mom and pop vs. big hobby shop

127 posts in this topic

Posted · Report post

ok , i'm gonna jump right in to it . could the dying out of the mom and pop shops be due to the lack of interest of the customer due to internet sales? heres why, went up into Michigan this past weekend and thought I would make it a point to drive out of the way to visit a shop that has been advertised for years. went in and wow! kit upon kit, old and new. had to walk through at least six times to take every thing in. BUT heres my problem, I was the only one in the shop except for the two people working, and not once did either one ask if I needed assistance , how im I doing today , nothing! the only time I was spoken to was when they took my money. almost like I was a bother by visit and spending money. (near $50.00). so I ask, is this lack of interest to a customer why they are slowly disappearing. or is it the internet .

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Posted · Report post

No expert here, but stores dissapear for a large variety of reasons, three of which you mentioned.

Lack of interest

Lack of customer service

Shiny new business that looks better(big hobby shop)

Then again this is a large can of worms that everyone has their opinions on why someone shut down. In our hobby lack of interest is key to the largest amount of sales, because if it is not electronic it's not worth it.

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Posted · Report post

Customer service is more a factor than big chain stores or the internet.

My local hobby shop, 2.5 hours away, thrives because they have people that know what they sell and always ask if they can help. He does have decent prices and that helps......but people with sales skills are vital.

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Posted · Report post

Bad customer service is bad for business, plain and simple, more so in this day and age when the customer has more then one option

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Posted · Report post

The LHS is dying because there's a much better, more efficient, and cheaper way to shop–the internet. I can go online at 3 in the morning if I want to, browse the inventory of stores literally around the world, find the best price for what I'm looking for, and buy virtually any kit or supply I can think of, at prices lower than the LHS would charge, spend zero money on gas, and have the stuff arrive on my doorstep in a couple of days.

Why wouldn't you shop this way?

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Posted · Report post

In a week or 2 the internet will all have to charge sales tax and with shipping will swing things back to som local shops Most internet sales are because of convenience..

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Posted · Report post

My biggest problem with my LHS is Customer Service. Last time I went to my LHS, instead of asking what kind of models I put together (since I was in the Model isle), both associates basically pushed me to look at their selection of Gas/ Electric R/C cars because they have an R/C track in front of the store.

Not to mention, I know that from a business aspect, they obviously make more money on the R/C cars versus Little Ol' Model Kits. And when I ask them to order a kit for me, it seems like it ticked them off.

Just like Larry said. I can shop the internet with ease, not have to worry about being bothered when I don't want to be or find someone when I have a question. Their is no pushiness to purchase something. Given I hate paying for shipping because it's unbelievably high, but with the cost of gas and driving a V8, it's worth it so I don't have to deal with traffic, other people, etc.

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Posted · Report post

In a week or 2 the internet will all have to charge sales tax and with shipping will swing things back to som local shops Most internet sales are because of convenience..

Umm, that bill still has to pass, and what I read a few days ago, it had not passed yet

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Posted · Report post

The LHS is dying because there's a much better, more efficient, and cheaper way to shop–the internet. I can go online at 3 in the morning if I want to, browse the inventory of stores literally around the world, find the best price for what I'm looking for, and buy virtually any kit or supply I can think of, at prices lower than the LHS would charge, spend zero money on gas, and have the stuff arrive on my doorstep in a couple of days.

Why wouldn't you shop this way?

Because I ENJOY the hobby shop experience. I like to browse the isles, pick up what I need RIGHT THEN, like a needed paint or thinner or (fill in the blank) and be back at the bench later that same day. On top of that, there is something visceral about being able to touch something, decide at that moment you will like it, and take it home. My LHS knows their regular customers by name, calls them when things are in that they like, have a cool rewards program, etc etc.

On top of that, I personally do not see that much of a savings on things when I buy online by the time you factor in shipping, which has gone up drastically as of late for several reasons. Heck,even if you do have a LHS, almost every week you can get 40% off any one item at Hobby Lobby, so kits can be had for around $14-$18 etc. This is the same reason I also like to go to the contests that have swap/vendor areas. I came home two weeks ago with 7 kits, and was only out $60, no waiting, no shipping.

Having said this, I do buy my share of things online, but most certainly would hate for it to be my only/main option.

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Posted · Report post

Smaller hobby shops have been dying off since the 70's and young boys interest has changed since the fabulous 60's as more sports programs evolved as well as electronics. What was then, will NEVER be the same so if you were there "back-in-the -day," I hope you have fond memories of days gone by.

