The useful LHS. A myth or fact?

2-8-8-0 Jul 2, 2010

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  1. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    The main street in my town has virtually died, due to just this philosophy. They want to be open 8a-5p, 9a-6p, M-F. And cannot comprehend the lack of patrons. They think it's the big box stores killing them. No. It's the fact most people are working those hours, trying to earn enough to have a few discretionary dollars left over to spend on hobbies. If you are closed when those workers finally are free, they have no choice but to go elsewhere.

    Boxcab E50
     
  2. broadway zephyr

    broadway zephyr TrainBoard Member

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    Some of you have cited the ability to go into an LHS and "touch and feel" the item, and that gets you juiced to buy it. I guess I can understand that. That being said, most of the LHS I have been to have all of their n stuff behind the counter, or in a case, so I can't really look at it at all. I have to get their assistance. Then they hover over you, and it is not comfortable. Its as if they are doing you a favor. And if the shop is busy, now I have to wait for someone to become available---just to look at something. Its irritating.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 6, 2010
  3. Allen

    Allen TrainBoard Member

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    I guess I'm lucky, I live in an area that is a very active model railroading area and we have some very good LHS's to deal with here. That said, we did loose a very good shop (Pacific Railway Hobbies in Tacoma) due to the owners retiring. I just came back from visiting my sons in Kentucky and Ohio and visited several very good LHS's. Two that stand out are Big Four Hobbies in the Indianapolis area and The Train Station in Columbus, OH.
     
  4. Chaya

    Chaya TrainBoard Supporter

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    They got me started in model railroading. :)

    There's a nice one in Lakewood, isn't there? It wasn't there when I left, but I bought stuff from them mail order that I couldn't find elsewhere.
     
  5. Allen

    Allen TrainBoard Member

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    Actually Pacific Railway Hobbies was in Lakewood. Online Trains is also in Lakewood (about a mile from PRH) and has been in business for about 8 or 9 years. Lately he has had very limited hours as he is concentrating on his sons football leagues.
     
  6. SteamDonkey74

    SteamDonkey74 TrainBoard Supporter

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    As far as hours and customer desires, I feel like I may have something to contribute.

    My wife and I own a retail shop (a bookstore) in our neighborhood. She mostly runs it while I work elsewhere. A lot of what we do in terms of setting hours and stocking books is guesswork. That's it. We have a lot of repeat customers and my wife knows what a lot of her regulars like to read, so she makes ordering decisions, in part, on that, but there's a lot of guesswork.

    We've slowly adjusted the hours over the years so that we're not wasting our time twiddling our thumbs but so that we're not missing sales, either. The store opens late morning most days and closes at 6 PM on Tuesdays and 8 PM Wednesday - Saturday. Every now and then we'll still get flamed by someone who wishes we were open even more hours. Right now, the store is open 53 hours per week minimum and she often doesn't close if there are still customers in the store, so that can got a bit later at times.

    Still, while we WANT to please everyone we can't. We had someone come unglued at us once because we're closed on Christmas. Well, we're sorry, but my wife grew up in the church and Christmas is one of about three holidays per year that she actually does close the store. It's not like we weren't open nearly every day from the day after Thanksgiving through Christmas Eve.

    We try very hard to do what's best for our customers and make ourselves available to our customers. Right now, my wife is putting in roughly 60-70 hours per week minimum and taking home MAYBE fifty cents to a dollar an hour for all her work. The economy has really put the squeeze on lots of people, including the mom and pop shop. We mom-and-pop shops deal with it in different ways. We've been busting even more posterior than usual and working double-time to entice customers to come spend discretionary funds on books. Other shops (including, apparently, some of the LHS described here) have gone in quite different directions. I can't say that I blame any of them for making the decisions they've made.
     
  7. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Memory slip here- Which shop is/was George B's place? I know it's not OLT. Was it PRH?

    Boxcab E50
     
  8. Allen

    Allen TrainBoard Member

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    George has Tacoma Trains in the Proctor section of Tacoma. Another great shop, sorry I forgot to mention him in my earlier post. On that note, our club meets at Seattle's Train Center on Elliott north of downtown Seattle next to the BNSF main. Both of these shops are great for feeding me my monthly magazine fix! As I said, the modelers in the Seattle are very lucky to have great LHS.
     
