Carolyn Bye loves the artistry behind stamps.
It's one of the reasons she enjoyed collecting them and it was a hobby she wanted to pass on this Christmas. That search for a stamp collector's book took her to several stores before Book World referred her to Gryphon Hobby.
The hobby shop opened this fall in the mall on Washington Street across from Walgreens in Brainerd. With the closing of hobby stores in Brainerd, such as Northwoods Hobby and Air Hobbies and now Citadel Games, Rawni and James Moses saw an opportunity.
Rawni Moses' uncle, John Hamilton, owned Northwoods Hobby. He remains a resource for their store. Hamilton's brother Roger and Rawni Moses' brother Ben Hamilton all help with the store.
"It's definitely a family business," Rawni Moses said.
With fewer options for a hobby store, the Moses said they hope to fill a niche and gain community support for their hobby/game store.
"We knew there was a need in the community for things of this nature," James Moses said. "A lot of the things we carry you can't get from the big box store."
The couple started their venture into the hobby industry first selling gaming dice online. The business was called Gryphon Enterprises. Eight years ago, James Moses started a dock and boat lift business with the Gryphon Enterprises name and they continued the name for their hobby store.
Rawni Moses said she lost her job in June and after a fruitless search for a new one they decided to take a chance on their own business. They found not all their customers have options for online ordering or have worries about costs and delays. The couple is able to confirm an item is in stock, the price and expected delivery. With fewer stores in the lakes area now competing in the hobby market, the Moses hope they'll be able to find support.
With Citadel Games closing, they decided to include gaming supplies. They don't plan to host tournaments but do have access to a variety of gaming supplies for players.
"What we don't have, we can order for them," James Moses said.
In fact, the store's inventory has grown weekly as they get input from customers on hobbies. One request meant an order for cribbage board pegs so they expect to be set in that department for some time to come. They are also a drop site for Toys for Kids.
The store has a little bit of everything: model trains, planes, automobiles, rock tumblers, paint by number sets, science kits, latch hook, leather working, coin collecting, beer brewing supplies, role-playing game products, remote control cars, even a building kit designed for the young aspiring architect.
Customers range from retirees to children.
"Hopefully we'll be able to grow it," James Moses said of the business. "It's a slow grow design. We want to be around a long time."
They won't mind being in a position to seek a bigger store down the road. For now, the biggest challenge may be in letting customers know about the parking lot which accesses a rear entrance to the store. Customers were coming through that back door with regularity last week.
The Moses didn't have a stamp collector's book but worked with Bye at the counter, searching online for the book she was looking for and came up with one that seemed to work. They offered to contact the company to see if they could get the product in for her Christmas giving and planned to followup with her in the next few days. Bye said they were willing to work with her to see what they could come up with even though they didn't have it right on hand at the store.
RENEE RICHARDSON may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5852.