Has anyone been to Willis Hobbies as of late? I was there on Thursday, 1st time in a year and it is totally different. The wall of Trains is gone, just empty shelves. The toys are gone, its a shell of their old self. This was a great hobby store. Anyone know what is going on?
I was there about three weeks ago. Things had changed even three weeks ago. The stairway to the second floor was closed off. At the very front of main floor were the racing cars that had been upstairs. There were no magazines whatsoever and overall the general inventory was light. I imagine that the days and weeks of being closed hurt them, as hobbyists ordered on line. Willis Hobby was/is one of the great hobby/train stores and it would be shame to lose them! John
What has happened at Willis Hobbies is that the co-owners have decided to retire. First they sold the building, then a customer went and bought the business from them. He wants to concentrate on RC and plastic models. As a result most of the model train inventory has been sold off, and the two floors condensed into just the first floor.
Stuart (formerly of Willis Hobbies)
Note: I left Willis Hobbies in the spring of 2017.
As far as I know, Stuart gave the straight answer above. I've been fully retired for well over a year now, but was at the shop about six weeks ago and spoke to both of the owners, Steve and Ken, and learned that they would both be closing up operations and retiring during the summer.
This past Tuesday, just before the big Long Island storm, I got a message from Steve telling me that that was his last day (after 50 years!) and that a new owner would be taking over as of Friday, consolidating operations on the first floor only. I don't know what the he will concentrate on, but I imagine Stuart has it right above.
Willis Hobbies in its old form was one of Long Island's longest lived top tier hobby shops, and it served a couple of generations of hobbyists very well. I'm sure it will be missed. I've worked in New York area hobby shops going back to the legendary Polk's on Fifth Avenue, but Willis Hobbies became home from home to me. I wish Steve, Ken, the old staff, and the new owner well.