Lamenting the loss of my local hobbyshop

ntbn1 Oct 25, 2017

  1. wingnut1974

    wingnut1974 TrainBoard Member

    I will miss hobbyland . I used to go to hobby palace here in Pontiac, then it became pritchards in later years. the local mom and pop places are dying out to everyone shopping on the internet . I like to be able to see it in person if at allposible, and somebody local to hel[p service it or anser questions. the local places will be missed
  2. Hoghead2

    Hoghead2 TrainBoard Member

    None left in Oxford , England . The once great Howes of Oxford, Osborns Models (though now moved 180 miles away) , Victors in London-the list is endless. Our main supplier of American n gauge in the southern UK has a great range, but is mail- order only. Crippling business rates and overheads have killed many a small business here in the UK. That and the endless search for the best price tempting people to the internet. Now the manufacturers are delivering the final blow by hiking prices. I don't mind paying more , but want better QC and detail . The quality of my latest purchases was appalling. No way to try before you buy on the internet!
    Hardcoaler likes this.
  3. Doug Gosha

    Doug Gosha TrainBoard Member

    Alas, it is one of the serious downsides of what computers have done to society, predicted many years ago.

    Hardcoaler likes this.
  4. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    Well, we had two hobby outlets in my town, which sold trains, accessories and supplies. But both of their downfalls were due to mismanagement/mis-ownership. One had a great guy with a good following in their train section, but the owner was simply incompetent when it came to understanding what he needed to make it go. And that owner continuously meddled until it was unrecoverable.

    The other, again those owners just did not know enough about model railroading. Stocked a very minimal amount, but would order anything you wanted- at full list price and higher, while you sat and waited. Meanwhile anyone could order direct from an e-tailer and have it one or more weeks quicker, not to mention price. DUH. Sales simply diminished until the point of no return. When they did stock a decent inventory, sales, even at full blown retail were good. Bad decision, which put them out of business.
  5. jwb3

    jwb3 TrainBoard Member

    Yes, the fire took place not long before the stock was to be auctioned off. The longtime owner decided to rent the big building to a tenant who would pay more in rent than the store was making as a train shop, but a guy who worked there quit ten years earlier to go into a new career because the owner had been hinting that was what he'd do for years even then. Another big store in the area, The Original Whistle Stop, bought the inventory and moved into a smaller place across the street. I think this may have put a strain on The Original Whistle Stop partnership, as the more customer-oriented guy, Brian, left not too long after they took over the Allied name. After that, Allied seemed mostly to be selling the remaining inventory.

    The best-run store in SoCal is now Arnie's Trains in Westminster. Another good one is The Train Shack in Burbank. The Original Whistle Stop is stuck in a Japanese-Korean brass, pre-DCC time warp, probably paying for the errors in business judgment connected with buying Allied.
  6. Rossford Yard

    Rossford Yard TrainBoard Member

    I have always wondered about the business model of buying someone else's long time non-selling inventory, and expecting it to somehow magically sell because its in a new store. It has to be really discounted to start, so I hope they paid perhaps 10 cents on the dollar, because they can only sell it at 25-50% of retail after some point. It's biggest value is to boost the supposed eye candy of having a lot of stock.
    BoxcabE50 likes this.
  7. Stu Sibitzky

    Stu Sibitzky New Member

    Alaska had two hobby shops (in Anchorage) that were the “combination” type (train, plastic planes, RC, etc) and one owner retired. Bummer! The remaining shop has always stocked about 1/10th of the other store. Alaska isn’t the biggest model railroad venue but there are multiple clubs. Now it’s internet or order from Seattle (1500 miles). Even though I lived in Fairbanks, a friend worked at the defunct shop and would buy things for me, take it to the airport and get it on our company plane (no postage and no HAZMAT falderall). Fast delivery, no postage. But Hobby Craft is no more.
  8. jwb3

    jwb3 TrainBoard Member

    I notice that The Original Whistle Stop in Pasadena has dropped its listing in the MR directory -- not sure exactly when this happened, but not long ago, it had a listing, and the listing was highlighted. The other remaining model railroad stores in the area seem to be prosperous. I think the Whistle Stop lost its customer focus when Brian left the partnership, but the store has always focused on super-high markup items like books and brass, neglecting staples and selling off ordinary items like kits or lower price items like vehicles. Never did much with DCC. I think if there's a good market area and the store owner is quick on his feet, he can survive.
  9. dstjohn

    dstjohn TrainBoard Member

    I will be working in Johnstown, Pa in a few weeks. I will have to check out Ester’s. I always try and check out the local shops when I travel. I found two nice shops last year,one in Lodi, Ca and the second in Traverse City, Mi
  10. scottmitchell74

    scottmitchell74 TrainBoard Member

    Just noticed this thread. Sorry to hear about the news! I think we're all experiencing this pain, slowly but surely.

    My city has a generic Hobby shop (HobbyTown?) and it has some train stuff, but their big thing is RC and drones.
  11. Rich_S

    Rich_S TrainBoard Member

    Dan, I missed your reply and I don't know if you're still in the area, but you'll also want to check out Mikes hobby shop in Jeannette, PA. If you are using the PA Turnpike, get off the Irwin exit.

