Your Local Hobby Shop

Discussion in 'Getting Started' started by hooknlad, Aug 19, 2006.

  1. hooknlad

    hooknlad Member

    I just wanted to start this thread to get everyones take on their local hobby shop. I buy most of my stuff from ebay and walthers, mostly online sources. Recently I physically visited a LHS in Piscataway NJ. It is called the "Model Railroad Shop". It is a relatively small store, packed to the rafters with everything possible. All types of layout accessories, tools, dcc equip. , etc... When i first saw their prices my jaw dropped. Once i started buying stuff, the prices went down considerably. They took a percentage off each item, i believe it was 15% . All in all, the pricing was below what the internet had to offer . No S&H as well so the pricing was even lower.. Personalized service and friendly helpful hints made my visit very pleasureable . My wallet departed with $300, but it was well worth the visit... Ie. I picked up a NCE power cab sarter system complete for $145... I picked up 2 - DZ123 decoders $15 a piece.
    Please tell us a little about your LHS - perhaps we can generate economy in our own backyards, rather than dealing with faceless people on the internet.
    Thanx again,
  2. N Gauger

    N Gauger 1:20.3 Train Addict

    Neat Review! :) My LHS is basically the same, friendly servise... Mom & pop operation... Discounts after a few purchases.. (I've been dealing with them for over 20 years)

    I do find things cheaper on e-bay - (Not many though) but I always seem to buy it in the store... something about holding it and inspecting it before you buy - I guess :D :D :D
  3. lionelfan

    lionelfan Member

    I absolutely hate buying on line or ebay. I prefer to buy at my LHS or trainshows or swapmeets. I like to see what I am buying and know I am getting what I am paying for. Plus the friendly people at the store and conversations with other customers and rail nuts make it worth while. In major citys trainshows and LHS are plentiful, but small cities online or ebay may be the only source for purchases.
  4. jim currie

    jim currie Active Member

    guess if i had to call somthing a LHS it would be a hole in the wall store in Phoenix (150mi) called An Affair With Trains
    they have a great staff and a huge slection of scratch building supplys prices are not as cheep as on line but not that much out of line.
  5. Herc Driver

    Herc Driver Active Member

    I've bought on line...from well-known stores...but I'd rather buy from my LHS. There is only one in Charlotte, NC that is worth dealing with. Although it's a national "chain" type store, their prices are quite a bit lower than the other "chain" store here in town. I agree though...there's something about holding the product and seeing if it's ok before buying it that I prefer over online buying. Plus, I know I can always return something.

    For me the biggest benefit is service...walking into a store, being warmly greeted, having my questions answered, and thanked when I make a purchase. Sure I could save money online, but I know if I don't support my LHS with purchases from time to time (well...maybe more often than that) one day they'll be gone and with them will go all the knowledge about the products I buy. I just returned from Columbus, OH and they have two really good train the one store, the owners/staff always say hello, ask about my family, show me all the newer engines they've received since I last visited - even though it may have been six or more months since my last visit. The other store's staff never say hello and make it clear that I'm not a "regular" who merits their time and attention. Sorry to say, I try to buy as little as possible from that store. Service, all things being equal, is king.
  6. TruckLover

    TruckLover Mack CH613 & 53' Trailer

    I usally get stuff off e-bay and Walthers also but I do go to my LHS alot to. The 3 that are the closest are, Arnies's Trains (Great and so nice and helpful), Milepost 38 Trains (give you milepost money for every $20 spent and after you get $100 milepost money, you get $10 off your next purchaces, ITS A GREAT IDEA, IT KEEPS ME GOING BACK), and The Train Crossing (give you 10% off if you pay with cash and 5% off if you pay with a check and also a nice mom and pop shop)

    I guess im pretty lucky for having 3 train stores aound me. How many LHS do you guys have within a resanable driving distance?
  7. spitfire

    spitfire Active Member

    I'm pretty lucky. My LHS is quite large and very well-stocked. They only carry train stuff, N, HO, and O. (Sorry Mikey - no G) I've made quite a pest of myself there so the guys all know me by name. I'm always assured of a warm welcome - the words friendly knowlegable staff come to mind here. ;) becuase they really are!! They'll point out new stuff they know I'd be interested in, they'll sit and talk to me for 20 minutes about my layout, let me test run any loco i might want to buy.... you sure don't get that on the internet!! In addition to all the latest loco's and rolling stock they have huge supply of detail parts, scratchbuilding supplies, paint, books etc., all the Walthers Cornerstone kits, a brass cabinet, etc, etc. Also, they carry Canadian items, the special limited runs that you will never see at Walthers or any of the discount etailers. And add to that, the fact that in my city there's another LHS just like this one on the other side of town... Yep, I'm pretty lucky.
    :D :D :D

    As for internet shopping, being in Canada complicates things somewhat. US Etailer prices are lot lower than at my LHS, but the shipping, customs and dollar exchange rate add quite a lot to the final price. In the end, you only save a little bit by shopping online. And of course you have to wait for your order to arrive.

