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eHobbies wants buyer to take an interest

The e-commerce company geared toward hobby enthusiasts began winding down operations last week and is keeping the site online with less than 20 workers in hopes of finding a buyer.

For eHobbies.com, the stamp didn't stick, the glue didn't hold, and the model train jumped the tracks.

The e-commerce company geared toward hobby enthusiasts began winding down operations last week after laying off 35 employees, according to Renee LaBran, the company's interim chief executive.

With the remaining 15 employees, eHobbies' executives are keeping the site up in hopes that a buyer can be found, LaBran said, adding that an investment group has expressed interest in buying the privately held company. The two sides are in negotiations.

"We're keeping the site going until a decision has been made," LaBran said.

Meanwhile, Santa Monica, Calif.-based eHobbies is telling customers that all sales are final.

Launched in October 1999, eHobbies sells radio-controlled planes, boats and cars, as well as thousands of other hobby items. Besides selling goods, the site features articles on hobbies and hosts a community chat board.

eHobbies, which was created in a manic investment environment where investors were throwing money at almost any kind of technology idea, attracted big-name backing. One of the investors was eCompanies, the venture firm formed by EarthLink founder Sky Dayton and Disney executive Jake Winebaum. The duo was also behind eParties, the party-planning site in business for less than a year when it unraveled and was sold for parts.

The Chandler family, which built and once owned the Los Angeles Times, also contributed to the more than $20 million eHobbies received in private financing.

eHobbies was derailed by a slow economy and technical glitches, LaBran said. The company that powered much of eHobbies' technology closed, and that stalled its operations for a time, she said. The company once employed 150 workers.