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Posted · Report post

Because I ENJOY the hobby shop experience.

Enjoy it while you can.

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Posted · Report post

I have a couple of family owned hobby stores locally here. One of them sells more than just model kits. They have slot car, trains, model kits, arts and craft supplies, R/C, candy, rockets, kids scientific projects, pinewood derby, and quite an extensive magazine selection. They don't have internet sales, but if you want something that they don't have, they'll order it for you and have great customer service. Now, the other store also carries different things as well in the store, but has an online catalog service that really makes the money to keep their doors open. It also allows the in store prices to be $3-$5 cheaper than elsewhere. They are very friendly people and sometimes I spend as much time talking to the employees and owners as I did shopping. Plus, lucky for me, both stores are within 2-3 miles of where I live. Gonna miss that when my wife and I move farther away from the area. Then it will most likely be more internet buying and periodic trips into Milwaukee for bulk purchaces.

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Posted · Report post

Enjoy it while you can.

I almost always buy at the LHS, fine store, close and friendly owners. I am blessed.

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Posted (edited) · Report post

The times are changing. I personally rather miss the whole experience of going to the non-chain hobby shop in a small town, perusing an incredibly complete selection of car kits, train stuff, tools and supplies, killing half a rainy afternoon, and going home with my treasure in anticipation of spending the rest of the day building. The store was owned and run by a retired old guy who didn't actually have to make a living from it. Customer service was all anyone could hope for...knowledgeable and friendly with no pressure. The last time this happened in my own life was in the mid 1960s.

Fast forward 35 years. I was shopping CDs in a local book / music chain store, much the same way, and could actually listen to complete tracks and albums before purchasing. Again, i could blow an entire afternoon very pleasantly and usually left the store with $250+ worth of new music, every week. I was also usually just about the only one there. The chain went bankrupt because most music is purchased in other formats online now. These days i rarely buy any music whatsoever.

Good customer service comes from people who care about what they're doing, in any industry or business. When personnel are hired solely on the basis of how cheaply they'll work (gotta worship the all-mighty bottom-line, remember?) why is it surprising that customer service is non-existent?

I DO enjoy the availability of vintage kits from all over the world that the internet offers, but I wish it was possible to have it both ways, and I purchase supplies and current kits from the LHS, even though it's a chain.

But a lot of quality-of-life has vanished, victim to the hysterical pursuit of newer-cheaper-faster-better.

Edited by Ace-Garageguy

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Posted · Report post

For an Aussie, here's my take on the subject guys....

Yes indeed, customer service is poor these days, regardless of the store, makes you walk straight back out when they don't say anything or bother to help you....

On the other hand, my local hobby store is 10 minutes away, always provide good service and has the stuff I need, that's what you want.

I do buy online, however the freight costs are over the top now, so I have 'backed right off' this year....

Cheers

Ray ;)

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Posted · Report post

But a lot of quality-of-life has vanished in the hysterical pursuit of newer-cheaper-faster-better.

The only constant in life is change.

We used to have blacksmith shops... soda fountains... dime stores... cobblers... etc. All gone now. And today's newfangled attractions will one day also be gone, replaced by something else. It's been that way since time began. We can reminisce and wish things were like they used to be in the "good old days"... but the reality is, things change. Always have, always will. IMO you're better off accepting change and embracing it that resisting it and living in the past. (not meant as a comment directed at you, just in general).

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Posted (edited) · Report post

It's interesting how many sociologists and psychologists, not all of them old fossils hopelessly mired in the past, feel that our societal obsession with "connectedness" and "newest toy" have the interesting side effect of cutting off real interpersonal interaction, and making us more and more insular and alone.

It's not hard to find a couple having dinner 'together', but both of them absorbed in texting while basically ignoring each other. Is this really better?

Edited by Ace-Garageguy

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Posted · Report post

Certainly, the days of the "hole in a wall" hobby shop as I knew them growing up is over, done, finis. It takes serious capital to fund a viable retail store, hobby shops included; in the range of $200,000 and up just for inventory (time was, a person could make it go with perhaps $35,000 in inventory, backed up by agressive, almost daily re-ordering, but that was 35 to 40 years ago.

