Toying with a big business idea

When entrepreneur Nic Poltronieri got the chance to buy iconic city shop Hearns Hobbies, it rekindled a long-held passion. 

A childhood obsession with remote control cars led entrepreneur Nic Poltronieri to take over Hearns Hobbies in Melbourne’s CBD.

As a child, Nic Poltronieri was obsessed with slot cars and remote control cars, and he has carried this love of hobbies with him into adulthood.

So it felt like a dream come true when the former owner offered to sell Hearns Hobbies to him in 2014.

‘I had an opportunity to buy an established brand in Melbourne’s CBD. You can’t go wrong with that,’ Nic said.

‘There was such a history attached to Hearns Hobbies, I knew I should be able to do something with it. It wasn’t planned. I wasn’t looking for it. It just happened.’

Faced with more than 30,000 different product lines, he had to come up to speed fast.

‘I thought I knew a lot about hobbies, but I didn’t. I had a passion.’

‘I had an understanding, but not of the complexity of the business, which was challenging and exciting at the same time.’

Now in the driver’s seat at Hearn’s Hobbies for more than eight years, Nic has weathered the COVID storm and is plugged in to city networks.

He is vice president of the City Precinct committee and makes the most of City of Melbourne’s What’s On ecosystem.

He also plays to the strengths of his business.

‘It’s nice to know that someone who came into the shop 65 years ago is now coming in with their grandkids. Hearns Hobbies is an institution in Melbourne. The location is very important.’

And while Melbourne is the perfect place for a bricks-and-mortar store, Nic is also expanding into international markets with exports of new products, such as accessories for model-making kits.

‘We’re also embracing technology, 3D printing and manufacturing,’ Nic said.

‘Retail will change considerably. The transition will happen remotely, but the store will still offer an experience. It’s up to us to create that experience: how we interact with customers.’

Find Hearns Hobbies at 295 Flinders Street in Melbourne’s CBD.

A city street under a sign that says Hearns Hobbies

Hearns Hobbies in Flinders Street

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