Hobby Hut is closing after 38 years in Fargo-Moorhead
"Come in, get your stuff now!" Owners Mark and Stacia Erdmann have started the hobbyist haven's going-out-of-business sale.
FARGO — Hobby Hut, a haven for Fargo-Moorhead hobbyists, is closing.
Owners Mark and Stacia Erdmann recently announced on Facebook their plan to shutter the shop at 4600 17th Ave. S.
The going-out-of-business sale started Tuesday, Nov. 1.
Mark Erdmann said declining health was the deciding factor in the decision to close the business he’s run in Moorhead and then Fargo for 38 years.
“I can’t work anymore,” he said Wednesday, Nov. 2. “Also, really, I’m ready to retire right now. But, if I didn’t have this issue, I probably wouldn’t. I’d still be open.”
The couple has been trying to sell Hobby Hut for a year.
“We just could not find someone who was ready to jump into the thing. We had one guy that was right until the end of October. He was ready, and things happened, and he said, ‘I just can’t do it.’ He wanted to but, yeah, it fell through,” Mark Erdmann said.
He’ll still entertain an offer for the shop, but it will have to come soon.
“It’s time for me to get out and enjoy myself as much as possible,” Erdmann said.
Hobby Hut caters to a wide variety of pursuits, including radio control cars and airplanes, and model train sets, track and accessories.
There are also electric slot-racing cars; games and miniatures; model planes, cars and ships; rocket kits; woodburning and clock movements; electronics and science kits; Pinewood Derby cars; and puzzles and paint by numbers sets.
It’s that variety that made Hobby Hut popular through much of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“People were not working anymore. They need something to do. Guess what? We have things to do,” he said.
After the first month of pandemic lockdowns, people got bored and Hobby Hut sold 100 puzzles a week, he said. “It was just crazy, crazy, crazy.”
Sales in 2020 and 2021 were very good, he said, but have quieted down to more normal levels. Still, sales are “doing fine. It’s paying the rent. It’s giving me a little profit,” he said.
Hobby Hut also found a way to survive in the internet age, mainly by having the expertise people don’t always realize they need for radio-controlled cars and planes, model trains, rocketry, model building and other pursuits.
"With a lot of our product here, you want to see it and you want to touch it, especially with radio control,” Erdmann said. “You have to have knowledge to sell some of the stuff we have, because it’s electronic and mechanical.”
Erdmann didn’t envision a career in the hobby store business, but it evolved.
In 1969, Erdmann started working at Gager’s Handicrafts, a craft and hobby store chain in the Twin Cities.
He then served a stint in the U.S. Army. When he returned from the service in 1972, he went back to Gager’s. His bosses then convinced him to train to be a manager and three months later was sent to Fargo to run the Gager’s store at the West Acres Shopping Center.
He ran the West Acres store for about six years, before going back to the Twin Cities to be a district supervisor for Gager’s.
Gager’s was sold in 1983 to the Craft Village chain. Craft Village then closed several of the Gager’s Twin Cities mall stores, as well as the West Acres shop.
Erdmann decided it was time to open his own store.
He and Stacia liked the Fargo-Moorhead area. And since F-M didn’t have a store dedicated to hobbyists, they saw it as a ready-made market.
They opened Hobby Hut in 1984 in Moorhead Center Mall, spending seven years there before moving the shop to the EasTen Shopping Center.
In 2016, they moved to Fargo and their current store.
Erdmann said he’s thankful for his customers and employees.
“They (customers) have supported us very well. They have kept me in business when other hobby shops have gone to the wayside. They kept coming to the Hobby Hut,” he said.
Meanwhile, his staff have gone “above and beyond” for the shop.
“You can’t run a store by yourself. You’ve got to have good people, and throughout the years, I have had good people. And that’s huge. Huge,” Erdmann said.
Erdmann hasn’t set a firm closing date, but hopes to have the shop ready to close by Christmas. Of course, for a hobby shop, it’s also the busiest time of year, he said ruefully.
“Come in, get your stuff now! This is the prime time, this is perfect timing. Christmas, I mean, this is when we do our best business. And if people can get stuff cheaper than what they normally do … hey!” Erdmann said.
Store hours are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday. The shop is closed Sundays.
For more information, go online to hobbyhutfargo.com .