Letting Off Some Steam

Discussion in 'Getting Started' started by Mountain Man, Feb 10, 2008.

  1. Mountain Man

    Mountain Man Active Member

    This will be a two-fer, as I feel the need to vent:

    first, some follow-up on my unfortunate experiences with The Caboose LHS in Denver: during the holidays, I retunred to the Caboose to check out an item my wife wanted to buy me for Christmas, but didn't want to get wrong. Imagine my feelings when the head salesperson for an entire section told me flat-out that Bachmann products were "junk", they were "crap" and he didn't want to seel me any. No defense or explanation, just bald statements from a man wolking in a store thqt carries ande sells a lot of Bachmann products.

    When I returned with my wife, the same guy praised the Bachmann stuff that she was picking up for me, until I stepped out from behind her and asked him in front of customers and a very senior-looking store manager type what happened to the "Bachmann is crap" viewpoint expressed to me? Was it only crap if a guy was buying? Was he willing to push products to wives that he felt were that inferior? If the products were truly that inferior, why were they even carried by the store? The manager and I subsequently had an interesting discussion, made all the more relevant by a) his knowledge of this forum, and b) his distress at the further knowledge that my experiences were posted here. He felt that the opinions and attitudes of one employee were not representative of the entire store. I very much begged to differ, pointing out that customers depended on the expertise and recommendations of the store staff, and that it wasn't the customer's problem to know which of his employees were trustworthy and which were not.

    I think I won that round.

    Onwards to the second item, which is more bothersome to me:

    I have been reading back issues of the various RR modelling mags, and began to notice a disturbing trend amongst all of the various editors to single out modelling the Colorado mountains as "old", "done to death", and similar disparaging comments.

    Intellectually, I understand the viewpoint that different and new is always desirable; however, how much of what is in those magazines even today is actually "new", beyond products and techniques? The answer is - not one blessed thing. So I sent letters to all of the current editors of the various publications quoting the relevant comments and asking them if they would care to publicly reconcile their positions as alleged proponents of the model railroading hobby, certainly making a good living off the hobby, with statements singling out a specific group of modellers as somehow being "bad", "boring" and so forth? Would they like to discuss the boring prevalence of logging layouts and switchyards? And if I have seen one diesel on a layout, I've seen hundreds...and I'm not a diesel fan. Neither are a lot of other modellers, for that matter.

    I closed by suggesting that they revise their approach to the entire hobby by first realizing that our hobby - not theirs,l and that we model as we choose. If modelling the superbly scenic Rocky Mountains offends them, perhaps they should consider another line of work, but slamming a particular segment of modellers is not and never will be an option of theirs.

    We shall see just how far their editorial "courage" is prepared to take them.

    That's it. Thanks for listening...looking...or whatever it is we do here. I feel better already.

    BTW - my wife got me some pretty nice stuff, and I don't care what the sales guy thinks of it. It isn't his layout. :p
  2. Ralph

    Ralph Remember...it's for fun!

    I recall your original thread about your bad impression of the hobby store but that you ended up going back and had a positive experience. I also recall another member posting that they are regularly satisfied there. I suppose it can vary from time to time depending on who you encounter, which isn't a great way to present in front of customers, but is probably true of many businesses. I'm guessing the manager has likely taken some efforts to insure no one else will get the "Bachmann is crap" speech!

    As for themes in hobby magazines being done to death, I'd think variety would be the key to maintaining reader interest. Although I'd love three consecutive issues of Model Railroader to feature Penn Central layouts I doubt the vast majority of readers would be as enthused. :) Letters to the editor are always a great way to let them know how the readership is perceiving their magazine. Personally I find the scenery of Colorado railroading to always be interesting.

  3. Mountain Man

    Mountain Man Active Member

    I agree with your comments - but when is the last time something truly original and different was in one of those magazines? Using a different road name doesn't qualify, and there only so many settings, somewhat like only seven basic writing plots.

    I do recall seeing one unique MRR, a steel mill operation. Everything else is done over and over, but that's not the real point - the real point is how it is done. I find each modeller's personal approach to be unique and different, even if they all model the same thing.

