Gliding Back in Time With Evett's Model Shop

Loyal customers share memories about the Santa Monica model shop as it celebrates its 65th anniversary. They say it's the type of business you don't see anymore.

When he turned 9-years-old, Keith Martin Kaucher picked out his first model car kit, a 1940 Ford Coupe, at Evett's Model Shop on Ocean Park Boulevard.

The bigger birthday present was a Sting Ray bicycle, "but I was more excited about getting the $1 model," Kaucher recalled.

More than three decades later and Kaucher is still buying parts from the model shop, said to be the last one operating on the Westside. It reached a new milestone on Saturday: its 65th anniversary.

"There's no other model shop," said Playa del Rey resident Michael Kellogg, former owner of now-defunct Lincoln Hobby Center. "You don't see businesses like this anymore—ever. Today, everyone shops on eBay."

It's customers like Kaucher, men who started shopping there when they were boys, who help sustain the smal mom-and-pop shop owned by 93-year-old Colby Evett and his wife, Yvonne. There's also the customers like Kellogg, who want to support local businesses.

"You take a look at a picture online, you get a package in the mail and it's not what you wanted," Kellogg said. "Here, you know what you're getting. They try to make you as happy as possible."

Model war planes, some built by Evett himself, hang from the ceilings. Balsa wood of varying shapes and sizes, along with paints, glues, brushes, and other crafts, tools and toys are nestled on the shelves.

"It's a relic," said Luke Orrin, a model enthusiast who started working at the shop about 8 months ago after begging the Evetts for a job, he said. "It's killer to work for somebody like Colby."

Colby Evett was one of the early pioneers of remote-controlled model airplanes. Every week, he taught children how to fly their models at local airfields. He said his was the only shop in Los Angeles that could do repairs.

He's frail now, but still ever-present at the shop.

"What I miss much more than anything else, [is] teaching young fliers how to fly radio controlled models," he said, quietly, Saturday during a 65th anniversary party.

At the celebration, Kaucher said he remembered walking with classmates from Grant Elementary School to Evett's to gawk at monster car kits displayed in storefront window.

And when he was about 12-years-old and didn't have the money to buy a $3 1955 Chevy model kit upfront, he said Evett let him make 50 cent payments from his weekly allowance.

But Evett was "actually kind of grumpy" back then, said Kaucher, who now owns his own custom car and model design company based in Santa Monica.

"I get it," he said. "He was doing the business to pay for what he loved doing, which was to build planes in the back room."

Cathy Evett January 07, 2013 at 10:49 PM
My name is Cathy Evett.. daughter of Colby Evett..and I Want to Thank You for Your article and All of the Wonderful Friends and Customers that Celebrated with my Family on Saturday.. To my Dad..You are my Hero forever Daddy!!
Keith Martin Kaucher January 08, 2013 at 02:29 AM
Let me clarify what I mean't by grumpy I mean he was busy in the back of his shop working and I would come in there and ask to see 5 or 6 models wasting his time . Colby eventually just started letting me go behind the counter pick what I wanted and then call him to the front when I was ready to pay as a kid you don't realize how that can get on one's nerves. I felt honored by that because he just didn't do that with every kid that walked in there. I always like him and even though I got on his nerves I think he like me to.
Jim Rose January 08, 2013 at 08:02 PM
Hi My name is Jim Rose and I was two years old when Colby Evett opened his Santa Monica shop. I live near Seattle WA now but grew up in Inglewood/Hawthorne. I must have visited Mr. Evett's shop a few times at least. I finished my first model at 4 and am still building today. I loved the article and really appreciate you guys keeping this wonderful shop open. I belong to a model club in Washington and know many men and women my age and older who build models. On behalf of all us builders I salute you and offer great appreciation for all that you do for history and the hobby. Thank you.
Jim Rose January 08, 2013 at 08:04 PM
Cathy, loved your comment and I just wanted to thank you for helping your father keep his terrific shop open. I live in Seattle now but grew up in Inglewood. Am hoping to visit this summer and would love to stop by your shop. Thank you.
Dan Kwong February 26, 2013 at 07:52 PM
I discovered Evett's Model Shop 20-some years ago and have treasured it ever since. It's a wonderful throw-back to my 1960s boyhood for sure. I like to go in there just to look, but I usually wind up buying *something* just because I want to support the business. I always called him "Evett" 'cause I thought it was his first name. He never corrected me. Always enjoyed chatting with him. I last saw him a few months ago, in the bed in back of the shop. We waved to each other. Seems like he had a pretty good life. I'll miss him.


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