Kojo Cross, owner of S-N-S Hobbies, does not just run a Black-owned toy store in Washington, D.C. He brings meaning to the words “inspiration, foundation and nostalgia.” Cross has utilized his childhood inspiration–watching his father’s entrepreneurship come to fruition–learning early on that what he liked mattered, and that he could pair that with something that he could do, or sell. Taking his inspiration further, he built a foundation around the mindset that he would keep: making sure to be the best Black business owner that he could be.
The final piece is nostalgia. When it comes to business, especially small business, for success and originality there needs to be some kind of connection to happy feeling…or in Cross’ case, happy memory. The deep joy and nostalgic memories connected to a particular toy growing up may seem meaningless at first, but to Cross, these memories are not only something to be monetized but something that can bridge the gap between differing generations and community. For more insight, I sat down with Kojo Cross at S-N-S Hobbies to learn more about his original inspiration and about his store’s nostalgic inventory.
S-N-S Hobbies is a toy store that satiates the appetite of most any toy connoisseur. With a selection of toys from the current market and vintage toy collectables, each customer is sure to find something that peaks their interest. Exotic snacks and crystals are also included in the store’s wide array of items, further adding to the store’s inclusive approach. Pokémon cards, action figures, comic books, Tamagotchis, and RC’s, are many of the items found within the store. Some items even date back to the 1980s and other featured items have even been imported from Japan.
The store’s owner, Kojo Cross, a DMV native, shared that his inspiration behind the store came from “always[being] in love with business” and prides himself on “staying focused on things that [he liked].” Cross explained that he grew up with a father who owned a business himself, and was inspired by his father’s entrepreneurship.
Combining the concepts of what he liked and the entrepreneurship he was raised with, Cross became inspired to create a space where others would experience the same nostalgia seeing toys they played with as a kid. His hope was that consumers would purchase and to pass them down to the next generation. Cross recalled his love for “Japanese robots” and being fascinated with the way they moved. He explained that the feeling he got as a kid getting his first shogun warriors toy was indescribable, and shared that the same toy goes for “like a $1000 now; they sell as soon as they come in.”
Work Ethic: Learning the Game
Cross said that it actually took him some time to learn the business. Learning the technology and the value of things was a process, “it didn’t just come to me.” He also shared that he thinks about the fact that, “Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, and Bill Gates all still work everyday” and makes sure to come to work seven days a week.
The importance of customer service was also something that we discussed. Cross explained, “your customers pay for everything, so why treat the person that’s paying you badly?” Ultimately, he explained that all the knowledge he’s acquired–and is still acquiring–has prepared him to serve all the diverse and intricate personalities of each customer that arrives in his store. Whether a customer is speaking to Cross himself or one of his associates, he ensures that he and they are well versed on whatever topic may come up.
All great things take time, and this is something that Kojo Cross clearly understands. Paying attention to the market, making sure to have his eye on what his customers are looking for, and trying his best to continue creating the same nostalgic feeling for the next, all go hand in hand.
Cross sees ownership as very important, and encourages his friends and family to pursue it. Taking your sweat, blood and tears, and putting them back into the work you’ve created and are inspired by–for him as an adult–is the ultimate in nostalgia. Doing and having access to the things he only dreamed about as kid only pushes him further. “It’s not what you do 9-to-5, it’s what you do 5-to-9.” The average Joe or Jane works a normal 9-to-5 to make ends meet and pay the bills, which is what Cross had to do at first. By adding in the 5-to-9 outside of work, you begin putting energy into your own work and your own ideas. That has allowed Kojo Cross and his customers to relive the pleasant, playful past that they remember and still dream of.
S-N-S Hobbies is located on 5185 MacArthur Blvd, Washington, D.C. 20016, but will be relocating soon to a location near Dupont Circle. Stay up-to-date with store information by checking out S-N-S Hobbies on Instagram @snshobbies.
Article featured image courtesy of Kojo Cross.