In The News

Retail veteran leaves corporate world to become HobbyTown Franchise Owner and never looks back

If ever there was a person built to be a HobbyTown Franchise Owner, that person is Gary Phillips. A lifetime lover of trains, his parents allege that his first words were, “choo choo.” He describes days when product shipments came to the store as feeling like Christmas morning, and says he has genuinely loved every single day of work since becoming a HobbyTown Franchise Owner.

Phillips is a veteran of the retail industry. He majored in retail in college and spent 24+ years working as a Manager and Buyer for a major department store. By the end of his corporate tenure, he was burned out and looking to make a career move. It was never a question of whether or not he would stay in retail, just which brand he would go with. He looked into different franchise opportunities but ultimately decided in 1999 to become a HobbyTown Franchise Owner because it fulfilled his love of retail and allowed him to spend his time “selling fun.” Regardless of the HobbyTown advantages, he never expected the relationships he would make along the way, from leaning on his Corporate Team to meeting some of his now best friends through HobbyTown events and conferences.

Seventeen years after opening, his passion for HobbyTown and the industry are as apparent as ever. He manages the day-to-day with his business partner and no two days are alike. On any given day, you may find them on the sales floor, in the office, or managing vendor relationships. With all the hustle and bustle of managing the daily operations, Gary talks about how he wishes he was younger so he could have more days in the store. He reflects on his HobbyTown ventures by saying, “Even a bad day here at the store is way better than any good day at my previous career.” Gary is nowhere near ready to give up the store, so that’s why he’s lined up his stepson to be heir of his “hobby kingdom.” The enthusiasm he has for HobbyTown comes naturally to him, “If you don’t have enthusiasm, you are in the wrong business.”

His love of the brand has created a loyal customer base for his store locations in Knoxville and Mount Juliet, TN and he likes to think of his store as a place like Cheers!, where everyone knows your name. His overall goal for the business? To create a comfortable place where you are among friends who share your passions. And, hopefully sell some things along the way.