Thousands of hot rods line the walls of a new store in North Kamloops.
Though newly opened, the store’s essence is not new at all. It’s soundtrack consists of old rock tracks and it sells Hot Wheels — only Hot Wheels.
“I just wanted to have a store where it’s overwhelming,” Hot Deals Cool Wheels owner Ron Patriquin said. “When you walk in, it’s just, ‘Woah.’ And worse, like ‘What the f---?’ And that’s the idea.”
The store, which opened at 359 Tranquille Rd. in August, has about 12,000 of the miniature toy cars in stock: old cars, new cars, ones that cost $2 and Redline originals with $200 price tags.
There are cars themed around just about any pop-culture reference one can imagine — Looney Tunes, Batman, The Dukes of Hazzard, Monopoly and Star Wars — from an old brand that has seen it all.
A collector at heart, 53-year-old Patriquin squirrels away antiques and coins. However, his favourite item to collect rolls on four wheels.
When he was a boy, Patriquin first started playing with his older brothers’ Hot Wheels. He has been purchasing them over the years from collectors and buying out Interior stores.
In addition to his shop’s current inventory, Patriquin has another 20,000 Hot Wheels at home. One display at the store is not for sale, showcasing hard-to-find cars near and dear to the shelves in a collector’s heart.
“I’ve always just liked Hot Wheels my whole life,” Patriquin said.
Hot Wheels first rode into the world in the 1960s.
They’ve driven into the Vietnam War, by the Beatles break-up, through the fall of the Berlin Wall, past the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal, alongside the advent of the internet and away from the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 — before cracking a U-turn and parking back in Kamloops.
A toy to some and collector’s memorabilia to others, they can be purchased new today from various stores online and on the street.
(The most expensive Hot Wheels KTW found for sale on eBay is a 50th anniversary Hot Wheels Porsche, with an asking price of US$10,000.)
Patriquin is hoping to attract both kids and collectors alike with his brick and mortar location, which is the resurrection of a smaller Hot Wheels store he operated across the street 22 years ago.
Asked why that store closed, Patriquin explained that store was not this store.
His current store, he said, has the wow factor.
All these years later, Patriquin still believes there’s a hot market for Hot Wheels. And he’s hedging on customers agreeing.
“It’s nostalgic, really, and interesting,” one customer told KTW.