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North Carolina business owner's potential move to village of Sharon on hold

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Andrea Anderson
July 27, 2014

SHARON—A hobby retailer based in North Carolina could set up shop in the village of Sharon if the state Department of Natural Resources approves. 

Dan Hill, owner of HopMeUp and AltaRail, hopes to relocate part of his online businesses to Wisconsin by November 2014.

The DNR in September 2013 found “low levels” of contamination from an underground fuel tank and arsenic from a local foundry during environmental assessments of the vacant warehouse site Hill wants to use, he said.

Hill is waiting for instructions on how to get clearance to finalize his contract.

“We've been waiting for the DNR for almost a year and don't have recommendations, yet,” Hill said. “It's really going to be up to what their determination is if we can do this or if I have to find a new location.”

Hill started HopMeUp in 2003. The company sells parts for radio-controlled gadgets such as helicopters, cars and airplanes. In 2012, he opened AltaRail, an online business that sells parts for model trains. AltaRail also would move to Wisconsin.

HopMeUp is the largest hobby retailer on eBay, depending on the time of year, Hill said. Up to 5,000 items are shipped each day.

Moving to Sharon with Hill would be management, part of the distribution operation and up to 50 new jobs, Hill said.

Hill chose Wisconsin because of its proximity to his home state of Illinois and to his part manufacturer in Illinois. It also would save him on shipping costs.

The company spends about $60,000 a month on postage in North Carolina, he said. Shipping items to California, for example, would be cheaper from Wisconsin.

Hill received a conditional-use permit for manufacturing. He hopes to convert parts of the warehouse at 141 Seymour St. into spaces for office work, distribution and, perhaps, manufacturing.

He has been looking into using 3-D printing to make parts and reduce wait time.

Walworth County property records indicate the parcel is owned by SF Property in Delavan.

Hill set his sights on the vacant 33,000-square-foot warehouse in April 2013.

He also purchased the old opera house, 202 and 204 Baldwin St., to show and sell his products.

The village is an ideal place for his business, he said, and for him to enjoy Walworth County, a place he frequented growing up.

"We liked the idea of being able to do business and have recreational time," he said.

If Hill doesn't approval from the state for the warehouse location, he plans to look in Wisconsin for a location to meet his companies' needs and his future plans.

The North Carolina site would become a distribution location. It also would serve as an incubator for Hill's future endeavors.



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