SPOTLIGHT: Sacha Meale, The Hobbies Factory
Sacha Meale has made a business of doing things just a little bit differently.
The man behind The Hobbies Factory, Meale has taken the concept of a traditional hobby shop and transformed it into an inclusive and inviting environment.
It’s almost a club, in many respects; a destination and activity as much as a retail operation.
In doing so, he’s helping newcomers develop skills, and introduce kids to new ideas away from the electronically dominated world they now inhabit.
“The Hobbies Factory is a massive point of difference for any other retailer in regard to the factory element of workshops and building,” Meale explained.
“The interpretation of that is varied for the skills to suit the skill level of the individual.
“We have trestle tables folded out, we have workshops, gosh, we do gift packs to take home, or painting in store.”
That’s seen kids from the age of three decorate their own scale car, a keepsake and way of introducing themselves to the hobby.
Meale is a car guy. More specifically, he’s a Mazda tragic, with a couple to his name – running completely stock.
He sells model kits, some military but primarily automotive, and even carries a range of radio-controlled components.
At the heart of it, The Hobbies Factory is a hobby shop, but it’s more than that.
Having worked in the industry as an employee, Meale took the leap to start his own businesses, looking to improve on areas where he felt the market wasn’t being met.
What’s resulted is an interactive business which perfectly resonates with his own personality; a fixer, a tinkerer, and an enthusiastic advocate for the sorts of hobbies he enjoyed as a kid.
“The passion or the interest has always been there, it’s a way of life for me,” he explained.
“Any investment in yourself financially… is a bit daunting because at that stage, you don’t know what the end game is going to be.
“And I still to this moment now, I don’t know, and I’m comfortable with that, I’m familiar with it.
“It’s just so me, it’s so natural, just through the norm for me to be fixing, modding, tinkering.
“But the support of my lovely wife, and the clientele justified [it].”
Meale’s business comes at a time when many hobby shops are moving online, as pressure from the internet and globalisation removes the need for brick-and-mortar stores.
That’s where the strength of his model comes into its own; he has built more than a business but has fostered a community and is consciously looking to inspire the next generation.
His product range reflects that, with the shelves stocked with model kits for purchase, in addition to the range of hands-on offerings and courses available.
He has adopted an approach with his customers which helps them develop skills and confidence to tackle more complex aspects of modelling.
“You could walk in with absolutely nothing but an interest in it and walk out with a stepping stone and something potentially underneath your arm,” he explained.
“Or we can have an airbrush workshop,” he added.
“Do an airbrush course 101 how-to, and you would touch that and by the end of it you would walk out knowledgeable, excited or keen to go on to the next chapter.
“And then we can work along that way as well.
“We’re very hands on,” he summarised.
“Tables out, kitted up, so to speak and ready to go.”
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