Interview: Ben Goretsky of 3DRetro Vinyl Toy Art Store (NOW OPEN!)
After being a successful online retailer and vinyl toy producer for over a decade, the 3DRetro retail store has finally opened its doors to the toy loving nerd public in Los Angeles, and it was quite the opening party. There were delicious food trucks, impressive live paintings, and some awesome toy releases. Also, several well-known artists, such as Nathan Ota, Scott Tolleson, and Sam Flores to name just a few, were present to hang out and sign stuffs for fans. The event was packed, but I was fortunate enough to peek inside, geek out and drool on (sorry!) all of the beautiful toys, prints, and other collectibles, some of which you may not find elsewhere. And props to whomever designed and decorated the interior. I felt like I was in a super cool grown up version of Toys “R” Us, only I didn’t have to feel guilty for spending money on kids stuff. I even had the pleasure of interviewing its owner Ben Goretsky. So if you’re a toy collector or just like looking at pretty, shiny, nerdy things, check out what he had to say and make sure to visit 3DRetro soon! (Store details below.)
1) For our readers who are not aware of your impressive resume, can you tell us about yourself, your background, and how you started your business?
I don’t know if anyone would call it an impressive resume, but I started actually as a collector. I originally collected Simpsons figures and started coming to SDCC for the latest figures. In 2002, when I was at SDCC, I noticed some figures at the Tower booth (of all places), which were coming out of Asia. I started looking into them after SDCC and, around the same time, the KidRobot company was opening a store in Santa Monica, and I was sucked in. I started looking into the figures and the different producers, and that got me into creating 3DRetro. I started carrying the figures that I would want to buy and started selling them online; at that time, there were only 2-3 other vinyl toy stores online. I worked with KidRobot and Frank Kozik to get an exclusive Dunny for my store, and that really put me on the map with the rest of the stores. I always wanted to produce my own toys, though, so in 2010, I started working with October Toys and some artists I had approached throughout the years to start doing that. For me, that was huge! Now, I am happy to say that with production going on, toys, and a new site for the online store, I am happy to finally open an actual brick and mortar store.
2) Have you always wanted to own a toy store? And, more importantly, have you always been a huge nerd who loves toys just like the rest of us? What was your favorite toy as a child?
Yes! After about the first year of running 3DRetro online, I was always hoping to open a retail store. I just needed to wait for the right time and space. I have always loved toys and toy stores, but, as a little kid, I never had many toys given to me by my parents. Sometimes I feel I have so many toys now because I never had so many as a kid. I did love Legos as a child, and this was before they had the awesome Star Wars and other licenses. I did also love robot toys, I still do. I loved the small transformers toys when I was a kid, and I even had this little toy called a Hootbot, which I adored. I think that toy is still somewhere at my parents house.
3) What’s your favorite item in your collection now? I know you’re a huge Back to the Future fan. Is there something from that franchise that you’d love to have or already own?
It’s hard to pick a favorite; there are so many good toys from different genres. I could probably break it down into just a handful of item. I love my signed Simpsons figures; those are prized possessions for me. I do love anything Back to the Future related maybe because there is so little out there for the movie. I did hear that Hot Toys will finally be making Back to the Future figures, which I would LOVE to see, so I am really looking forward to those.
4) Who do you currently work with as a toy producer? Any exciting releases coming up for Comic-Con this summer? What about DesignerCon in the fall?
In terms of artists that I am working with for future releases, I have projects with Greg Simkins, Gary Baseman, KRK Ryden, Juan Muniz, Ron English, Nathan Hamill, Joe Ledbetter, Silvia Ji and Jeremy Fish. I have also worked with Luke Chueh, Scott Tolleson, Brandi Milne, Ragnar, Jim Mahfood, The Super Sucklord and David Chung and will hopefully be doing more projects with these artists. For SDCC, I have a few releases coming from Nathan Hamill, Gary Baseman, Greg Simkins and maybe a few other surprises.
5) Who are your favorite designers? Is there someone you’d love to work with in the future?
I love all the people I work with. I kind of feel that, at this point, I don’t know if there are any artists that I love that I don’t already work with. I do still wish I could work with Shepard Fairey (OBEY) and some of the big street artists out there.
6) What would you say separates 3DRetro from other toy stores?
It’s a different feel in the store than others, more of an industrial look and feel to it, but, aside from the aesthetics, the store, while focusing on the collectibles we all love and the limited edition figures the vinyl toy industry is known for, it also carries a lot of pop-culture toys from your favorite movies and TV shows, which suits to that audience. I think there is a big cross-over in our world regarding these toys.
7) What advice would you give to someone who wants to open their own toy store?
I would say that it’s a lot harder than just running an online store, a lot more work. I would also say that you need to do something in your store to make it stand out, not just from the other vinyl toy stores out there, but stand out from the basic stores like Toys “R” Us; it’s gotta wow the person entering the store, make them remember the store and make them want to come back.
Store location and hours:
1851 Victory Blvd.
Glendale, CA 91201
Wednesday-Thursday: 11am to 6pm
Friday: 11am to 7pm
Saturday: 11am to 8pm
Sunday: 11am to 6pm