WOODBURY - Brad and Richard Arkell grew up together, went to the same college and majored in the same subject. Both were investment advisors for seven years, and in 2010, they both quit their jobs to sell remote control vehicle parts full time.
The identical twin brothers, originally from Lake Elmo, recently opened a storefront for their business, Dollar Hobbyz. Located at 380 Rivertown Drive, the 14,000-square-foot space contains a retail area, warehouse and carpeted race track.
"When we opened a store we decided that we wanted to be able to have a track because that would set us apart and that does provide an extra experience," Brad Arkell said. "An RC store will only attract people that are interested in RC. When you have a track and you can do events, you can pretty much interest the whole community at some point in their life."
The brothers stressed that although RC racing attracts kids, most of their business comes from adults who can spend thousands of dollars building and maintaining cars as a hobby.
"I mean, you think RC cars and you think, oh, my 8-year-old would love to play with that," Richard Arkell said. "Well, every day and weekend we have adult 'kids' playing with them all day. So it's not just kids."
Along with organized racing twice a week and competitive races every other weekend, the brothers look forward to holding all kinds of events, from kids birthday parties to corporate events.
The brothers admit it's a little "backwards" to start a business like theirs online and move into a storefront several years later but said local customers had been asking for a physical space for years.
"Especially for a hobby shop, that never really happens," Richard Arkell said. "So to go backwards is a little interesting. But it's a lot easier to do that than open a brick and mortar and hope that people walk in the door."
Dollar Hobbyz sells complete RC vehicles and parts for cars, trucks, boats and drones. They estimate their warehouse fulfills roughly 10,000 to 12,000 online orders each month, with a small portion delivered outside the United States. Richard Arkell said they often get people who come into the store after making an online purchase from Dollar Hobbyz.
Richard was the first to become interested in RC cars during his junior year of high school and began selling parts online in 2002. Brad became involved about a year later. The business slowly grew until 2010 when it became a full-time job for the brothers. Dollar Hobbyz now has 15 employees.
The indoor track attached to the retail store can host "on-road" racing, which uses smooth carpet and dividers to create a looping track, or "off-road" racing, also on carpet but instead of dividers uses ramps and various obstacles. They plan to use the space for RC drone racing as well.
Being together from the beginning of their lives and business partners for nearly 17 years has bred a particularly candid way of speaking, Brad Arkell said.
"Our communication is very blunt and to the point," he said.
"And we don't cry about it later," Richard added.
Overall, though, "it's been great," Brad said. "There's ups and downs in business, but that's with any business."