Another hobby shop bites the dust

Discussion in 'Getting Started' started by spitfire, Jul 2, 2003.

  1. spitfire

    spitfire Active Member

    Yes, sad to say, Den of Trains is no longer going to be with us, despite my best efforts at spending money in there. First I heard they were planning to move, but when I was in there this afternoon I found out from Dennis, the owner, that they are closing down completely.

    It was sad to see the shelves so bare, although I must admit he never really had as much stock as he should have, which made me think that this was going to happen sooner or later. Last year at this time, I offered to do a website for him, thinking he needed more business, and yes, I had an ulterior motive for sure - hoping to be paid in trains and stuff.

    But small as it was, it was where I went to find out about Toronto streetcars, correct eras for rolling stock, how to refine my track plan, and where to put feeders and insulators. Dennis was someone who always had the time to tell me anything I wanted to know about the hobby.

    He and his little shop will be sorely missed.

    :( Val
  2. Matthyro

    Matthyro Will always be re-membered

    It's sad to see them go. I sure miss Hemlock Junction that used to be in Milton. Model railroading is such a niche business and high inventory costs are prohibitive to small retailers. Stock has to turn over regularly in order to make any kind of profit so it's catch22.
  3. interurban

    interurban Active Member

    Sad news indeed:(
    From what I have seen you have to be independently wealthy to have a Hobby shop for Trains only.
    The shops that carry all sorts of inventry for the car guys the plane flying guys, the boat builders, the kids stuff,, are doing very well. But only have a small inventry for trains
    It`s a shame when all you want to be is a good Train shop:(

    Robin Have you been to Hutches Train shop???? Brant street Burlington .
    It`s worth the trip.;)
    St Catherins Hobby shop on Paul street is a great shop to. Dave Morgen at Rail View 14th avenue west of Warden.
    The guys and I get out twice a year for a hobby shop run and lunch.
    My LHS carries almost everything for all sorts of Hobbys and will always go out of their way to get what I need.
  4. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    Val,my friend, I am sorry to hear that..Everybody needs a good local hobby shop..I trust there are other shops that might help fill your needs? I am lucky I guess.I have 3 26 miles from me.2 is full price and one gives a 10-15% discount.This is the smallest of the 3 shops and is well stock in HO..If this shop would close I would be lost as I do 90% of my business..I could go a different route(remember what I told you in the chat room?)but it would not be feasible to do so at this time..
  5. shaygetz

    shaygetz Active Member

    No catalog can replace a well staffed, informed hobby shop...I have the double blessing of one that sells at 10% off Wather's prices and the money I spend there supports the L&N R.R. Historical Preservation Society it's housed in. Sorry to see another one go:(
  6. Matthyro

    Matthyro Will always be re-membered

    Chris, yes I have been to Hutches Train shop and to St. Catharines Niagara Central Hobbies but now find I go to Credit Valley RailwayCo in Streetsville more often as it is much closer to where I live.
  7. eightyeightfan1

    eightyeightfan1 Now I'm AMP'd

    Feel the pain........
    My LHS just closed down Monday. Said he was still gonna run the website, go to the shows, but it won't be the same.
    There is one more near me, but he runs limited hours, but I guess the good thing is he runs it out of his basement, and with my work scheduale its hard to get there when he's open.
    Another one here in town is like the aftformentioned"All hobbies" shop, but mostly NASCAR die cast and collectibles(95% of my business with him is die-cast), with a little corner dedicated to trains...and mixed with all scales.
    Its sad to see them go like that:(
  8. rcwatkins

    rcwatkins Member

    Unfornuately, I don't have a good train store anywhere near me. :( :mad:
  9. Catt

    Catt Guest

    When I was growing up back in the 50s-n- 60s Grand Rapids had 8 very good hobbyshops.In 2,003 we have 3. One is quite decent with knowledgeable train people.One is strickly trains and a great place to deal with.The other one (with a HO club in the basement no less) doesn't give a damn if they sell you anything or not.
  10. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Has anyone won the lottery lately? There is a hobby shop with attached house and property for sale north of Toronto. Hockley Valley has a for sale sign up -- the new owner's (less than a year) family want to go back home.
    This would be terrific for someone who has a lot of money and needs to reduce the pile in a hurry.
  11. TinGoat

    TinGoat Ignorant know it all

    Good bye Den of Trains...

    Yup, I said good-bye to Dennis too...

    I suggested that he try to make a deal with one of the local clubs to lease a small room.

    Unfortunatly, both of the clubs in the west end are in industrial areas that are hard to get to.

    Like Val, I saw this coming...

    It looks like George's Trains is going to be holding the monopoly in T.O..

    Here's a radical idea....

    What if local hobbiest's started a co-op?

    Volunteer to work a couple of evenings or weekends a month....

