A teen toy story for troubled times

Marketplace Staff Nov 10, 2008

A teen toy story for troubled times

Marketplace Staff Nov 10, 2008


Scott Jagow: It doesn’t seem like the best time to start a business. But I keep hearing about people who are doing it anyway. Maybe it’s like the stock market — there’s opportunity in a downturn.

A new toy store just opened in Nashua, New Hampshire. It’s owner would inspire anyone that the sky is the limit. Avishay Artsy reports from the Marketplace Entrepreneurship Desk.

Avishy Artsy: When you ask Josh Heinzl where his business instinct comes from, the red-haired, freckled 15-year-old shrugs and says it has to with juju. Juju?

Josh Heinzl: Yeah it’s kind of that feeling, it’s just when something feels right. It’s hard to describe, you just have to feel it, you know?

It’s a African term relating to the supernatural. And Josh does have an uncanny knowledge of how business works. When he was 12, he joined a LEGO robotics team. He realized he could turn a profit by buying LEGO pieces in bulk and then selling the parts online. His age was never an issue for suppliers.

Heinzl: You have the money, they have the product, it’s pretty simple right? It doesn’t even matter how old you are to do that.

His parents fronted their son $10,000 to open Josh’s Toys and Games last month at the Pheasant Lane Mall in Nashua. Josh is home-schooled, already a senior, but he thinks about business almost all the time. Here’s his Dad, Carl:

Carl Heinzl: How could you say that Mozart, when he was 4, could play the music he could? What could you attribute that to? It’s almost the same type of thing. You can’t, it’s just there.

Of his seven employees, four are family members, including his 13-year-old brother, Jonathan:

Jonathan Heinzl: Right now I’m actually just sales associate, but I like to think of myself as co-owner.

Jonathan was the one who helped start Nerds, their robotics team.

Jonathan Heinzl: And actually, it’s an acronym. It stands for the New England Robotics Designers.

They won this year’s LEGO robotic world championship. The two also choose what fills the shelves. Here’s their mother, Mary:

Mary Heinzl: It’s a 13 and 15-year-old picking the merchandise for the store for a population that’s geared from about 10 years old on up. So who better to pick the merchandise than those peers?

Josh plans to open a couple more stores before college. He says with low prices, stuff he knows people like, and his juju, he’ll do well.

Josh Heinzl: Oh yeah, well, you have to, have to use the juju, you know Definitely! That’s the key right there.

In Nashua, New Hampshire, I’m Avishay Artsy for Marketplace.

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