Hobby City on the chopping block

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Hobby City on the chopping block

Postby SpaceAgeCity » Thu Nov 17, 2005 11:38 pm

Well, it's official. The roadside tourist-trap complex that is Hobby City will soon be gone.

I'm thinking about organizing a historical tour of the place after the holidays. Would there be any interest from you folks in something like that?

The place is 50 years old (same as Disneyland), but definitely has that older "Route 66" vibe going for it. It's really a whole host of shops, including an Indian store, a stamp and coin shop, a reptile shop, etc. And then there's the Doll Museum, which is built like the White House in 1/2 scale. Also, it has a small amusement park with 17 rides. All of it is destined for the bulldozer next year.

I'm thinking the tour will be a multi-historical-organization thing, open to anyone who wants to go. However, I'm thinking of our *excellent* tour of Knott's (some years ago) as a vague template.

I can do much of the historical research from my office at the County Archives. (Lunch hours, dontchaknow?) Also, my friends at the Anaheim Historical Society have offered to help in any way they can.

And speaking of Knott's, I suppose we could wind up our tour by caravaning over to the Chicken Dinner Restaurant. Or better yet... to the LaPalma Chicken Pie Shop!

Let me know what you think.

Chris Jepsen
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cjepsen@socal.rr.com

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Postby Futura Girl » Fri Nov 18, 2005 12:43 am

i will drive down for this one.

IN.

i think i have a handful of my Knott's tour booklets someplace... i should really put them on eBay :wink:

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Postby deanna b » Fri Nov 18, 2005 1:07 am

Then there's also the Bear Tree shop (now closed) near the entrance, made to look like a huge tree stump with a roof. Ahh, California Crazy programmatic architecture. Alas.

Here's a photo of it from a couple weeks ago:


And one from August 2004:

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Well at least

Postby modfan » Fri Nov 18, 2005 7:49 am

I 'toured' it some years back, when I lived up off of Beach Bl. near Knott's in Anaheim. I'm surprised it's lasted this long. I recall next door or close by a 'Chinese Restaurant'-name escapes me but the entertainment on the marquee advertised 'The Tommy And Lussi Song Show'.

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Postby nichols » Fri Nov 18, 2005 12:42 pm


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Postby Lynxwiler » Fri Nov 18, 2005 3:57 pm

Count me in!

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Postby SpaceAgeCity » Fri Nov 18, 2005 9:54 pm

Well.... Aren't you the enthusiastic crowd?!? Again, I know I won't have time to start organizing this until at least after Thanksgiving, but it will happen.

Should be a lot of fun, and it'll be nice to see some of you in O.C. again. Why do we have to tear down something cool before you guys will venture past the Orange Curtain?

Chris

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Postby nredom » Sun Nov 20, 2005 11:48 am

Where is Hobby City?

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Postby SpaceAgeCity » Sun Nov 20, 2005 10:40 pm

Hobby City is in Anaheim on Beach Blvd., just a couple miles south of Knott's Berry Farm. It's right next near the Stanton city line.

It's funny... Usually *I'm* the one asking "de donde" around here, since most of the sites discussed are in that baffling northern land of mystery known as Los Angeles.

CJ

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Postby Lynxwiler » Mon Nov 21, 2005 10:49 am

Oh wait, it's in Orange County? Well, I don't know if I'm interested anymore.

Yes, we northerners do happen to find ourselves on the 5 or 405 on rare occasions. Once the sky turns from brown to blue, the weight on our choked hearts rise and we realize we're in Orange County. Where the police are gentle and the good OC folk courteous and selfless. As the hot weather cools, autumnal trees turn to shades of red and ochre while Beebopareebop Rhubarb Pie is on every menu, year-round. And who doesn't enjoy a lovely hot dish?

Then thoughts turn to the missing motel neon in Anaheim and we are saddened again.

Kidding.
Kind of.

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Postby SpaceAgeCity » Mon Nov 21, 2005 6:04 pm


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Postby Lynxwiler » Tue Nov 22, 2005 4:24 pm


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Postby nichols » Tue Jan 03, 2006 11:59 am

Let's go!
let's go!
let's go!

