November 27, 2020
Written By: Main Street Square
Who’s Hobby House has been a staple in Downtown Rapid City since 1950 and has been in the Kingsbury family since 1957. Clancy Kingsbury, a third generation owner of Who’s Hobby House, continues to carry on the tradition of fun and customer service started by his grandfather 63 years ago. “I was selling insurance in 1992 when my father said he was going to sell the hobby shop. I thought, I would rather sell toys than insurance so I made the change into the family business.”
Over the next 28 years Who’s Hobby House has changed a lot, including the space that they call home. “Fires destroyed multiple buildings in downtown Rapid City and through the years we moved a couple of times until we built the current building in 1996. The space was a vacant parking lot and has been our home since it was finished,” stated Kingsbury.
The Kingsbury family business expanded again in 2011 when Somer Kinsbury, Clancy’s wife, opened up Who’s Toy House at the Shops at Main Street Square. “We took the same customer service approach at the toy store that had already been in place at the hobby shop. If we can keep our customers happy, we have a leg up as the online option.” As the retail market continued to change with the explosion of companies like Amazon, these local businesses continued to focus on their repeat customers to grow their business. “Because we both have niche shops we want to ensure we are there for our repeat customers. We have customers from everywhere in the region who come to see us because they know we will take care of them,” stated Somer.
When asked what kind of advice would this longtime business owner give to a new business owner Clancy simply stated, “You have to listen and pay attention to what your customers are asking for and what they are wanting. So many businesses prioritize their business on what their owner likes rather than what the customer likes. Set your personal preferences aside, focus on the business [and] not emotion. Cater your business to that.”
Both owners place an emphasis on being involved in all aspects of the business, including giving back, especially during the holiday season. Who’s Toy House is a drop off for Toy’s for Tots during the holiday season they also work with the Care Center to supply, maintain and replenish all of the toys at the Care Campus. “No matter what families have going on in their lives we cannot forget that it is not these kids fault. We just hope that they can enjoy being kids despite their families situation. That’s important to us."
Even through the evolution of the internet, Amazon and online shopping options, local businesses owners like the Kingsbury’s continue to find ways to remain relevant in the world of retail, even during a pandemic. “Covid has actually helped the toy industry. Families are spending more time together and are able to reconnect to hobbies and each other. This will become even more important over the holiday season and we are glad to be a part of that any way we can,” said Clancy Kingsbury.
- The WHO in Who’s Hobby House is an acronym of the original owner’s name, William Howard Ostenberg. It has been part of the families legacy for the past 63 years.
- The businesses iconic neon sign is on the National Registry of Historic Signs and cost $1,000 when it was made in 1951 and the original owner paid $50 a month until the sign was paid off.
- Clancy’s hobby is radio controlled airplanes. His father and grandfather didn’t have hobbies that involved the store.
- The most popular trend right now is radio controlled cars and trucks, maybe its because people can enjoy those year round in smaller areas.
- In the year 2000, Clancy and Who’s Hobby House was awarded the National Hobby Store of the Year Award presented at the Radio Control Hobby Trade Association convention in Chicago, Illinois.