When boredom struck in the thick of the pandemic, hobby shops were there to help.
“We’re selling fun and sharing the joy and passion of hobbies,” said Jeremy Waltzer, owner of Hobby Quarters in Foxboro.
With the pandemic having left many people stuck at home, Waltzer said he and his team of three others had the opportunity to share their passions -- from RC trucks, cars, boats, planes, and drones, to building model supplies, trains, and slot cars -- with new and repeat customers.
“We didn’t suffer like restaurants and other businesses did,” Waltzer said. “We literally tripled or quadrupled our sales because the products we sell were the perfect solution for the boredom caused by COVID-19.”
“In the very beginning of it, our shelves were bare, and people were coming in in droves,” he added. “A lot of people seemed to rediscover building things, like models. We sold a lot of models and we sold a lot of rockets. People didn’t just want to buy things that were ready to run, they wanted to build things.”
Hobby Quarters started as an online store in 2003. In 2005, the business opened its first storefront, and about eight years ago, it moved into a larger building at 30 Commercial St.
According to a report from LendingTree, approximately 60% of Americans adopted a variety of new hobbies, like reading, cooking and gardening, as COVID-19 caused shutdowns throughout the United States.
Of those who tested out new pastime activities, about 82 percent of them had been furloughed or laid off from their jobs.
“What’s really cool about hobbies is that a parent can share their passion with their kids, and they’re creating memories while doing it,” Waltzer said. “I can’t even tell you how many people walk in here and say, ‘Man, my dad and I played with trains when I was a kid,’ or, ‘I built a Tamiya truck when I was a kid.’ Those are memories, and they’re priceless.”
Since children have returned to school and adults to work, business at Hobby Quarters has gradually begun to slow down over the course of the past few months, though Waltzer said that business is still doing better than it was in pre-pandemic times.
“I’m hopeful that a percentage of the new customers that we saw will stay in the hobby they adopted,” Waltzer said.
“These are great activities that adults, families, and children can do together,” Waltzer added. “Your kids grow so fast, and the time that you have with them is so precious, so I’m all about teaching and educating parents about how precious your time is. You build memories doing these kinds of activities. And, what do you have at the end of the day? Your memories.”