CHEEKTOWAGA, NEW YORK, 7 AUGUST 2003: Mr. John Kavulich, Sr., founder of Niagara Model and Train Distributors and of Niagara Hobby & Craft Mart, philanthropist, and global traveler, died on 1 August 2003, after a brief illness upon returning from an extended overseas visit. He was seventy-three years old.
Mr. John Kavulich Sr. was born in Binghamton, New York, in 1929. His parents had emigrated from Czechoslovakia. At an early age, Mr. Kavulich became interested in scale model wooden airplanes; and would eventually win numerous local, state, and regional competitions and awards. In 1944, at fifteen years of age, and while attending high school, he established the Binghamton Model Airplane Company, a retail hobby store, at 70 Wall Street; and in 1948 became the youngest individual ever to become a member of the Binghamton Chamber of Commerce. Mr. Carleton A. Cleveland, then-president of the Binghamton Chamber of Commerce, said upon Mr. Kavulich's induction, "We hope that your Wall Street address is the omen of financial success."
As the retail hobby store became more successful, Mr. Kavulich expanded into the wholesale distribution of models, trains, and crafts. In 1954, he moved to Buffalo, New York, and established Niagara Hobby Distributors, which would eventually sell products to most of the largest retail chain stores throughout the United States.
In 1986, Mr. Kavulich returned to the retail business and established Niagara Hobby & Craft Mart in the Town of Cheektowaga, New York, a suburb of the City of Buffalo, New York. Niagara Hobby & Craft Mart is recognized as the "Biggest in the U. S. A.!" with thousands of square feet dedicated to "fathers and sons and mothers and daughters." In the store's parking lot is a local landmark, a rare 1949 fully-restored 40-ton caboose, from which donations benefit the Cheektowaga Historical Society