“Everything we do out there is fun” at Toms River Toy, Hobby Store

TOMS RIVER, NJ – This is the one phrase that will irritate any parent: “I’m bored.”

Randy Holt has an answer to that: HobbyTown, the toy and hobby store he owns at Indian Head Plaza in Toms River. The store offers a range of toys, games, and crafts to appeal to a range of interests.

“This store is designed for bored people,” Holt said Monday.

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There are Barbie and Ken dolls, with Barbie accessories. There are Polly Pockets and plush toys. There are Dungeons and Dragons and other role-playing games. There is paint by numbers and models to assemble.

There are puzzles. Flat puzzles, 3D puzzles, thousand piece puzzles for adults and 10 piece puzzles for little hands. There are toys that combine fun and learning for children, and toys that allow adults to escape and be children again.

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And there’s a full aisle of Lego toys, from classic block sets to Star Wars, Barbie, and other themed model sets.

“I didn’t want a small assortment,” Holt said, adding that he was hoping to get a Lego figure to display in the store.

Holt said he was looking for something new to do a few years ago when he decided to open HobbyTown, which is a franchise of the National Company.

“I’ve had a lot of businesses in Toms River,” he said, including restaurants and gyms, and he even owned an organic farm for a few years, until the paperwork took it out. force them to give it up.

“I’ve always loved hobbies,” Holt said, and he started researching to see what the options were in Toms River. Back then, there were very few options beyond big box stores like Walmart and Target. Toys R Us, which is set to make a smaller-scale comeback, was starting to close its stores.

“I started to research all the different options,” he said. “I went to all the DIY stores and found out what I didn’t want to be.”

The HobbyTown franchise, however, delivered what it wanted to be.

The store opened in December 2017 and has grown into a thriving business of employees and repeat customers who come for the various hobbies and for the help offered by Holt and his employees.

“They become like family,” said Holt. “They talk to you about everything.

In addition to the selection of racing cars and radio controlled vehicles and model airplanes, the store is also a Radio Shack reseller, which has kept it open as a vital business during the pandemic, a- he declared.

The pandemic drew in people looking for ways to pass the time, Holt said, and among the most popular items were the jigsaw puzzles.

“Our puzzles sold out right away,” he said. From there, attention shifted to R / C vehicles and models – “anything that can be built. Everything that brings families together.”

HobbyTown has a range of radio controlled items, the widest selection in the area, and this has made the store popular “just because we have it”.

“You won’t see that stuff in a Walmart or Target,” he said, as these stores feed off a huge selection with only a few of each item.

“For a small store like us, it makes sense” to offer an intensive selection of radio controlled items and parts.

Holt said his favorite hobby is racing and the store has an elaborate selection of buildable race cars, along with fuel, tires and all the parts needed to keep them on the track.

They also run running leagues one to two nights a week, which attract young people, from young children to retirees, for camaraderie and competition.

Holt gave an interview to Ars Technica in 2019 about racing and model cars at the workshop; video posted on YouTube shows the popularity of the racing league.

“We can’t do as much right now because of the staff,” he said.

Staffing is the hardest part when it comes to being able to meet the needs of all of their customers, as it can’t have employees who are only dedicated to helping customers troubleshoot when their rc vehicles are down. not correctly. This is complicated by customers whose patience is short-lived in the face of staff stress.

“A lot of the stuff that I sell, when customers come in with a problem, we say, ‘Let’s just help ourselves fix it’. But not everyone has the patience, ”said Holt.

Holt said they continue to do whatever they can to serve their customers, whether they buy a package of Play-Dohs or a radio-controlled aircraft that they will build from the wheels.

“We just care about our customers,” said Holt. “I don’t think the toy industry is going to go away. You need people to show you what to do and how it works.”

The store is located in the back corner of Indian Head Plaza on Route 9, between Pasta House and Rising Sun Karate. The shop is open Monday to Saturday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

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