West Virginia Hobbies and Crafts in the Putnam Village in Teays Valley and Nitro Hobby and Craft at 104 21st St. in Nitro are Almost Heaven havens for hobbyists of nearly all ages, skill levels and interests, be they radio-controlled aircraft or automobiles, modern-day drones, model railroads or a myriad of other spare-time sidelines and diversions.
“We’re a full-line hobby and craft shop, which is a dying breed these days,” said Charles Willey of Winfield, who has owned the two businesses for the past 27 years with his wife, Sherri. Sherri manages the downtown Nitro location, while Charles works at the Teays Valley site (which carries the lion’s share of the remote-controlled merchandise).
“I can’t say we’re doing extremely more business than we were pre-COVID-19,” Willey said of recent, time-of-pandemic sales trends, “but we have seen some pick-up of interest in the last few months. We’re seeing new people coming into the shops that weren’t in here and into it before.”
He said budget-minded or neophyte RC hobbyists can purchase a starter radio-controlled car for about $130 at the Putnam Village location. Airplanes start at under $100.
Willey said RC aircraft can be flown throughout the year, but, much like their real-life counterparts, weather conditions are a major contributing factor to engaging the devices in fall and winter.
While scale-model railroad trains and accessories are also perennially popular customer choices, Nitro Hobbies and Crafts and Nitro Hobby and Craft devote entire segments of each store to those with creative tastes and talents.
“We run the gamut on the arts and crafts side,” Willey said. “Probably paint-by-numbers kits are our biggest seller right now, but it’s all over the place. We carry a lot of floral and art supplies and a lot of scrapbooking materials.”
And although his nearly 30 years as a hobby and crafts merchant make him a wellspring of knowledge and advice for novice and seasoned customers alike, Willey said he pursues no particular hobbies of his own from the inventory his stores carry. “It’s strictly business with me,” he said.
Both of the stores are open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Saturday.
To contact the shops, call 304-757-6474 (Teays Valley) or 304-755-4304 (Nitro) or visit their Facebook pages.