Posts Tagged: toy industry

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HobbyTown Franchise Owners Aren’t Playing Around When it Comes to Toy Sales

Last December, our friend had a serious problem. He had promised his daughter Hatchimals for Christmas but could not find them anywhere. He called stores. He obsessively looked online. He asked anyone and everyone if they had perhaps bought extras that they could sell him. No such luck. That regrettable episode in his life is what happens when a certain item becomes a craze. Remember Furbies? Tamagotchis? It seems every year there is the “it” toy or accessory that every child cannot live without.

This is all to say that the toy industry remains strong and is getting stronger. Experts predict it will grow to $135 billion+ by 2020, even with the shuttering of Toys R’ Us locations throughout the U.S. HobbyTown is perfectly positioned to capitalize on this, with toys making up 20% of the merchandise mix in our nationwide footprint of stores in 41 states.. Hot toys this year are LOL Surprise, Hot Wheels 50th Anniversary collectibles, Breakout Beasts, NERF, pet-related toys, and perennial favorite LEGO, which offers a Mindstorms set that retails for $350!

For parents or older kids, anything remote-controlled (RC in hobby-speak) is hot, hot, hot.

Phillip Boyer is a HobbyTown Franchise Owner in Georgia. Right now, rock-crawling RC trucks are the craze in his area—so much so that he intends to build a rock-crawling track in his store. Racers compete with each other, and, no surprise, when the competition ends, they shop for tools and parts that can soup up the truck and give them an edge for the next race. That kind of customer loyalty is pure gold for our HobbyTown franchise stores.

“Our stores are the go-to for all types of fun – from games to remote control vehicles and planes,” said AJ Mallory, Director of Marketing. “The communities we serve rely on our expertise and selections for their favorite hobby or pastime.”

If you’ve been toying with the idea of owning a hobby franchise, HobbyTown is the only game in town. Click the LEARN MORE button 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.