The useful LHS. A myth or fact?

2-8-8-0 Jul 2, 2010

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  1. jhn_plsn

    jhn_plsn TrainBoard Supporter

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    The new internet sales tax will have a major effect on inventories and service for sure. That is if it goes into effect. If it does its a great opportunity for established shops, but will effect the internet suppliers negatively. There will still be a market for them but will level the playing field a bit more.

    Just my thoughts. Trash in trash out if you don't like it.
     
  2. Specter3

    Specter3 TrainBoard Member

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    well the list idea for slow inventory is good but if you go to car-part.com you will see what really needs to be done with it. It is all automated based on their bar code scans of the items. Their own inventory system is linked to the web and is searchable. It takes a common inventory program or at least a very good conversion program. But a simple scan based program that the lhs can just scan the barcodes of what they have into a simple database that is searchable through an on line portal. A basic set up for the lhs would be a downloaded program and either a scanner or to manually input the bar codes. The program would simply recognize those and put the appropriate data into the database. Now I don't know if every different roadname and number are different barcodes but I feel that this list of barcodes should be available somewhere.
     
  3. Rossford Yard

    Rossford Yard TrainBoard Member

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    I think this happens informally between at least some shops. Or, lets say I have asked shop W to locate things, and they magically appear, well after wholesalers probably have cleared them out, so presumable to other shops. Whether a more formal system, where all shops think of themselves as partners in the same biz more than competitors, would work, who knows.

    It probably works fine as is. Or, what really happens is the consumer can do that too. When my LHS is out, I just go to the net and see if any shops with real time inventory have what I want. Brooklyn Loco Works and Model Train Stuff often do. And I think that is the way it will probably go. If there isn't that much money in LHS, going self service, via the net probably makes more sense than having and LHS employee do it, no? Its just like we used to have travel agents book our tickets, and now we do it ourselves on the net......because it take us two seconds to look up the info only they used to have.
     
  4. Specter3

    Specter3 TrainBoard Member

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    Well, when you have exhausted all the online places, you are left with calling the manufacturer to beg for your road to be in the next release, or calling individual hobby shops to see if they have one or two. Down in the south the cars of our local roads tend not to hang around too long. I am sure though there are ones and twos scattered around the country that are just whiling away the time on a shelf somewhere where shoppers may not even know what the Southern Railway was or where it ran. Now if at every hobby shop there was someone with the time to go and look and know what they were looking for while I waited on the phone it might be worth the phone try. But we know there wont be that person in every shop so the call around method is hit and miss at best. And for most places this online database would be for the slow moving stock only. The stuff that moves regularly would not be necessary to list. And frankly the same database could be used for models, airplanes RC, whatever.
     
  5. DCESharkman

    DCESharkman TrainBoard Member

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    Well....

    After wading through all of these pages I am starting to feel very priviledged.

    I have two dedicted train shops. both 4.5 miles from my house that carry a great deal of inventory, and nothing is sold at MSRP. Typical discounts vary between 20%-50% the latter being stuff with a lot dust on it.

    Sales taxes be damned, I am not going to let that disuade me from a purchase. In the end, the sales taxtes about average out the shiping costs in most cases. Well at least it did until the Post Office came out with the flat rate priority mail.

    I one shop where I do the most of my business, they all know me by name and I get a special frequent buyer discount. In the other that I go to, the owner recognises me and remberes my name as well. I stop in there because it is around the corner from where a buddy and I have lunch on Saturdays. He has a pretty good selection and a reasonable discount of about 15%. He also has a lot of stuff like tools and the absolute best selection of paint and scratch bulilding materials. I made a purchase there yesterday for some cars and I finally beoke down and got an Atheran Tsunami FP45. So I do a fair bit of business with both.

    I still do have to order about 50% of my stuff online, because I disagree with special order conditions. I am not obligated to disclose this activity to any state government.

    And contrary to what many states think, the collection of sales taxes of interstate electronic transactions is within thier domain. Well interstate commerce is still the domain of the Federal Governemnet and not the states. Until the Federal Government changes, there is nothing the states can leagally do. California got shot down on this in Federal Court.

    But to the poster, there are always good shops and then the rest of them. I am lucky I have the two. In many cases, the csustomer service and knowledge of the staff saved me lots of time and money. So I can not agree with your original premise.
     
  6. Rossford Yard

    Rossford Yard TrainBoard Member

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    Nice you can look on the bright side!