>
>
>

November 2005
Disappearing landmarks
Hobby City and Adventure City are closing up shop in a year, making way
for condominium development.

By ELLYN PAK
The Orange County Register

CLOSING TIME: Business at the Hobby City Doll & Toy Museum was slow on
Tuesday afternoon. The museum, a smaller-scale replica of the White
House in Washington, D.C., was the anchor of Hobby City for its central
location among almost 20 shops. It was built by co-founder Jay DeArmond
and where wife Bea DeArmond lived.

MICHAEL GOULDING, THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER

Voices

"This is a place where guys come to hang out on a Saturday. It's
something they like to do."
- Bosco Chagollan, owner of Prestige Hobbies

"It's too bad it's closing. It's a neat place."
- Manhattan Beach resident Jeremy Fry, first-time visitor with wife,
20-month-old daughter

"There's more for little kids in one area. It doesn't seem so crowded,
and it's more comfortable."
- Scott Armstrong of Orange, who visited Adventure City with wife and
children
Over the years

1955: Hobby City debuts. That same year, Disneyland opens with 28,000
visitors the first day.

1972: Founder Beatrice "Bea" DeArmond wants to quit commuting to work at
Hobby City. Her husband, Jay, builds a half-size replica of the White
House on Hobby City grounds and Bea moves in upstairs.

1982: Jay DeArmond dies of a heart attack.

1994: DeArmond children build Adventure City, a children's theme park on
a neighboring five acres. "The people said, 'Are you crazy? There's
Knott's Berry Farm and Disneyland nearby,'" Allan Ansdell recalls.

2002: Bea DeArmond dies at the age of 89.

STANTON - The 10-acre patch along bustling Beach Boulevard is where
reptile enthusiasts, doll lovers, coin collectors and model-car
aficionados have gathered for decades.

It's a place where hobbyists can find doll-house sofas, bearded dragons,
diaper-clad Kewpie dolls and mini sports helmets.

Hobby City opened 50 years ago just a few miles south of Knott's Berry
Farm and catered to people looking for specialized hobby items and
old-fashioned charm. Adventure City, a compact theme park, joined the
Hobby City family in the mid-1990s.

It was the vision of the late Bea DeArmond and her late husband, Jay,
who bought and leveled a 3-acre chicken ranch in 1955 to make way for a
village filled with stores resembling those they saw along Route 66.

Their dream lasted for half a century.

In a year or so, the Orange County landmark that straddles the Stanton
and Anaheim city line will sell its last model battleship and buffalo
nickel and offer its final roller-coaster dip. Family health concerns
and changing tastes led to the decision to close up shop.

The land is being sold to a developer for - what else? - condominiums.

The Doll & Toy Museum, a half-scale replica of the White House in
Washington, D.C., was the anchor of Hobby City and a place where
DeArmond lived. It stood out among the near 20 shops that surrounded it.

Now, it's a symbol of the family and its entrepreneurial spirit.

"It's time for us to play on the weekends. We've been entertaining
people for so many years and you think, 'We want to be entertained,'"
says Allan Ansdell, 61, one of the park's owners and son-in-law of the
DeArmonds.

Reactions

With change comes mixed feelings. Landmarks along Beach Boulevard, from
the old alligator farm to Buena Park's Movieland Wax Museum that closed
a few weeks ago, are disappearing.

"There are shops (at Hobby City) that people come to visit because they
know where they are. It's an icon. It draws people to the city," Mayor
Brian Donahue says. "Times change, unfortunately. Things that are great
go and better things show up."

It won't have an effect on the county's booming tourism, says Charles
Ahlers, president of the Anaheim/Orange County Visitor & Convention
Bureau. "But it's really a shame that it happens. I think it's
unfortunate, particularly for the neighborhood. It's going to be missed.
It's unique. By those who live in the area, it's going to be missed," he
says.

The news was no surprise to Joe Lester, 33, who works at the Baseball
Card Dugout. His father, Val, moved the business to Hobby City in 1997.

"We just have to evolve with the industry," Lester says.

And that specialized industry for hobbyists has shifted as big-box
stores and Internet businesses gain popularity. Those who would've
driven out to a baseball card store or a rock store are now finding what
they need online.

