Local family runs a model business

Beth and Dave Szatmary have owned Oak Mountain Hobbies and Toys in Pelham since 2008. The store recently moved to a larger location. (Reporter Photo/Neal Wagner)

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

When Dave Szatmary and his wife, Beth, moved their business from southern Florida to Pelham, something immediately struck them about customers coming through their doors.

“Shelby County is such a great place. It’s just a good environment to do business,” Szatmary said. “I owned a party supply store in south Florida for 15 years before I came here.

“The people are so much nicer to deal with up here,” Szatmary added with a laugh.

After “dabbling” in selling models and toys at his party supply store in Florida, Szatmary decided to shift his business focus entirely to hobbies. In 2008, the Szatmarys purchased Oak Mountain Hobbies and Toys in the Pelham Promenade shopping center off U.S. 31, and have enjoyed it since.

“This is not a high-stress environment,” Szatmary said. “People are generally relaxed and in a good mood when they come in here.”

Several months ago, the Szatmarys moved the business from the southern end of the Pelham Promenade to the much larger former AllSouth Appliance location a few doors down.

The larger venue has allowed the Szatmarys to add more items, expand its repair offerings and widen the aisles from the old location.

Today, walking into the shop reveals more than 30,000 items ranging from model vehicles, trains and military vehicles to remote-controlled cars and airplanes. A model train circles a miniature town, parts for almost every hobby imaginable stretch down the aisles and an assortment ranging from model P-51 Mustang airplanes to BNSF locomotives fill the store.

The store also partners with several local hobby and RC groups, offers model repair and service and can build custom creations from the ground up. In addition to the Szatmarys, John Angelillo, Bo Lovell and the Szatmary’s dog, Sheeba, also man the store.

“Our RC cars are our biggest department, but our trains are a close second,” Szatmary said. “We’ve been seeing a lot more young kids getting into hobbies lately, so that’s great.”

A model train fan since childhood, Szatmary said he decided to make it his career after reminiscing with a friend.

“I bought a train set, and it just went from there,” Szatmary said.

“I told him to get a hobby, and now here we are,” Beth Szatmary, who works alongside her husband nearly every day, said with a laugh.