  9. Rossford Yard

    Rossford Yard TrainBoard Member

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    I am not complaining per se, but I have twice tried to visit Seattle Train Center when in town. Both times, I checked hours and made it there just as it was to open. Both times they weren't there. In one case, I took a cab but elected to walk back to my hotel, and I called when I got back there. Naturally, then they were there, about an hour later than posted.

    I know its tough, and I have had other LHS close the door as I was running up last minute, presumably not because I had BO, but because they want to go home to their family.

    Just a bit discouraging though!
     
  10. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Al-

    Thanks. For some reason I could not recall his shop name. Argh.

    Boxcab E50
     
  11. FloridaBoy

    FloridaBoy TrainBoard Member

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    I have lived in SoFla virtually all of my life and consider myself quite lucky when it comes to LHS's. I have been an active hobby guy into trains and cars since age 5 at Lobaugh's in Sharon, PA, in 1952, and have patronized many many hobby shops opened down here in the late fifties. Unfortunately, there were good ones and not so good ones, but there are some left, and boy do they support N scale. N scale is probably more popular here because railroads are very present as two lines go through every coastal town, there is a premium of space (no garages or basements), money is tight, and there is a good support, both from hobby shops and other modelers around.

    Clubs now are their weakest point in years, but may rebound.

    But here are the amenities from West Palm Beach southward......

    TexNRails (South Miami) A small retail store that packs a major wallop in the mail order business. Virtually all N Very friendly. Great stock and discounts!!!

    Ready to Roll (North Miami) An unusual warehouse type store that devotes an entire kitchen sized room to N, floor to ceiling, with just about everything made by everyone, at a discount. Very friendly and knowledgeable help.

    Warrick Superstore (Ft lauderdale). A HUGE food store sized hobby shop that intelligently stocks just about everything, and devotes 2 large aisles and 2 huge display cabinets to N. Some items discounted. Great variety and selection and very knowledgeable help within the train department. Even one of the guys is a dedicated N scaler.

    Discount Train and Hobby (Ft. Lauderdale) A large storefront multi-scale trains only store, owned by a sole proprietor, but since he started in N, most of the store is dedicated to N scale. If it was ever handled, he handled it, but only the "quality" brands. He is mostly extremely friendly, but won't handle BS. Discounts everything 20% across the board. Stands behind his sales and products. Very strong Atlas, Kato and MT inventory. Will buy used estates if items are high q and in great condition.

    The Depot (Lantana/West Palm Beach) A smaller family sized hobby store that stocks and services N scale with a dedicated aisle and cabinet, but because of demographics down here would rather special order (they have it down to an art) and speedy delivery of ordered items. Another strength is they often buy estates and collections and offer very selected items at used prices. Extremely friendly, helpful and knowledgeable, and one of the owners, Jim is probably the most underrated model railroader around. Look at the on-site layouts.

    In my travels I have been fortunate enough to visit two extremely intellingently and well stocked N scale hobby shops, which even though not in Florida, I patronize when I visit there often.......

    Shepaug Trains (Leominster, MA). Hobby shop in an old train depot downtown. Very intelligently stocked and has just about everything, only the quality hobby oriented stuff and quality names. Will sell used stuff if meets their standards. Very friendly and accommodating.

    Old Fort Trains (Old Fort, NC - just outside of Asheville) This is a trains only store in what looks like a Mayberry, NC from Andy Griffith days. Very smartly stocked equal HO, N, G and some Z. Very friendly and inspirational, as they are located in a traditional train town, complete with a train museum just down the street. Right on the NS lines, protos run past several times per day.

    As you can tell, I love LHS's and try to give them as much business as I can afford, as they have been incredible sources of information, assistance, and support to me over the years in both of my hobbies. When the economy recovers I hope all of the above grow and thrive and become local power house hobby centers as there are plenty of people and geography to go around......

    Ken "FloridaBoy" Willaman
     
  12. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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