Bob Kamerbeek — or “Jake,” as he is known to his customers — has a unique shop located in Coombs.
When you peek through the window glass and marvel at the display items, one can easily assume that it is a toy shop. It could be, but it’s way more than.
“The common thought about model shops is that the people think they’re toys,” said Kamerbeek. “And most of the stuff you see here is for decorations and for collectors.”
Kamerbeek owns Jake’s Die Cast Models, located at 2300 Alberni Highway at the Coombs Village Centre. The shop features mostly model cars, trucks, boats, planes and construction equipment. The items vary in kind, sizes, and how well they’re made.
“The finer the detail, the higher the price gets,” said Kamerbeek, who has been collecting since he was young. “A lot of the items that I sell are for collectors but that doesn’t mean there isn’t anything for kids. I have been know as ‘Mr. Hot Wheels’ because I have thousands of Hot Wheels (model cars) and I sell thousands of those every year. The kids know they’re here.”
Upon entering the shop, one can’t help but feel fascinated and awed by the different models of classic cars, hot rods, trucks, tractors, and race cars of every type, from NASCAR to Formula 1, that are displayed around the shop. As well, there are dozens of replicas of high-end notable cars like Porsches, Lambhorginis, Ferraris, Mercedes-Benzes, Jaguars, and also the fun Volkswagen beetle or vans.
“It can be overwhelming,” said Kamerbeek. “I feel the same way everytime I open my shop. There’s so much stuff here.”
Kamerbeek has been operating his diecast shop for only six years, having acquired it from a previous owner who ran it for more than 20 years. He decided to take over the business so he could showcase his own personal collections.
“It has been a lot fun,” said Kamerbeek.”What makes it fun is the relationship I develop with my customers. I meet different people that have different expectations of what they’re collecting.”
Kamerbeek recalled an instance when he found three guys hanging around in front of his shop early one Saturday morning.
“I opened the shop and I told them ‘you guys are up early,’ said Kamerbeek.
“And they said, ‘Yeah. We left Kamloops the previous morning.’ Kamloops? One fellow wanted Australian Kenworths. He contacted Drake Models in Australia, which told them Jake’s Die Cast Models have them and to go online and find him. They left Kamloops and got the first ferry in the morning. The first time they bought $1,500 to $1,600. Second time $2,000. That is the reward of working hard for it. I am 70 years old and I can feel it but the fun part is when people come in and say ‘Great job,’ or ‘You have some beautiful models here that nobody else has.’”
Of all the different diecast models that Kamerbeek showcases in his shop, his favourite are the heavy construction equipment replicas.
“I have lots of inventories, all 1:50-scale models,” said Kamerbeek. “That’s a really success story. Nobody in Western Canada has the inventory that I’ve got.”
Kamerbeek is impressed with the meticulous workmanship that went into creating the models that include cranes, excavators, skidders, bulldozers and many more.
“If you see an actual machine and how gigantic they are, how they can build a replica like these that so accurate of what it actually looks like… a lot of detail has been put into these things,” said Kamerbeek, who is still keen on buying unique pieces, especially the handcrafted creations. “I look at the technical viewpoints, that someone has sat behind the Cat machine and started developing all this stuff. There’s a lot of work before a model comes out.”
Collecting is a personal hobby. Regardless of what the price of the model you paid for, be it low or high, Kamerbeek said, it’s how it makes you feel that really matters.
“They can start buying a model for $25,” said Kamerbeek.
“They can buy five of them, set ‘em on a shelf to see if they like them or not. You are going to spend money on something you enjoy. It is all how you want to perceive it.”
To browse through the stock and pick out an item that you might want to collect, visit Jake’s Die Cast Models in Coombs or go online at www.jakesdiecast.com. You can also call Kamerbeek at 250-216-2241.