Greetings! I'm Eleda, and I'm the "Collector In Charge" of Triple Mountain. I've been collecting model horses since the mid-1970's, when at age four I asked my parents for a horse and they bought me two plastic ones. I still have those two... Only now they have about 1,300 friends here! My first Breyer was a Grey Appaloosa Family Stallion. I became a Breyer collector when my grandmother presented me with another model, and I discovered it was the same as Apples, only in a creamy white color. I remember incredulously thinking, "They make them in more than one color?!?!?" I named him Creamy, and despite the broken leg he came to me with, both he and his spotted brother remain in my collection. And yes, I still give every new model a name, although with 1,300 on the shelves, it's getting harder to come up with them!
Triple Mountain Model Horses started in 2012, by a happy accident. A good friend (the one who had been responsible for teaching me about model showing, in fact!) asked if I'd help her sell some of her collection on eBay. We started out that way, but quickly realized that eBay fees were eating up her profits, and since we'd already begun to acquire a loyal following of customers, we set up TripleMountain.com to sell directly to collectors. My husband had recently had a negative experience buying models for me online, so we recognized the need for a retired-Breyer dealer with great customer service and honest listing practices. That became our mission statement for Triple Mountain: "Integrity in all things," and is how we've grown to become one of the world's largest and most trusted sources for retired models.
From that one collection for sale, we've grown to currently list models from twelve consignors, and keep a list of several more who are waiting for a slot to open, so that we can sell their models for them. Consignors benefit from a "set it and forget it" sale - All they have to do is get the models to us (and sign the agreement), and we do all the work, sending them a check at year-end. We benefit from a huge and varied inventory that insures there's always something of interest available for collectors, and new items going live every Friday evening.
As collectors ourselves, we're active in collector groups on Facebook and hobby sites, so we're always in touch with what collectors want when purchasing online or in person. This has driven us to come up with innovative policies and programs never before seen in the industry. Trust is a huge hurdle when buying collectibles online, so we spend almost 30 minutes on each model that we list, writing a detailed inspection report and photographing them from multiple angles. It's the next best thing to being here yourself! We even insure consistency by having every single retired model inspected by the same person.
Each order is carefully hand-packed to protect your new additions. Each order comes with a hand-written message from one of us and includes a packet of PopRocks to enjoy while unwrapping your new horses. First-time customers also receive a note welcoming them and explaining why we re-use boxes from local businesses to ship. Sometimes we may even tuck in an extra, like a Breyer brochure, pin, etc., so unboxing is a lot of fun!
There's never enough money in the budget for all the horses we collectors want, so to help out, we offer a payment plan called Lay-Buys that allows you to pay for your order over 1, 2, or 3 months - Your choice!
Safe, economical shipping is another big challenge for collectors. While we can't convince the Post Office to lower their rates (oh yes, we've tried!), we've come up with some creative ways to help you make shipping as affordable as possible. Sometimes that means manually working around the constraints of technology: The US Postal Service doesn't allow websites to auto-calculate First Class mail rates, so instead of forcing international customers to pay Priority rates (which are up to 50% higher), we give international customers the option to receive a manual shipping invoice after we pack their order. If it qualifies for the First Class rate, that's how we'll invoice it, saving our collectors a lot of money over time.
Another limitation we face is that shipping is calculated based on a single box size. We set it to the size commonly used for Traditional models (the largest common size), but that can result in overcharging when people buy smaller horses. Instead of padding our profits with your hard-earned money, our policy is that if our site over-charges by $5 or more, we automatically refund the difference. That means more money for more horses!
We also created a unique program called Hold Your Horses. For our regular customers who order several times per year, this has been a huge money-saver, and it's a lot of fun to say, too! Instead of paying to ship each order individually, you can opt to "Hold" your order here. Then you can order additional models over the next few weeks or months to add to your Hold Herd. When you're ready for everything to ship, just email us. We'll pack them all up and send you a shipping invoice for the single big box, which is always cheaper than multiple small ones. We estimate this program alone has saved our customers over $1800 in shipping since its inception. (See our Shipping page for program details and instructions.)
After selling online for three years, we decided to open a physical store so that collectors could hand-pick their models. We became a dealer for Breyer and most of the other model brands, which has helped us grow even more. When we opened our retail shop at the foot of the triple mountain, we adhered to LEED standards for sustainable building. LEED standards are tough, but it was important to us that we do things "right" to care for this special place. If you are interested in LEED and how we met their stringent standards for retail, feel free to click here (this one's pretty dry reading, though).
We power the shop with solar and use a heat pump for heating and cooling to reduce our pull from the grid. Reducing waste that goes into landfills is another focus: We collect boxes, packing peanuts, and bubble wrap from local businesses to give them another life carrying horses to their new homes, and any cardboard shipping cartons and paper that we can't re-use goes into the wood furnace to heat our office. As a result, we sent less than 50 pounds of trash to the waste stream in 2016!
The shop building itself is a re-used building - It was originally built to be a hunting camp! We remodeled it into our store, making use of reclaimed windows (from a Habitat For Humanity store) and milling our own lumber from trees we had to take down to move the building. One of our goals is to become a Certified B-Corp, a designation earned by businesses that strictly adhere to guidelines for taking care of their communities and the environment. Qualifying requires a lot of time and effort, but we want our customers know that their favorite source for models is taking good care of its namesake mountain!
Looking forward, we're excited to bring you more model horse options. We're always on the lookout for great new items for horse lovers -- not only models but also horse-motif t-shirts and jewelry. Custom dream-catchers made inside real horseshoes are unique to Triple Mountain. We're working hard to bring Copperfox Model Horses to the US, too!
People often ask why we named our business Triple Mountain. The answer is simple: It's what we call the mountain we live on, because it has three tops! How we came to the Triple Mountain is a story we love to share. If you like stories about fate, pull up a chair... *smiles* and click here.
Our little retail store on the knee of the Triple Mountain is open on Saturdays so that you can visit this special place. No matter how big we grow, though, we will always remain a family owned and operated business that values personal interactions with our customers above everything else. We do this because we love model horses, and that passion and care for our fellow collectors makes us unique. We're so glad you found us!
Our store is located at 14 Nature's Way in Hiram, Maine (GPS's can often find it more easily as 1351 Pequawket Trail, Hiram), right on the Hiram / Baldwin town line on Rt. 113. It is currently open to the public on Saturdays only, from 10am - 3pm, so that we can focus on shipping orders the rest of the week. If you're not nearby, no worries: We ship worldwide!