Growing up on the family farm near Delia, northeast of Calgary, Garett Willington always loved a challenge. He tinkered with hand-me-down model cars and radio-controlled planes, but it was working on model helicopters that sparked what would become a lifelong devotion to the hobby. “Back in those years, people said helicopters were impossible to fly,” remembers Garett. “That made it a challenge. People said ‘don’t do it, it’s too hard.’ I thought, ‘how can it be done?’ It became my challenge.”
On his trips to Calgary for parts and supplies, Garett built up a relationship with the original owner of Model Land. Garett had been working in the farm retail industry but thought about becoming his own boss, so he paid a special visit to the shop one day. “I came in and asked the owner if he wanted to sell his business. He asked ‘You got money?’” recalls Garett with a laugh. It turned out the owner wanted to get into the wholesale side of the business and was looking to sell.
In 1987, Garett became the owner of Model Land and its inventory of radio-controlled toys, model trains and rocket kits. “I became this entrepreneur, an everything-on-the-line kind of guy, all of a sudden,” he says. “The learning curve was pretty steep, but when you’re in over your head, you learn to swim pretty quickly.”
Model Land specializes in all things radio-controlled and offers both plastic and die-cast vehicles such as cars, trucks and helicopters, but also rocket kits that are a serious blast. Situated in Killarney, the shop carries hobby tools, doll-making kits, light-sound systems and diorama kits. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, the staff will happily order it for you.