Hobby Hangout owner not in it for the money
NEW MILFORD — John Gallagher, owner and operator of the Hobby Hangout on Anderson Avenue, is something of an oddity in the business world.
The hangout doesn’t turn a profit, he said, but that is fine by him.
“It’s a great learning experience for kids,” he said. “I knew it wasn’t going to improve my retirement. ... It’s my way of giving back.”
The hangout is a one-stop shop for radio-controlled car hobbyists, where one can do everything from building a car to racing it on green-carpeted tracks. While Gallagher would like to turn a profit, profit was never his motivation.
“Our pet peeve is kids’ addictions to their cellphones,” he said. “And kids don’t even know if they like mechanics — all those shop classes are closed.”
So, some 18 months ago, Gallagher — who makes his money in other small businesses — decided to open the hangout to draw children away from touch screens, while exposing them to working with their hands.
The Hobby Hangout
Closed Monday. Open Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. Open Saturday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
thehobbyhangout.com or 860-248-7000
Ironically, “parents say it has helped get their kids away from tech,” by having them work on tech, he said.
To be competitive in an RC-car race, a racer has to do some computer programming, electric wiring and math to perfect gear ratios atop “good old-fashioned getting your hands dirty,” Gallagher said.
But the tracks aren’t only for kids, Gallagher said. It’s for adult hobbyists, too, and for hosting competitive races. It is one of only a handful of tracks in the state, he said.
The storefront has several racetracks, as well as a rock-crawling area complete with tunnels and waterfalls. It also has a service center and small Hobbytown USA outlet where parts can be purchased.