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Pete's Model Garage
Specialists in collectible die-cast models rare and recent
Posted Mar 23, 2017 By Tom Mason/Contributing Writer Middleboro Gazette
Pete's Model Garage - a hidden gem for collectors
LAKEVILLE - Lakeville may be a small community, but it offers plenty of surprises. Here's an example.
Right across the street from Lakeville's Ted Williams Camp recreational complex at 5 Precinct Street, hidden away on an office building next to Lakeville Family Medicine, there's a massive garage that houses more than 10,000 rare and unique cars, trucks, and equipment. Every kind of vehicle is sold. But not the kind of cars you can take for a drive.On the shelves of Pete's Model Garage, Pete St. Yves sells model diecast cars, miniature versions of the real thing.
St. Yves, whose family sold their longtime Nissan dealership on Myricks Street about ten years ago, is keeping up the family tradition of selling top quality vehicles at great prices while providing excellent personalized service.
"I've been selling models over 35 years more as hobby," said St. Yves. "I kept my matchboxes and took care of them. I'd purchase collections, get doubles, and sell them. My first show was at the Knights of Columbus. I turned the hobby into a business by selling duplicates."
St. Yves got his start in the business at a young age when his father and uncle were in the car business. Since the family-run dealership closed, St. Yves' miniature car business has taken off.
"I remember getting my matchboxes every week if I was a good boy," said St.Yves. "Kelloggs, for instance, used to get kids into collecting by offering deals when parents bought cereal. I had a couple of aunts with no children who would collect box tops so I could get the cars."
The question St. Yves must answer every day isn't what he sells, but what doesn't he sell. Remember Matchbox cars that used to be sold at supermarkets and toy stores? St. Yves sells multiple Matchboxes. Remember cool Corgis models of James Bond's famous Aston Martin? St. Yves stocks a full line of the classics.
"Corgi is now owned by Hornby Trains," said St. Yves. "Remember Thunderbirds? That show with marionettes? They did a tribute for them and about sixty other movies. They always seemed to have a relation with James Bond."
According to St. Yves, collecting model cars isn't just for kids. Each model car connoisseur seems to have his or her own specialty.
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"Some are interested in buses, some in military, some in fire, and some are interested in different time periods or eras. There are a lot of niches. A lot of collectors like to cars in the 30s to the 50s because the cars weren't cookie cutters. People want exact replicas. Companies go to great lengths with quality control. The packaging now is much better. You don't have model cars banging around in boxes like in the old days of Matchbox. It's more niche and more people. More things are available now. It used to take ten months to get a new model designed and on the market. Now it just takes three months."
One thing that's changed over the years is that nothing seems to be made in the United States anymore.
"I think we'll see a change with China. Maybe other countries will get in the business," he said. "It would be nice if more stuff would be U.S. made. We have to develop the capability like they do to do the detailing. The Chinese manufacturers seem have the ability to make small parts needed. There's no one in the U.S. who seems to be ready to make the investment in the machinery."
In these days of hi-tech and the internet, collecting diecast models is also beginning to trend young.
"Collecting model construction equipment is getting popular. Lots of younger collectors in their 20s are operating machinery like this and they have the interest. Bulldozers and excavators and the like. Caterpillar even produces its own miniature equipment which is collectible," said St. Yves.
A unique aspect of St. Yves' business is his knowledge of the car business and ability to judge the craftsmanship of diecast models. Old fashioned values, like paying attention to detail and providing great customer service, never grow old.
"Our customers like well-crafted and unique products", said St. Yves. "We have a 'find service.' People call me on the phone to find a certain product and I look for it. A lot of the big outfits can do this but don't. I'll notice the models and know something about the cars. We try to take care of people, like my dad and uncle did when they were in the car business."
St. Yves doesn't stock every kind of model at his garage. Hot Wheels and model trains, for example, appeal to a different clientele.
"I have two young grandsons and they love anything with wheels. We just do diecast and do it right. We have a toy show in Dedham coming up within the next couple of weeks - and my own show on April 23rd here. We have 50 venders with a great variety - even someone with Hot Wheels," said St. Yves.