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As toys go, LEGOs are virtually timeless, even if the LEGOs you remember playing with as a child seem to pale in comparison with the variety available to today.
That’s an essential component to the business model (no pun intended) of a new store in Fitchburg dedicated exclusively to LEGOs — Bricks and Minifigs.
Bricks and Minifigs, located at 2960 Cahill Main, Suite 102B, right next to Panera Bread in the Hatchery Hill Mall on Fish Hatchery Road, opened Oct. 24 with a unique model: buying, selling, and trading used LEGO sets.
Storeowner Dan Jacobsohn didn’t consider himself a LEGO enthusiast when he hatched on the idea for a LEGO resale shop.
Jacobsohn worked in IT for more than 20 years. As he watched his sons grow — they’re now 9 and 11 years old — he noticed a disturbing trend: the amount of screen time they were consuming.
“That’s a competition every parent has now with their kids, in terms of their attention and trying to find something that will bring them back to the physical world,” Jacobsohn explains. In LEGO, he saw a toy that felt like a constant presence, and one that carried an educational component, too.
“I found myself playing with LEGOs again for the first time since I was in my early teens,” Jacobsohn says, “and I realized it was an enjoyable, it has an educational mission, you can build a community around it, and it competes with the screen time.
“I had this spark of an idea that nobody does aftermarket LEGO sales,” he continues. “It’s one of those ideas that comes and goes but then suddenly you realize you’re waking up with the same thought everyday for days on end. Finally I did a Google search and found that these guys in Oregon had created a franchise model for it. I talked with them and we got along really well and I realized at 42 years old I wasn’t really interested in starting a new business from scratch so franchising made a lot of sense for me. We’ve been at it ever since.”
While Bricks and Minifigs does stock new LEGO sets, that’s not its bread and butter.
“Our core business is around used sets, minifigures, bulk LEGOs — all things [big box stores and major toy retailers] don’t offer,” Jacobsohn notes. “For us this is our strategic differentiator, that we have a buy-sell-trade model.”
For LEGO enthusiasts of all ages, that’s a big deal. Jacobsohn notes in the couple weeks that the store there’s already been a tremendous amount of turnover in used sets and bulk bricks, which helps with the store’s repeat customer model. “I’ve got a number of people who have been in — LEGO aficionados — almost every day we’ve been open. They’ll stop in after work just to see what kinds of new sets we’ve taken in or new stuff we’ve put in our bulk bins.” Bricks and Minifigs also sells LEGOs online.
Jacobsohn notes Bricks and Minifigs has a wide variety of rare and old sets on hand for sale. “Just this week we took in a number of the original Harry Potter sets, a number of the old space sets, a big Jabba the Hutt set that’s been very popular,” he says. “There’s an architecture line where they replicate famous buildings and somebody brought in a Frank Lloyd Wright Robie House — the famous Chicago house of his. It sold in 24 hours. I just put it on our Facebook page and somebody just swooped in and got it.”
Jacobsohn explains that anyone can walk in with their old LEGOs to sell or trade, but there are some things that will help maximize the value of the transaction. “Anything people can do in terms of having the set built and bringing in instructions are always very helpful for us.” Older sets in good condition, and rare sets, are particularly sought after by collectors.
“We don’t have a fixed price schedule,” Jacobsohn notes. “A lot of people will ask us, ‘What will you pay per pound for LEGOs?’ The answer is, I can’t say. Like any other commodity the prices shift as my stock goes down or as a set is or isn’t available. Without seeing it in person, doing an evaluation, seeing what the quality of it is, seeing what our current stock is, I can never give a price over the phone.”