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Posted on Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 5:59 a.m.

Rider's Hobby Shop finds new life in partnership with Tree Town Toys store on Plymouth Road

By Lizzy Alfs


Rather than closing the business for good, Rider's Hobby Shop, formerly located on Carpenter Road in Pittsfield Township, has moved in Tree Town Toys in the Traver Village Shopping Center.

Photo from Tricia Masing

Two months after announcing the landmark Rider’s Hobby Shop in Pittsfield Township would sell its inventory and close the business, there is some good news for local hobbyists.

Owner Brent Martin has moved Rider’s Hobby into the same Plymouth Road retail space as Ann Arbor’s Tree Town Toys without missing even a day of business. It's a business partnership that allows the two retail destinations to share rental costs and benefit from more foot traffic.

“Rider’s Hobby and Tree Town Toys are now running two businesses out of one location,” Martin said. “But as far as customers are concerned, we’re trying to make sure it’s a cohesive experience for them.”

The 65-year-old Rider’s Hobby Shop, which was originally founded on West Liberty Street in Ann Arbor, was most recently located at 3140 Carpenter Road near Ypsilanti.

In July, Martin announced that the shop would have to sell its inventory and close by August after falling prey to the economic downturn.

But after hearing about the business closing, Hans Masing, co-owner of Tree Town Toys in Traver Village Shopping Center, visited Rider’s Hobby for what he thought would be the last time.

As Masing and Martin started chatting, they realized there was potential for a partnership between the two businesses.

“Hans was telling me Tree Town was in the same situation as Rider’s, where a few years ago sales were really good and now it has slowed and it’s getting harder and harder to pay the rent,” Martin said.

Masing wrote in an email that although times are tough, Tree Town is still doing well.

"In fact, our overall business is growing," he said. "We are in the process of moving our warehouse on the south side of Ann Arbor to a better space to accommodate future growth."

The two decided that it could pay off economically if they shared one space, making rent more affordable and drawing more customers into the consolidated store.

“Our products are very complementary to each other,” Martin said. “There is a small amount of cross-over in our products, but for the most part, we carry a very distinctive stock that appealed to two segments of the population.”

Two weeks ago, Martin closed the Pittsfield Township Rider’s Hobby store and moved directly into the 5,000-square-foot Tree Town space, bringing several of his employees with him.

Tricia Masing, Tree Town Toys co-owner, said that Tree Town has condensed areas of the store to better utilize the space, and also moved some of the inventory to the on-site warehouse.

She said the consolidation was a “natural fit” since the businesses are similar and have overlapping customers.

“We have customers that range in all ages and I think it’s a really nice fit,” she said. “It allows, as our customers grow, for them to easily transition from toys into hobby.”

Martin agreed and said this was a good solution for two local retailers to deal with current economic conditions. Plus, he said he’s happy to be back in Ann Arbor.

“This is a great location,” Martin said. “We started in Ann Arbor years ago, and now we’re back in Ann Arbor.”

Lizzy Alfs is a business reporter for Reach her at 734-623-2584 or email her at Follow her on Twitter at



Sat, Sep 17, 2011 : 3:32 a.m.

dear Mr Martin,people can buy the same products in a lot of different ways and places.For most it prices or customer service.I know you cant compete with the internet or wholesale places for pricing so you have to be good in customer service.Some of your people do not project that.Acting like a customer is interupting is not good service.Making the customer feel welcome and putting effort into solving their problems helps business.Give people a reason to shop there


Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 11:42 p.m.

I hope that Tree Town Toys staff will teach the Rider's staff about good customer service which has been lacking. Local businesses need excellent customer service because honestly, we can buy just about anything on the Internet. Nicola's Books and Downtown Home and Garden exemplify excellent customer service. Some other local stores need to take lessons. Ignoring people who walk in while the staff talk to each other, rudeness, not carrying obvious and necessary items and not offering to obtain them for the customer are all examples of bad customer service.

5c0++ H4d13y

Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 11:15 p.m.

My father used to haunt the hobby shops and got in to model gliders. You can really learn a lot as a kid when you have craft your own wing spar from raw balsa wood to do a repair after a crash.


Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 9:50 p.m.

Delighted to hear that Riders is still in business. Always have knowledgeable people working there, and great customer service. Can't wait until there stock is replenished.

Matt Whale

Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 8:31 p.m.