    As I mentioned, I am no fan at all of diesels, being hardwired into the last of the 19th century and very early 20th, but I admire the workmanship of a diesel fan's layout just as much as any other. It's about the hobby - not the specific locale or time period.

    No magazine editor should ever down-talk a subset of modellers.

    As for the Caboose, something is seriously wrong with that place. I love the store itself, but I don't trust the staff. Shopping in an LHS should not be hit or miss or like that. Every other LHS I've been to in this area has been consistently user friendly.

    BTW - I sent a little message along to the Bachmann folks about my experience. I thought they might like to know how their stuff is actually being marketed. That particular response should be interesting.
  4. nkp174

    nkp174 Active Member

    Mountain Man, I'm glad you made it very clear to the manager!

    Interestingly, I find that our period of Colorado modeling is underrepresented! Early modeling in general is!
    Have you ever seen a Colorado Central layout? How about a Silverton Northern? A DB&W? A Uintah pike? A D&RG or especially RGW? A F&CC pike? I've seen many freelanced D&RGWs, a few RGS, and a zillion D&RGWs of the 40s & 50s. There are some many railroads that don't get modeled...and each one has interesting aspects.

    Also, as Shaygetz talking about the lost aspects of the hobby from the era of John Allen...the fun with the hobby. I see far more of it here on the forum than in the pages of MR. I find dinosaurs in the scenery and diesel salesmen being lynched more interesting than another waycard system for operators. I think the magazines take it too seriously. While I plan on adding LPP that represent people in the old pictures of the South Park, I also plan to add midgets, really fat people, and all sorts of interest people.
  5. N Gauger

    N Gauger 1:20.3 Train Addict

    I too remember your original posts. It's great that the manager realizes the importance of Customer Relations. I have been to a few seminars by highly acclaimed companies, they all say the same thing.

    Customers are knowledgeable - some more than others. They are equal in one aspect, they all consider the sales people they speak to - to be an expert on their subject.

    Every customer thinks - "If they are getting paid to do this - they MUST know what they are doing.

    The "second" a customer makes eye contact with a salesperson, that human ceases to be an individual, that person is NOW the company he or she works for..... i.e.: they "become" Best Buy, Honeywell, BNSF, Trump Inc, and Microsoft, etc and a bad rep, can scar a buyer for life... good experiences are told to friends, bad experiences are told to everyone....

    Good idea writing the mags too.. Hope you get good responses!!!
  6. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    Good for you for setting the record straight for the manager! :thumb: An employee like the one in question is a real liability for both the store and for customers seeking guidance.
    In this time of increasing internet sales and dwindling brick-and-mortar hobby shops, many modellers are unaware of how much a well-run hobbyshop can contribute to one's over-all enjoyment of the hobby. I've had the good fortune over the years to experience many, now, sadly, gone. A couple of them closed upon the death or retirement of the owner, and a couple more changed their focus away from trains, then folded when the latest craze fizzled. My present LHS is currently up for sale, and although the owners have stated that they wish the employees to be included in the package, I fear the direction potential new owners might take.
    The store is a full-service hobbyshop, with a large craft section, in addition to RC cars, planes, and boats, shipbuilding, plastic models, and a very comprehensive train department, encompassing almost all scales. The employees of each department know their products, and, at least in the train department, there are usually a few knowledgeable modellers on hand to offer advice, comments, or just plain conversation. There's always something "new" in the used section, too, as the store buys collections and estates, and also offer things "on consignment". They do repairs, have an extremely talented custom painter among the sales staff, and treat every customer with respect. If you buy a locomotive, new or used, you can see it run before you close the deal, and if you get it home and find that it won't fit on your turntable, they'll take it back.
    Their prices are competitive, although perhaps not so much with on-line dealers, but the service, selection, and experience of shopping (or even just "browsing") is priceless. I hope that it'll not be lost when the ownership eventually changes.

  7. nkp174

    nkp174 Active Member

    The loss of good hobby shops is always frustrating. We have two hobby shops in particular that I like. One is good hobby shop in a toy store...staffed by model railroaders. The other was sold last year when the owner decided to retire. He had it built up to 3 store fronts with a large selection of O and G items, as well as S, HO, and N. The new owner has consolidated into 2 store fronts and was previously the manager of the HO department.

