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September 19, 2007

Building Customized Cars for Junior Tuners

Rz_rascal We discovered an interesting new concept at called "Ridemakerz": Tapping into America's love of cars and the current custom car movement, Ridemakerz offers kids of every age the opportunity to tune and "trick out" their very own ride. Sounds like the perfect activity for any car-loving family!

Based on a concept similar to the Build-a-Bear workshops found in malls nationwide, the Ridemakerz experience invites guests, or "Customizers," into the ultimate car-customizing shop where they can "Chooze, Sonicize, Motorize, Mobilize, Customize, Personalize, and Cruize one-of-a-kind Ridez." Between the body styles and colors, tires and wheels, lights and sounds, accessories and decals, Ridemakerz estimates there are more than 649,000,000 possible combinations, not including individual decal placement.

Ridemakerz is led by ZEO Larry Andreini; in addition, legendary car-customizer Chip Foose, host of TLC's "Overhaulin'," serves as an advizor for the experiential retailer. The company has secured licensing arrangements for many popular body styles developed by car manufacturers, so customizers can trick out a Dodge Challenger Hemi or a Ford Mustang GT to their own fantasy specifications.

Loyaltycard How does it work? Kids select a 10- to 12-inch chassis, body style, paint scheme, and sound effects. After assembly in the customizing shop, personalization continues: customizers can add decals, grilles, and other elements. The toy cars range in price from $12 to $28 and can be outfitted with radio remote control for an additional $25. Custom accessories range in price from $2.50 for a spoiler to $15 for a "muscle kit" that includes a blown engine, spoiler, side pipes, muffler tips, and roof vent. The cars are about the size of a shoe box (said to be right around 1/18th scale) and each vehicle comes with a certificate of title, personalized license plates, and assembly tools. Themed birthday parties can also be arranged.

Ridemakerz is guided by financial investment and infrastructure from Build-A-Bear. "Our partnership with Build-A-Bear Workshop allows us to fire on all cylinders from the very start," says Andreini.

Two shops are open now, one at the Bloomington, Minnesota, Mall of America, and another at the Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Broadway at the Beach. Two more stores are set to open within the next couple of months at the Indianapolis, Indiana, Castleton Square Mall and the Fredericksburg, Virginia, Spotsylvania Towne Centre.

Rz_rollmodel_thumb They've also got a fun interactive Web site that includes videos  of the Ridemakerz experience, as well as custom wallpapers.  Check them out soon and share some car building fun with the whole family!

By Brandy Schaffels
Contributing Editor

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