    Herc Driver raises an important point. Shopping at our LHS keeps them in business. I would hate to have to rely on the internet when I've run out of glue, or just need another piece of strip styrene to finish something I'm working on.

  8. shaygetz

    shaygetz Active Member

    We have three. Bobe's goes after all modelers---RC, static models, D&D, etc.---but that works out because one can find a cool non-railroading project that can go on the layout. Trains By Johnson is OK---I'm glad they are there but they do make me miss M.B.Kleins in Baltimore. Most of my buying is done at the L&N Depot Railroad Museum in Milton. They give a 10% discount and will order anything you need from Walther's---and all the profit goes towards maintaining the museum.
  9. SeriousSam

    SeriousSam Member

    We have just one train shop here in town. Its called Train Store And More..or something hehe. I usually buy stuff off Ebay. But with shipping, it comes to about the same as my LHS. I have not ordered anything from his Walther's catalog. I wonder if he will sell them at the retail price or give some sort of discount. Unfortunately, he does not have a very big selection of products. He does have all the paints and tools and scenic materials. But as far as locomotives or rolling stock, or track accesories, it is very limited. I also buy stuff off Mike's website at Hes got some great prices and products that my LHS does not carry.
  10. Knighthawk

    Knighthawk Member

    I try to go to Broughdale Hobbies, my LHS, here in London, Ont, as often as possible. The service is always great, and the staff always take the time to make sure that all of your questions are answered. Not only that, but if there is something in particular that you are looking for, they will go to the ends of the earth to find it for you, at the best possible price to boot! I've gotten many things for my layout, and for my model rocketry hobby, as well, that I could not even find online! To top it all off, they always take the time to ask how my whole family is doing. To all of the Hobby Shop owners and employees out there who really care about their customers, I say a big THANK-YOU!:thumb:
  11. pennman

    pennman Member

    Hey Micheal, know which shop your talking about its a great place. Not to many like that left. I've since moved to Nashville area of TN about 20yrs now and we dont have a decent hobby shop around here. The ones that are here are more concerned with large scale or charging list. We had one shop for a while that looked good but he went away rather quickly. Would luv to see anther one pop up until then I have the internet. But theres nothing like touching holding and being able to actually see what your getting.
  12. hooknlad

    hooknlad Member

    Keep the feedback going folks, it's generating alot of kind words as usual.. My LHS is roughly 10 miles away, but it is well worth the trip !!!!
  13. lester perry

    lester perry Active Member

    I have 5 within a 30 mile radius of my home. One is mainly 0/027 scale. I have one that is about 1 mile from my house. It is in the mans home. He has a lot of stuff in stock and can get almost anything you want. His prices are 20% under list. The only problem is he doesnt have set hours and it is hard to catch him there. And there is a new one just opened about 20 miles south there is some potential there but very small start up. There is a shop about 15 miles specializes in DCC, prices are really good. I am about 60 miles from M.B.Kliens in Baltimore. So I guess I am lucky
  14. RobertInOntario

    RobertInOntario Active Member

    Here in the Toronto area, I'm quite lucky in that I have a LHS that is 5 minutes from where I live called Hornet Hobbies (HH). And there is another LHS that is literally a 3-4 minute walk from where I work called Railview Trains (RT).

    I recommend both highly. HH carries new and used products as well as other modelling hobbies, whereas RT is exclusively model trains. HH is more "general" in that it can cater to the casual person who is just dabbling in the hobbie while RT is much more for the very serious model train modeller. Both shops meet my needs and are especially convenient. I often visit RT during lunch hours and stop in at HH on my drive home or on weekends -- they're almost too convenient! There are several other LHS's in Toronoto, but HH & RT are so good & convenient that I seldom have need to visit any others.

