More than toys, they’re heirlooms
It was 20 years ago they say,
Albert Schulz taught the toys to play.
They’ve been going in and out of style,
But they’re guaranteed to raise a smile.
So on Customer Appreciation Days
You know you never will be bored
By Albert Schulz at the Le Mars Toy Store.
(With apologies to Paul McCartney)
LE MARS – What started as a fluke in 1997 has resulted in the Le Mars Toy Store being a world-renowned source for that hard-to-find model tractor an enthusiast needs to complete a collection.
Or start a collection, for that matter.
Albert Schulz will host his annual Customer Appreciation Day March 9-11 at his store at 28 Plymouth St. S.W., in Le Mars.
“It’ll be packed in here,” Schulz said. “Those steps right there will look like an escalator.”
He was referring to the steps that lead to the below-ground retail space to his toy store, which many say could easily double as a museum.
Although it could be, it’s not, and almost every piece is for sale or already sold.
“We get customers from around the world,” Schulz said. “It’s their candy store.”
For Schulz, a cattleman, the toy store is one of five businesses he oversees. He said the store started by selling a few toys. Then people started asking for spare parts, then started asking for repair service.
That has grown to a team of fabricators with lathes, mills and other metal-working machines to modify and customize any toy, even model semis; but they don’t do lead casting.
“There are seven of us,” he said, “and we can’t keep up with our customers around the world.”
He said his crew are the only ones that will manufacture six- and eight-row cultivators.
They can also customize puller tractor “for those who want them down to a T,” Schulz said. “When people buy a toy here, it’s an heirloom,” he said. “It’ll be just like the real one.”
Schulz said he assists upward to 17 area fire departments in donating pedal tractors that are raffled for fundraisers. He also does promotions to benefit terminally ill children.
He and his crew will produce 100 serialized models of a tractor for the Albert City Thresherman and Collectors Show this year. It will be the third of that series.
They already have their design selected for the 150 serialized models of the annual Plymouth County Fair semi truck, with the first two to be auctioned off as a fundraiser for the fair. It is the 18th in that series.
The store is also a major sponsor for WHO Tractor Ride, serving upwards of 800 breakfasts to riders.
Schulz credits the service and quality of the work and toys themselves, plus developing friendships with the customer base, that makes his business more than competitive with other big box stores that sell farm toys.
“Without good help,” Schulz said, “excellent products, quality service and great clients, a business can’t make it.”
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