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Hobby Shops... Are They Viable Today?


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#21 jrherald420

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Posted 17 December 2013 - 05:19 AM

Some thing i havent seen mentioned here is the cost of the Lease. Most hobby shops have an outragous price per Sq Ft to pay for each month as many can not afford to buy a unit or building. Being in the construction trade for so long ive talked to may people we have built for and they all say if i cant get $XXX.00 per sq ft from the empty shell (the person leasing the unit has to pay for their own build out, that alone can be 20,000+ dollars) they own they will just not rent it at all. Pretty stupid mentality. Sadly i have seen these buildings i have built stand for 2-3 years with no one in them. The whole time the owner is paying out of pocket for the building. Its plain old greed. One thing i have seen is if a hobby shop has an R/C track close to them or even one inside or behind the building or set up an onroad track one morning on the weekend they are pretty much set as thats what people like to see and will draw in customers. Selling trains and models will follow if you have one huge attention getter like a race going on. Most owners dont want or care about doing this but to me its just like putting up a billboard or running a tv ad saying LOOK AT WHAT WE HAVE GOING ON HERE!!! 



#22 jeffbrad

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Posted 17 December 2013 - 05:29 AM

What shops in NE Ohio guys? Whistle Stop in Cuyahoga Falls and Parma Hobby are the only 2 I can think of.Best ever was Kittle's in Barberton but he closed years ago



#23 farmer1

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Posted 17 December 2013 - 05:51 AM

The internet is what really brought me back to modeling, the choices and selection are almost endless. I've always lived in a rural area with the nearest hobby shop over an hour drive away. There is a nice Hobby Haven in Des Moines with a good selection of current models, supplies and tools but its just so much easier to get on the net and find what I want, then use my time on projects and save gasoline too. A day or two later its in the mailbox. I do enjoy browsing through the hobby store when I am in town and with all the trains and RC stuff they will probably be there for years to come but if not it really won't affect me.



#24 Harry P.

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Posted 17 December 2013 - 05:52 AM

I think the common idea that kits are cheaper on the internet is a little inaccurate. I can only speak for myself, but the nearest Hobbytown USA to me has kit prices that are, at first glance, higher than the popular on-line kit sellers. Until you factor in the shipping that is.

 

Don't forget to factor in the cost of gas to get to the LHS and back, plus sales tax, on every "brick and mortar" purchase.



#25 Quick GMC

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Posted 17 December 2013 - 05:55 AM

It seems like hobby shops survive on RC these days. Planes, cars and helicopters. The revenue generated from that allows them the capital to stock models and other oddball stuff for the people who will actually come in and buy it. At least that's how it is around here.



#26 Brett Barrow

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Posted 17 December 2013 - 06:30 AM

Having had a little experience in the wholesale and brick-and-morta retail side of this business, I can say that a hobby shop is totally viable today.  I had several customers during my stint in wholesale sales who went from an online-shop they ran out of their homes to opening actual brick-and-mortar stores. 

 

The biggest reason most shops close down is not poor sales, it's that the owners want to retire and have no one willing to take over the business. 

 

Walmart isn't an excuse anymore because they don't sell kits anymore.  Brick-and-mortars have the advantage of being able to provide customer service that the onlines or big-box stores can't provide.  They're people out there willing to pay a little more for that.  Believe me, I've spent 12 years working full- and part-time in a shop that sells at full list prices, customers will pay more if you provide excellent service.  And once you factor in shipping costs for onlines, they're not that great of a deal.  And once internet sales tax goes into effect, the field we be even more level.



#27 Erik Smith

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Posted 17 December 2013 - 06:37 AM

Having had a little experience in the wholesale and brick-and-morta retail side of this business, I can say that a hobby shop is totally viable today.  I had several customers during my stint in wholesale sales who went from an online-shop they ran out of their homes to opening actual brick-and-mortar stores. 

 

The biggest reason most shops close down is not poor sales, it's that the owners want to retire and have no one willing to take over the business. 

 

Walmart isn't an excuse anymore because they don't sell kits anymore.  Brick-and-mortars have the advantage of being able to provide customer service that the onlines or big-box stores can't provide.  They're people out there willing to pay a little more for that.  Believe me, I've spent 12 years working full- and part-time in a shop that sells at full list prices, customers will pay more if you provide excellent service.  And once you factor in shipping costs for onlines, they're not that great of a deal.  And once internet sales tax goes into effect, the field we be even more level.