  12. spitfire

    spitfire Active Member

    Ron, I saw it coming too. I think the biggest problem he had was the shop was simply underfunded. Not enough new stock coming in and a visitor in July would find the same stock as a visitor in January. Items special-ordered would never come in. So, no matter how loyal a customer I wanted to be, I was pretty much forced to go elsewhere for anything more than track and paint.

    I tried to encourage him to get a website, and truly compete, but he was reluctant, and in the end he admitted to me that he would never shop that way himself.

    Anyway, I wish things had been different, because I really loved going in there. Dennis always had time to talk and he could tell you just about anything you wanted to know about the TTC or what year CN started using covered hoppers. I soon learned to put 2 hours worth of coins in the meter before a visit to his store.

    And get this: as I was leaving for the last time, he said if I ever wanted to call just to talk about streetcars that would be just fine with him! What a great guy. As I said before, he will be missed.


    I like your co-op idea although I think trying to mimic a retail operation is not the way to go. Too much work, paperwork, money up front, and financial risk.

    But if the main point of the co-op were to get its members wholesale prices then you could do it this way. The co-op becomes a licensed Walthers dealer and each month puts in its members' order. The members pay up front, so that no one gets stuck paying for something someone has "changed their mind" about. It could work. Just need to figure out where the merchandise would come to.

  13. ezdays

    ezdays Out AZ way


    A sad, but typical story. I'm not sure of the exact statistics, but about half of all new businesses last only about a year, and 2/3 of them are gone in five years. The major causes are underfunding and poor planning. I sold our business about three years ago, only to find the guy that bought it had borrowed the down payment and was planning on using credit cards to fund the operation and buy the material needed. Unfortunately, that lasted only six weeks. Another problem is poor marketing, not knowing what your customers want.

    There is no excuse for not being able to get special order mechandise, or keeping the shelves stocked with what will sell, except when distributors and manufactureres no longer will extend the credit and there is not enough cash to buy it outright. I hate to see any small business go under, especially a LHS but it's the bottom line that counts.

    I don't know Dennis, but I wish him the best of sucess in whatever he chooses to do.

  14. rcwatkins

    rcwatkins Member

    The only real LHS around me didn't even last that long. And he even had a video rental. :( :mad: :( :mad:
  15. storm

    storm Member

    well boys if u think that George's Trains is going to take over in toronto. i would say u have to go to panther hobbies in mississauga. they have a lot of n-scale. and even more HO. that is where we r building out layout in the back.
    cheack them out if u havent already
  16. interurban

    interurban Active Member

    I agree Storm Panthers hobbys are good people.
    We always have a chat at the shows, and he carries a lot of "stuff".:D
    I Have not been to George`s trains for years. Railview is where the action is.;)
  17. cpr_paul

    cpr_paul Member

    I like Panther - they have a really good selection of N stuff. And I also like being able to browse through the military models as well. I just can't stand the fact that the owners/employees smoke in the store. Turns me right off (sorry smokers).

    Credit Valley is my usual destination, but they're clear the other side of the city from me. I may have to check out interurben's work at Pickering Hobbies though :)
  18. TinGoat

    TinGoat Ignorant know it all

    It's not so much a case of

    George's Trains taking over, so much as, George's Trains is now the only act in town...

    There are other hobby shops in Toronto, but none of them specialize in Model Railroading.

    The staff is generally clueless when it comes to Model Railroading, and the stock is usually slim to none.

    The Hobby Shops in Mississauga and elsewhere may be excellent, but they're not really "Local". Not when it takes more than an hour to get to them...

    It's the difference between a little detour on the way home from work vs. planning a three to four hour excursion...
  19. cpr_paul

    cpr_paul Member

    Collector's Lane (Markham and Ellesmere) has started moving into trains more - their stock is more "newbie" type stuff, but they do have a good range of Woodlands Scenics stuff and a good selection of scratchbuilding materials/paints. etc.

    Definitely not as many LHS's out there as there used to be...:(
  20. jwmurrayjr

    jwmurrayjr Member

    I notice that most of you are in Canada so this may not be of much help, except for the "business model" aspect.

    Discount Model Trains in Addison, Texas (Dallas area) has been in business for about 20 years, I think. DMT is a train-only shop with plenty of stock and knowledgeable staff. DMT continues to thrive and grow while other LHS "pass away".

    In addition to helpful, friendly staff and plenty of stock DMT has always sold almost everything at a 20% discount (hence the name.

    Most, maybe all, of the other shops in the area sell at full retail list price and would not even think of discounting.

    I buy "mail-order" occasionally when there is a significant savings, like bulk orders or special sales items, but it's not worth the hassle for most items with DMT's 20% discount and local service.

    DMT's service is great, so I want to keep them in business. It's one of those "free market" things. Everyone benefits from their attention to the customer and detail.

    I'm sure that since the DMT "business model" works here it could work for many shops. I hope that some other's will try it. Maybe you know of some shops that are.


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