Posts Categorized: Industry Events

Think the HobbyTown Franchise is Fun Now? It’s About to Get 50 Times More Entertaining with RadioShack!

Walk into your local HobbyTown store and you enter a world where all your hobby dreams can come true. Inside are your favorite games, toys, and hobbies with best sellers like RC cars, action figures, and the latest board games. And now, there will be even more for hobby enthusiasts to discover as RadioShack opens its express stores within 50 HobbyTown locations starting in mid-August.

This partnership will allow hobby fans to shop for their favorite things, then head to the RadioShack just a few steps away to pick up supplies, like soldering irons, wires, and other accessories that RadioShack manufactures.

“RadioShack’s merchandise and customers complement ours,” said HobbyTown President Bob Wilke. “They get to expand their footprint quickly and we are able to offer a better experience for our loyal fans.”

The RadioShack partnership is not the only exciting news coming out of HobbyTown. We are also investing in relationships with major toy brands to bring more toys and games to the stores and adding more seasonal toys just in time for the all-important holiday selling season.

“Our Internal Merchandise Team is developing relationships with brands we’ve never carried before. You can expect brands like Mattel® and Hasbro® to start showing up on our shelves,” said AJ Mallory, Director of Marketing at HobbyTown.

One hobby enthusiast, JT, described his HobbyTown experience this way. “Go ahead, browse all the fantastic hands-on merchandise, relive your childhood, explore your curiosity, stretch your creativity,” he wrote.

If you want to own a business that’s always looking to bring customers the very best, the best hobby franchise to own is HobbyTown. Click the LEARN MORE button today!

RadioShack Is Back and HobbyTown Is Helping Them Get There

There is quite a bit of activity taking place in the toy industry…behind the scenes. One great, emerging story is the comeback of RadioShack and how HobbyTown is working with them to make that happen. I learned about this from the New York Post’s Lisa Fickenscher in her article, “RadioShack’s comeback is taking shape”.

RadioShack currently has 400 stores but according to Fickenscher they are largely in rural locations.  Now, RadioShack will be opening “Express Stores” inside 50 HobbyTown stores. The plan, if successful, is to eventually expand out to all 140 of the hobby retailers stores.

Congratulations to Bob Wilke, HobbyTown President, for seeing the opportunity and moving aggressively to take advantage of it. And congratulations to Radio Shack for getting off the mat and back into the ring.

Bob has told me that HobbyTown is expanding its range of toys and is looking for new franchisees. Now, by offering consumers an opportunity to find all those electronic odds and ends you can only only find in a RadioShack, he is making that franchise opportunity more attractive.

More good stories to come.

Richard Gottlieb

Global Toy Experts

RadioShack’s Comeback is Taking Shape with HobbyTown!

RadioShack is baaack.

While the twice-bankrupt electronics chain didn’t totally disappear from the retail landscape, it will soon reestablish a more significant footprint across the country, The Post has learned.

The hobbled 97-year-old chain has signed a deal with HobbyTown to open “express stores” inside 50 of its partner’s stores, both companies said Friday.

The deal was signed this week, and potentially, the express stores could be opened in up to 100 of HobbyTown’s 140 stores. If successful, they could expand to all the hobby chain’s locations.

The first express stores will open next week.

RadioShack emerged from Chapter 11 reorganization in January with 400 stores — most of them in rural locations.

The HobbyTown Franchise deal will bring the stores to more suburban towns.

“This will expand their footprint quickly,” HobbyTown President Bob Wilke told The Post, adding that “Radio Shack’s merchandise and customers complement ours.”

HobbyTown Franchise is purchasing the RadioShack merchandise and offering it to its hobbyist customers who need the tools, wires and other accessories that RadioShack makes.

While the HobbyTown deal will bring RadioShack to a much larger audience, it will still pale compared with the more than 7,000 stores the chain had at its peak in 1987.

It operated more than 1,700 stores as recently as last year when it filed for Chapter 11.

Last year, in a last-ditch effort to keep its doors open prior to filing Chapter 11, RadioShack struck a partnership with Sprint, which paid it rent and commissions to run small Sprint locations in RadioShack stores.

But it was too little, too late to save the electronics chain.

“We came out of bankruptcy with 400 dealers, our online business and a distribution center,” said Steve Moroneso, chief executive of General Wireless, an affiliate of hedge fund Standard General, which acquired RadioShack in 2015.

“We are just getting started,” Moroneso said. “Our strategy today is to not own bricks-and-mortar locations.”

Next week, a HobbyTown store in Mooresville, NC, will carve out 500 square feet of its 6,000-square-foot store for the RadioShack express store — and display Radio Shack signage outside, said the store owner, Jack Hunt.

Hunt’s employees will operate the express store, he said. One service will be cellphone repair.

“We think that will differentiate us,” Hunt told The Post. “There are no other cellphone repair services in our market.”

Click the LEARN MORE button today to own your own HobbyTown franchise today!

