train stuff hard to find (a rant)

Discussion in 'Getting Started' started by eve_9d9, Feb 14, 2007.

  1. eve_9d9

    eve_9d9 Member

    :curse: Youd think in a city as big as Toledo, there would be a decent hobby shop......well you would be wrong. I mean I know its not a major city, but jeez, theres one hobby shop, and they are always out of everything. Even simple things are hard to get. If anyone saw my post on 90 degree crossings, I went to the shop to buy 2 n gauge 90 crossings, they didnt have any, in fact the only crossing they had in stock was one bachmann ez track or whatever HO gauge crossing. The best place Ive found to buy supplies is Hobby Lobby. it seems kind of sad that I have to go to a lousy big chain store to find a decent selection. Half the fun is going to the small mom and pop store where you know the guy, and can talk shop, look in glass cases full of sweet looking trains and browse around without dodging soccer moms pushing cartloads of scrap book supplies. Hell I dont even have a place to buy locomotives. Does anyone else have this problem or am I overromanticizing things........maybe Im too old school?
  2. Cannonball

    Cannonball More Trains Than Brains

    Wal-mart has killed Mom & Pop. They can't compete because they can't buy supplies in bulk for discounted costs like the big chains do. If you don't buy in bulk, you pay a higher price and that means your customers have to pay a higher price. If they can get an item you sell for $5 or $10 cheaper at Hobby Lobby or somewhere else, that's where they are going to go. If your customers are gone, you're selling even less than before and eventually go out of business. The only way for a Mom & Pop store to survive these days is to run an internet store to keep the bricks and morter store alive.
  3. RobertInOntario

    RobertInOntario Active Member

    I agree with you about the "mom & pop" shops -- they're great. I'd sooner go to them any day than a dept. store. Even though the LHS prices might be higher, you certainly can enjoy good fellowship with the staff and get helpful advice ...

    But what about buying things online as an option? You don't get the personal service (unless maybe you dealt repeatedly with one store by phone or email), but that's where many of the deals are. Ebay is also a good option as I've bought quite a few items from eBay. Overall, I've purchased some quality items (from eBay) at decent prices and it's kind of fun to receive things in the mail.

  4. eve_9d9

    eve_9d9 Member

    buying things online is great, but I hate waiting for it. Plus I like the browse factor. When I sit and look at my setup, and inspiration hits I want to be able to run to the hobby shop grab a few things and get to work, not run to the comp, place my order then wait til next weekend to play. As a person with a long houred job, a 13 month old running around, and the responsibilties of a household, I have precious little time to enjoy my hobby, and I want to spend that time in a real shop, or working on my layout. Not sitting in front of the comp, and waiting for the ups guy........god Im ranting again...he hehehe ....maybe I need to open a train shop. You guys are right though, hobby lobby is cheaper, but if the selection was better at the real hobby shop, I'd be willing to take the wallet hit for the fun of shopping in a enjoyable atmosphere.
  5. cedarcreekrr

    cedarcreekrr Member

    I am lucky to have local hobby shops close enough to go to. Phils hobby shop, Hobbyland & 1st place hobbies all are within 50 minutes of me. I find by the time I pay shipping for online items it all equals out.
  6. railohio

    railohio Active Member

    Technically there aren't any in Toledo. Hobbytown is in Holland and Rider's is in Sylvania. :D J&M that just closed was in Maumee. (I don't consider Hobby Lobby to be worth a stop.)

    If you think being a modeler is bad try being a historian. At least there's a mediore place to buy models in the area. If I want a decent selection of railroad books I have to travel to Wings hobbies on the west side of Cleveland. :rolleyes:
  7. RobertInOntario

    RobertInOntario Active Member

    Yes, you have good points about browsing through a hobby shop and getting inspiration. But I was thinking of the web and eBay as next-best options. So instead of spending time in shops browsing, you could spend that same time browsing on the net -- I use the web a fair bit for research whether it's shopping or learning about the history of various locos or railroad companies. I think that's what I would do if I were in your situation.

    I can certainly relate to having a lot of demands on your time. I have two sons (ages 3 & 6) and they keep us very busy. But I also involve them in my hobby, to a point, and I'm sure you could do that too in the years to come. Just some thoughts.

  8. nachoman

    nachoman Guest

    Your comment is true just about everywhere these days. You can get by purchasing larger items like locomotives and track online. those things I can plan ahead for and I am more willing to wait. But sometimes I am building somehing, and there is one detail I need, or another bag of track nails, or some gound foam to finish a project, a jar of paint, and wish I could just run up to the store...

    I'm lucky and have a decent train shop just a few miles from here. When I lived in utah, i had to get creative and scratchbuild much of what I wanted, or just wait.

