The owners of Phil's Hobby Shop will host the grand opening of a 6,000-square-foot location at 3938 W. Jefferson Blvd. in the Parkwest Shopping Center on July 7. Other locations are on Lake Avenue and North Clinton Street in Fort Wayne, with another in Defiance, Ohio.
Founded by Phil Gieseking in 1975, the hobby shop is now a fixture in the tri-state area, offering a plethora of hobby items that includes toy rocket launch sets, model trains and educational kits.
Gieseking's son, Steve, 42, took over the Lake Avenue location and Internet operation in early 2011, alongside his business partner, Paris McFarthing, 27.
“To keep going with our ambitions, we had to expand,” said McFarthing. “We look at this as a franchise opportunity.”
The second-generation owners said they need more space despite many online sales, especially for Nerf products, and that this expansion is more than 10 years in the making. Neither could give an exact dollar amount for the expansion costs, but McFarthing said it “was very well worth it.” They have added two full-time and three part-time employees through the expansion.
The new location will buy and sell used items. The owners are planning for a service center that would include outside products, McFarthing said. The team already services from Power Wheels to clocks. Five times larger than the original Lake Avenue location, the Parkwest location will offer more room for displays and products, featuring a 16-foot slot car track and custom train display by local modeler Jeff Ashby.
From the hobby purist to the parent shopping for a birthday present, the hobby store seems to have something for everyone.
“I don't do a lot with my collecting,” said customer Jim Gordon, 35, of Fort Wayne, “but I like the controlled cars and race them in my apartment … this is a good hobby shop for that.”
On the other end, many local patrons have won international competitions through the help of the shop, including Nick Maxwell, 22, who currently works with Thunder Tiger America, a leader in radio-controlled models. Maxwell was employed by Phil's Hobby Shop 2005-07 and “shows how important the hobby is,” said McFarthing. “Many don't understand what all you can do … we try to be that connecting piece for everyone.”
The grand opening will feature a ribbon-cutting ceremony with live music by Hubie Ashcraft. Food will be provided by Moe's Southwest Grill.