Big Boy’s running hot on track, in business
BENNINGTON – With the parking lot recently re-blacktopped following a washout from Tropical Storm Irene, Big Boy’s Toys owner Richard Boutin said he is seeing some of the best business since pre-recession. Things are also looking up for the sponsored racer turning up dirt at Albany-Saratoga Speedway.
Boutin’s business has provided sponsorship for dirt track racer Hector Stratton of Bennington for the better part of 25 years. After six years most recently racing the high banks of Lebanon Valley Speedway, Stratton’s team is back at the four-tenths mile track on Route 9 in Malta, N.Y., this season, which is again dirt and under new management after a few unsuccessful paved seasons.
“We’re still in dirt country.” Acclimating to the shorter track and getting up to pace with the front of the pack, Stratton’s “back at a bull ring,” Boutin said. “Hector has a lot of fans,” he said, the sponsorship bringing to Big Boys “not just customers, but a fan base.”
Big Boys has been in business 26 years on North Bennington Road, originally as a body shop, today specializing in wheels and tires: New and aftermarket, trades and original equipment take-offs. As a Tire Rack preferred installer, the business can typically match online retailers’ prices, at the brick-and-mortar’s expense. “The killer is your sales tax,” said Boutin.
To stay in operation, the business has diversified over time; to include hitches and trailer wiring, aluminum and fiberglass truck caps, tonneau covers, and truck lift kits – including an exclusive deal to offer BDS Suspensions, a company with lift kits for all your usual suspects. Window tint and remote car starters are installed on-site at Big Boys.
E ight years ago, when Boutin and wife Pam bought a recreation vehicle, the store began offering RV and marine parts and accessories. “All the stuff that breaks.”
The bread-and-butter remains specialty wheels and aftermarket options, for cars and trucks. There’s more than 40 complete sets of wheels available at any point in time, “and lot of it is trade-in.” And Big Boys will dicker.
“I think us taking trades is the biggest thing. I barter with people,” said Boutin, who spends winters in Florida, partly for sourcing fresh, rust-free wheels and parts. “Diesel Dan” of Arlington helps transport some of the finds back up north, where people are always looking for an extra set of wheels for winter tires.
“We’re in second set of wheel country.” Branching out online has also been crucial according to Boutin, where Big Boys has found new markets in auction website eBay and Craigslist classifieds. “We have hands-on.”
Big Boy’s Toys Automotive Specialty and Southern Vermont Tire is located at 1477 North Bennington Road. Visit bbtoys.com.
Big Boy’s Toys owner Richard Boutin is always on the lookout for good wheels, and deals.