Travis Propper of Tillsonburg says he’s “a bit of a hobbyist” and opening Tillsonburg’s Hobby Central just made a lot of sense.
“What makes it easy for me is that I’m passionate about it,” said Propper. “These are hobbies that I’m into, so it’s a comfort zone for me. I love everything about the store. Even though I’ve never done the resin or the diamond art, I’m just as passionate about that as I am about my RC stuff. I want to make sure that what they are getting is what they want or they are going to be satisfied with it.
“I like doing puzzles, and RCs (remote control models) are my thing. I just got my fingers into the RC world, so I’m making some space to bring that in.”
When Propper opened Tillsonburg’s Hobby Central – at 75 Broadway Unit 2 (Baldwin Street entrance) – on July 21, he started stocking shelves with some of his own collections. Those collections include about 3,000 used movies.
“I have a lot of movies, I love my movies,” he laughed.
During the interview, two customers walked in looking for resin. They wanted larger quantities than Propper had on the shelf.
The challenge, said Propper, is stocking based on demand for both serious and casual hobbyists.
The two customers then asked about a rock collection on display, which is just another example of the diverse hobbies available. There are also crafting and art supplies, plastic models and paints, toys, puzzles, and more.
“This is the start of the RC products,” said Propper, who builds RC cars and will be selling kits and materials. “These are the wire components.
“Also, a lot of custom orders. I’m really big into doing that for people. They know what they want and sometimes I’m not always carrying that, stores don’t, so I bring it in for them.”
Propper’s largest collection is sports cards, which had not been set up yet last week.
“I probably have about 500,000 cards at least. But to sell them over the internet, they wanted a storefront. So in order to get that full amount that I want for it, they want to see it in an established store. They want to know that if there’s a problem with the card there’s someone they can go back to, rather than someone out of their home. So that was kind of my motivation to start this store.”
Propper also sells hobby and craft items on consignment.
“We have someone selling buttons (and crocheted bags). We had someone come in that wants to sell used RC cars. They don’t want to just throw it on Facebook. Instead of me buying it outright, we put it on the shelves and wait for it to sell and I take a small commission based on the 20 per cent markup that I’m making on all of my other products.”
Propper knows he is competing against online juggernauts, but he has a “workaround.”
“Basically, the shipping fees and taxes that they have to pay on that one item they want is my 20 per cent that I’m making. So if I purchase 10 different things, I’m only paying shipping once as opposed to shipping multiple things. It gets a little cheaper that way, and my mark-up is basically exactly what they would be paying on Amazon so that’s why a lot of times it might be 50 cents more in my store but in reality they are seeing what they are going to get, whereas on Amazon it’s hit and miss.”