Passion for Toys Leads to Success
Brian Semling has been all about starting early and following his bliss.
Brian has been a life-long Merchants Bank customer. “I was just four or five days old when my parents opened my first Merchants Bank account,” Semling said. Semling has been with Merchants since then.
As a child, Brian played with “Star Wars” toys. In 1987, that memorabilia was sold at a garage sale. By 1992, Brian started collecting again, and by 1994, Brian opened his own business, “Brian’s Toys,” at the tender age of 16.
The business has grown from selling vintage “Star Wars” toys and collectibles, although it still does that, to selling contemporary “Star Wars” toys, “Transformers,” “Masters of the Universe,” “GI Joe,” “LEGO” construction sets, “Indiana Jones,” “Star Trek” and much, much more. They claim to offer the “world’s largest collection of Star Wars toys and Star Wars collectibles.”
The business has grown from its start in the basement and garage of his parents’ home in Fountain City, Wis., to a more than 8,000 square foot warehouse. The staff has grown to about 20 people, including family members. All sales are done online.
Merchants Bank has helped Brian’s Toys in a number of ways. In addition to providing business loans and lines of credit, Merchants has provided Merchant Processing for credit cards and Deposit on Demand where checks can be remotely scanned and deposited. Recently, Brian added ACH Block and Filters, which can block certain debits and credits from posting to an account, and can allow certain debits and credits from posting to an account while excluding others. Brian also added Positive Pay, which helps to make sure no fraudulent checks are issued on the business account.
“I feel there’s a real understanding of our history,” Semling said of the relationship with Merchants. “We’ve been very happy. If we need to discuss things, we definitely feel that there are real people that we can connect with and be treated fairly.”
Tammy Johnson, a Cash Management expert at Merchants, said that Brian is good to work with because he has an idea of what works best for him and is open to hearing about new products. The ACH Blocks and Filters and Positive Pay are relatively new products, Johnson said.
“He has a wonderful, thriving business,” Johnson said.
Semling said that he also likes the size and feel of a community bank like Merchants.
“There’s value in being able to meet with people face-to-face,” Semling said.
If you have some old “Star Wars” or other discontinued toys from the 1990’s or 2000’s, Brian’s Toys may be interested. “It could be an entire collection, or it may be just a toy or two,” Semling said. More information can be found at the website or email with any toys for sale to firstname.lastname@example.org.
For Semling, he still has a number of favorite toys, and it is hard for him to choose just one favorite. He did say one of the most collectible was an Anakin Skywalker from the “Power of the Force” series in its original packaging from 1984.
“I’ll say that Darth Vader is my favorite character, and that the first Darth Vader from 1978 in its original packaging is a favorite toy as well,” Semling said.