If you're in the market for a radio-controlled car, model airplane, helicopter, or boat, look no further than Brownie's Hobby Shop.
The Port Richmond storefront is bursting with do-it-yourself building kits and all of the accessories that come with old school crafting.
"We are a full line hobby shop. And that's not something you find these days," said John Brown, the owner of Brownie's Hobbies.
The shop was opened in 1971 by Brown's parents, George and Mary Lou. The Browns were avid radio-controlled car racers and model plane builders and brought their passion into their store.
It's a space where customers become friends, where Brown himself offers assistance in building and rebuilding the radio-controlled cars and planes of his patrons.
(John Brown, left, works at the shop his parents — avid radio-controlled car racers and model plane builders — opened in 1971. Amanda Farinacci/NY1.)
As many hobby shops have turned to the latest gadgets and smart toys, Brownie's hasn't changed its mission with changing times.
"We are stuck in time here. This is not your typical hobby shop in the modern world. We're not a chain store," Brown said. "We are what is considered a mom and pop shop. Even though mom and dad aren't with us anymore, this is the feel I want everyone to have when they walk in."
There's so much on the shelves, Brown himself sometimes has a hard time locating things.
"I don't really have much in the way of an inventory order," he said. "Things go on the shelf where they fit. And that makes people look."
Patrons as young as six years old come in searching for their first model car kit to fulfill a Boy Scouts badge. But the bulk of the business belongs to repeat customers like John Revilla, who has been building toy cars and racing them since he was a boy.
"It has everything I need. And I've been coming here for years, coming here for like over 20 years," Revilla.
Brownie's existed at a location next door for 10 years before moving to its current spot, to a space three times its original size. Even in the larger space, the store is packed to the gills.
"Even though the models might exist already in the past, they just keep remaking them, and new models come along and new interests come along," Brown said. "So I don't give up on the old. I just keep getting everything."
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