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Toys: A model operation

ETOBICOKE, Ont. - What was once a hobby for James Ronald Skeffington - his customers know him as J.R. and he knows his customers by name - is now a full time business.For 40 years Skeffington owned an...


ETOBICOKE, Ont. – What was once a hobby for James Ronald Skeffington – his customers know him as J.R. and he knows his customers by name – is now a full time business.

For 40 years Skeffington owned and operated his own trucking company. Now his time is spent overseeing a much larger fleet. In his quaint toy shop in Etobicoke, Ont., more than 1,000 miniature trucks are parked end to end lining the walls of the shop.

“I love the trucking industry and now it’s especially great because I can still have all of these trucks and I don’t have to worry about keeping the drivers happy,” jokes Skeffington.

The Toy Truck Place is the only retail toy store in the province that provides customized replicas of these massive rigs for transport companies. Skeffington and grandson, Matthew Wyllie, sell everything from Petes and Freightliners to classic American muscle cars. They can duplicate any logo and color scheme as well as creating new ones from scratch to suit every spec imaginable.

Wyllie, who marvels at the fact that he can make a living playing with toys, says they maintain stock of mini versions of almost every transport he sees passing by the Toy Truck Place, which overlooks Hwy. 401.

“I like to be able to familiarize with something – to be able to look at a little truck in front of me and then look out the door and see it go by,” says Wyllie.

Skeffington’s toy truck shop is the largest distributor of First Gear products in Canada. He also handles Spec Cast, Die Cast Promotions, Ertl Collectible, Liberty Die Cast and PEM manufacturer merchandise.

“We go and take pictures of the customer’s trucks and then we can do the die cast truck exactly like the picture,” says Skeffington. “The companies love it because we don’t have to do the trucks in bulk. If it is a small company with ten trucks then we can still give them what they want. We can do one truck or 10,000 trucks, so we are keeping our customers happy and they are keeping their customers happy.”

With 1,900 pieces in his personal collection and the satisfaction of sharing his hobby and knowledge, Skeffington can’t let go of the trucking world.

He maintains the best part of his business is meeting new customers and talking shop with the devoted clientele.

Wyllie insists their toy trucks are attractive to the industry because, as he explains it, companies like to give these trucks as gifts or incentives to customers and drivers. As well, they are a more permanent token than golf shirts and ball caps.

“One order we are doing right now is for a driver award, we did another order for a company over the holidays who wanted them for a Christmas giveaway,” says Skeffington. “It’s a nice keepsake to have a miniature model of the same truck that you work with every day.”

Skeffington and his grandson take pride in their personable way of doing business.

They want their customers to feel comfortable while spending hours in the shop sharing their passion for trucking.

“We are getting into the swing of things now, once we do a little more publicity and marketing with all the trucking companies by letting them know where we are and what we do,” says Skeffington, “I think it will be a good year.”

Skeffington and Wyllie can be reached at 416-241-8697 or jrskeffington@on.aibn.com.


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