RACINE, Wis. — A Wisconsin couple who love Legos opened a brick-and-mortar store, selling what they’re passionate about.
Daniel DeBaets and Joyce Hyatt are the owners of Wiscobricks, a new addition to the Midwest Market @ 2210 inside the Farmer’s Market at 2210 Rapids Drive in Racine, Wisconsin. The store held its grand opening last weekend.
The couple are excited to open their doors, but they may be a little more excited to have some extra space in their home, where their collection and inventory of Lego products and toys used to be.
“All of this was taking up our basement,” DeBaets said with a laugh. Now the pair can share and sell their collection to other enthusiasts.
Like most Lego fans his age, DeBaets fell in love with the toy brand when he was younger. It died out as it grew, until its brother reintroduced it to collect in 2020.
DeBaets, who is an electrician by trade, was on a gig when talking about Lego with a client who had a huge yard of loose bricks.
“They probably gave me two car loads full of Lego,” he said. “I took it home and we started sorting it. We’re still sorting it.”
From there, DeBaets and Hyatt opened a BrickLink store called Wiscobricks.
Brick Link (bricklink.com) is a website authorized by The Lego Company where users can buy and sell individual bricks, whole sets and other specialty Legos that are new, used or retired.
They started attending toy fairs and from this growing popularity began to incorporate other toys besides Lego to appeal to a wider audience. After racking up plenty of inventory, the couple decided to open the Wiscobricks retail store in late December and began building their space in early January.
“It’s a store for everyone. It’s going to be for collectors like me, it’s going to be for kids who just want to come in and possibly find a set they’ve been looking for,” DeBaets said.
According to information from CNBC, Lego’s consumer sales jumped 21% in 2020 thanks to a wider product line, paid e-commerce investments, and a surge in popularity and growth in China. That year, Lego opened 134 outlets, including 91 in China. As of March 2021, the company had 678 stores globally and plans to add 120 more.
But its popularity had the perverse effect of attracting dealers who would buy popular sets for the sole purpose of reselling them at a premium. In November, the Lego Titanic set – retailing for $629 – was seen on eBay sold for over $1,000 shortly after release.
The same thing happened, and still happens, with Pokémon trading cards, as shared by Twin Dragon Games owners Dan and Christine Padilla. last summer.
In love with Lego
As parents themselves, DeBaets and Hyatt want to make sure their Lego sets are priced close to retail or as fair as possible for what they value so kids can access and enjoy Lego.
“I’m not trying to make a million dollars,” DeBaets said. “It’s more about the smile on the child’s face.”
Hyatt became a Lego fan more recently when her husband rediscovered the hobby. The living room of their house is outfitted with parts of her own Lego city, made up of different sets she has built and displayed over the years.
During the holidays, she built a Christmas village.
“I think it’s more of the fulfillment of being able to finish something. And that’s calming,” Hyatt said. “It’s a way to relax.”
For the record, DeBaets and Hyatt are off-the-shelf, make-and-display collectors of the sets, as opposed to boxed and mint-condition collectors.
In addition to making room in their home and wanting to open a new business, the couple are happy to have a way to earn money that allows them to spend more time with their children.
DeBaets and Hyatt have three daughters, one of whom is on the autism spectrum and has also avoidant restrictive food intake disorderleading to significant weight loss and other symptoms due to loss of appetite and interest or poor diet.
Prioritizing their daughter’s needs with doctor’s appointments, DeBaets and Hyatt aren’t able to hold traditional 9-to-5 jobs. Working for themselves means they can get their kids through first.
With their BrickLink store above their physical space, “we can pretty much do it anywhere,” DeBaets said.
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