Off the Map: Fairfax couple runs farm toy business out of garage

Pair make, sell custom scale models

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Editor’s note: Each week we target a town on a map of Eastern Iowa and go there in search of a story. We hope to discover and share stories of people and places we might not ordinarily take note of, but who make our communities special.

FAIRFAX — Trevin and Beth Greene have converted the space where they used to park their cars into a mini-warehouse, from which they sell 1/64 scale model farm toys.

And not just as a hobby.

“We have more than 1,500 items in stock,” Trevin said.

“If it’s on a farm and you can dream it up, it’s in this garage,” Beth added.

Their business, Farm Toys For Fun, involves taking orders by email, phone or fax from customers all over the world who are looking for collector and custom farm toy models. The Greenes, who also have full-time jobs, spend their evening hours packing up orders to ship out the next day.

“Most of our customers aren’t local,” said Beth, noting that they ship to a lot of Canadians as well as Europeans. “And we have a wide range of customers. It could be a mom buying something for her 3-year-old, or someone ordering who is 103.”

The Greenes purchased Farm Toys For Fun in March from the previous owners. They had operated the business for some 30 years, and the Greenes had been working with them the past eight years.

Since taking over, the Greenes said they have been working hard to create a balance of running the business from home, working outside the home and keeping up with their three young kids, ages 2, 6 and 9.

“From the time our kids come home from school until they go to bed we are focusing on them,” Trevin said.

“And then we are working from after bedtime until we can’t keep our eyes open any more,” Beth said.

The couple said they have found a good working partnership that balances their skills. Beth has a background in accounting and IT, so she handles more of the behind-the-scenes tasks such as website updates, Facebook posts, email inquiries, taking photos and overseas shipping.

Trevin, who said he has been collecting farm toys since he was 8 years old and amassed a collection of more than 5,400 pieces, has an agriculture background and toy knowledge. He takes most of the phone calls, from 30 to 100 per day.

Beth said it took a little convincing on Trevin’s part to get her to believe that owning a farm toy business could be workable and fun.

“It took me a while to get my mind around it,” she said. “But now I see that we have great customers who are very loyal. These are serious collectors and we are selling items they don’t just want. These are items they need. We get really neat notes from people who tell us they are so happy we helped them find just what they are looking for.”

The Greenes said they are gearing up for the busy season ahead. They be attending the National Farm Toy Show from Nov. 7 to Nov. 9 in Dyersville, and said they already are thinking about the holidays, when they expect to send out at least 100 packages per day.

“Customizing things for people is the real fun of it,” said Trevin, who has a work station set up in the garage where he works on decals, painting, or developing new product ideas. “So many of these collectors are looking to collect just what they have on their farms.”

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