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THREE CHEERS — Hip Hip Hooray!
This column salutes REAP businesses that are finding ways to increase their success.

Hupka’s Turn Farm Toy Hobby into a Business
Steve and Barb Hupka of rural Sterling, Nebraska, turned a hobby of collecting toy farm tractors and implements into a business in 1982. They had a young son at the time. As Steve got into collecting, he would buy one piece for himself, one for his son’s collection, and another to speculate on. Eventually, he started buying more and they took their business out on the road on the toy show circuit.

Beginning in the fall each year and lasting through March, they travel to toy shows around the Midwest. Their longest drive is Bowling Green, Ohio for the show at the National Tractor Pullers Association Championships. Barb says the travel is her favorite part of the business, and Steve adds that getting to know many loyal customers and friends in the business has been the greatest reward.

They’ve seen many changes through the years in the business. Competitors have come and gone. Now they are dealing in selling some model implements made of resin. They look real and like shiny metal, but be careful handling because they can break easily.

The most popular farm toys are from the 1950’s and 60’s. They carry parts for the toy models, and Steve does custom detailing and restoration on models and petal tractors. The couple often gets requests to add customization details to a model so that it will look just like the one that sat in the farmyard years ago.

Barb has been involved in her area REAP group, the Johnson County Small Business Network since its start in 1996. Last year they changed their association’s name to the Nemaha Valley Small Business Network and meet generally in Sterling now.

Barb has served as Association Chair, Secretary, and Public Relations officer through the years. During a couple of slower cash flow periods in their business, they used REAP peer group micro loans.

Barb has always been willing to help someone new in business through the REAP group and values the networking, friendships developed, and ongoing business education that has taken place through her affiliation with REAP. Barb is also an avid collector of Barbie Dolls. At one time, they were Barbie Doll collector dealers as well.

The Hupka’s have a retail store open in Tecumseh and can be contacted at 402.335.2129 or 402.866.5596 or through their web presence at www.thecountryfair.com or by email at sh25357@alltel.net 

Hupka Farm Toys is a business that proves that toys are fun for people of all ages! Congratulations to Steve and Barb for turning a hobby they love into a great small business.

iBarb and Steve Hupka hold part of their toy tractor collection.
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Center for Rural Affairs -- Rural Enterprise Assistance Project
145 Main St.    PO Box 136    Lyons, Nebraska  68038
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