Established in 1987 - Car Toys is the largest independent multi-channel specialty car audio and mobile electronics retailer in America with locations in major cities across the western United States including Seattle and Spokane, Washington; Portland, Oregon; Denver, Colorado Springs and Ft. Collins, Colorado; and Houston and Dallas/Ft. Worth, Texas.
Whether you shop with us in-store, online or by phone, we offer a broad selection of the very best mobile entertainment, navigation, road safety and security systems available from world-famous brands like Pioneer, Kenwood, Alpine, Kicker, JL Audio, Focal, Infinity, JBL, Metra and many other top manufacturers.
At Car Toys, our expertly trained staff will show you what's possible in the world of mobile electronics to match you with the product and features that meet your needs. Our know-how also extends beyond top-tier product offerings to include professional installation eco-friendly auto detailing and other auto salon services.
How We Began
With a handful of employees, Car Toys was founded in 1987 by current Chairman and CEO, Dan Brettler who established core principles that still drive the company (and motivate some 1,000 employees) today:
Provide knowledgeable and helpful customer service every day to every customer.
Set and maintain a superior standard for product installation and user satisfaction.
Offer the finest products in the world at prices that make the fun of mobile entertainment and mobility accessible to anyone.
First Car Toys location
First Car Toys location in Bellevue, WA opens.
Items being sold included in-dash Cassette players, CD, Speakers, Amps, Subwoofers, etc. Car alarms, radar detectors, pagers (big seller) and car mounted cell phones (with cords) and “brick” sized handheld portable phones. Also sold “briefcase phones” which had the car mount style and battery built in-to a briefcase. Some popular phone models were Motorola, Panasonic, Mitsubishi, Novatel.
The store employees on opening day included our CEO Dan Brettler, a Master Installer.
April 1, 1987
Started “Car Wars”
Started “Car Wars” audio sound competitions which eventually grew into off-site tent and sound competitions, the first one being in a large parking lot near Car Toys in North Seattle.
“Car Wars” came to an end when we got in trouble for the name so closely resembling “Star Wars”.
The first one was in the parking lot of our Eastside location. This is how Tent Sale got its start.
First Tent Sale event
First Tent Sale event, held in North Seattle in the parking lot which now has an Outback Steakhouse.
Dan’s Birthday Bash commercials with his (studio) mom began and ran until 2000.
“A Better Way to Go” is introduced as the Car Toys slogan and jingle.
First Oregon store
First Oregon store opens in Jantzen Beach area of Portland.
July 1, 1996
Acquired Chelsea Audio
Acquired Chelsea Audio in Portland, and began Oregon expansion.
Spokane Stores opened in Washington State.
Car Toys hosts the U.S. Launch of Clarion Auto PC, the first car stereo to operate on Microsoft Windows CE.
Dan Brettler recognized as the Ernst & Young “Entrepreneur of the Year” for the Wholesale/Retail category.
“David and Goliath” - Car Toys mobile concert stage and support vehicle started traveling the country.
First Colorado store
First Colorado store opens in Boulder on May 29th.
Introduction of the Panasonic Mobile DVD System, the first in-vehicle DVD system in the U.S.
Car Toys honored by Audio/Video Magazine as the “National Retailer of the Year” at CES.
Although Bluetooth tech was developed in 1994, head units gained the ability to interact with it in the 2000’s. The accuracy of consumer GPS systems also increased during the first part of the decade leading to an explosion in both OEM and aftermarket navigation systems.
2000’s (General market info)
First Texas store
First Texas store opens in Hurst.
September 28, 2000
2002 and 2003
OEMs stopped offering cassette decks in new vehicles
2011 was the first year that the OEMs stopped offering cassette decks in new vehicles.
Last car to roll out with an OEM cassette player was a 2010 Lexus SC 430.
Several OEM’s stopped offering CD changers after the 2012 model year.
2010’s (General market info)
49 locations in Washington, Oregon, Colorado, and Texas.