Santa Clara radio control (RC) hobbyists have a customer-friendly, new place to hang out. Hobby People found its way to the Santa Clara Town Centre, 2090 El Camino Real, last November. It is the southern California franchise’s 19th store–its first in northern California–and is already getting enthusiastic customer reviews, including online at Yelp.
When asked what makes Hobby People special, Santa Clara resident and regular customer Dave Mills didn’t hesitate to respond.
“Their friendliness. They’re willing to talk and go over things and make suggestions. They desire to please customers. And they’re not here to rip you off,” says Mills, who was debating whether to get his wife an electric truck or a nitro gas buggy.
“If the customer feels welcome, that’s the vibe you want,” says charismatic and knowledgeable store manager Mike Wiggins, who moved his family from Pasadena to Santa Clara to open the store. “Keynote is making sure our customers are getting what they need, not what’s the most expensive.”
“This is a popular hobby. There’s just not a light shined on it. The hobby is more than just RC cars. There’s boats, trains, drones, everything. There’s model building, doll houses, jigsaw puzzles. Airplanes and rock crawling trucks are big sellers now. We don’t focus on just one thing. As well as ready-to-go packaged stuff, we’ve got materials to build your own things,” says Wiggins.
He explains that “drifting” is a new craze, using RC model cars that don’t go fast. Instead, they slide, burning rubber when, for example, doing doughnuts.
“It’s a whole different skill set to learn than racing cars,” says Wiggins. “This will definitely keep you safer than doing doughnuts on the street.”
“I’m addicted to the whole hobby scene. I have a passion for this. When I grew up, it wasn’t 15 hours a day on your phone. You had to do something with your hands. For this hobby, you have to read and figure out the problems,” continues Wiggins.
“You have to analyze, trouble shoot. You have to learn everything; nothing is handed to you. The challenge drives me and keeps me in the hobby. The reward is creating and knowing I did it with my own hands.”
Hobby People supervisor Ashly Faria, one of three women out of six employees, agrees.
“It’s a satisfying feeling to know that you built something, fixed something,” she says. The Santa Clara resident and 2012 graduate of Wilson High School learned about the hobby on the job and is already a valued store mechanic.
“Now, I’m more into this hobby than my fiance. He plays with it, breaks it, and I fix it,” says Faria. “Women are intimidated by the hobby. They think it’s a man’s thing, but, really, it’s a personal preference. When we get men in here, we tell them, ‘You’ve got to get her one, too.'”
Wiggins encourages the curious and newcomers to the hobby, saying, “Come and talk to us, so we can get a feel of what you want to do, and we’ll see what your interests and needs are. We’ll teach you to save money by knowing if a part will give you an advantage or be just for looks. We’ll show where you need to put the money. We guarantee the lowest price.”
“We’re here to grow the hobby and want long-term relationships. We have a lot of fun here,” says Wiggins.
“Mike is the greatest. He knows everything about RC and this store. It’s a pleasure working for him,” says team member Ken Kimbrow, a truck driver who retired and started working at Hobby People. “It’s the best thing I ever did. I enjoy it. It’s a family here.”
Visit the Santa Clara Hobby People store on Instagram: hobbypeople_sca or phone (669) 220-1877 for information. The website for the franchise, established in 1972, is www.hobbypeople.net.