    Here is the info
    Niedzalkoski's Train Shop
    214 South Fourth St.
    Jeannette, PA 15644
    PH#: 724-523-8035
  12. YoHo

    YoHo TrainBoard Supporter

    In SoCal, Arnies did the purchase of inventory. Milepost 38 was fairly thriving so it was a no brainer. Then keep the name for the Tinplate and large scale.

    While MP 38 was an easier drive from the theme parks when down there AND of course, the Action from across the st. :) Arnies is by far one of the best shops I've patronized. Always something interesting in there on the used table too. I went int the Original Whistlestop I think 2ish years ago when I was in Pasadena for a Wedding. It seemed to have decent stock.

    Up here in Sac, Railroad Hobbies in Roseville is solid although I'm not always excited by the business practices of the owner.
    Roger's down in Lodi and Western Depot up in Yuba City are very very good. I like Roger's, because there's a Children's museum, Wine tasting, antiquing and other family friendly activities making it easy to make a day of it.
    DCESharkman likes this.
  13. JMaurer1

    JMaurer1 TrainBoard Member

    Rogers adn Western Depot are both great shops, just wish I could get by them more (I never seem to be that far away from home anymore) but I do stop whenever I'm in the area. Second on what you said about Railroad Hobbies.
  14. wpsnts

    wpsnts TrainBoard Member

    I always enjoyed a visit to Whistle Stop Hobbies anytime I was in Sacramento.
    EMD F7A likes this.
  15. wombat457

    wombat457 TrainBoard Member

    Sadly this seems to be the way of the LHS, courtesy of "online shopping" predominantly. While there are some LHS that deserve to go out of business, it is a shame to see a community "icon" lost due to a lack of interest in keeping it alive :(
    bman likes this.
  16. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    This is not a case of b&m versus etailer! That argument is a horse beaten to death. False in it's entirety.

    As noted earlier, this is a continual LOSS of discretionary income for far too many, versus those of small and ever shrinking percentage who can shop with much less worry of their bank account balance. Those, the masses, who must stretch dollars as far as possible to remain in their (our) beloved hobby, are forced to pinch every penny possible. There is NO guilt attached here. It has absolutely nothing to do with a local hobby shop failing to cater. (Although yes: Some b&m fail, miserably, but most do not in fighting for patronage.)

    This is a failure of individuals to understand business and economic history. What was yesterday, is not true tomorrow. Businesses will always come and go. Some here briefly, others of lengthy tenure. No matter. Time marches on. Support who you choose. Shop as you must. There are no sins here.
    jpwisc likes this.
  17. casmmr

    casmmr TrainBoard Member

    Just remember that 100 years ago, the primary vehicle was horse drawn. The carriage, harness, and work horse breeding industries went out of business due to cars and trucks. For the USA, WWI was just about all horse drawn, by WWII it was all vehicles for the most part. Change is always hard to adjust to, but, some industries will expand and grow, other shrink and fail. This is economics.
    EMD F7A and BoxcabE50 like this.
  18. Calzephyr

    Calzephyr TrainBoard Supporter

    I dread the day I hear another 'quality' hobby shop closes it's doors. Here in South Florida we had a large and very popular full service hobby shop which closed down in 1999. It had been a local iconic location for about 50 years. They had some inventory control issues and never really thought of the internet as a real threat. The combination of overstocking items that didn't sell and no thought of on-line business even though it was early formative years of internet (they did have a mail order business IIRC). That coupled with the gravitation of many younger people to Play Station and other gaming consoles instead of most hobby shop stuff made keeping that large store open. The other two hobby shop which have a focus on model railroading don't seem to be doing very well... and the ownership is aging... no likely related successors. I still go to one of them every so often to buy Micro-Trains or magazines... but... I honestly have a hard time buying high priced loco from them instead of the on-line store with big discounts. If these stores fail... I probably can blame myself for choosing high value purchases from on-line sources outside of Florida for the savings.
  19. NorsemanJack

    NorsemanJack TrainBoard Member

    Unfortunately, local hobby shops are likely all dead. Some of them just don't know it yet. This is no different than local stereo shops, video rental shops, camera stores, etc. It just happens with a changing world. It isn't anybody's "fault." Not the manufacturers and not the consumers. It's an electronic/internet world now. There is still money to be made, it just isn't any longer in a local brick and mortar. Also, as with anything like this, it is extremely competitive and a businessman needs to have some special skills/talents/situation to survive. If you're a 100+ year old company who has kept pace and embraced on-line sales with real time inventory and low prices, you can survive and make a few bucks as well. If you're a small town operator who thinks you deserve to make a living by having a "friendly" shop with full MSRP pricing; then you are likely doomed to failure. That's not an indictment. Just reality. Personally, I'm not lamenting anything. The few local shop proprietors who I've crossed paths with have left few fond memories. I have fonder thoughts of some of the on-line retailers who are better businessmen and, perhaps, nicer people. (best wishes with your retirement Pete, always enjoy dealing with you Scott, hope to stop in your shop sometime Mike).
    EMD F7A likes this.
  20. Calzephyr

    Calzephyr TrainBoard Supporter

    The problem I see with loosing LHS' in most locations in the country is the ability to see the items before buying... testing locomotives before finding out they are faulty or poorly constructed. The savings from online shopping could evaporate if you have to keep shipping items back to the online vendor... or worse some manufacturers.

    Sent from my SM-G530T using Tapatalk
    mtntrainman and wombat457 like this.

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