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New retail concept lets kids pimp their rides

Inspired by the success of its partner, Build-A-Bear Workshop, toy car specialist Ridemakerz has steered the DIY retail model into a new pitstop-and-shop concept for kids. The company's first store opened for business in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina at the beginning of the month, and the experience it offers centers around customizable car construction.
June 1, 2007

Inspired by the success of its partner, Build-A-Bear Workshop, toy car specialist Ridemakerz has steered the DIY retail model into a new pitstop-and-shop concept for kids. The company’s first store opened for business in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina at the beginning of the month, and the experience it offers centers around customizable car construction.

For between US$12 and US$75, customers select from a range of body types (from monster trucks to licensed concept cars based on Ford and Dodge models) and then soup up the frame by adding sounds, a radio control option (a US$25 upgrade), rims and a license plate number, all of which they assemble themselves in a timed pit-stop section of the store. They also get a code that they can enter online at www.ridemakerz.com to add more upgrades to a digital version of their personalized model before it gets sent out to friends.

Ridemakerz has come a long way since Build-A-Bear initially invested in the venture in late 2005. The behind-the-scenes relationship has since expanded into a full-on operational partnership, giving the upstart company use of the Workshop’s point-of-sales system and warehouse/distribution center.

Though cars tend to be a boy-skewing merch proposition, Ridemakerz CEO Larry Andreini says quite a few girls have been buying the product in Myrtle Beach, particularly the pink RZ Rascal model. People of all ages seem to be into the concept, especially father-and-son duos looking for a bonding experience, but he says the sweet spot is still kids six to 12.

Andreini plans to open four more Ridemakerz locations across the US this year, the goal being to have 250 to 300 in operation by 2017. He’s already fielded calls from parties interested in bringing franchises to the UK, Canada and France and definitely plans to roll the chain out worldwide.

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