Minor Good News Mostly Very Very Very Bad News

Discussion in 'Getting Started' started by rockislandmike, May 25, 2002.

  1. rockislandmike

    rockislandmike Active Member

    Just got back from a trip to my favorite train store in the city - he's going out of business. A store in town called Hobby Wholesale (about five minutes from my fave store) expanded their selection of trains a few months ago, and slashed prices crazy low. Word has it they're trying to get rid of all the other train stores in town - one down, two to go (with one just hanging on the edge after its owner passed away three months ago as it is).

    I'm quite sad- mostly for Marc, the owner. I only joined the hobby about nine months ago, and Marc has bequeathed about 2/3 of all my model railroad knowledge over that time. Unfortunately, what with the slow summer months, and the bastards at the store above, he just can't make it work anymore.

    SIGH. I think it's time to open that 12yo bottle of single malt.

    PS - the only minorly slim news is that I got a P2K GP7 (ATSF) for 40% off...............................
  2. bobrien

    bobrien Member

    Micheal I know the feeling well.
    I live about 70kilometers from the nearest any-good-at-all hobby shop and have been carefully building up a good relationship with the owner over the past 5months, only to find that he is selling out to an Asian family. Bummer!:(
    And his store has arguably the best selection of locomotives, building kits and track accessories in the city.

    So my plan now is to spread my 'relationships' further afield to cover all bases. Only problem is, BIG city, lots of traffic and so long time to get to everywhere.
    Thank God the Gauge is here to answer the questions.
  3. rockislandmike

    rockislandmike Active Member

    No doubt. Thank the gods for The Gauge.
  4. IMRL393

    IMRL393 Member

    So far I've been lucky that:

    1. The discount stores in the QCA are clueless about good railroad equipment - push a lot of Model Power, with P1K as "Top of the line". No P2K, Kato or Stewart anything! Atlas only makes track, THEY think!

    2. My store (Midwest Trains in Bettendorf) is associated with one of the major MRR clubs in the area - so is supported by the club as well as knowledgable "independents" such as myself.

    3. The store stocks RI when ever possible! For some reason, the RIL is popular here - go figure!

    Hopefully this will continue -

    Why, I'll even travel all the way from Davenport to Bettendorf (must be a good 8 miles!) after I move to support them!


    Sorry about your "loss", Mike!

    Maybe the Asian folk will continue a good thing, Bruce!

    - George
  5. Vic

    Vic Active Member

    A Crying Shame

    Sorry to hear about that. A hobby shop is a "a labor of love" because one's never going to get rich in the hobby business. What's the "crying shame" is that the "mom and pop" retailer who has been in business for years is now put out of business by the discounter.

    But...don't blame it all on the discounter.....the majority of the responsibility lies with the distributors who sell to them. They are a "two faced" bunch:eek: They sell to the discounter at one discount and to the mom and pop operation at another.

    The mom and pop is lucky to get a discount of 40%+10%. While the discounter who will buy more merchandise will often get up to 50%+10%+5% and free shipping to boot!!!:eek:

    But there's an even worse side to this issue....The storefront discounter in the hobby business is usually just a "flash in the pan" After a year or two he gets so far in debt to the distributor that he can't hang on. He's turning a high volume but a marginal profit.

    Now...two hobby shops are closed and gone:eek: and the modeler is left with no where local to buy his goods.
  6. Matthyro

    Matthyro Will always be re-membered

    In some ways this sounds like the Walmart way. First I have nothing but admiration for Sam Walton who showed other retailers just how it should be done but in so doing has virtually wiped out many mom and pop businesses and even some of the old big guns like K-Mart . No K-marts left in Canada and who knows how long they will last in the USA. Now most wholesalers work on pricing tables where the more you buy, the lower the price so if mom and pop stores want to continue, they should learn from successful store like Hemlock Junction in Milton Ontario which always gives great prices and turns stock over quickly. They tell me business is just going nuts and they are having fun keeping up with the demand. Too many other mom and pop hobby stores try to work on too high profit margin percent. You can't put percent in the bank. Take a lower profit margin percent and turnover will produce more profit, That's what Walmart does and any retailer if they are smart, can also do. I spent many years in the retail field and left those companies that changed to higher profit margin percentage and watched them fail.
  7. roryglasgow

    roryglasgow Active Member

    I'm no business or legal expert here...but would it be possible for the mom-and-pop businesses to somehow band together and make their purchases as if they were one large company? I'm thinking of something like a non-profit organization that they all participated in somehow... Is that legal? Has anyone tried to do something like that in the hobby-shop world?

    It might work something like this: all of the shops put in their orders to their purchasing organization. The purchasers make a large order, then split the shipment up and forward it to the individual stores.

    I dunno...I don't have much business sense...but it would be nice to figure something like that out so we could still have the "good" hobby shops...
  8. IMRL393

    IMRL393 Member

    Several universities in Iowa have done exactly that - band together as a group to be able to buy scientific and office supplies or other goods (on-line Chemical journals, for example) at a cheaper price.

    I think the "theory" is sound, Rory!

    Not sure about the "practice" - how many shops would be needed, buying what from whom, etc.

    - George
  9. N Gauger

    N Gauger 1:20.3 Train Addict

    Buying Consortums

    Well, there ya go.... Another small store being "eaten alive" :( :(

    Rory, the company I work for belongs to a Buyers Club, There are about 30 of us (companies) that have a "Pool" number when we buy appliances.

    We give the pool # when we order and it's charges to us with the number attached. The computer thinks that the same "Virtual Business" is buying the items , but charging & shipping to different addresses.

    And we can get 30" gas ranges for $200.00 US - Awesome price..

