EVERETT — Home or hardware store? DIY store or home?
It was one or the other for Travis Lovestedt, a Marysville realtor.
He went with Broadway Hobbies, a longtime Everett company that sells model trains, planes, boats and cars.
Lovestedt was the company’s listing agent when it came on the market.
Then it hit him, “Why wouldn’t I just buy the company?” said Lovestedt.
Why not? Why not, indeed.
The books looked good. The store was profitable. Sales of remote control cars and other hobby items have accelerated during the pandemic.
“The house can wait,” said Lovestedt, 31, who got the keys to the store on Sept. 9.
You kind of think someone Lovestedt’s age would like Xbox, PlayStation, or video games. But growing up in Everett, he and his father built model cars and raced remote control cars. Off-the-shelf models typically travel at 30 miles per hour. Inflated versions can reach 70 to 100 mph, Lovestedt said.
“I never thought I would buy a DIY store, but it’s a lot of fun and I love it,” Lovestedt said.
“He was the right buyer,” said Lou DeBenny, the store’s former owner and longtime friend of Lovestedt’s father.
“I’ve known Travis since he was little,” said DeBenny, who bought the company in 2003.
A month after his purchase, Lovestedt has just uncovered the secrets of the store’s three-story inventory.
Broadway Hobbies at 2531 Broadway has been in business under one name or another since the 1970s. The structure, a former dairy, dates back to 1929.
In the basement, Lovestedt found vintage Lionel train and slot car sets. It is sure that there are more hiding places in the network of shelves.
The ground floor is packed with remote-control buggies, monster trucks, and low-riders in DayGlo greens, blues, and reds. (Battery-powered remotes are a $2.5 billion global industry.)
Model railroad fans can pick up an engine or bubble pack of tiny N-scale farmers, trees, dogs and cows (just half an inch tall) to populate their dioramas.
Model planes and cars run the gamut, from a Hawker MK-1 Hurricane to a 1977 Ford Pintos (add your own flames). There are a couple of odd items on the shelves, like a 1960s motorized bridge and toll highway set and a “Soviet Soldiers at Rest” kit.
Lovestedt plans to launch an online store to boost sales, possibly setting up a cafe-bar on the second floor, which houses model railroad plans and forest landscapes. Tiny trains criss-cross tiny towns. The skid road scene – a wooden track whose slats were greased with bacon grease to keep the logs on a roll – could be the outskirts of Everett, circa 1893!
“He’s really trying to make improvements,” said Ox Jones, who has worked at the hardware store for six years and runs the radio-controlled repair station. Jones is one of the store’s two employees.
Most customers are 35 and older.
“You have grandfathers and fathers bringing their kids,” Lovestedt said. But young customers are finding their way to the store. He hopes to seduce others. From his office on the first floor, he continues to work as an itinerant real estate agent and notary.
Lovestedt’s 6 year old son loves the store.
Carey Hall, from Marysville, discovered Broadway Hobbies a couple of years ago.
“I got interested in remote control cars and decided to stop. I met Ox here and he pointed me in the right direction,” said Hall, who has since added boats and planes to his stable.
The appeal of the hobby includes the camaraderie of other RC enthusiasts and the ability to get out and drive, float, or pilot his cars, boats, and planes.
Adding to his collection — he has a room dedicated to his hobby — is a temptation.
“Today I brought something to fix, and I’ll probably walk away with something I really don’t need,” Hall said with a laugh.