    Their prices aren't bad but I've never bought enough during one visit to ask about discounts. I have, though, bought several items off eBay -- 2 locos and several pieces of rolling stock. All have been excellent except for one coach whose condition was a little rougher than expected. Yes, eBay is a good source and you can certainly get deals there, but you don't get the friendly advice that the LHS's offer -- this, plus the friendships & comradery of meeting fellow modellers are what make the LHS's so good & my preferred way of purchasing new model RR stock.
  15. Doc Holliday

    Doc Holliday Member

    My LHS (really not so local, the next town over) sells everything at or above MSRP, offers no discounts, won't return anything, offers little or no help as they're too busy visiting on the phone or chatting with other customers. I use the internet for most things.
  16. pennman

    pennman Member

    My Lhs

    Well Guys like I said before we dont have much here in Nashville for Nscale. We have Addvarks, ok for odds and ends Southbound trains, they rather do big stuff O,o27 and there is a new place Nscale trains and scenery, hes trying says he offers 10% off but Ive yet to recieve it. Hopefully he will work out to be a decent shop. Either way they are still all an hour away.
    I can say this in my Military travels Ive found some great HS all over the country, Memphis by the airport there isa little hardware store and hobby shop, a hole bunch of neet stuff hidden under the dust. Chatanooga has a few really nice places as well.
    Back in Jersey, Well lets see The train shop in piscataway and one in dunnelen both great places. There use to be a HS in Hieghts town DKB great guy but last I heard he was going out.
    In PA seems you cant spit with out hitting a hobby shop, the seem to tailor to the railroad if there are or where tracks there at one time there will be a hobby shop.
    Lets sum this up fast and easy, Balt, atlanta, chicago, NYC and Dallas all had great shops in them. The most common factor I found in all the good shops was the people iether behind the counter or the other hobbiests. Knowlegble,helpful even envites for coffee,railfanning and a few visits to home layouts to show off there work. Ive meet people from around the world in this hobby some passing aquantances and some I've become long time friends with. Inclosing that LHS is a little more than just a place for supplies at least to me it is.
  17. LoudMusic

    LoudMusic Member

    My parents own a kitchen gadget retail store here in town so I have personal ties to the local retail shops. Unfortunately the guy that repeatedly opens model train shops here in town can't keep them open for more than a year or two. I've found a good looking shop in a nearby town and need to spend some time there one day.

    The personal hands-on experience makes shopping so much more enjoyable. In most cases I might actually pay a little more in a local shop (non-franchise) knowing I'm supporting an individual rather than a corporation.
  18. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Living out here on the northwest fringe of Toronto, I can get to all the Toronto shops. I also get to drop in on shops when I travel with my wife.
    Our in-town shop is an interesting affair. Large, brightly-lit room with a view of 2 railways. Half the room is Thomas and friends. HO layout across the back wall and a club that comes in on Friday nights. Stocks 4 popular scales, but an idiosyncratic selection. Has someone who does painting and detailing. Prices a bit high.
    Next nearest shop is run by slightly more serious modellers. Depth of stock and knowledge. Offer a discount card (15%) if you spend more than so much in a year. prices possibly a bit high.
  19. RobertInOntario

    RobertInOntario Active Member

    Yes, I understand that some LHS's are like that but I personally haven't come across any. And all the ones that I regularly visit -- especially the 2 that I mentioned -- are very helpful and down-to-earth and I've learned a lot from them. I can understand how, in your case, the Internet would be a better source.
  20. My favorite train shop is Davis electronics on main st. in Milford,Ohio!(near Cincinnati)
    It was originally a tv repair and small appliance fix it Emmet's in mayberrysign1 Davis would bring in his trains and the people went nuts for them! It eventually transformed into THE greatest train shop EVER! They carry EVERYTHING...always in stock!
    The store has taken over several adjoining buildings connected by mazelike tunnels and hallways (also filled with museum quality goodies) and is staffed with very knowledgable family and friends.They are also a pre-eminent repair facility! If it runs on a rail they can repair it! I have been in the store when a group from Germany came in.They came to America just to go to Davis Electronics!
    I am posting a link to their website.It is very well organized and easy to use (BEWARE!
    you may need several hours to see all the stock!) The thing I like about their site is that it is tied to their inventory in real time...If it is on the site it is in stock...If you were to purchase the last of any given soon as they check you out it is off the site!
    Oh more thing...I almost forgot ! The best prices I have found ANYWHERE!

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