    I have a top 20 LHS in the country, and two other pretty good ones that sometimes carry stuff my main one won't. I still ¤¤¤¤¤!

    It is almost comical. I use Peco track, and they carry a nice selection, but for some reason, half the time they are out of peco rail joiners when I need them. The nerve!

    Also, when I visit the LHS I like to give them a hard time about their hours. They wouldn't have been open today, anyway, but on Memorial Day, they had posted a closed for holiday on monday sign. I asked the owner "What if I need a 2-56 screw for some coupler pockets?" He didn't exactly see the humor in it and told me they wouldn't open for a small sale like that. Again, the NOIVE!
     
  7. Westfalen

    Westfalen TrainBoard Member

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    What I call 'hobby shop hours' due to the owners having other jobs and running the LHS in their spare time is another reason I don't visit the LHS as often these days. The only 100% model train LHS in the state, with a better N scale selection than I've seen in most US shops I've visited, which is about a 45 minute drive away, is open Tuesday morning, Thursday and Friday nights and Saturday afternoon. It suits all his regulars but because of my varied shifts as a train driver (engineer to you guys, but that's another thread), I'm either working nights or getting to bed early for an early morning start so Thursday and Friday are out, ditto for Tuesday morning, I'm either at work or sleeping in after getting home at 3 am, I work every other Saturday and the other I usually have other things to do like going to the MRR club. The result being I only get there every three months or so to pick up magazines and have a look round. I can get online and order from the US at lower prices and get things delivered to my front door in an average of ten days. There are a couple of good all round plane, car, train hobby shops I get to for scenery, paint and stuff but otherwise the convenience of online shopping wins out.
     
  8. YoHo

    YoHo TrainBoard Supporter

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    Hobby shop hours are a problem, but really, that's not just a hobby shop problem, its an every small shop problem.

    Lets face it, your never going to get customers that aren't retired if you don't keep late weekday hours and saturday and sunday hours.

    It boggles my mind that many shops close at 6 during the week and are closed Sunday. Just when do you think us working stiffs are going to be able to stop by.

    Stores, of all types, that get my business during the week are open at least till 8 if not 9.

    If you don't want to be working that late at night, then perhaps you shouldn't have gone into a retail business.
     
  9. Rossford Yard

    Rossford Yard TrainBoard Member

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    Maybe its just me, but if I owned an LHS, I would have hours maybe from 3-8 weekdays, and leave my days free to play golf!
     
  10. skipgear

    skipgear TrainBoard Member

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    Just for reference - our store hours....

    10am - 9pm Mon-Sat
    11am - 5pm Sun

    The true dead time in the store is between 5 and 7. We have had days that we doubled our sales in that last hour or two before close.

    I never understood shops closing at 6 when most customers are working a 9-5 and have no chance to make it to the shop before then. Most of our business is around lunch hour and after 7. If anything, and you want to work an 8 hour day, go 12-8 and give people a chance to make it to the store.
     
  11. Westfalen

    Westfalen TrainBoard Member

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    My problem is that the LHS is open only late at night, if they were open during the middle of the day when I have the most windows of opportunity I could visit more. The point I guess is that no one LHS can keep everyone happy.
     
  12. RatonMan

    RatonMan TrainBoard Member

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    Go to Warrick's Hobbies in Plantation Florida and you'll find a big box store.
     
  13. Rossford Yard

    Rossford Yard TrainBoard Member

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    Skip,

    Just out of curiosity, how much biz do you do in the last hour before 9PM? I am with you on the basic hours. Who set those hours and when? 1950 and the Beaver's mom, who had time to shop for hobbies for her young son?
     
  14. Robbie

    Robbie TrainBoard Member

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    In STL:

    Hobbytown: one closed, one moved but experiencing so little traffic it might close, neither carrying many trains at all.

    Several specialty shops, but the only one with any N scale other than Bachmann charging 250+% of list on everything(LGB F7 diesel, G scale, $800? Seriously? MSRP was under $500..., Kato GS4 $250). There's another store with G scale, my other scale interest, but he wants even more (LGB F7, same engine, $1000 apiece--discount of $100 if you buy three). The only remaining store has a lot of G and O at reasonable prices, but all seemingly random items that hold no interest for me. Other than an Athearn Big Boy at an LHS 45 miles away with a VERY competitive price, I haven't bought a single piece of N new in STL...
     
  15. skipgear

    skipgear TrainBoard Member

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    It varries but more likely than not, we are shooing people out of the store at 9. It's very rare when we are counting the minutes to turn off the open sign. Most of the after 8 stuff is last minute, I need this to finish a project kind of stuff but every once in a while it results in a big sale.

