April 19, 2021

Hello and welcome to the first “Getting to know,” this forum will help you, the customer well, to get to know about the independently owned hobby shops around Canada. So, why are they important? You might ask, well, that’s easy. They are the backbone, the heart of our hobby. Everyone who walks through the front door until they leave you is an essential part of their store, business, and dream.

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Silver Screen Collectibles Store Front at 54 Anne Street, Unit 1 in Bobcaygeon

With COVID, many things changed, and many businesses had to change the way they operated for several years. But rather than stay down for the count, they got back up and altered how they do business to make sure that collectibles can still arrive in your hands.

Today, we take the time to get to know Wes Arscott, owner and operator of Silver Screen Toys and Collectibles in the beautiful town of Bobcaygeon, Ontario. So, without further ado, let’s “Get to know” Silver Screen Toys and Collectibles.

Wes Arscott is a life-long 80’s pop culture fan! Transformers has always been and still is his #1 Toy love! As a typical 80’s kid, Wes was into all the major figure lines (The big three, or four if you include Star Wars). Then somewhere around 1987-88, Wes’s parents got rid of all his toys, and for the next 20 years or so, he became a lurker. 

Wes says, “With a terrible family dynamic and other circumstances, I found myself having to “grow up” fast. It was during that time I joined the army and had a successful career for about 15 years. In 2006, while I was deployed to Afghanistan, a friend of mine received a copy of the 2000 edition of Mark Bellomo’s GI JOE guide in a care package from home. So by the light of my LED headlamp, there I was in the middle of the desert at a god awful time of night reminiscing about all the JOE’s I used to own.”

And that was the catalyst for getting back into toys as an adult. When I came home in 2007, I immediately bought into Transformers Classics, then Transformers animated, and by the time Masters of the Universe Classics had launched in 2008, I was ALL IN!!!! Since then, my collection has ballooned to include pieces from over a dozen IPs. When my military career came to an end because of a service injury, I was left with pretty ample space in my life. Being a soldier was all I wanted to be, and it was the only thing I had ever been good at doing. It was a rough few years.”

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Following this and some encouragement from his wife, it seemed like a natural fit that he should turn his hobby into something more. From that, Silver Screen Toys & Collectibles was born. Kim (Wes’s wife) and Wes launched SST&C as a “Webshop” in March of 2016 and did a few toy shows in and around the GTA. October that same year, they had been asked enough times about having a brick-and-mortar shop that they thought there might be something to it! So looking around, they had discovered a “hole in the wall” location with less than 600 square feet, perfect inviting size, and for the first two years, they stuck it out. 

 In our 5th year, SST&C has closer to 900 Square feet and operates not just as a retail store but also as a games lounge with tabletop and video game offerings! Their store is located at 54 Anne Street, Unit 1 in Bobcaygeon, right in the middle of the Kawartha Lakes. They also currently offer curbside pick-up so you can call ahead, place your order and have it ready for you. You can also check out their website here.

We asked Wes why a customer will want to shop with him, and his response is what I, as a collector, like to hear, “Like many independent toy retailers, I am a collector first. That knowledge and shared passion are what sets us apart from any big-box retailer. Speaking the same language as your target audience is paramount in this business because you can’t B.S. your way around a toy line you know nothing about. And the truth is, I don’t have all the answers. But I do know how to find out. And when I do find out, the customer can expect a follow-up from me.” This type of care and response helps build the bond between the shop owner and the customer.

When asked what Wes found was his most popular toy line, Wes had this to say, “Right now I’d say we do alright with most lines from by NECA. Because NECA doesn’t do many “Big Box” retail in Canada like Hasbro and Mattel, we have a decent shot at being competitive with them. The Mezco One 12: Collective line is slowly becoming a strong seller for us as well.” 

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Wes, not only is an entrepreneur, but he is also a collector. Currently, he is a huge fan of modern Transformers! “I’ve recently focussed that down to characters that appeared in the first two seasons of the G1 cartoon and the ’86 movie. There’s still the odd MOTU Classics figure I’d like to pick up, and I’m really curious to see what the MOTU Revelation line is going to offer. But because MOTU classics were so deep in terms of characters (over 300 figures), it’s hard for me to want to invest in another modern MOTU line, but we’ll see. The 6″ Star Wars Black Series figures continue to be the bane of my existence! We have a love, hate relationship. I love the figures, but I hate the multiple re-releases with one or two extra accessories. (I’m looking at you, Mando!)”