  9. slekjr

    slekjr Member

    It is sad that a lot of the local hobby stores are gone but it is simple economics. You have to be able to adapt. My opinion is that some of these stores opted for high rental high vision sites. Most cna't compete. I know of one store I visited last summer. I needed some flex track for a test track. at 7.95 a section you can bet I didn't buy it there. I used to be in the auto parts business and always figured if I sold and item and made a buck it was more than I made not selling the item. No one has any problems with paying a fair price for anything but no one wants to be ripped off.
  10. Renovo PPR

    Renovo PPR Just a Farmer

    I’m not sure how you all define an Internet store but in most cases train dealers also sell through the Internet just like back in the old days when they took phone orders. I have 5 fairly stocked train store located no more than 45 minutes from me and I live in the middle of nowhere surround by cows. The cows are mine though.

    N gauge was hard to located even when I was a kid and there were far more hobby & train stores. However I did order many cars from dealers who advertised in train magazines.

    So in my opinion nothing has changed that much in the past 30 years except I use a computer to place an order instead of the phone.

    Since I now only operate O gauge I do not find it to be true that the Internet is the cheapest for trains. In fact the so-called Super Internet Stores are always higher than my favorite train stores.

    If you like MTH you might want to try Jims Train Shop yes-even he has a web site now.

    I use a very small train store for my Lionel & Williams trains. The name is Tire Hill and even if he has to place an order it take less than a week.

    Genes is somewhat higher but they have a 20% off everything sale right now and this makes them very competitive. I use the one in Altoona, Pa. They have a nice selection of HO, N and even scenery.

    Finding what you want is easy it just takes the knowledge of where to go and who carries what.

    [FONT=&quot]I find that the larger Internet Stores are the Wal-Mart’s of the Internet they only offer price sometimes a product that is in stock[/FONT]
  11. jbaakko

    jbaakko Active Member

    I'm glad I live a block from a HUGE hobby store, and also have 4 more trains only stores in the close area around me! I can remember the days of the local shop in Michigan though, it was either order online, drive 15 mins to a small (yeah, think bedroom sized) shop with little in it but some cars I bought the first time I was in there, or drive 2 hours to one of two others (Marquette & Iron Mountain, IM being a Hobby Town USA).
  12. Jim Krause

    Jim Krause Active Member

    I must be "lucky". I only have to drive 65 miles in either direction to get to a hobby shop. By Montana standards, thats just down the road. We have very well stocked shops and the one store in Missoula has a great book section. Our little local shop went out of business because there just wasn't the volume required to keep it viable. Also they stocked only very basic stuff. Code 100 rail, #4 turnouts, train sets etc. Retirees and work by internet people. are showing up in larger numbers here so the LHS's are surviving for the moment.
  13. Torpedo

    Torpedo Member

    We are everywhere. There is no escape. sign1

    On a more serious note: Hobby shops have always been a precarious business. I recall reading that the new hobby shop failure rate was almost as high as that of new restaurants, which is something like 50% in the first year, and I read that in pre-internet times. Add in the internet and big box retailers sucking off sales with their toy departments and it's a pretty tough hill to climb for anyone wanting to start a LHS.

    Like it or not, the retailing model for many products has shifted dramatically in the last decade. Hobby supplies is just one area that has been affected.
  14. RobertInOntario

    RobertInOntario Active Member

    I still stand by what I said earlier (about using the Internet as a backup plan) but I can't help but comment how fortunate I am to have two really good hobby shops very close by. I have one that is about 1/2 a mile from home, and another one that specializes in model trains only that is literally a 3-minute walk from my work! (And there are even a few others within a 30-40 minute drive).

    This is so surprising to me because I grew up in the country -- in the sticks -- where most urban centers were a good half hour car ride away and LHS's were even further away in large cities. Now I live in Toronto and I'm spoiled (still miss the country though!!).

  15. ScottyB

    ScottyB Member

    My LHS charges above retail for most items, so they lost my business. 99% of what I buy is online. This hobby takes a lot of patience to begin with, it just takes a little planning ahead to get things to arrive around the time you would use it. (Never mind the fact there is ALWAYS something you can be doing while waiting for supplies...)

    The funny thing is, I would pay more at my LHS than online just to get it sooner and to support my local community. If my LHS would offer things at 10-20% off retail, I would be there every week!

    But, instead they keep hanging on to those boxes that have sat there for years, still being marked higher whenever the MSRP goes up...

    It has nothing to do with Wal-Mart (they don't sell trains). Most LHS owners just need to take a course in basic economics.

  16. KATY

    KATY Member

    It's the same thing with photography shops. They used to be very prevalent, but now try to find one. Couple of super shops with limited equipment, but everything seems to be the internet these days. It's just the times we live in. Personally I like to do both, visit a local train shop, we have several good ones in the Kansas City area, and wait for the UPS man to bring me that package I ordered a few days ago. It's like Santa Claus anytime you can afford it!

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