TheTimesTribune.com, Corbin, KY

June 9, 2011

Gaining Speed

Corbin company opens new location, plans to go nationwide


The Times-Tribune

CORBIN — By Becky Killian / Managing Editor

A Corbin company that specializes in collectable games has opened a second retail location and plans to open more nationwide.

TrollandToad.com opened a 1,600 square foot retail shop in University Shopping Center in Richmond in May, company representatives said. Game tournaments are already being held at the new store.

“It’s gaining speed, gaining more players,” James Jacques, marketing director, said about the tournaments.

Jacques said the company’s plan for nationwide retail locations is still in development.

“We’re still getting market research on cities,” Jacques said.

The company specializes in collectible, out-of-print games as well as current games. Among the products offered are board games, collectible cards like “Magic: The Gathering” and collectable miniatures.

Although the company does have its competitors — mostly “mom and pop shops” according to Jacques — company officials believe the recent $1.5 million purchase of a collection of “Magic: The Gathering” cards will give the company’s inventory an advantage over competitors.

The purchase, made about two weeks ago from a collector who declined to be named, involved just under 5 million cards, Jacques said.

It was the largest single purchase of the collectable cards to date, company officials said.

TrollandToad.com also was recognized as one of the nation’s 500 most successful online retailers of 2010 by Internet Retailer Magazine and it earned “Top Holiday Seller” status on Amazon.com for 2010, company officials said.

The company, which moved from Barbourville to Corbin in October, has completed its purchase of the about one million square foot building that formerly housed the American Greeting Cards factory. The company occupies about a third of the building and plans to lease the remaining space.

About 180 people are employed by TrollandToad.com.

A HISTORY:  TrollandToad.com founders Jon and Lana Huston started their home business in 1993 by selling “Magic: The Gathering” products.  After Huston and his family stopped at David’s Steakhouse in Corbin while returning to Ohio from a convention in Atlanta, Ga., Huston decided the area was a good, central location for him to attend conventions in major cities. After leafing through a real estate book he picked up at the restaurant, he discovered living in Corbin would be cheap. In 2000, Huston purchased a home in Keavy, ready to drop the storefront and focus his sales at the conventions. Huston aimed to make an extra $2,500 or so to pay for the move, so he placed an ad and an 800-number in a gaming magazine for role playing collectable cards. The response was overwhelming — Huston said he received more than 5,500 calls and did $50,000 in business in just one month from the ad. The success made Huston realize that he didn’t even need to travel to the conventions, he could sell from his home. Thus, www.trollandtoad.com was born. From 2004 to 2007, TrollandToad.com went from eight to 77 employees. The website started by just selling single Magic the Gathering cards, but www.trollandtoad.com now sells boxes of cards, other role playing games, plush novelties, collectable figures and now video and board games. In November 2007, Troll & Toad moved from Keavy to the Dogtown area of Barbourville, purchasing a warehouse from SEKRI that was nearly vacant. The move allowed the company to expand its space from 8,000 square feet to 26,000 square feet.  In 2010, the company moved to its current location in the former American Greeting Cards factory in Corbin.