Skip to main content

Building a niche in Neenah brick by brick

Bricks & Minifigs Fox Valley specializes in the sale and trade of old LEGO sets, pieces

share arrow printer bookmark flag

June 28, 2023

NEENAH – Calling all LEGO aficionados, kids and adults alike – there’s a new LEGO store in Northeast Wisconsin.

Bricks & Minifigs Fox Valley, located at 1350 W. American Dr., Suite A in Neenah opened a few months ago and is already building success.

Owners Joe and Sarah Schmidt, along with their three kids, said they are a family of LEGO enthusiasts, so much so they have a dedicated room in their house for all things LEGO.

At one point, Joe, a mechanical engineer, said he wanted to move to Connecticut to work for LEGO.

While that didn’t happen, their love for the tiny building blocks didn’t go away.

Coming from two different worlds – the corporate world for Joe and life as a stay-at-home mom for Sarah – being first-time business owners has brought with it a rollercoaster of learning curves.

But even with all the challenges they’ve faced, the pair said they are enjoying their new roles as small business owners.

With both Joe and Sarah born and raised in Neenah, the pair said they knew they wanted to incorporate Fox Valley into the store’s name.

“Homegrown for us is the Fox Valley,” Joe said. “That’s why we chose ‘Fox Valley.’ (It) covers that general area and our territory.”

Discovering bricks & minifigs
Although Bricks & Minifigs (which is short for a LEGO minifigure) Fox Valley is new, the store concept isn’t.

Joe said he first discovered a Bricks & Minifigs store in Fitchburg in 2016-17.

“I would take our kids to Fitchburg for Bricks & Minifigs and look through parts. There were bulk tables, and you could look and pick your parts you wanted. That’s how I learned about Bricks & Minifigs to begin with.”

The Bricks & Minifigs Fox Valley location is one of three in Wisconsin, and the only one in the Fox Valley.

Nationwide, Joe said, there are close to 80 Bricks and Minifigs locations – with each store operating as a locally-owned franchise.

“More or less, it’s the Bricks & Minifigs Corporate offering great marketing options for us, and they have partnerships with a few vendors that help us get product into the store,” he said. “They have partnerships with YouTubers as well, so that helps.”

But after that, Joe said, how day-to-day operations run is up to them.

Taking the leap
In January 2022, Joe said the company he was working for started dispersing the department he was part of, and although the company was offering severance packages or other positions within the company, Joe said he felt it was time to try something completely different.

Stemming from his appreciation for LEGO, he said at one point he thought about creating his own business and naming it Joe’s Bricks.

Around the same time, the Brick & Minifigs franchise opportunity presented itself to the couple, which he said had everything they wanted.

The Schmidt family at the store, from left to right Sarah, Katelyn, Finley, Joe and Mason. Submitted Photo

“We want to make LEGO affordable for those who can’t afford a new-in-box,” Joe said. “We have the pre-owned ones we can create and clean (and resell).”

Joe said the franchise plan that Bricks & Minifigs corporate provides was easy to follow and before they knew it – Bricks & Minifigs Fox Valley was born.

Store offerings
Brick and Minifigs Fox Valley specialize in new and used LEGO items.

The retail space offers individual LEGO pieces, a minifigure maker and gently used and new sets.

Although, the Schmidts said the primary focus of Bricks & Minifigs is in the sale and trade of old sets, bulk bricks and components.

The store buys (cash or store credit) and trades all LEGO products, from bulk tubs to storage unit-sized collections.

“If it’s the LEGO brand and in resellable condition, we’ll take it,” Joe said. “It’s a lot of processing of totes filled with LEGO and even the sets are sometimes dusty and missing parts. Our employees get to go through and reevaluate.”

Joe said the Bricks & Minifigs slogan is “‘Rebuild, Reuse, Reimagine’ with the idea you can recycle a LEGO set.”

“So, someone who may not want the set anymore… we buy it from them, clean it up, fix it as close as we can to the original, so someone else can use it,” he said. “Many times, we leave them built so people can see them completed.”

Joe said the most sets sold at the store are pre-owned and sold as-is for a discounted price.

He said they may not have a box, but include building instructions.

“It’s a unique way of looking at the idea of reusing sets,” he said. “Someone else’s old set that’s collecting dust on their shelf, is someone else’s treasure.”

Brick and Minifigs Fox Valley carries individual LEGO pieces, a minifigure maker and gently used and new sets. Submitted Photo

Joe said trade-in prices are based on many factors, including condition and how much stock they currently have.

He also said all traders/sellers must be 18 years old or older.

Sarah said most days “there’s someone coming in with a trade.”

The store also features a party room for birthday parties or team building events, as well as a 25-foot derby track where customers can create derby cars and race against each other.

Joe said they hope to build up these areas more over the next year.

A good fit
Located off Highways 10 and CB in the same building as Stucs Pizza, Sarah said Bricks & Minifigs Fox Valley is a good fit for the area because it’s something different and new.

She said the 3,070-square-foot store has already created a community environment and started to become a destination stop for those visiting the area.

“This is how we decided on our location, too, because we’re in a residential area,” she said. “Families have good access, too – we’ve already had many families tell us, ‘Our kids love biking there’ because we’re connected up to the Friendship Trail. Everyone has been happy to find us.”

Looking forward, Joe said they hope to partner with the Neenah Joint School District to offer build and teach options for teachers.

“There’s Teacher’s Day, so we’d like to offer a discount for teachers when they come in,” he said. “If there’s any type of opportunity where they’d reach out to us about doing trades or donations, we’d love to be able to help out.”

Growing market
Joe said he sees the LEGO market continuing to grow, namely because of one unexpected reason – COVID-19.

Many of the customers, he said, have said they took out their LEGO sets during the pandemic, leading to a burst in the market.

In addition, Joe said LEGO corporate is doing a good job at diversifying its products from DUPLO to the botanical sets to the idea sets.

Sarah said the age range they’re seeing at Brick & Minifigs Fox Valley is young, old and everything in between.

Another unique clientele that’s also a new budding user of LEGO, are what Sarah affectionately calls the “LEGO Grandmas.”

“I think many of that age group are coming into the store because they like building,” she said. “They like the botanical sets.”

So far, so good
Thus far, the Schmidts said business has been good at the store and they expect a busy summer season.

Joe said one of his favorite parts of owning and operating Brick & Minifigs Fox Valley is the interaction he gets to have with the customers.

“I wish I had more time to talk to everybody because everyone has so many great stories about LEGO or pieces they like or what theme they like,” he said.

Looking back at the store’s first few months in business, Joe and Sarah said this was the right move for them.

“I already know I like coming to work,” he said.

Sarah said it was now or never.

“It was like, if we don’t do it, we knew we would always wonder about it,” she said. “And then at some point it almost became a no-brainer, like, ‘okay, this is our time to do this, now.’”

Bricks & Minifigs Fox Valley is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday.

The store is closed Sunday.

For more information on the store, visit or check out Bricks & Minifigs Fox Valley’s Facebook page.

share arrow printer bookmark flag