building and selling starter layouts

Discussion in 'Getting Started' started by cruikshank, Sep 27, 2006.

  1. cruikshank

    cruikshank New Member

    I was at a greenberg show a month or two back. A dealer there had 2-3 small starter layouts. 2 in "N" and one in HO. They were pieced together with mismatched track and nothing I would put my name on, but he was selling them and got like $250 for scary looking HO layout maybe 4x5 tops. I figured some dad, kids bugging him for trains, Dad has no time or patience but he has $$. Do you think there is a market for this. I'm not talking grand highly scenicked layouts, but maybe a WGH plan or something similar. Little or no scenery, making it a starting point for buyer, buyer and kid to work on. Populated it with used cars, and a reliable engine. Thinking even combining it with a Bachman EZ DCC starter of controller and engine to start them off right. If you made them as standard setups so you could easily reproduce them and make say $100-150 on each one, it would be a nice sidline. I haven't worked for 1.5 years because of back surgeries, and I'm supported by my wife, but if I kept them small, or maybe modular to make larger HO layouts I think I could do it. Anyone have any experience with this ? I also thought of keeping it small because few people have the space to properly transport a 4x8 layout without ruining it. Whatch think ? Dave
  2. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    I think that you might be able to do this. Bear in mind your competition though - ones that come to mind are sievers benchwork, WS Modulars, any of those "press form" plastic layout bases, the WS Grand Valley and others, and so on.

    You'd have to fit into a niche I think to be successful - either a price point, or some unique features that the others do not have...

  3. cruikshank

    cruikshank New Member

    Building layouts to sell ( Thomas the Tank)

    Originally Posted by KarlS [​IMG]
    If that event was any indication, anything you might want to build related to Thomas would sell like crazy! [​IMG]

    My wife and I owned a Photo studio for 15 years before I had to give up. We did a lot of Children and they were all Thomas Crazy. I thought of building thomas related layouts between now and Christmas. This would differentiate me from other layout builders. I know Bachmann makes and HO Thomas, and Tomix a much more expensive "N" But I'm afraid "N" would be too small for little hands.

    I spent a whole summer building an RC plane when I was a kid, now they are almost all RTF (Ready to Fly ) Many people especially the more financially succesfull among us have more money than time and will pay to a something allready built. This is why they buy kids video games instead of build trains with them, they have no time, or make no time. I'm going to give it a try. Make it an odd shape to look like the "island of Sodor from Thomas " Keep you posted
  4. TrainNut

    TrainNut Ditat Deus

    I tried to sell coffee table layouts for about a year and the idea took off about as well as a lead balloon.
  5. trainnut65

    trainnut65 Member

    You know Trainnut i think you had a great idea with the coffee table layouts. I just started to build me one. I think it is going to be a cool little layout. Doing N scale santa fe from around the 1960-1970 I hope to be done with it as soon as i get moved to the new house and get the time to work on it again. Now cruikshank I think you have a good idea but it is like trainnut said his took off like a lead balloon. Good luck with this.
  6. cruikshank

    cruikshank New Member

    Coffee table layout sold for $2000

    I read of one recently that the a guy built and he sold it for $2000, plus $500 to deliver it a few states away. I guess he got very lucky. When I find it again, I'll post the link. Heres the link: $2000 remark about 1/2 way down the page. Dave
  7. shaygetz

    shaygetz Active Member

    "The best way to make a small fortune in this hobby is to start with a large one" ---Howard Zane
  8. TrainNut

    TrainNut Ditat Deus

    I take mine to all our club swapmeets and have never had a bite. It's such a specialized field and finding that one person that could be interested is a bit like finding a needle in a haystack. Still, as you mentioned it does happen. I had a round wrought iron train table for sale for a while also and it did not sell till after I donated it to the club. Even then, it sold for half of what I was asking and I was not asking much more than what I had in materials.
  9. cruikshank

    cruikshank New Member

    Well I'm lucky I guess in that I have a friend who owns a train shop. He will allow me to place it in there. Obviously he will get a cut, but more important he gets another customer who needs train things, so its a win win situation. Dave
  10. cruikshank

    cruikshank New Member

    Funny it was the same way in the Photo business. The only people who really made money were ones who were smart enough to buy the real estate the building was in. It was the only worthwhile thing to sell when you got out. Dave
  11. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    I think you need to think about who would buy this... My wife was tossing around the idea of making quilts, and thinking about all the quilting connections she has. But the problem is that they would never sell there... Why? Same reason you cannot sell a finished layout to railroad modellers. Most modellers want to do the work you have just done for them... If you want to sell more of a finished layout, you need to look for other ways to connect to your market - they are not the 'hardcore' train guys you find at the RR-shows.

  12. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    I think a better idea would be to make a small layout completely scenicked with outstanding detail, ie-built to museum quality standards. Then have a business flyer made up offering "Custom Designed, Custom Built Layouts in your space." There are professionals who want a layout fully scenicked, but either feel they don't have the talent or the time to do it. I think there is a bigger market for doing custom designed layouts for people than there is for doing prefab starter layouts on a 4 x 8. Your friend with the Hobby shop might prefer you to build a small diorama instead of a full blown layout since it would take up less space in his store. You probably would not have to give your friend a cut of the deal if you commit to buying the trains, scenery supplies, structures, and details from him.

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