Hobby Shop or otherwise?

Discussion in 'Getting Started' started by LarryGarrett, Jan 23, 2003.

  1. LarryGarrett

    LarryGarrett New Member

    Do you guys have a particular preference on where you buy your supplies, etc? I just got my switches delivered by UPS (bought from an ad in one of the zines). My cost was approx $150. If I had purchased the same switches at my nearby hobby shop, it would have cost me almost 235. I want to support these folks, but some of their prices are above even the suggested retail. I realize they need to make a living, but there is a vast difference in many prices. I'm looking to buy 3 or 4 more locomotives, and would love to buy them from the shop, but who knows? If I do buy from him, it will be because he will install any decoders that I buy from him. Anyway, I'm just wondering where you guys stand on this. I suspect I'll buy from the shop when I feel there are some advantages to it, even though price may not be one of them.:confused:
  2. MCL_RDG

    MCL_RDG Member

    It's tough everywhere.

    This is a subject that I'm sure gets chewed over alot. More now than ever with the advent of on-line shopping.

    Case in point:

    Purchased Ten (10) 90 Ton hoppers READING on-line for $4.85/ea. The neat hobby shop around the corner from work has 'em for $7.75/ea. $40.85 + $7.00 UPS (were here next day) vs $77.50.

    I did start to buy a car a week to fatten up a coal drag from the hobby shop- they didn't replace the cars as I purchased so there was no point on looking there.

    I will buy from the hobby shop to support them but, things are tough everywhere and I need to get the most bang for my buck.

    I just visited another hobby shop in the same town where I work. They are total trains. The other guy has other stuff- which I happen to like and get distracted by. I like 'em both and will visit both. One had great scenery stuff, the other- lots of cars and locos in all scales. You cab't get the feel buying out of a catalog or website the way you do at a hobby shop. I know another hobby shop nearby who amazingly ups the already 35% profit margin to 50 and 60% just around Christmas time and has a "Sale" offering 10% off everything in the store.

    I don't want to sound negative but there are a few gougers out there and they know who will buy at their stores.

    Boy, you could go on and on about this one in both directions.

  3. Woodie

    Woodie Active Member

    I don't have much of a choice here. No catalogues or net orders. Just the hoppy shops. But prices don't vary much, even nationwide. If I want mail/catalogue order, I would have to go through the US or somewhere. Seeing I do use local Australia as my prototype base, there's not much point in going through the US!!! :) Mail/catalogue order on anything is really non-existant here, anyway.
  4. Mike R

    Mike R Member

    Woodie, I'm surprised there's no mailorder/online source for Australian prototype there....maybe there's an opportunity for someone to get into that business???

    There has to be a lot of modellers buying such product in order for manufacturers to do production runs.

    Here in Canada, with not a large poulation either, there's quite a few mailorder/online vendors who specialize in Canadian prototypes.
    regards / Mike
  5. Vic

    Vic Active Member

    Hi Larry, Oh Yes! This is a question that comes up on a regular basis probably on most any model railroad board. I would think that it just all boils down to where one wants to spend his $$$ and like some others have said as to where one can get the most "bang" for the buck. But as one who formerly owned a LHS I think that your LHS missed the boat on that sale. Had you have come into my store I would have "gotten competitive" on the price for a volume purchase, probably not to the extent of the mail order discounter, but you would have been happy because I could offer you service and advice on your purchases too. Secondly, I would have noted what you purchased and made sure that I had some on hand the next time you came in wanting that same item.

    My interest in doing the above would have been for my benefit and yours too..... First I would have made a customer of you and you're gonna come back for other things that I'm gonna make a good profit on. Secondly you are satisfied and who are you gonna think of first the next time you want something? Thirdly, you will tell others how well I treated you and then they will become customers of mine too.

    LHS's (excluding chain store shops) operate on such a low profit margin that it is amazing to me that any have survived. Their mark-up is set by the mfgs. and distributors at 40-50% But IMHO it appears that the LHS's are "chasing pennies instead of dollars" and are failing to "see the forest for looking at the trees".

    I don't do any business with my LHS....Its not the price that matters...its the fact that they offer no service to me...its always some excuse for not having what I want or an inability to get it when they say they will. I spend what I want when I want so that's their loss not mine.
  6. msh

    msh Member

    Now and then I visit our local train store but rarely do I buy there. What I do buy are little things I need right away like a piece of flex, a turnout, a few LEDs, couplers or a pack of wheel-sets.

    Advice, guidance and how-to knowledge I get from this and other forums so he can't compete there; prices for almost everything he carries are less (often a lot less) on internet shops so he again cannot compete (or won't); when I ask about getting specific items for me I'm told stories about where they are and when they will be in. When that date comes and I call or go in I get the same story using different locations and dates. Screw it - I'm not that patient - when I want or need something I don't want BS.

