LE MARS, IA (KELO) – A toy store in northwest Iowa is attracting customers from all over the country with its unique collection of toy tractors and other farm equipment.
Step inside the Le Mars Toy Store and you’ll find yourself in a toy-lovers dream.
You’ll find toy farm tractors and equipment in any make or model you can imagine.
Albert Schulz owns the building and says this one of a kind shop wasn’t part of his original plan.
“27 years ago I purchased this building to put my professional business in and one of my late secretaries said it’s a big department store building, what are you going to put in the display windows, and she suggested putting some of my own toy collection in it, so I did, people started stopping and asking if it was for sale, next thing people started bringing stuff to restore and one thing led to another,” owner, Albert Schulz said.
He says he never imagined how much this business would take off.
“We have toys all the way from $10 all the ways up to thousands of dollars, from current production to old ones, we do a lot of restoration, cast iron, to some of the more current ones that people want restored, so we are known for being diversified,” Schulz said.
One of their specialties is custom pieces. Schulz credits his team for giving each toy the detail the customer is looking for.
“I’ve very lucky to have very good staff and very good people who assist me, I call my fabricators that put together and sell, but we’ve got to learn as we go, there’s no book or nothing, I’m very fortunate to have good people around me to help a lot,” Schulz said.
“Whatever they want we can pretty much design and build to whatever they may like,” store manager, Dennis Baldwin said.
Dennis Baldwin is the store manager and has worked here since about 2014. He enjoys helping people find what they are looking for, whether that be kids or adults looking to add to their collections.
“We find that a lot of customers come in and that is their draw, they want to get a tractor that they had at home,” Baldwin said. “They want to design a tractor that either dad had or grandpa had, that seems to be a big draw for tractors coming in and people looking for that.”
“Sometimes it’s a custom piece that is going to become an heirloom that they’ll buy, they own the real tractor and want it made to go from one generation to the next generation and then you also do stuff that you restore, maybe back in the cast iron days in the 20s, you have some people come in the store and maybe they’re 80 years old and they got it from their father and it’s very sentimental to them,” Schulz said.
Over the years the northwest Iowa shop has earned a reputation around the world.
“People come from all over, they’ll say I’m from Pennsylvania and I heard such and such, just build me one, we get calls like that all the time,” Schulz said.
The men behind this one of a kind business are both glad they can help put a smile on someone’s face, no matter their age.
“There’s a sense of satisfaction to that, and for me, the satisfaction being able to get that done, but you see the smile on their face if they’re here,” Baldwin said. “I’ll keep doing it because I enjoy the people and I enjoy working with this stuff,” Baldwin said.
Schulz says the store also supports volunteer departments with fundraising efforts and other non-profits, as well as terminally ill children.