Bosco Chagollan, 43, owner of Prestige Hobbies at Hobby City, says Hobby
City's mom-and-pop shops are in direct competition with online outlets
and large stores such as Target and Wal-Mart.

"I'm excited because I'm going to do something different. But these
walls are all that I've known. It'll be sad," he says. He's now looking
for a location to move his business.

Kevin Dunn, who opened Radical Reptiles and an adjoining children's
museum at Hobby City in 1999, says he'll stay close to his customer base
in Stanton and Anaheim.

He was 19 when Bea DeArmond approached him about opening a reptile
store. His business grew to house more than 1,000 creatures, including
bearded dragons, boas, pythons, turtles and frogs.

"It's been a great location because we're next to Adventure City. It'll
be a bummer to move," he says.

An evolving boulevard

Half a century ago, Beach Boulevard, also known as Highway 39, was an
unfettered stretch of land devoid of motels, strip malls, Korean
barbecues and ethnic shops.

Strawberry fields and row crops, orange groves and farm houses gave the
area a rural feel. Orange County residents cruised Beach for a "country
drive" and maybe a stop for a chicken dinner up the road.

But demographics changed and housing tracts and commercial property
popped up. There were gangs. Prostitutes walked the boulevard.

"Stanton doesn't have a stellar reputation," says City Manager Jake
Wager. "That may be in fact because of history or false perception that
people have unfairly held. I think that's changing."

City officials throughout the years have worked to change that image.
Crime has declined. Streets have been fixed up and parks enhanced.
Clusters of condos and apartments are popping along Beach – and that
spelled the end.

Now, there's more effort to keep dollars within the city, Wager says.
And that could mean securing million-dollar development projects to
attract people with higher incomes and willingness to live in
urban-style communities.

Recent sales transactions along Beach Boulevard indicate that the land
could be valued from $1.5 million to $2 million per acre, says Jerry
Holdner of Voit Commercial Brokerage. If the zoning of the Adventure and
Hobby City plot is changed to allow a residential project, the land
could be worth even more.

Stanton is moving in the right direction, city officials say. Earlier
this year, the city approved a $90 million proposal to replace the aging
Stanton Plaza Center with live/work loft and a European-style downtown
with fountains and coffeehouses.

"It's a harbinger of things to come," Wager says. "We believe that there
is an interest given the cost of housing in Orange County, that there is
a market for different types of housing. And there's also more intuitive
sense that buyers today may be looking for something less traditional."

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Postby SpaceAgeCity » Wed Jan 04, 2006 10:17 pm

Yes, yes... I know. I appreciate and share your enthusiasm. But I'm just now getting over the mother of all flu-bugs. Still, this project is very much on my radar screen. I'm now compiling notes and some great old photos for the tour booklet.

BTW, I hear we've got a couple years before the La Palma Chicken Pie Shop disappears, so at least we don't have to panic about that immediately.

Happy New Year!

Chris

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Hobby City Tour Update

Postby SpaceAgeCity » Thu Jan 19, 2006 10:33 pm

I have no idea what the emergency is/was.

However, I do have a quick update on the Hobby City tour planning.

Daniel Paul has pitched in to help, which is greatly appreciated. He's already made some great contributions, research-wise. We also got an assist from Sven Kirsten, who IDed some tikis for us. (Yes, there are cool old tikis at Hobby City!)

Anyway, there's still a lot to do, but the photos and information are drifting in, a first draft of the tour booklet is underway, and things are generally starting to fall into place.

This is fun!

CJ

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Postby darkamor » Thu Feb 23, 2006 4:23 am

Last time I was in BUENA PARK was for KNOTTS SCARY FARM in October [barely got the time to visit the WAX MUSEUM which was scheduled to close that month] .... drove by a very vacant HOBBY CITY and frowned [of all places I wanted to believe that life "behind the orange curtain" would remain the same forever since childhood and once again I am being proved money talks preservation walks] ....

I think I need to visit PO' FOLKS again for some food [and to watch the choo choo train go round n' round] ....

~(^)~
Cj
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