Marvin Walder/The Broadside
Founded in 1974, D’s Hobbies is a local family-owned and operated store that offers everything from RC boats and planes, to rock crawlers, trucks, race cars, and dune buggies. After entering the Bend store, it quickly becomes apparent that the store’s focus is on RC trucks and buggies. Guests are greeted by the gargantuan Traxxas X-Maxx front and center, a 1/5th scale RC monster truck that is capable of speeds over 50 mph (pictured below). The right wall of the store is lined with vehicles and parts from brands like Arrma and Traxxas, further contributing to the feeling that you’re in a serious RC racer’s workshop. Aside from just selling vehicles and parts, Bend’s D’s Hobbies also offers vehicle servicing and repairs, which has increasingly become one of the main focuses of the store.
Just like any local business, D’s Hobbies has been affected by the current pandemic, but likely not in the way that most would expect. Business is actually booming, with the store being twice as busy as before the pandemic. The majority of this activity comes from the much higher demand for parts, servicing, and repairs of vehicles. Ryan Thomas, the fourth owner of the store starting in 2014, considers this shift towards servicing and repairs as the specialization of the store. The biggest pandemic-related hurdle to these pursuits is the massive shortage and backorder of key vehicle parts. There are some customer vehicles that suffer months of wait times for repairs, all because parts from large manufacturers are not available. This is because the large manufacturers of these specific parts are still struggling to catch up after being shut down for months, causing very similar conditions to the current PC parts market where supply is far from covering demand.
Another large and surprisingly under highlighted aspect of the pandemic’s effect on small businesses such as D’s Hobbies is the lack of available labor. With many people holding off of work due to personal circumstances, health worries, or employment benefits, local businesses have struggled to find the employees to get things back up and running. This has put an extra burden on those already working to figure things out with limited staff, which is very stressful especially in a service-oriented workplace. For D’s Hobbies, the large increase in vehicle service and repair jobs has created a lot of work, and the lack of extra staff means that there’s just more weight on the employees that are present.
Despite these challenges, Ryan Thomas is optimistic that businesses such as D’s Hobbies can make it through these times, and that the teams behind them will benefit greatly from the experience. The D’s Hobbies team is made up of people that have a shared passion for RC vehicles, and Ryan Thomas states that something that has helped them be successful is that: “We are not in it for the money (there are easier ways to make a living). We genuinely enjoy helping people be successful in the hobby we love.” It’s very likely that the shared passion for RC vehicles and the community aspect of the store is a large component of what has propelled them through these challenges, and what will allow them to be successful in the future. For those interested in RC vehicle repair services, or visiting the D’s Hobbies store, information can be found on the Bend store’s website.