André Boulay, the founder of YoYo Expert, says the company offers one of the best selections of yo-yos from all around the world.
“This is like Disneyland for them,” Boulay says. “There’s no where in the world where you can go and see this.”
There are several tall rows of yo-yos stacked in bins by shape, color, and level of play. Five full-time employees bustle around, some packing orders for the daily shipment while others field phone calls from customers and yo-yo players with a range of questions. The most typical: How do I get my yo-yo to come back to my hand?
And that’s where the company truly excels—not in it’s vast inventory, but in it’s vast knowledge. Boulay started the company in 2008 to act as a community resource for the modern yo-yo. He wanted to introduce beginners to the toy and then support them as they practiced and improved.
“The yo-yo is the perfect toy,” Boulay says. “It bridges the age gap really well. It doesn’t matter what type of person you are. You don’t have to be super coordinated. You start with basic tricks and you work your way up.”
Boulay populates his website with YouTube tutorials that teach a range of tricks and skills. The latest video will feature Gentry Stein, the 2014 World Yo-Yo Champion, as he explains two of his most advanced tricks to viewers. Every Thursday night, the company holds a Chat Night, where yo-yo players can talk with experts and get advice.
And, YoYo Expert regularly holds events and contests in the large event space on the main floor of Eastworks. In fact, the event space was a big draw for Boulay when he decided to move his company from a smaller space in Amherst to his current studio in Easthampton.
“Having the event space gave us a better opportunity to connect with people face-to-face,” he says. “And it’s so nice and easy because we can wheel everything down. It’s a pretty fantastic set-up.”
When Boulay first came to look at Eastworks, he said knew it could serve all of his needs: shipping, receiving, storefront, and office space. He’s even set up a small play area for his toddler. “It was perfect,” he says. “It’s a totally different type of workspace. It’s so flexible.”
And while Boulay is making waves in the yo-yo world, he’s impressed by what everyone else is doing at Eastworks. “That’s what’s so cool about this floor,” he says. “You name it, it could be here: clothing makers, print shops, a mediation hall, dancing, shipping. It’s pretty amazing.”
In the next year, the company is looking to improve their website and create more engaging video content. This alone would keep Boulay busy, but he’s now dabbling in other toys. Along with his wife, he recently bought the A2Z Science and Learning Store in Northampton.
But this hasn’t stopped Boulay from tossing a yo-yo. Among the bins and bins of them in his Eastworks studio, he has his pick.
“That’s the beauty of owning your own yo-yo store,” he says. “I’m always throwing something new and different. It keeps it interesting for me.”