    I won't buy anything sight unseen unless I know exactly what it is already. Unless there is a picture of it on line or I see it in the LHS I'll skip it. 95% of the time I'll buy on line anyway. It's kind of fun to go to the train store but I am glad it's not my single source for what I need. Perhaps I'm disloyal and self-serving. Ah well.
  7. rockislandmike

    rockislandmike Active Member

    Hey msh, the way I look at it is this - if you ain't gonna look after yourself, who is ???
  8. Woodie

    Woodie Active Member

    Mike, it's just that mail order/catalogue order of anything is not big here. No-one does it. It's all personal shopping at shops.

    I needed a new motor for one of my Powerline locos. They do do mail order of sorts, but no credit cards, and it took me about 5 exchanges of email to get it right. They eventually sent the motor to me on appro, and trusted that I'd send a cheque later.
  9. Mike R

    Mike R Member

    Woodie, I'm amazed !
    Guess I take for granted the way mail order is in Canada. Here,it goes back to the mid-1800's, when that's about the only way the prairie settlers could get any consumer goods at all, even in good size towns.They'd order by mail and the train would bring it.

    If it's shops or nothing, I guess one wouldn't want to be a model railroader, half way to Kalgoorlie on the Nullarbor....maybe wouldn't want to be there anyway..???

    :D :D :D
    regards / Mike
  10. farmer ron

    farmer ron Member

    I go where my money goes the farthest. Although in saying that I do shop around, I e-mail, call or visit the hobby shops, check catologue prices and e-mail availabitliy, and check on line sources all first. If I find a price for something that I want, we are not talking small priced itimes here, if it is not from the hobby shop, I take my price that I have and approach the hobby shop and give them the first chance at not entirely meeting (if they can fine) but how close can they come to the price. There is a couple of shops near here that will not budge from the sticker price that is already there so I do not even go in there anymore but our local shop will make every attempt to get near the price and some times we have a deal and other times not. For the smaller priced itimes like rail joiners, one piece of rolling stock etc., I utilize the local hobby shop. One persons approach that works for me, Ron..
  11. rockislandmike

    rockislandmike Active Member

    Agreed, Mike. I remember as a kid we'd get the Xmas Sears catalogue in November and my brother and I would fight over it for a week, picking stuff we liked. Then my mom would have to go to the local Sears "outlet" and order away for it !!!!!!
  12. Ravensfan

    Ravensfan Member

    Vic hit the nail on the head. Go to your LHS and tell them that you can get the same thing online for much less. However, be reasonable and don't expect the LHS to go down to the lowest online price. Figure out what a good price would be, if you bought online and had to pay shipping versus paying local with taxes and the convenience of making the purchase "here and now." I do that with everything now, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't (for example I went to a local camera shop to try to bargain for a new Canon EOS Rebel 2000, the guy pointed to the "special" they were having at $399, I told him I could get it online for under $250 and he just stared blankly at me).

    Bottom line is that it doesn't hurt to ask.
  13. rockislandmike

    rockislandmike Active Member

    I did the same with a brass loco, too. Went in and talked to trainguy and told him where I found it and for how much, and asked if he could come down any lower. He couldn't, so I ordered it from the other guyz online. I wasn't necessarily expecting him to match it, but the price variance was significant (like $200CDN or something like that, even after shipping was taken into account).
  14. Vic

    Vic Active Member

    But which was the most fun?...........Picking thru the catalog or fighting with your brother!!! LOL:D :D :D :D :D :D :D
  15. Woodie

    Woodie Active Member

    Is there some quirk of some sort, that mail order in the US doesn't attract taxes???
  16. spitfire

    spitfire Active Member

    I do my buying about 50-50 right now. Most hobby shops here in Canada charge full list, plus the exchange rate on the dollar, and federal and provincial sales tax. Whatever it says in the Walthers catalog, you can basically double if you want to buy local. So, if I can find a deal online - I'll buy it and pay the shipping and dollar exchange myself. But this is strictly for structures, where I already know what the different manufacturers' kits are like.

    Where the local guys shine (besides the gotta have it now stuff) is having Canadian prototype locos and rolling stock. And they can always tell me if a particular piece of equipment is appropriate for the period I'm modelling. Besides, I like fondling before I buy, and you can't do that online!!!

    Not to mention, if we all were to use the LHS just to look at stuff, and online merchants to actually buy, it won't be long before all that's left is online merchants and then where would we be?