In the past, they have participated in toy shows; Wes says Trade shows “Were a vital part to our early success. A good one-day show could be better in sales than a whole week in the shop sometimes. We miss doing shows, but as a rural shop, it’s difficult to want to invest in the multi-day shows where the cost to do them potentially outweighs the profit. For that reason, we’ve stuck to single-day shows that we can drive to and from on the same day. Geographically speaking, we have gone as far West as Mississauga and as far East as Kingston. We would do shows again if they are the right fit for us.”

Like many other businesses, Silver Screen has had to make changes to how they operate, which is never easy, especially in these times. However, Silver Screen has done quite nicely in altering their strategies so that they can continue to support the demand for the customers; Wes says, “COVID 19 has given us pause to stop and look at how exactly we’re reaching our customers. To make things as easy as possible, we’ve switched to curbside pick-up for any local purchases. You can shop from our website, and when you checkout online, the curbside option is already there for you, and you don’t have to make special arrangements.  

Besides that, I joined more online toy groups to keep an eye on what people are looking for.”

Wes also currently does not offer pre-orders, but if he did, he would need the product to be paid for upfront. This is understandable, especially when dealing with last-minute cancellations, “We do a solid mix of new and previously enjoyed figures and collectibles. In the early days of the shop, we did pre-orders, and part of me would love to do pre-orders again, but we moved away from pre-orders for a couple of reasons. 

Firstly, we are not a high-volume store by any means. So that limits our available cash flow in any given month. And as you know, the release dates for toys in Canada vs. the USA can vary A LOT! which creates a problem for me as a retailer. 

If you pre-order something from me and then decide to cancel it down the road because a US retailer has it in stock “NOW,”; I’m still on the hook for all those cancelled pre-orders. And I’m not Amazon or Walmart with millions of dollars to cover those costs. 

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To even consider doing pre-orders again, it would have to be a 100% paid in the entire upfront purchase, with a non-refundable restocking fee to help cover the wholesale cost for any cancellations. And you already know how popular that model is. But there is a silver lining to my way of doing business. And that is, I get figures a little bit later than most, which allows me to catch new collectors to older lines that may be sold out everywhere else. “

That said, when you attend Silver Screen Toy and Collectibles, they firmly believe in the importance of the customer. “Metaphorically speaking, the customer is me. Every person that walks through my door or shops from my website is me. If I don’t give them the same attention that I would expect, I’m not doing my job. I think that anyone who has ever shopped from us can attest to that. Like my answers to these questions, I tend to be long-winded and want to give everyone the time and service they deserve. I’m a collector, too, and I love to share the toy hunting experience with all of you! It’s exciting!

Though they don’t have big year-end sales, you know that you will get a fair price, and Wes will work with you; he says he would instead give you a better regular retail price all year. Also, Wes believes for the collector that you should “Collect toys, not the packaging! Open your stuff up and play with it! Enjoy it while you can because you can’t take it with you.”

Silver Screen Toys and Collectibles is also a big supporter of the Wounded Warriors Canada, a charity that hits home with Wes because “The work they do with veterans and first responders suffering from PTSD is life-changing. Their work changed my life” For more information regarding the Wounded Warriors of Canada, please

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visit https://woundedwarriors.ca/.

In closing, Wes would like everyone to know that “We buy and consign from the public all the time. We’re happy to negotiate a deal if the terms are agreeable, and in the case of large lots, we’ll even come to you. Feel free to contact us through our website or social media if you have any questions!

We’re constantly updating our website, so if there’s something you’re looking for that isn’t there, it never hurts to drop us a message. “

During these times, it’s essential for us as hobbyists to help support the Canadian economy where we can; shops like Silver Screen Toys & Collectibles need our support where we can. They have a wide range of inventory, great prices and fantastic passionate owners living the Canadian dream as business owners. Please give them a look; you won’t regret it.
Check out their website
at www.silverscreentoysandcollectibles.com.

I hope you enjoyed our first of many planned “Getting to know” series, and don’t forget to check out our shop for all the stands you need, especially when you buy a ton of figures from Silver Screen Toys and Collectibles. Also, catch Wes on his Podcast Fandom Power to hear his thoughts and reviews on what is going on in the hobby today.

Feel free to comment below, as we would love to hear your thoughts.

Till next time, please stay safe and let your collections grow!!

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