I have to get down to Tree Town Toys/Riders very soon. Those gliders are great!

Dave Bass

Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 8:06 p.m.

I'm thrilled. Hobby and town shops are my favorite places. Thank you!!!


Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 7:56 p.m.

I love Tree Town Toys. They are fantastic local business run by some of the nicest Ann Arborites that you're likely to meet. I'm very excited for them to share space with Ryder's that should be a "win" for both local businesses as well as a "win" for customers. Great job Hans and Tricia!


Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 5:14 p.m.


Audion Man

Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 4:31 p.m.

This is awesome!

Wolf's Bane

Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 3:03 p.m.

Thank you thank you!

Hans Masing

Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 3:38 p.m.

You're welcome you're welcome!


Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 2:08 p.m.

I started off buying the small balsa wood gliders at the downtown store about 40 years ago with my allowance money. Always loved going into riders since I was a young kid, glad they are alive.


Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 2:41 p.m.

Are they going to still promote radio controlled airplanes as well? Especially down near the Milan proving grounds? Need to get down there and fly ours. If I ever learn how.

Hans Masing

Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 2:15 p.m.

We've got those same balsa gliders in stock! Bring your allowance and relive the glory days! :-)


Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 1:58 p.m.

This is a beautiful demonstration of how cooperation works better than competition.

Hans Masing

Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 1:49 p.m.

A minor clarification. The photo credit should go to Tricia Masing. :-)

Tony Dearing

Sat, Sep 17, 2011 : 11:52 a.m.

Thanks for letting us know that, Hans. We've made the change.


Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 1:36 p.m.

This is marvelous news -- used to go to Riders a lot when my sons were growing up and loved them. Best wishes to your both.


Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 1 p.m.

Love to see this. Good for everyone involved, including the consumer.

Bertha Venation

Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 12:51 p.m.

Whoops. I meant "Riders.' Not "Ryders."

Bertha Venation

Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 12:40 p.m.

Dad bought me an H/O train set when Ryders was downtown. Worst piece of junk I've owned. They would not stand behind their product and the sales staff was rude.... Oh wait.... maybe they should sell Fords!


Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 2:43 p.m.

We never had a problem and if we did? They fixed it for us or got us a replacement part. Must have been during the change from Liberty to Carpenter area that the problem started.

Bertha Venation

Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 2:05 p.m.

Thanks, Hans. That makes me feel better, and after all, this did happen YEARS ago, before current management signed on.

Hans Masing

Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 1:48 p.m.

Bertha, if you ever get bad service at this new location, you let me know personally - taking care of our customers is our *number one* priority. Without you folks, we wouldn't be here, and we make sure that our staff are empowered to do whatever it takes if something isn't right. - Hans (co-owner of Tree Town Toys)


Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 12:34 p.m.

Maybe the U of M Nurses need to read this before they demand their pay raises? Yes the economy sucks!


Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 2:38 p.m.

Share the same office spaces as the doctors and interns? Just a thought.


Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 12:26 p.m.

have watch Riders shrink for a number of years. Shame, great hobby shop staffed with knowledgable people. Adjusting to the economy and continuing two businesses is great street smarts. Modelers need to support their local businesses.


Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 12:18 p.m.

Out freaking standing!!


Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 12:03 p.m.

Par for the course, Hans is just doing his yearly miracle! <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> Please consider supporting these local businesses with your patronage, especially this holiday season so they, in turn, may continue on and also provide their support.


Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 11:55 a.m.

Perfect example of &quot;when life gives you lemons&quot;. THIS is how we're going to pull through... TOGETHER. So get on board everyone!

Tom Smith

Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 11:28 a.m.

Yay! That's excellent.


Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 11:05 a.m.

I think the biggest mistake they made was moving out of the down town location years ago. They used to have a much better selection in my opinion when they were downtown. When they moved out the selection really seemed to change and I haven't been in there in years because I found another store that had the merchandise I wanted. I'm glad the business was able to keep going despite the economy. It doesn't employee a lot of people, but every person who has a job needs a job and keeping one business that employees a few people open is good for the economy.


Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 2:37 p.m.

The owner of that rental space told them to move. They wanted it for something bigger and better. I am not sure what it was and not sure what is in there now. But yes, I heard about this before Ann Arbor did but they would have deleted my comments because it was not confirmed by them. I hear things that this place deletes a lot of. Sad. Good luck Brent.

Susan Montgomery

Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 10:45 a.m.

Great news!