    The best hobby shop I've ever seen was Toy Train Hobbies in Dayton, OH. It was huge, had great prices, and a massive layout. I've never really heard what happened to it, other than it was doing very well financially and the owner did something foolish.
  8. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    I remember your post about Caboose Hobbies, I hope the manager has dealt with the problem that one employee with a bad attitude can cause. As far as the model railroad magazines are concerned, I no longer subscribe to any of them because most of their articles are irrelevant to my modeling. If they have an article that I can use, I buy them at the local hobby shop, but that means I buy at most one or two issues a year. For prototype modelers interrested in a particular railroad, I think membership in that railroad's historical society is probably of much more value than any of the national magazines. Also when I subscribed to Model Railroader and Railroad Model Craftsman, my wife learned very fast to hate both companies! As soon as you subscribe to either mag, with your firtst issue, you will get monthly rememnders that it is time to renew your subscription even if you renewed for 3 years less than 30 days previous. One of the best things I ever did for the health of our marriage was to discontinue my model railroad subscriptions!
  9. Mountain Man

    Mountain Man Active Member

    In that case, did you see the Grim Reaper atop the skyscraper in that singer's city layout? (temporarily blocking on name...)
  10. Ralph

    Ralph Remember...it's for fun!

    You mean Rod Stewart?
  11. nkp174

    nkp174 Active Member

    No, I haven't seen the issue :-(
  12. lester perry

    lester perry Active Member

    Love the LHS, if you have been paying attention I have been praising the LHS every chance I have. a couple years ago the owner of the lhs closest to me passed away. So I turned to internet stores everyone was saying how great it is and the prices are fantastic. I hate them I can't get the screw that holds the pilot on a mantua berkshire. Now if I know the size of it I can buy a pack of 12,who needs 12 of them? where as I could go to lhs and take loco with me ,he would usually know what size I needed but if not he would find it. then he would sell me one for 20 cents. and I had what I needed. then I discovered a man who lives less than a mile from me bought the buisiness from original owners wife. Was I happy? oh yea. He dosm't have the knowledge but give him some years he will figure it out.

    As far as the sales man gose with Bachman. A few years ago he would have been completely correct. and now he still could be it depends on which Item you were looking at. they still make some junk to sell to beginners(low cost department store stuff. I had the opertunity on day at lhs to speak with bachman big wig,try that on internet store. Anyway I told him I wished they would stop making mrr stuff because the do the hobby more harm than good.
  13. RonP

    RonP Member of the WMRC

    Allot of manufacturers provide sales straight from their websites. I'd suggest buying from the source as you can find the exact product you need and don't have to worry about it being in stock.

    Hobby shops are good and all but when was the last time you had someone at the front desk help you out of a technical bind. Modellers Choice in Hamilton Ontario is a great store, with informed staff. The one i live close to right now (Windsor) ripped me off when buying my zephyr DCC ($380 there thieving off of me) and also have not answered me one damn tech issue sufficiently.

    Needless to say I will not go back there again. Modellers Choice however will be a stop i make whenever i am at the outlaws.
  14. iis612

    iis612 Member

    I am glad that you won that round at Caboose. I had a bad trip there, and will not be returning or ordering from their website.

    As far as the majesty of the Roxcky Mountains...
    How could that EVER become boring? It seems to me that whichever publication is issuing such statements suffers from a rather wide spread condition known as "Rectal Cranial Inversion Syndrome". And, they are a bit hypocritical as well. It does seem that featured layouts often have mountainous terrain. Are they meaning to say that if you are modeling the Ozarks or the Appalachian mountains you are still relevent to the hobby? Mountain scenery is beautiful, and whomever has the patience, time and talent should be praised, regardless of the particular range.

  15. rogerw

    rogerw Active Member

    Ron some thing interesting about buying direct from the manufactures web site. I bought 4 foam incline sets from woodland scenics about 3 months ago. I figured I would go straight to the site and cut out the middle man. Found them for $4.00 cheaper apiece at other sites.wall1:eek:
  16. Mountain Man

    Mountain Man Active Member

    That's the guy! All I could rem3ember was his hair! :mrgreen:

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