    :D Val
  17. Vic

    Vic Active Member

    Hi Woodie, Its a mixed bag...some states require mail order vendors to collect sales tax.....some require them to collect the tax amount for the state that the item(s) are shipped to....some states have no sales tax at all...some states do not require the collection of sales tax on out of state mail order or internet sales.

    In my state (Georgia) if I mail order something...or buy it over the internet I do not have to pay sales tax unless the vendor is physically located in Georgia. This saves me about 8%. It pays me to buy out of state because Georgia is one of the states that does not require the collection of sales tax on mail order/internet sales unless the vendor or the purchaser is physically located within the state.

    However many states are revising their laws concerning this to require the collection of sales taxes on a uniform basis. It won't be too long before some uniform standard is set for the entire country and a purchaser will pay a uniform sales tax regardless of where he orders from.

    With the exception of a few items that may be federally regulated there is no federal sales tax on consumer items but there's talk of that changing too.
  18. MCL_RDG

    MCL_RDG Member

    It's a dilema alright! Let's simplify it?

    I love the 3 (pretty much- Major) hobby shops in my neck of the woods. I go and ewwwwww and ahhhhhh while pressing my nose against the glass cases holding all the locos and high ticket items.*

    There's a strip mall hobbyshop I know of that denies that they are on of the largest advertises in MR and RMC for discounted merchandise (but they are). Is your LHS selling to you at their "overhead" cost while selling it discount to mail orders. Only your LHS knows for sure (prolly not unless you have a really sweet looking LHS, lots of inventory and yet they don't ever seem to be crowded- and I mean lots, ailses and aisles and big huge display cases, etc). Think about it. Call a commercial realtor and find out what the square foot per month rent is in a block your LHS is.

    This basically comes down to micro and macro economics. Supply and demand. Sounds familiar, Right? And when you roll all the options thru your mind (in my case- muh pea brain), much like the question before the G-7, Where do we go from here?

    We pitty the poor LHS who's making cash (pronounced kaysh) hands over fists selling at a mark up to attract "the man on the street". You're not the man on the street but that's how most LHSs are run. Too bad, they're missing the boat or hoping you don't know their buisness, which is is realy your business.

    The market has changed- business(es) must change!

    It was the other way around not too long ago. Perhaps you've forgotten. Couldn't find a decent anything at any price, anywhere. Now, it's all over at affordable prices considering what was where. (Try rolling that thru my pea brain once and you'll have a collapse!)

    Perhaps instead of glorified retail type stores, a local "Hobby Warehouse" may spring up in your town. If it's not in your town, you'll drool over the day you can take your family across country to visit "Hobby Warehouse" in (name furthest town you can think of here on either coast or central states) like the Grizzwalds in "Family Vacation"!!! SUPER! Perhaps many things will happen. But you, YOU, will decide whether your LHS survives. They'll have something to do with with it too- but they'll blame you, YOU for their loss of market share.

    And so, we will know the outcome of all this in time.

    It does really boil down to economics and how to re-tool for a changing market and in this case supply due to technology.

    I am impressed by the notion that this thread has "boinked" forth.

    It's a dilema alright. And I like it!


    *I can't help it! I like the impression muh nose leaves on the glass.
  19. Railery

    Railery Member

    i use both LHS & the net. MY mail order isn't restricted just to the US, there are some very good Canadian ones too. Just a couple of weeks ago i ordered 3 katos SD 40(1) and SD40-2(2) for 126 ea. That includes all costs from an Ontario Hobby Shop. i like to buy from Internettrains and Long's Trains. My 2 LHS get my business too and there is a digitrax dealer in town who i purchase from. i don't just shop for price, not everyone stocks everything so using the net makes it a whole lot easier to find something. But u need to be aware of how things are going to be shipped and any extra costs. i always ask for ground shipping and yet i still get via air. :eek:
  20. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    I have found I need to use both..
    1. I usually buy at the shop where I work part time if we have the item I need or can get it. If we don't have it in stock and can't get any more then I check at the other not so local discount shops to see if they have it.
    2. Internet shops..Yes,I use these shops when I can not find a limited run item locally...I also use these shops if I can not match their prices locally..I have match and beat their prices on some locomotives at the discount shops that I go to..I found some Atlas GP7s on the net for less then $50.00 I could not match or beat that price locally.However,I did beat their price on the Atlas N scale GP38s for less then$55.00..Needless to say I got the last 4 he had.

    Guys,It pays to shop around to find the better deals...Sometimes one can find a better deals by comparing prices of different internet shops...I have saved money by doing that also.

    I don't use ebay for many reasons..I have not seen all that many great deals anyhow and I do check e bay from time to time just for fun.

    I also use Train shows to find what I need.

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