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“Real Retailer” is a monthly feature where we discuss industry strategies, trends, happenings, or just about anything relevant with toy and hobby retailers across the country. If you have something interesting to say and would like to be featured here, by all means tell us! Please contact press@toydirectory.com

Real Retailer

Store Name: Roundhouse South
Store Location:
4611 Ridgewood Avenue, Port Orange, Florida 32127
Owner's Name:
Anthony Rotunda

Port Orange is a small town near Daytona Beach, with a population of around 50,000.  The community sustains itself with local industries like boat building, oystering and citrus farming.  It supports 12 barbecue restaurants and 36 adult entertainment locations. 

A good bit of that adult entertainment support probably comes from visitors to Daytona Beach.  But on a handsome city street in Port Orange dotted with both houses and storefronts, you’ll find a little white stand-alone shop called Roundhouse South.  At Roundhouse South, they like to say they’re "Your Southern Connection for Quality O'Gauge Products".

That’s electric trains, folks, and not just any electric trains as you’ll see.  Here’s owner Anthony Rotunda’s take on building a comfortable location for “the regulars,” and why he’s decided to focus on selling such a very specialized product.

Anthony Rotunda

TD Monthly (TDM):
  How long have you been in business? 

Anthony Rotunda (AR):  Since August of 1989.

TDM:  Can you tell us a little bit about what your store offers?

AR:  We sell O gauge train products and some Large Scale trains by LGB.  In O gauge we specialize in Mike's Train House, K-Line, and Lionel.  We do not handle any HO or N Gauge trains.  We are one of the few train stores in the country that specialize in just O Gauge trains.  (For more information on these different gauges, please see this month’s feature article about train sets)

TDM:  Who is your typical customer? 

AR:  Most of our customers are 45 to 65 years old.  Typically the Baby Boomer generation.  Nowadays there seem to be more operators buying than collectors.  There is so much on the market with several different O Gauge manufacturers, that detail and technology is very important.  They want high quality for what they are spending.

TDM:  How do you let the public know who you are and what you carry? 

Roundhouse South
AR:  I advertise locally at Thanksgiving and Christmas only.  The rest of the year I advertise in O Gauge Railroading magazine and Classic Toy Trains magazine.

TDM:  Do you have special meeting nights or promotions you routinely carry out? 

AR:  We have started an unofficial club that meets on the first Wednesday of every month from 7:00 pm to 9:30 pm.  I take everything off the train layout and people bring their own trains to run and show off.   If someone has an item to sell or trade, they are more than welcome to bring it in.  We offer repair and maintenance tips.  We get anywhere from 15 to 35 people depending on the time of year.  We provide sodas, water, chips, candy, and cookies.  Every once in a while one of the guys will cook.

TDM:  Have your self-promotion or marketing efforts been worth the cost/effort? 

AR:  During the summer months I sometimes wonder if it is worth the money I am spending on advertising.  The last year has been very tough and I have been cutting back on advertising.  I had put a lot of effort into listing product on my web site.  I like to put a picture with every item I post, so that takes time.  I am hoping it will pay off in the future.

TDM:  Why do you think customers come to your store, instead of ordering on-line or going to another store? 

AR:  I think we have a nice atmosphere.  People like to come in and shoot the bull on Saturdays.  They drag a few chairs out and spend several hours, some even spend the entire day.  If the regulars want a bag of chips or a soda, they know their way to the refrigerator.  I have reference books in the office that everyone is welcome to.  It's kind of an open, help-yourself kind of place and I think people like that.  If I or my employees are busy, you can ask any of the "regulars" a question and they will help you out.  We try to give as many repairs to people for as reasonable as possible, or free.

TDM:  Is it a blessing or a curse to run a store with such specifically targeted merchandise?

Part 10-1149 - Black with Nickel Trim 200 Series Standard Gauge Flat Car

AR:  I don't find it a curse or a blessing.  It is an in-between.  I liked being specialized because when people find out you carry a large selection of specialized items they call more often because you are more likely to have what they want.  On the other hand when summer is really slow I wish I was selling RC cars and boats and kites and models.  But before you know it summer is over and our busy season has arrived.

TDM:  Do you plan to expand your web offerings?  Has this web presence helped your business? 

AR:  Right now I am the only one who does the work for the web, and I don't have the time I would like to put into it.  As things pick up hopefully I can hire someone part time or full time to work on the web.

TDM:  Finally, if you could remove one headache from your job, what would it be? 

AR:  Answering the phone.  It is the lifeline of my business, but it takes up much of my day.  I have two part time people that are here and they kind of "screen" my calls.  I don't want customers to think I am avoiding them, there are just so many other things to do in a day.

TDM:  Thank you, Roundhouse South! (www.roundhousesouth.com)

(*data obtained from www.uscity.net)

To view August's Real Retailer, click here.

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