Several times Steve Gieseking has tried his hand at other professions. But in the end he kept coming back to work at his father’s hobby store, Phil’s Hobby Shop, in Fort Wayne, Ind.
"I knew what I was doing, and I was good at it," Gieseking said. "It was kind of my calling."
Almost two years ago, Gieseking made the career choice permanent when he purchased Phil’s Hobby Shop’s Lake Avenue location from his father. Then he reeled in a partner, Paris McFarthing, who also couldn’t stay away from Phil’s.
Gieseking and McFarthing, who use the same company name but run their business separate from Gieseking’s father’s, opened a second Phil’s Hobby Shop location in June and held the grand opening in July.
Gieseking called the new, 6,000-square-foot location a "hobby experience." The store has five 42-inch flat-screen televisions that show the sort of product the store carries. Gieseking said the new location also focuses more on product demonstrations; it has an 8-by-4-foot model railroad display and an 8-by-16-foot slot car table, where customers can rent cars and race.
The new store has already tripled the Lake Avenue store’s typical one-month sales, Gieseking said.
McFarthing has been a Phil’s customer since he was 8 years old. When Gieseking heard McFarthing had graduated from college and was interviewing for jobs, Giese-king offered him a job as co-owner.
Known more as "the face of Phil’s," Gieseking said he handles the sales, while McFarthing, a business school grad, is the numbers guy.
Now that the new Phil’s location has opened, the two plan to remodel and reinvent the Lake Avenue location, perhaps as a specialty hobby shop.