vice President of Operations
    In 2000, Todd Anderson became Vice President of Operations of HobbyTown. Mr. Anderson is responsible for assisting franchisees in all aspects of the store opening process and also oversees the distribution center and warehouse shipments to franchisees. He has served as Secretary of HobbyTown since 2005, in Lincoln, Nebraska.
  • Tim Van Ert
    Senior Vice President

    Tim Van Ert

    Senior Vice President
    In 2003, Tim Van Ert became Senior Vice President of HobbyTown. He oversees the marketing departments and manages the product database, point-of-sale software, and office computer operations. From 1995 to 2003, Mr. Van Ert was Vice President of Information Technology at HobbyTown in Lincoln, Nebraska.
  • David Gaines
    Vice President of Franchise Services

    David Gaines

    Vice President of Franchise Services
    David Gaines has served as Vice President of Franchise Services of HobbyTown since 2006. Mr. Gaines' responsibilities include overseeing Franchise Business Advisors, Corporate Accountants and Accounts Payable Specialists, and field service support operations, which includes activities such as in-store training, 90 day visits and store visits. He has extensive knowledge on overall store operations and financial analysis skills, with an emphasis on communication and customer service. Mr. Gaines has been with HobbyTown since April, 2001, in Lincoln, Nebraska.
  • Mark Moore
    Franchise Sales Director

    Mark Moore

    Franchise Sales Director
    Mark Moore has served as Franchise Sales Director since May 2013. He is responsible for franchise sales. He worked for HobbyTown in Lincoln, Nebraska in the Operations Department from September 2001 until June 2011, when he left to manage Plum Creek and Moose Creek, high-end hiking stores in Estes Park, Colorado. He returned to HobbyTown in the Operations Department in August 2012.
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