CommunityVeterans In Focus


Veteran hoping to keep struggling business open

Posted at 6:02 PM, Jul 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-03 00:35:40-04

PORTLAND, Texas — A pilot turned pastor wants to keep his place in a rapidly shrinking industry.

These days, everyone shops online. That's hurt several types of retail businesses, one of the hardest hit is hobby shops.

There's one in Portland, which has been there more than a decade, its owner is now looking for someone who shares his passion to keep the business going.
“I think we could have kept going if that hadn't hit so bad,” said Jim Sturgis.

Sturgis is talking about COVID-19. The pandemic forced Sturgis to close his store, Jim’s Hobbies. As businesses reopened, his volunteer help simply couldn't help anymore.

“The fella that was helping me, he just went down with back trouble, he had to go to (the) Audie Murphy (VA Medical Center) for his back,” said Sturgis. “Things just fell apart, for the last year really, he was trying but he couldn't keep up.”

Opened in 2008, Jim's Hobbies sells models. Model trains, planes, and automobiles, of all shapes and sizes. For more than 10 years, business was good, even if profits weren't.

“It's not so much the money as it is as it is having fun and talking about models,” said Sturgis. “You meet a lot of nice people here, they come from all over South Texas. They all have wonderful stories and we encourage people to sit and talk.”

Sturgis has stories of his own, like flying F-4s over North Vietnam.

“That was scary,” Sturgis said.

Or how after 24 years in the U.S. Air Force, this man of war became a man of peace.

“I went to the seminary and became a Lutheran pastor, did that for 20 years and retired,” said Sturgis, who opened the shop while a pastor.

He's kept it going for more than a decade with passion and faith. His hope is to keep the business alive as long as he is.

“I hate to close it, and if I could find somebody to help take it onward; or somebody who maybe wanted to take over, purchase it or something,” said Sturgis.

Jim’s Hobbies is open, though these days it's mainly by appointment. The store is located at 207 Seventh Ave. in Portland. To set up an appointment, call Sturgis at (361) 229-0229.\