Business

New Westminster shop makes time for hobbies

Pauly Benton says he had no more time for his hobbies, so he opened a hobby shop. It was also a way to get some of his hundreds of models, including this one of a tank transporter, out of his house. - MARIO BARTEL/NEWSLEADER
Pauly Benton says he had no more time for his hobbies, so he opened a hobby shop. It was also a way to get some of his hundreds of models, including this one of a tank transporter, out of his house.
— image credit: MARIO BARTEL/NEWSLEADER

Pauly Benton spends so much time running Westley Military Surplus, he doesn't have any left over for his hobbies.

So he opened a hobby shop.

Located at 9 Sixth St., just around the corner from the khaki-and-camo emporium he's run for two years, Pauly's Hobbies is Benton's excuse to hang out amidst his beloved plastic military model kits, scale train and slot car racing layouts, and model rockets. It's also a beacon in the darkness for downtown New Westminster hobbyists who haven't had a store to feed their passion since the demise of Three Floors Hobby Shop and Pacific Scale Railway.

Benton had already rented the space that used to be home to Scholar's Quay Antiques to store stock for his surplus shop when he decided to dedicate the storefront to hobbies. His wife was on board—as long as he got the hundreds of plastic model kits he's built over the years out of their North Vancouver home. Two weeks later he opened the doors.

Even in this day when military battles are more likely to be enacted in computerized first-person shooting games and anyone with a game console hooked to their TV can compete for the Formula 1 world championship, Benton is convinced there's still a market for hobbies that require time, dexterity, patience and attention to detail.

"There's so much satisfaction building a model," says Benton, 53. "You feel like you've accomplished something."

But not everyone has the space to erect a train or slot car racing layout on expansive sheets of plywood. Or even a workspace upon which they can glue together the hundreds of tiny pieces of molded plastic that can comprise a typical scale model of a tank or ship.

So Benton has dedicated a back room of his shop to give the city's hobbyists space to indulge their passions. They'll be able to work on their projects on work benches, using professional grade tools like air compressors, soldering irons and X-Acto knives.

He hopes it will become a kind of refuge.

Working on hobbies "forces you to slow down," says Benton. "You get wrapped up in it."

And for the cost of going to a movie, a hobbyist can get a week's worth of evenings meticulously piecing together a model car.

"There's way more of a challenge to building a model than doing things on a computer," says Benton. "There's no restart button."

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