Global Toy Experts: Richard Gottlieb Q&A with HobbyTown President, Bob Wilke

Posted by Richard Gottlieb

I found it highly noteworthy when I heard that HobbyTown was going to take advantage of the demise of Toys R Us by aggressively growing number their franchise stores. To find out more I conducted this interview with Bob Wilke, HobbyTown President.

HobbyTown Unlimited was founded in 1985 and opened the first franchise store in 1986. Today, there are stores nationwide in 41 states. The HobbyTown franchise consistently ranks annually in the Entrepreneur Franchise 500 recognizing exceptional performance in areas such as unit growth, financial strength, stability and brand power. Bob Wilke was appointed President of HobbyTown in August 2009 after serving as Senior VP since 2000. Bob currently serves as the President of the Hobby Manufacturers Association and is actively involved in the Lincoln community. 

Richard:    You have been retailing toys since the 90’s and in that time you were in the shadow of Toys R Us. What do you make of this new Post- Toys R Us world?

Bob:    We were literally in the shadow of Toys R Us in many of our store locations that were anchored by the big box stores and we will miss the “drafting” of customers that sought out higher end or hobby grade toys. Water will find its level and the sales volume will eventually move elsewhere to other mass retailers, online and specialty toy retailers like HobbyTown, but the nostalgic “Toys R Us Kids” shopping experience will certainly be missed. One challenge for the toy industry will be to redefine product innovation and consumer discovery without the Toys R Us footprint.

Richard: Can you tell us about your franchise system?

Bob:     HobbyTown began franchising in 1985 and currently has locations in 41 states, the largest footprint of any chain in the hobby industry. Our retail store concept has evolved from the traditional hobby store offerings such as model trains, plastics, and radio control to an expanded merchandise mix with a growing emphasis on toys and activities. HobbyTown provides franchisees with support in all aspects of business operations including marketing, merchandising, inventory management (we have a proprietary POS system), financial preparation and product distribution. Our website is now integrated with each franchise location providing inventory visibility to consumers for an omni-channel shopping experience that meets modern shopping expectations.

Richard:     What are your plans moving forward in light of the end of Toys R Us.

Bob:     We have expanded our strategic merchandising team to focus on growth and development of the toy category in our stores. We are establishing new vendor relationships for our franchisees to make direct buys and also adding to our mix of inventory for distribution. Our distribution offers franchisees with added value as they can more efficiently replenish inventory without meeting traditional vendor MOQs and can experiment with new toy lines and SKUs with minimal investment. We have reformatted our new store design to allow for more activity space and shelf space dedicated to the toy category. As we move forward, we will more aggressively pursue opportunities with toy vendors for product distribution and participation in our cooperative advertising and marketing efforts.

Richard:     What percentage of your stores are devoted to toys?

Bob:    Each franchise store has a unique footprint and some variance in inventory to cater to the local market and the expertise of the franchise owner. The typical HobbyTown store has about 20% of the inventory and footprint devoted to toys, with many stores dedicating up to 40-50% to the category.

Richard:     What do you see as the natural nexus between hobby and play?

Bob:    We have always considered the HobbyTown merchandise mix as a “screen alternative” that engages your mind and hands. Our demographic reaches all ages and begins with juvenile toys such as wooden trains that can inspire a lifelong passion for the model railroading hobby. We recognize that our products must be age appropriate to provide an experience that exceeds expectations for the customer and if that spark is ignited, child’s play can continue a progression through adulthood from toys to hobbies.

If anyone wants to know more about the HobbyTown Franchise opportunities, click the LEARN MORE button today.

HobbyTown Growing Toy Sales Nationwide

HobbyTown is the largest nationwide footprint of hobby/toy retail stores in the U.S., with nearly 150 franchise stores in 41 states. Established in 1985, HobbyTown retail stores have evolved from a merchandise mix of traditional hobby lines (model trains, radio control, plastic models, rockets, etc.) to a broader mix with a growing emphasis on specialty toys. HobbyTown stores are well suited to expand and support toy sales, as they are very accustomed to providing customers with a shopping experience that goes beyond the sale with in-store events, activities, and a website to support omnichannel shopping.

The HobbyTown Franchise Service & Support facility based in Lincoln, Neb. recently reorganized to better support the strategic direction to expand toy sales with a buying and merchandising team under the direction of Merchandising Strategy SVP Tim Van Ert. HobbyTown corporate maintains vendor relationships to support franchise direct purchasing programs and product distribution from Lincoln, Neb. The annual HobbyTown National Convention held in Lincoln, Neb from July 10 to 12 will host a buying trade show that will feature an expanded presence of specialty toy vendors. See www.hobbytownconvention.com for exhibitor information.

HobbyTown franchise stores located in markets previously serviced by Toys “R” Us are preparing to fill the void with expanded inventory and dedicated merchandising space for the toy category. Toy manufacturers seeking product placement in HobbyTown are advised to contact lead toy buyer Celeste Vanderlip at 203.257.4001 or celestev@hobbytown.com.

If you are interested in learning more about owning a HobbyTown Franchise, click the LEARN MORE button.