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Hub Hobby celebrates Neighborhood Toy Store Day

By Nick Bullock
Published: November 29, 2012
A local board game creator demonstrates her game at Hub Hobby in Minnesota on Neighborhood Toy Store Day.
Photo by Hub Hobby
Hub Hobby raffles off hobby products and toys during Neighborhood Toy Store Day.
Photo by Hub Hobby
Hub Hobby, with two Minnesota locations, sells games, puzzles and toys in addition to more traditional hobby products. And owner Todd Andersen attributes at least part of his stores’ success to those toys and games.

“We’ve had no economic downturn,” he said.

So when the third annual Neighborhood Toy Store Day rolled around on Nov. 10, Andersen was eager to participate, as he has for the past two years.

Neighborhood Toy Store Day was established by the American Specialty Toy and Retailing Association to introduce families to local toy stores. ASTRA’s goal was to make communities aware of the value local retailers provide through such avenues as employment and taxes, ASTRA President Kathleen McHugh said. Another benefit was to introduce parents to the wide range of specialty and educational toys that they wouldn’t likely find at a big box retailer.

This year, between 300 and 400 stores throughout the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico participated in the Neighborhood Toy Store Day, McHugh said. 

That list included Hub Hobby, which was traditionally a hobby store, but started offering specialty toys and games about 15 years ago, Andersen said. 

Andersen said he knows some hobby stores disapprove of the fact that Hub Hobby sells toys, but diversifying his product selection has helped his store survive in tough economic times. “I know for a lot of stores, both toy stores and hobby stores, it has been difficult,” he said. “And yet we’ve been sailing right along. 

“… It’s been nice to have a foot in both camps, but it makes it a challenge because they are two different demographics, if you will. There certainly is some overlap, but at times we think we’re schizophrenic.”

For Hub Hobby, there have been several benefits to selling toys along with hobby products. Toys tend to have a larger margin, Andersen said. Toys also don’t become obsolete as fast as some of the more technologically advanced hobby products. And, finally, toys attract families with young children, who often become customers for life as they grow up and “graduate” to hobby products.

“It expands your customer lifespan,” he said.

Today, about a third of Hub Hobby’s merchandise falls under what Andersen calls “general merchandise,” which includes toys, games, puzzles and educational products.

For the Neighborhood Toy Store Day, Hub Hobby demonstrated some of those general merchandise products. The store also set up a display featuring some of ASTRA’s “best toys for kids” selections, Andersen said. A face painter and a balloon artist were also on hand.

ASTRA provides its stores with some marketing materials, but leaves promotion of the day up to each individual store. “A lot of [toy stores] connected with local charities and gave a portion of their sales to local charities,” McHugh said. “A lot did toy drives to help victims of Hurricane Sandy.”

Neighborhood Toy Store Day was also designed to educate consumers of the benefit of shopping locally, she said. “A dollar spent at a locally owned store creates a multiplier effect in a local economy,” McHugh said. “For each dollar that you spend at an independent business in your community, three or more times as much typically goes back into the local economy compared to a dollar spent at a retailer owned by a chain.”