 

Good insight Brett.  I actually like shopping at hobby shops and it's good to hear something good...

 

One thing hobby shops can do is satisfy the human need for instant gratification - want a model and don't want to wait for days?  Yeah, only one option - buy it at a brick and mortar.  Same with paint and other supplies you run out of in the middle of a building session.

 

I do see people buying kits at HTUSA (highest prices in the area), so price is not always the main consideration.



#28 sjordan2

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Posted 17 December 2013 - 06:59 AM

I think you could say that HobbyTown USA counts as local hobbyshop, since each one is a proprietor-owned and operated franchise. Their overall operation seems to have been pretty stagnant in the last few years, and they have pretty sophisticated resources, but the service quality and inventory vary widely from store to store.


Franchise Units

YEAR U.S. COMPANY OWNED (0) CANADIAN / INTERNATIONAL (0)
2013 156
2012 150
2011 147
2010 151

Edited by sjordan2, 17 December 2013 - 07:01 AM.


#29 Greg Myers

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Posted 17 December 2013 - 07:06 AM

There's nothing like the feeling of walking into a shop with well stocked shelves and being greeted by the owner with a big smile. :D

Then walking down the aisles (more than one ) full of neat stuff, new kits you haven't seen, old kits from a collection and maybe that kit you planed on getting. :lol:

When you pick up that kit that caught your eye and you are surprised at the weight of the box, you check out the side panels only to discover all the options you didn't know came with the kit. What a great feeling, something that doesn't come to you on line. ;)

Now you take it to the counter to pay  and the friendly owner tells you about another new release you didn't know about. Now that's what the hobby shop experience is all about. :P

I can tell you about this because I have done this many times at the two hobby shops I frequent here in Arizona, one in Phoenix and one in Tucson. :)


Edited by Greg Myers, 17 December 2013 - 07:07 AM.


#30 Rob Hall

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Posted 17 December 2013 - 07:06 AM

I like going to my LHS...it's only about 10-15 min from my office, so it's easy to stop by after work.  I frequently buy domestic kits and supplies from them, but the markup on imported kits is such that even w/ shipping buying from Japanese vendors is a substantially better deal.  There are others in the area, incl. one close to home that I visit on occasion as well.



#31 DrKerry

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Posted 17 December 2013 - 08:01 AM

I think it can be a of any of those as a stand alone, or even in multiples combination.

Agreed



#32 Austin T

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Posted 17 December 2013 - 08:33 AM

It seems like hobby shops survive on RC these days. Planes, cars and helicopters. The revenue generated from that allows them the capital to stock models and other oddball stuff for the people who will actually come in and buy it. At least that's how it is around here.

I hate to say so,but that is far from the truth. It will cost the owner 800 for a car that MSRPs at 1000 and sets for eight months. Not to mention Amazon sells the same car for 750.99. The myth that RC holds up hobby shops is one that I believed in as well, then I worked at one. I might even go as far to say RC is a contributing factor to the closure of LHS's, but not drastically.


Edited by Austin T, 17 December 2013 - 08:33 AM.


#33 jrherald420

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Posted 17 December 2013 - 08:40 AM

The biggest complaint about most hobby shops is the cost of the kits. Being a single income family with a 2 yr old i can not see paying 5.00-10.00 over what Hobby Lobby charges at a normal price not using a 40% off coupon. Most have a great selection of spray and bottle paints that i will buy but not the over priced kits. There in one hobby shop in my town that is 95% R/C. They have their kits priced about 1 or 2 bucks lower than Hobby Lobby and they keep all the newest ones stocked. Its not a huge selection but it stays stocked with fresh new kits.

 

***FYI Walmart has models here in Smyrna TN, the section is always trashed and most of the kits are 22.00-27.00 each.



#34 jrherald420

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Posted 17 December 2013 - 08:45 AM

I hate to say so,but that is far from the truth. It will cost the owner 800 for a car that MSRPs at 1000 and sets for eight months. Not to mention Amazon sells the same car for 750.99. The myth that RC holds up hobby shops is one that I believed in as well, then I worked at one. I might even go as far to say RC is a contributing factor to the closure of LHS's, but not drastically.

