Cars for kids: Niles man finds success with toy vehicle dealership business

Published 6:00 am Saturday, May 21, 2022

NILES — A Niles car dealership continues to provide quality vehicles and service to Niles’ smallest clients.

Martinez Stephens, of Niles, has owned and operated Kiddie Car Dealership for three years. His toy car dealership offers remote control, manual drive and battery-operated toy cars and trucks for children of all ages. 

The remote control option allows parents to safely control the movements of the vehicle while their children enjoy the ride.

“I just enjoy doing it and I like to see the smiles on [the children’s] faces and stuff like that,” Stephens said. “Most parents actually get more enthusiastic about it than their kids. Once they realized they could do it by remote control, even if the kid grows out of it, you can play with a remote control car.”

Stephens said he has several different makes and models of toy cars and trucks, including Mercedes Benz, Land Rover, Range Rover, GMC, Jeep, McLaren, Lamborghini and Volkswagen. In addition, Kiddie Kar Dealership also offers four-wheel tractors, six-wheel Tractors and UTVs. He also sells customized name plates, license plates and seatbelts for the vehicles.

“If anybody’s looking for a specific color, if it’s not sold out, I’ll purchase it and they’ll just leave me a deposit,” he said. “I’ll go get it, put it together and they can either pick it up or I can deliver it.”

A personal trainer by trade, Stephens was introduced to the world of toy cars by a business associate. After purchasing the toy vehicles from a vendor and learning how to put them together and program them, Stephens set-up shop and began selling them in the Niles area.

“I went back home knowing how to put them together, knowing what to look for and how to program and troubleshoot,” he said. “The rest of history.”

Entrepreneurship runs in the family. Stephens’ daughters, Neriah and Naomi Stephens, founded their own cosmetics line, N.S. Cosmetics, last year. Stephens’ own venture has found success, with customers from Michiana and beyond lining up to purchase new wheels. 

“I’m having fun and business is good,” he said. “I have a lot of happy customers. I have a high turnover rate getting rid of them because they’re getting quality products.”

While the same vehicles can be purchased on Amazon, Stephens said they would be more expensive than what he offers.

“You can find a lot of these on Amazon, but due to the fact that the price that the guy sells them to me for, I always try to stay about anywhere between $100 to $150 dollars less than Amazon. [Amazon] also gives it to you in the box while I do all the work for the parent. They can come get them from me already put together, already troubleshooted and with me staying at the low price with the same warranty.”

Stephens operates Kiddie Car Dealership out of his home in Niles. In the future, Stephens would like to transition his business to a local storefront.

“My plan is to basically get a local store,” he said. “Maybe in the downtown area where the restaurants are. It would be nice to get a little store; that’s the eventual goal.”

While the children enjoy riding their shiny new vehicles, Stephens said it’s the parents who enjoy the toy cars the most.

“It’s been a fun business to be a part of,” he said. “It’s nice watching the kids smile but it’s nothing like looking at the parents. The parents are the best customers; they see it and they’re like ‘you’ve gotta be kidding me,’ especially when you turn the car on and play the radio. I really enjoy doing this and I can see myself doing this for a long time.”

Interested readers can seek more information online at kiddiecardealership.com or by reaching out to the Kiddie Car Dealership Facebook page.