Oct 25, 2017
They are greatly missed as well.
Two weeks ago I stoped by Todd's Hobbies in Richmond Va area. They were going out of business. Not much left. Sad to see them go.
SOOOO many memories of LHSs !!! M&M Hobbies in New Lenox, IL. Housed in an extended 2 1/2 car garage attached to owner's house. Go through the wrong door and you would be "greeted" by the biggest German Shepherd ever to walk this planet !!! Would ride my bicycle about 1.5 miles on the worst paved road ever. For $6 (earned by cutting Grandma's yard in 4th-5th grade !!!) I got an AMT 1/25 scale model semi and a Popsicle at "The Little Store", right next door. Bought my first HO scale turn-out for under $5. I was the only one of the bunch that had a "switch" for my trains. Felt like a Hill or a Vanderbilt !!! Lost my N scale virginity there with a VERY small Rapido set. Still have it, still runs !!! Also won a styro-foam CO2 powered airplane in a drawing. It was IMMEDIATELY confiscated by Mom after it's maiden flight. Something to do with a crying neighbor girl and a call from her Mom !!! This shop closed, moved closer to Chicago, and went to mainly military modelling. And that's just ONE of the shops !!!
"The problem with progress is that EVERYTHING changes. The problem with the status quo is that EVERYTHING dies!!!"
I heard that so long ago that I can't remember who said it!
There is a Chinese saying that roughly translates to "May you live in interesting times", and these are indeed interesting times for many of us!!
I believe it is used as a curse directed towards a person that the speaker has an unresolved issue with!
Live long and prosper!
Sigh. We can add The Big Little Railroad Shop in Somerville, NJ to the growing list of closed shops. After 27 years, they have closed up. This was a nice store managed by a wonderful woman and located in a bustling metro area just a few minutes walk from the NJ Transit rail station.
One of the less apparent losses with local shops closing is casual conversation and easy friendships. 35+ years ago my work took me 1,000 miles to a new home where I knew no one. Happily, I found a local hobby shop with some great guys and it became a Saturday morning routine to visit. The fellows I met there became lifelong friends, despite another move decades ago that took me far away from them. Such deep friendships won't be found on a discount dotcom website.
I share the same experience. I bought my Schwinn Sting Ray from the local Gun & Ammunition, Sports, Fishing, Hunting, Bicycle & Repair, Boy and Girl Scout Gear, Little League Uniforms (Mits, bats, balls, rule books and more). Gosh what didn't they have. Muenzer's in down town Hollister, California. He passed away and so did his store. You get attached and it feels like home. Now I find myself missing the good times while visiting, the help received and the kindness shown. I miss Mr. Muenzer and his staff... terribly. His wife was a sweety.
Oh before I forget. I to carried home my precious HO Scale prizes in the saddle bags on that Schwinn. Named it Nelly. You know like you might a horse. Grin!
Sad, Seems that all good things do eventually come to an end.
That is very true. Yes we might be able to exchange ideas on web sites such as this, but if we were to pass on the street we would not know each other. Hobby shops were personal contacts with other hobbyists, web sites are impersonal. Yes I can have my hobby questions answered on web sites like this one, but the conversation is not dynamic like a conversation held in person. Now unfortunately as pointed out earlier, I can no longer afford to purchase big ticket items at my local hobby shop. I've often asked the question, how are online shops able to sell at such discounts. A few that I do business with also have brick and mortar stores, so what's the deeply guarded secret of why they can offer such discounts online but not when you walk into their showroom? If anything is going to save the local hobby shop, it's going to be the fact that they have to start matching online pricing, MSRP and MAP pricing are killing the local hobby shops.
The key is volume. Yes, they have some of the same overhead when selling online vs. brick and mortar, electricity, heat/cooling, water/sewage, rent, etc. But by selling online they just take orders and pack and ship. With brick and mortar they have to interact with the customer which may or may not turn into a sale. Think about when you went to the LHS to meet with your friends and talk MRR. Sure it was great and you create friendships and bond with each other. But in the hour or so you are there doing that, how many sales did that translate to to the LHS from you and your friends that were standing there? And if it was an online place, how many orders would they have gotten in that same hour?
Also, B&M won't be able to buy so much merchandise from the local distributor since they can't really stock 25 each of everyone one of Kato's locomotive, for example. They wouldn't be able to sell them all. But for an online store, there is very possible. And with anything else, volume means a better price, which again gives the online store a further advantage.
