Bob Taylor has a background in athletic training and medical sales. He doesn’t particularly enjoy collecting things, and he isn’t necessarily motivated by money. It may be a surprise to learn that he owns and runs Toy Buzz & Fizz in Plainfield, and he absolutely loves it.
“I’ve never had a more stressful job, but I’m always learning and always growing,” Taylor says. “That’s what I really enjoy about this place.”
Toy Buzz & Fizz is the place to go for toys, action figures, pop-culture items, and retro-bottled soda. Collectors can find anything from Hot Wheels to Disney items to LEGOs. Taylor is always actively seeking toys and collections to buy.
While Taylor himself isn’t a collector, he has a good friend who is. In 2012 that friend wanted to start selling his collections, and since Taylor had some experience with eBay, he offered to help in his spare time and split the cost.
Once the collections were gone, they began to poke around at local garage sales and Goodwill stores. They happened upon a bin of vintage “Star Wars” figures, selling at low prices. His friend suggested they buy the entire bin and sell them.
“That really started the ball rolling in our minds,” Taylor says. “We thought, ‘If we can just find this stuff at Goodwill, we might be onto something. We could buy a 1984 Voltron figure for $5 and sell it for $100.’ It spawned from there.”
It wasn’t long before their inventory became overwhelming. Taylor’s garage was filled with nothing but toys and before he knew it, they were running the operation almost like a full-time job – in addition to his actual full-time job.
Taylor’s natural entrepreneurial spirit took over, and he began to consider quitting his job to sell toys full time. He was never miserable in sales, and always wanted to be on his own. He was never driven by the rat race of sales goals and pressure.
“I don’t care about keeping up with the Joneses,” Taylor says. “I want to pay my bills, go on vacation, make my own decisions, and have a nice life.”
His friend wasn’t quite ready to make the jump, so they parted ways amicably, and Taylor quit his job to solely sell toys online. He hunted regionally, from Ohio to Illinois to Michigan, found decent-sized collections, and sold them on eBay. His garage was so full, he realized a storefront was likely required to continue the business. Many items were just sitting in his garage, waiting to be organized and sold.
Taylor started small by renting a booth at Gizmo’s in Brownsburg, selling online for a year. While he was ready for more, renting a whole space by himself seemed like too big of a jump. He eventually had a bigger space built out for his toys at Gizmo’s, where he could run his business but also sell items when he couldn’t be there. This worked for four years, until he finally outgrew that space as well.
It was time to make the jump. Taylor felt there were several factors at play that made him confident that he could make a toy store work. Culture was on his side, focusing on nostalgia, Marvel and “Star Wars.” Additionally, the closure of Toys “R” Us stores and the lack of toy stores on the west side offered him a niche.
As he poked around Hendricks County, he began to realize Plainfield’s long-term plan for the town center would make the perfect backdrop for a toy store.
“If the downtown really becomes what they are trying to make it, an area to live, work, eat, shop and play, it will draw people from other parts of the region,” Taylor says. “This could be the perfect place for a toy store.”
He began renting his current Plainfield space in June of 2019. He moved in all his collections, and added a living area with a TV, couches and even tables to play cards. The space next to him was vacant at the time, and when customers began asking if they could come and use the space to play Yu-Gi-Oh!, Pokémon and video games, Taylor was happy to oblige.
“The more people asked, the more I realized that Plainfield didn’t really have a place for people to come, hang out and play games,” Taylor says.
Taylor’s vision for how his business concept fits into the scheme of downtown Plainfield gets him excited to come to work each day. He sees an area where families can use the trails, come downtown for drinks or ice cream, and pop in his store to enjoy a vintage soda or browse his collections.
Even though he’s been there for a year and a half, Taylor still gets one or two people every day who say they never knew he was there. He’s sure that if he can survive the town’s construction, he’ll be a permanent part of the downtown culture, offering a space for families to come, for teens to play their favorite games, and for locals to sell their beloved collections.
Taylor acknowledges the stresses of owning a small business.
“This is by far the most stressful thing I’ve done at certain times, but I’ve never woken up and thought, ‘I don’t want to go to work,’” he says. “I never even get the Sunday blues. It has taken away some of my evenings and weekends, but I don’t hate it at all. I love it.”
The most enjoyable aspect for him is learning the ins and outs of being a general business owner. He considers himself successful every time he can pay the month’s bills and move on to the next month. He has two employees, and he finds the entire process satisfying. His daughter even comes in and works sometimes.
“I didn’t go to business school, but I’m learning about inventory management, I’m learning about employee management, and I’m learning simply what makes a good businessperson,” Taylor says. “The process of sourcing, buying, selling, turning and flipping is awesome in the world of toys.”
When he finds what works, he has happy customers. He values getting to know his customers and building relationships with them. He finds satisfaction in offering something new to the community.
Before COVID, he even ventured into the realm of hosting birthday parties, and his most popular was a paint party, where everyone had paint kits and learned to paint together. The event was such a success that he dabbled in the idea of hosting more parties, until the pandemic hit.
“Every single kid that comes in here has a smile on their face,” Taylor says. “Even adults. I get a lot of adult collectors who come in, or people just looking around and remembering things. You can’t come in here and not have a smile on your face.”
Because of that, Taylor’s vision has expanded beyond just toys. He hopes to continue building a community, creating relationships, and offering a space of fun and joy.
“It’s really cool that I’m providing something like this,” Taylor says. “It’s a cool little place people can come and shop. Come on in, hang out, put a video game in, change Netflix if you want, and stay awhile.”
Toy Buzz & Fizz is located at 119 North Vine Street in Plainfield. For more info, call 317-742-7730 or visit facebook.com/toybuzzfizz.