Anthony Del Mauro is a father of three. He’s a small business owner. But mostly, he’s a big kid. And the business he owns reflects that.
“I look at this as a big boy toy store,” Del Mauro said, grinning in front of a wall displaying over a dozen bb guns.
Del Mauro, 49, of Roselle Park, has loved remote controlled vehicles and other hobbies all of his life. With his store, Hobbies & Airsoft Remote Control Superstore, he’s making that passion into a career.
Since opening in August, the Mountain Ave. shop has offered a full array of hobbies and diversions. The shelves are stuffed with remote control trucks, helicopters, planes and more. Puzzles, models and kits are piled high. All the ingredients for DIY diversions ranging from pinewood derby racing parts to back yard rockets to home brew beer kits are available.
The highest selling and most prominent stock are the Airsoft guns. The guns shoot lightweight bb pellets that weigh about the same as a Tic Tac. Del Mauro posited the guns as a cost-saving alternative to paintball guns, which require players to constantly buy expensive paint rounds.
The cheapest airsoft models are plastic and cost about $30. The more expensive are metal and heavy as real guns. Unlike paintball guns, which tag their targets with splatters of paint, airsoft guns don’t leave a mark, but feel like a bee sting.
Del Mauro readily extols the virtues of the guns, but his heart lies with other parts of his store’s inventory, namely the “remote control stuff.” That love, along with international corporate downsizing led to the birth of the store. Two years ago, Del Mauro was an IT manager for Anheuser-Busch’s Jersey City headquarters. Belgian beer company InBev shut down Anheuser-Busch’s IT department when they bought the company, leaving Del Mauro unemployed.
Del Mauro kept busy as a stay-at-home Dad and an eBay seller until his wife lost her job as an accountant. Del Mauro, who owned a pet store and a woman’s clothing store before working in IT, decided to combine his retail experience with his love of hobby craft.
He described his experience with the store as on the whole “fantastic.” Response from Springfield residents has been strong, particularly with students from nearby Florence M. Gaudineer Middle School.
“At 2:30, all the kids are here,” Del Mauro said. He said that even the video-game addled youngsters of today are susceptible to the siren song of remote control toys and model kits.
“They come in, and they look at this, they look at that,” Del Mauro said. “You can see the excitement.”