Die-Cast Toys Nearly Surpass the Real Thing

A farm implement store discovers the draw of toy tractors and die-cast toys

| March 1999

When Schoen Equipment opened a farm implement store in Freistatt, Mo., in 1968, the stock included a few farm toys. At the time, the owners never thought of the toys as a money-maker.

"We gave them away as gifts to kids of parents who bought a piece of large machinery," says sales manager Steve Schoen.

But when customers started coming in just for toys, Steve saw the potential for bigger sales. He never dreamed, though, that toys would eventually fill a showroom, reaping annual sales of more than $100,000.

"We sell more in farm toys now than we did in farm machinery parts when we started here," he says.

That's saying something for the town of Freistatt, with a population of 166. Located between Joplin and Springfield in southwest Missouri, the town is famous for its two-night "Ernt-Fest" each August. The event has drawn up to 20,000 visitors per night.

And Schoen Equipment is right next door to the festival grounds.