For more than a decade, drivers heading north from the brick-lined streets of St. Augustine, Fla., would pass a boxy storefront lacking the colonial charm of downtown, but chock full of another kind of history: shelves crammed with scale-model Corgi, Hobby Master, Hot Wheels, and Matchbox cars in a riot of colors, dating back to the 1930s. In February, though, Big Bill’s Die Cast went dark. At 84, “I’m not going to be on this Earth a lot longer,” says owner Bill Johnson. “I was doing it as a fun thing, and it just got out of hand.”
But he’s finding that going out of business is also a lot of work. While Johnson no longer goes to the shop, he drives to a pair of storage units on the city’s outskirts nearly every morning before the heat and humidity set in. There he spends hours photographing the 20,000-plus toys in his collection to sell them online.