To retail, and beyond

David and Stephanie Roberts made an unusual move in 2008. They opened a sci-fi toy store outside of a shopping district while the economy was down.

But seven months later, Battle Ground-based D&S Sci-fi Toy World is making money, and its owners credit that to a careful approach to growth.

“It took us 13 years to open a retail store,” said David Roberts. “We don’t like to do anything too quickly because we don’t like to fail.”

The business primarily sells new “Star Wars” goods, along with toys and collectibles the likes of “G.I. Joe” and “Transformers.”

David Roberts started the business as a part-time online venture in 1995, in the early days of Internet commerce.

“As soon as new ‘Star Wars’ toys were being made, I knew it was a big-time opportunity,” he said.

The business grew enough that he quit his day job in the late 1990s. Stephanie Roberts came on full-time in 2001 and they opened the store in August 2008.

“We were at a point where the business needed some way to expand,” said David Roberts.

The couple had no losses in adding the store, and to minimize overhead, they chose a space near a residential area rather than a shopping district. The 1,000-square-foot shop’s proximity to a school, martial arts studio and homes makes family customers easy to reach, said Stephanie Roberts.

The Roberts declined to share revenues, but said profits are steady in the slow economy because retail is just one part of their business plan. About 25 percent of sales happen in-store, with the rest online.

“We’re getting a lot of repeat customers,” said David Roberts. “They’re still trying to do their hobbies, just on a limited scale.”

The Roberts promote the store with ads on local movie theater screens and in local newspapers, including student publications that reach a younger audience.

When the economy picks up, they hope to add employees and locations.

“It’s a pretty simple concept and we’ve got the inventory” for it, said David Roberts.

D&S Sci-fi Toy World is at 1517 S. Parkway Ave. in Battle Ground. The Roberts can be reached at 360-666-3063 or www.dnstoys.com.

 

Charity Thompson can be reached at cthompson@vbjusa.com.

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