 

Austin the main reason that your HS is closing is the rent he pays. He is in a major location and it costs lots of money to stay there (100.00 a sq ft and its a 3000+ sq ft building= $$$$$$). If he wanted to relocate to an older part of town his customer base would follow him to the new location. He is just done with the business and thats it. He gave up a long time ago and is tired of dealing with it. 


Edited by jrherald420, 17 December 2013 - 08:46 AM.


#35 jrherald420

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Posted 17 December 2013 - 08:48 AM

I can say from an Ex-r/c racers view that Hobby Town had a ###### selection of r/c's. You are only as good as the product you have on hand. I only drove Losi, X-ray and AE and they carried none of that there. It was only Traxxas and the cheaper ###### i would only let my son play with. If there was a local track closer than Nashville he would be hopping in that department.


Edited by jrherald420, 17 December 2013 - 08:49 AM.


#36 Daddyfink

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Posted 17 December 2013 - 09:09 AM

One of the things we all really do miss is the "Cheers" feeling when hanging out at the LHS.

 

The other store does not have that, unless you are an R/C guy



#37 Quick GMC

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Posted 17 December 2013 - 02:02 PM

I hate to say so,but that is far from the truth. It will cost the owner 800 for a car that MSRPs at 1000 and sets for eight months. Not to mention Amazon sells the same car for 750.99. The myth that RC holds up hobby shops is one that I believed in as well, then I worked at one. I might even go as far to say RC is a contributing factor to the closure of LHS's, but not drastically.

 

I suppose it depends on where you are. We have only one shop and they stock stuff for the local track so it helps them a lot. But you're riight, if they are sitting on the inventory for a while, it isn't doing them any good.



#38 Harry P.

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Posted 17 December 2013 - 02:09 PM

One of the things we all really do miss is the "Cheers" feeling when hanging out at the LHS.

 

I'll admit that the "Cheers" feeling is something the internet can't provide. Obviously buying online is a solitary and anonymous activity. But man, when I think about the fact that I can instantly find anything online, find the cheapest price among all sellers, and have it on my doorstep in a few days with only a few mouse clicks... that's pretty hard to pass up.

 

And when that UPS or FedEx truck stops in front of the house and that big box is left on my doorstep... that's a great feeling!  :D



#39 lordairgtar

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Posted 17 December 2013 - 02:11 PM

I had a storefront for over 15 years. I closed because I couldn't compete with the Walmart down the street.

 

I must have not been a "smart" store owner. I find that statement to be a little insulting Tom.

 I live near a city with several Walmarts, KMarts, Targets, ad nauseum. We also have two big  LOCAL hobby shops and they thrive. We have some specialty shops for the train guys and the armor guys. They do well. They all offer help, places to have contests, keep shelves stocked with cool things, not afraid top special order, offer discounts to clubs, support clubs and loaners alike, and some have an internet presence. Yes, one store closed, but it had bad stock, bad attitudes behind the counter, stupid pricing structure and trashy dirty unkempt stores with wet floors and odors. I can't speak to your experience, but I know what's going on here in Milwaukee, and it's awesome. I will continue to support local biz when possible. When I go to our shops, even just to look around, I am greeted like an old friend. With a combine Metro area encompassing Milwaukee and Waukesha counties , we have over 2 million people, so you can see just how many big stores we have, but the locals can hold their own. I think in regards to WalMart, they had limited choices where the independent stores had variety, service, and smiles. I mean, you never found Tamiya or Hasegawa model or Floquil paints or different adhesives besides the ubiquitous orange tube of Testors, AMT and Revell kits and Testor's paints....and not much of those in any meaningful numbers.



#40 Brett Barrow

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Posted 17 December 2013 - 02:21 PM

There's not a lot of margin on R/C cars and trucks since most shops discount them so much from the outrageous "nobody pays that" super-high MSRP.  R/C parts, on the other hand, can be a gold mine.  Nobody really discounts parts that much, even the onlines.   R/C parts and paint racks are the lifeblood of most hobby shops.

 

The first thing I check out when I enter a hobby shop is the paint racks, if they're well-stocked the shop is most likely doing well financially.  A shop with empty paint racks is not doing well.  I correctly predicted the closure of a couple LHS's when saw they stopped refilling the paint racks.  Within a few months they were closed.