    We have always been located in a shopping center of some sort so we keep the hours of the shoping center.

    As far as the 1950's bankers hours mentality, it isn't chosen by an owner that want's to make money. From what I have seen with the daytime hour You can't sell stuff if your not open when the people are able to visit.
     
  16. skipgear

    skipgear TrainBoard Member

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    I think many confuse MSRP with the going rate. I just checked on those LGB F7's and the next batch due retails at $989.98. A non powered unit is still $799. Even if they were older units, I can't see the retail price doubling from one batch to the next. If you knew the discount params on those loco's you might understand. I had a rude awakening ordering an Atlas O Scale loco for a customer. I was ready to give him 20% off of retail for pre ordering it. I'm glad I checked the cost because I would have lost my ars on it. I would have been paying him to take it out the door. The discount in large scale is horrible. I can't understand how a shop wants to be a large scale only shop, there is no money to be made.

    Now the GS4 at $250 is a bit of an insult. Retail is $198 on a GS4.
     
  17. JoeS

    JoeS TrainBoard Member

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    Great topic. I've read every post with great interest. The more I think about it, in the end, I think there will be just a few hobby shops (B&M) that can survive. Those that do will survive because they will also have on-line store as well. The ones that will survive will be awsome because they will have what everybody wants (in stock) and it will be worth the trip to visit.

    As a z scaler it isn't even worth it to visit a store. Though no fault of their own, the workers do not know anything more or anything even close to what an average Z scaler does. And of course, the standard, "we can order it for you"...really...I mean really...

    Add the gasoline, tax, and the fact that you have to wait longer than if you click on the computor, and have it shipped to your own house in just a few days. You get the idea.

    It is a tough business for sure, when I was into N, there used to be a hobby shop in town that was well stocked and well, I purchased dozens of loco's because I am an impulse buyer. When I get to see something run, and hold it in my hand, it does something. If I got to wait to get it from a hobby store, I am just as likely to wait and purchase on-line.

    Classic example, I haven't purchased N scale equipment in years. However, over the x-mas break last year, I walked into a harware store and they sold trains! They had a kato GS4 for 129 and a GG1 for about 90...Guess who walked out of the store with those babies...and I am a Z scaler. If I had to order on-line I would not have done it, but when I saw them in person, it was magic.
    Again, know, they can't have it all...but in order to survive they will need a lot. My two cents.
     
  18. Train Kid

    Train Kid TrainBoard Member

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    What irks me most about small LHS is they are on their own schedule so to speak. Hours are posted as 10-5 or whatever so you show up at 10 Am -- nobody there. Damn that pisses me off. And then they wonder why business isn't good. LHS owners treat running a business like it's a hobby. No it's a business. If you don't want to be in business don't. If you want to be in business act like a business owner. :rolleyes:
     
  19. MarktheShark

    MarktheShark TrainBoard Member

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    I have 6 hobby shops{not train shops} in my area and none of them carry much in N scale except Atlas code80 and structures, Bachmann locomotives, and Micro Trains couplers ! If what is important to you is clear isles, bright lighting, friendly staff then all 6 are great places but at a very high cost! None of them sell anything below retail and in many cases things are a few dollars above!

    I went to one of these shops about 3 weeks ago to get 3 shakers of Woodland Scenics ballast. I almost fell over, 14.99 a shaker! It would have cost 48.90 with N.Y.S. sales tax. I asked why all the scenery products where so far over retail ? The reply "Oh the retail prices went up". I said I thought that wasn't till July 1st ? The reply "Oh well that's for dealers not consumers " ! Really was my response and I turned and walked out. I got home went online found it $6.49 a shaker had 10% off coupon plus $5.95 shipping! $ 23.47 with shipping and 3 days later a knock on the door, the postman, with a smile, here's your package! I said thank you Very much!

    I hate to be this way but I could care less if all the B.M. hobby shops closed up! None of them get my money anyhow!

    To be fair I don't think the hobby shops are to blame. I really think the problem is the big over controlling distributors! Well I think I'll stop now because thats a whole nother subject !
     
  20. Train Kid

    Train Kid TrainBoard Member

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    Oh, ...and right on cue the LHS I wanted to go to today (July 5th) to pickup some landscaping supplies is CLOSED. They take every single little opportunity to take a day off and wonder why business is down. The owner must spend too much time at the post office...
     
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