Trains, Planes, Rockets and More
The hobby shops of yesteryear, where a kid could be a kid and imagination could run wild, are hard to come by these days.
The Woodstock Square, however, is home to a store paying homage to the personable hobby shops so many people relished during their childhoods. Woodstock Hobbies (124 Cass St. in Woodstock) caters to just about every hobbyist’s needs.
The store carries supplies for train layouts, wooden ship models, plastic models, art supplies, chemistry sets, radio controlled vehicles and aircraft, slot cars and even rockets. For the past three years, the store has been catering to their new and loyal clientele.
“We noticed that customer service was lacking in a number of stores,” said Sharon Pfeiffer, who owns Woodstock Hobbies with her husband, Bill. “We thought it would be nice to provide that customer service, so we decided to open our own business and work for ourselves.”
With Bill’s knowledge of hobbies, from a childhood spent building models, rockets and other projects, the store came to be a perfect fit for the couple and the community.
“We opened the day after Thanksgiving,” said Sharon. “We worked all Thanksgiving night setting up the store for the opening the next day. Bill’s parents brought Thanksgiving dinner and we had it right here on the counter.”
The store was a bit empty when they first opened their doors, but through the years the merchandise has increased to accommodate their customers.
“We’ve noticed we have many O-scale train people, and due to increasing requests, our HO- and N-scale train items are growing,” said Sharon. “More people are showing an interest in Z-scale trains, which we now carry. Many more plastic modelers are coming in to see the varied selection of cars, aircraft, military items and ships we have. The wooden ship modelers are thrilled to see so many ship kits and supplies.”
Sharon says the ships are a popular item, but may take anywhere from a weekend to years to complete.
Not all hobbies take up the better part of your year. Plastic models, and slot car and radio-controlled starter sets are great for newbie hobbyists and youngsters. On the other hand, a seasoned hobbyist can find plenty of items to customize their projects.
Hobbies for All
“Hobbies last a lifetime,” said Bill. “A video game lasts a few hours. Studies have shown that people who have a hobby live longer because their lives are less stressful.”
“They are also more interesting to talk to,” said Sharon. “A lot of modelers research their subjects.”
History, mechanics, electrical systems and technology are just a few of the things modelers, flyers and train enthusiasts learn about through their hobbies.
“We have a young man who comes in,” said Bill. “He details his aircraft and buys a book about each one to learn about the intricacies and variations of the aircraft.”
“Likewise, train people will find out the history or era of their engine and build their entire layout in that style,” added Sharon.
The investment hobbyists put into their passion is remarkable, especially at a time when things such as models, trains and remote-controlled cars have gone by the wayside in lieu of computer games, video games and television.
“It would be nice to see more kids getting into hobbies,” said Sharon.
“Hobbies are something that multiple generations can do together,” added Bill.
“Now that the baby boomers are approaching retirement and taking out their old trains to play with, they are getting their children and grandchildren involved.”
“Parents are introducing their kids to the snap-together models,” said Sharon. “They are spending time with each other, working to build something. Another fun family thing to do is launch rockets.”
Rocket launching is a hobby that kids can definitely get interested in. Bill has already worked with local Cub Scout troops to demonstrate how to build and launch rockets.
ill has also worked with the Cub Scouts on their annual pinewood derby race. The store stocks supplies and offers their pinewood derby track by appointment.
Woodstock Hobbies also hosts slot car birthday parties. The slot car track can accommodate eight children at a time. If a party has more children, they can take turns.
The Customer is King
Bill and Sharon pride themselves on making their customers’ experience at the store a success. They got into the business to put customer service first, and they have kept to this mission.
“If I can’t answer your questions, I’ll find out for you,” said Bill. “I’m not going to tell my customer something that is incorrect. We can give our customer the kind of service that is lacking in our Internet-based society.”
“If you buy something off the Internet, you can’t ask questions or get help,” added Sharon. Bill and Sharon are always available to answer customers’ questions and guarantee the quality of the products they sell.
“I don’t sell disposable items,” said Bill. “I like to try everything out first, and if I do not like the quality of an item, I will not carry it. If we cannot get parts for an item, you will not see it in this store.”
When they have a spare moment, Bill and Sharon have hobbies outside the shop. Sharon likes to oil paint, while Bill maintains antique farm equipment. He is also a crossing guard at Dean Street Elementary School.
“I served 10 years in the military,” said Bill. “I feel this is my way of continuing to serve my community.”