NEWPORT NEWS –For Scott and Kelly Dayton, moving their Hobbytown store from Newport News to Yorktown is more than just a sound business decision; it is a homecoming.
They have been at the store’s Jefferson Avenue location in Newport News since 2001. Now, the couple needs more space for their store. When an opportunity came up to occupy an 8,300 square-foot space in Village Square Creek at Kiln Creek on Victory Boulevard in York County, Scott and Kelly jumped on the opportunity. To them, it is an opportunity to move their business into their own community.
“People in Yorktown have known we are here and they come here,” said Scott, who has been a resident of Yorktown since the 1990s. “It feels like going home, even though its just a few miles.”
HobbyTown, formerly known as HobbyTown USA, is headquartered in Lincoln, Neb. and has over 100 locations across the country. It specializes in radio control (RC) hobbies, scale models, as well educational materials for science, technology engineering and math (STEM).
The franchise first caught Scott’s eye in the early-1990s while on family vacations to see his father in Phoenix, Ariz.
“My dad was a hobbyist. He was into the RC cars he built them and did all that stuff,” Scott said. “Since that was his hobby, we would go to the RC racetrack near his house, which was located at HobbyTown.”
At the time, Scott had been working in the defense industry after spending 12 years as an engineer in the U.S. Air Force. He was looking for a change of pace and, after doing some research, he realized that buying a HobbyTown franchise would allow him to combine his love of math and science with his his interest in business.
With that, Scott and Kelly opened their first store in Virginia Beach and have not looked back since.
Over the last 20 years, Scott has watched the industry change and has made moves to change with it.
“Back when I started, there were still some mailorder companies and magazine advertisements that don’t exist much anymore,” Scott said. “Everything is online now. It was a similar competitor but it didn’t have the speed of today’s internet. Everything you can find here can be found on the internet. So we have to be good at sourcing so that we can match the internet prices.”
While Scott prides himself on his stores’ ability to match prices, he maintains that the human element is just as crucial to his business model.
“We want the store experience to speak for itself,” he said. “Why would you want to sit at home when you can come here and talk, feel it, touch it, learn about it. If you break it, we’ll help you fix it. That is our competitive advantage.”
On top of offering in-person service, HobbyTown also serves as a space for hobbyists to meet.
“One of our activities is guys come here and builds models and socializes,” Scott said. “It is almost like a club, but there is nothing formal about it. Some of our stores have micro RC tracks that people can run their cars in the store and have a good time.”
Recognizing the importance of fostering community outside the store, Scott has made contributions to local STEM organizations.
“Now that I have been doing this for 20 years, I have seen what were little kids coming into the store, bring their own kids,” Scott said. “Some of those kids have gone on to be pilots or other careers in math and science, but they got their start coming here.”
When the new location opens in June, Scott is looking forward to building the same kind conducive environment within the York County community.