    If Mom & Pop were able to get together, this would work. But, most Hobby shops like to compete for business, therefore capitalism says they shouldn't join together :(

    Mores the pity... :( :(
  10. IMRL393

    IMRL393 Member

    Of course, if they were in different towns, with different customers (like the Iowa colleges), it might work.

    The trick is finding someone to pull them together.....

    - George
  11. roryglasgow

    roryglasgow Active Member

    That's what I was kinda thinking, George. Of course, individual shops within each city would probably want to compete against one another, but shops that are some distance apart may not have that same...uh...competitive spirit. And besides, if it could get people to start buying from their local shops more rather than going to the discounters, then "so what?" if you're still competing with the ma-and-pa shop across town?

    I remembered a little while ago that a friend of mine had a similar idea for schools to buy school supplies. But someone else beat him to it. Still, that's probably where I originally got the idea...
  12. Vic

    Vic Active Member

    A purchasing consortium is just like a chain....its only as strong as its weakest link....just buying doesn't make it work. All members of the group have to agree to only buy from a certain sources and they have to guarantee the source(s) a certain dollar volume. In a small consortium like a group of hobby shops if only just a few "stray from the flock" the chain breaks..

    Secondly, the group has to be large enough to (if you will excuse the expression) "bully" the suppliers into larger discounts. This is how Wal~Mart as just a single retailer lowers its wholsale merchandise prices to be able to discount on the retail level.

    So called "buying clubs" are just so much "smoke". Again Wal~Mart is the prime example with their Sam's Clubs. Often the same item is cheaper in the walk-in Wal~Mart than it is in the "membership" Sam's Club. "Exclusivness" is a big factor in merchandising both on the wholesale and retail levels.

    The whole matter goes back to the old Theory of Supply and Demand. Nobody "has" to have hobby supplies. They are not like food or furniture or clothing. Simply not an essential item and a limited market. Compared to essential items the numbers are just microscopic and the result is small discounts to the mom and pop retailer and little or no discount to the consumer.

    Its all just a "game":D .....Called "Who Can Out-Fox Who" and walk away with the $$$$$$$
    :D :D :D
  13. kf4jqd

    kf4jqd Active Member

    Hobby Dealers


    Sorry about your lost. :( I have already talked to my local hobby shoppe about me moving this summer. He said he will ship the stuff to me and bill my account! He told me that he ships all over the country. Plus he honors ALL Walther's sales!

    You could go directly to walther's and order you "toys". I know it's not fun to eaite for the mail or going to the local shoppe.

    Best of luck,
  14. Wyomingite

    Wyomingite Member

    Local Hobby Shops

    Hi There,

    My local hobby shop is a hundred and sixty miles away. I bought a new ConCor Hudson from them about six months ago. It did'nt go around the layout twice before it up and quit. I drove back for a replacement and the replacement lasted about an hour before it up and quit. What happened was what I call the driveshaft carrier bearing melted out.

    Rather then make another drive I sent it back to ConCor for repairs. Would you believe the repairman Dave called me and told me that engine is really screwed up. I asked what the problem was and he told me that engine has well over a hundred hours on it.

    I told him about both engines and he told me that Hobby shop really put it to you. He wanted eighty eighty dollars to completely rebuild it and I told him to scrap it. I have three other Hudsons and can't brag about anyone of them. Maybe I'm just plum unlucky.

    I will get over to the Hobby Shop to give them a piece of my mind but dought it will help any. Anyway no more local hobby shop and no more ConCor. :mad: Ron
  15. bobrien

    bobrien Member

    well hey - I now go back to my original comments in this thread and give you an update..

    Actually got to meet the new Asian owner today and it seems I might have to take back my misgivings :)
    The guy is an ex-Korean Air Force officer AND he is a very keen railway modeller !!!:D :D :D
    PLUS - he has offered me a 15% discount if I keep shopping there for all and any purchase!! :D
    Boy am I in clover !!:cool: :cool: :cool: :cool:

    Needless to say, left the store with a pile of stuff and a bloody big smile.
    Sometimes it just doesn't all go bad does it :D :cool:
  16. Dave Flinn

    Dave Flinn Member

    Local Hobby Shops

    Some interesting observations here. My local shop is about a 45 minute drive for me, and is a very small "mom and pop" operation, located in a rural area. The nearest other (and larger) hobby shop is probably a good 20 miles from them. They always treat me well, and will often give a discount. They don't show any obvious signs of going belly up, but I think a large part of their business is custom painting, rather than just sales of "stuff." They are also into cars, trucks, planes, rockets, etc., so they are not dependent on just us railroaders. They also have an operating layout set up in the store and there is a local group that comes in regularly to work and operate.

    Some things they have to order for me, and the delivery times probably aren't as swift as if I dealt with a bigger store. However, in my situation, this does not usually present a problem. I usually visit the store once every couple of months. When I get my layout going, which is now just in the planning stages, I may have to visit more frequently.

    Anyway, I guess the point I'm trying to make here is that a lot depends on where you and the shop are located, and what they offer. I certainly don't think we can set any hard and fast "rules" as to the destiny of the mom and pop shop.
  17. rich maiorano

    rich maiorano Member

    i can't even find one in my area thats any good did find a very nice tinplate layout in my travels yesterday was in a other closed hobby shop will keep on looking i too like the persoal touch got two more to go check out that i know of wish me luck:confused:
  18. gromit

    gromit New Member

    Hobby Shops

    There's two local hoppy shops in my area, only one I've checked out. It was way over priced for my tastes, anywhere from $100 over to three fold the price on items I've seen on the net. Now I'm willing to pay a few dollars more than mail order, cause I can see what I'm getting right away, but the prices I've seen at the one shop are more like price gouging in my opinion. I haven't checked out the other shop yet, it's smaller, specializing in trains instead of selling everything from collectibles, coins, hobbies and trains.

Share This Page