I'm sure there are many other reasons.
I have many fond memories of The Hobby Barn in North Plymouth, Mass. Growing up Bob Warner has a great stock of train stuff, model kits, board games, etc. Lots of friends met and made there.
Fast forward, I dunno, 45 years... Hub City Hobby in Hattiesburg, Miss. is closing. Sad to see it go. Some research indicates there is a shop near Jackson and another Kato gold level dealer in Louisiana, both about 2 hours away. Road trip at some future time, no doubt.
ultimately the large manufacturers will pay the ultimate price as the hobby and their livelihood vanish. And although I will be sad, I won't feel sorry for them. Every manufacturer and distributor has put in motion this downward spiral. If they had refused to supply dealers without local presence and provided easy pathways for dealers to special order "unusual" items this would not be a subject for discussion.
The LHS has always been the portal to the hobby. They can do something that the internet cannot ever do- introduce customers to new things.
Good luck to all.
Yes. Human interaction is valuable. However, nothing we write here is going to change so-called "progress". Sad, but true.
Most of what I purchase is done on-line. Convenient from home, saves gas money and TIME. Avoids traffic, weather, etc. Unfortunately the world has changed. Yesterday is gone.
There's nothing wrong with Progress so long as nothing changes!!
Hi Mike, I think you missed the point of my original post. There are a couple of well known mail order web sites who don't advertise here so I can't mention their names, who also have Brick & Mortar stores. You will find a different price in their store for the same product you can purchase from them online. If they can sell out of the back room for 20% to 40% off, why can't they sell out of the show room for 20% off? For some unknown reason, brick & mortar stores seemed to be bound to the MSRP and MAP pricing. How many times have you seen MAP pricing displayed online, but the online vendor states, "Place the item in your shopping cart for our discount price". I completely understand volume discounts, but how much control do the manufacturers and suppliers have over the hobby shops? Are minimum orders from the manufacturer set high enough to keep hobby shops chained to the suppliers? It just seems like a business model that's still stuck in the steam to diesel transition era.
I grew up in Chicago and one of my favorite stops was the All-Nation Hobby Shop on 220 West Madison Avenue in the Loop. The shop is now long gone, perhaps 40 years but I still have memories. They manufactured their own line of O scale models, but sold all scales/gauges of trains and only trains. There are pluses and minuses to shopping on the internet, but, in my view, nothing beats a brick and mortar hobby shop. You can see and hold what you're buying before paying for it.
I agree, the world has change, yesterday is gone but is it for the better? More hobby products today seem to be limited run which just adds to the problem when something goes wrong. I had a problem with my PRR K4. I sent it back to Bachmann, they were sold out of K4's and didn't have the parts available to repair my K4, so they offered to replace it with a NKP Berk. I had them send it back. I then ended up purchasing another K4 online to use as a parts engine. Yes it's convenient to order online, yes the models are super detailed, but what have we lost in the long run? Somewhere along the way something went wrong. Forty years ago models were less detailed and less costly, had longer production schedules and hobby shop owners could afford to have them set on the shelves for longer periods of time. If one became damaged or just plain went up in smoke, it was easily replaced. To many products today have to be preordered and if you decide a year from now you can use that model on your layout, at that point in time it maybe too late. Yes, this is just a hobby and I really don't need any hobby items, but from time to time a product is released that catches your eye. I also agree, nothing we write here is going to change anything, but sometimes I guess it's just good to vent a little.
The LHS has to sell in stock merchandise close to full boat retail due to the expense load. However, they should be willing to negotiate a discount for special orders or pre-release reserved orders since there is no inventory cost involved and the deposit should guarantee a final sale. There are some LHS that won’t do this, but I don’t feel that’s a good business model.
That being said, customers who “look, feel & fondle” items at the LHS and then order the exact same item from the discount internet dealer are contributing to the demise of the local business.
For a long time, especially in N-scale, we were forced to pre-reserve with mail-order dealers because our LHS wouldn’t or couldn’t guarantee they would get any of the locomotives being released by Atlas or Kato. So now, many of those shops are out of business.
We have an amazing hobby shop in Fort Myers, FL. They even have a nice assortment of Silflor, something most shops never even heard of!
What is wrong is that we are losing the sources for things to aid in scratch building and detailing things. Few internet retailers have those items.
But I do recall someone saying in any one market all it takes is 10 scratch builders to run a store out of business.