States & Growing
Who we are
The HobbyTown story begins in Lincoln, NE (where our national headquarters remains today). Thom Walla, Merlin Hayes and Mary Hayes founded HobbyTown Unlimited, Inc. in 1985 and opened the first franchise store in 1986. Today, HobbyTown franchise stores span the U.S. from coast to coast, making us the leader in the retail hobby and specialty toy industry.
More than 100 HobbyTown franchise stores are located in 39 states in the continental U.S., making us the largest brick and mortar hobby retailer in the world!
HobbyTown’s core values
We Bring It Every Day
Lead and Serve
Keep Calm and Hobby On
HobbyTown Unlimited, Inc. is a privately held employee-owned company.
Members of our executive team and leaders throughout our company are shareholders with a vested interest in the success of each franchise store. Our leadership team has extensive knowledge in the hobby and toy industries dating back to 1980 as our CEO/Co-Founder Thom Walla remains active in the daily operations of HobbyTown corporate. Our leadership team is experienced with retailing and franchising operations with expertise ranging from HobbyTown franchise ownership to leading national retailers to the largest franchisors in the industry. The leadership of HobbyTown corporate engages our franchise owners in the development of our strategic vision. We have an active franchise advisory council and several focus groups that engage the experience and wisdom of our front-line franchise operators.
Tim Van Ert
Senior VP of Sales
VP of Franchise Services
VP of Operations
Chief Financial Officer
Director of Purchasing & Distribution
Director of Marketing
Celeste Vanderlip joined the HobbyTown Team in 2019 and now leads the Marketing Team as the Director of Marketing. In this role, she oversees the service and support for the stores should any marketing questions or requests come up. In addition, she acts as the primary point of contact and project manager between HobbyTown and our ad agency, Firespring. Her hobbies include, cooking, gardening, puzzles, and reading.
Director of Franchise Accounting
Director of Franchise Services
Director of Software Development
Director of Information Systems
Joined the HobbyTown Team in 2011 and is currently in charge of the Information Technology Service & Support Teams, including network support, retail computer systems, and overall software integration with the Franchise and Home Office network. Jon is a U.S. Army Veteran, having served as a 25B Information Technology Specialist with the 134th Cavalry Regiment (Afghanistan 2010–2011). Jon focuses on fostering a culture of constant improvement and monitoring performance to prove out successful strategies. For fun, Jon likes building computers, custom home theatre & car audio, and tinkering with internet-of-things automation. Jon’s favorite hobbies are reading (Sci-Fi and Non-Fiction) & PC Gaming.