All that said, I much prefer going into a retail store for my hobby needs--while I do order online, seldom is that for anything I cannot access locally. I look at it this way: If I want my LHS to have that bottle or spray can of paint, glue, perhaps some styrene, then I had better be willing to grace their cash register with the purchase price of kits as well. Nobody is going to make it on a dollar here, five dollars there in the hobby business. (Spoken as one who worked both full and part-time in a large hobby shop for years, owned my own for 8 years).

Art

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Posted · Report post

" Nobody is going to make it on a dollar here, five dollars there in the hobby business." Art Anderson

Yup.

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Posted · Report post

The LHS is dying because there's a much better, more efficient, and cheaper way to shop–the internet. I can go online at 3 in the morning if I want to, browse the inventory of stores literally around the world, find the best price for what I'm looking for, and buy virtually any kit or supply I can think of, at prices lower than the LHS would charge, spend zero money on gas, and have the stuff arrive on my doorstep in a couple of days.

Why wouldn't you shop this way?

This is why I want shop this way,all the time.

My LHS is just twenty min.'s away.

I'll browse the net and buy it if I know he can't get it = old kit's.

If its on the market I give him the price I ran across for something and he cuts me a very good deal.

I met him 6 month's after he opened and he is still going strong it's been around 12 years or more.

And if you walk in there he greet's you the way people use to.

Two Guy's were in there buying a RC Plane.

When he found out it was there first time trying something like that,he sold them a beginner setup for $225.00

What they had on the counter before he found out it was there first time was around $600.00 bucks worth of stuff.

Good friend,very nice and HONEST

There was a Hobby Town USA that came to town,stayed under two years and didn't last.

Unfriendly didn't know the hobby,just what's in stock in there store.

NO pre-orders at all unless you throw down a big part of the money up front.

With Stan I just call and it's a done deal.

And anytime you ask Stan about the RC or Model kits he has an answer because he cares about his Friends/Customers and studies up on the latest thing going on.

If he don't know he will check in on it and come up with an answer,good or bad he will do his job and take care of the customer.

I hate that a lot of LHS aren't like Stan,if they were they may be able to stay open.

He out lasted that big ol Hobby Town USA with fair price's and good customer support.

I was in there several time's when people came from Hobby Town with a lot of complaint's.

I'm not knocking Hobby Town USA just the truth about the one that opened and closed very fast,around here.

If your ever in Newnan GA go by Allison Performance Hobbies on Greenville Street.

He doesn't do mail orders.

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Posted · Report post

Poor management, poor customer service. Most hobby shops that are owned by enthusiasts cater to the market that they are passionate about. So if the owner or staff is big into RC cars, that's their focus. You can tell right away that the model car selection is very generic, sometimes just what their wholesaler sends them. There is a local shop in NJ that the owner is a big IPMS military modeler. It's like nirvana for those guys, aftermarket bits etc for those subjects. One day I was there and went up to the counter with about $50 worth of basswood and Evergreen plastics. The owner smiled and asked me what I was working on. When I told him, he looked down and said, "oh, cars.." and then treated me like I had a disease.

It gets worse when the owner is away and the store is left in the hands of youngsters. I recently was at a shop in PA, where again I spent about $100 on supplies and tools. The two kids working there were too busy cutting up and joking between themselves, as they fiddled with RC stuff, to really be focused on a customer.

If I had a hobby shop, I'd make sure I knew enough about every category to have an intelligent conversation. I would treat every customer like my best friend. I don't care what they're into, I would be enthusiastic about it since I do indeed want them to buy those things from me. I'd make sure everyone left the shop with a smile.

To illustrate it... my wife and I go out for dinner and drinks maybe once a week. There are a lot of choices locally but we always wind up going to the same place. Same beer we'd get anywhere, food is good but no better than at the other local pubs. Why do we go there? Very simple... they have the best bartenders I've ever witnessed. Every one of them remembers our names like we're their best friends and remembers what we drink and our usual food order. They are beyond friendly and very efficient. They make the evening spectacular, No wonder this pub gets our money each and every week. Hobby shops could take a lesson from them!

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Posted (edited) · Report post

How very fascinating. Apparently there IS more to business than just the "bottom line". Who woulda thunk it.

Edited by Ace-Garageguy

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Posted · Report post

I buy all my kits online, why, even with shipping is still cheaper then buying from my LHS, period

I buy all my paints and other supplies 98% of the time at the LHS, its cheaper then online

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Posted · Report post

How very fascinating. Apparently there IS more to business than just the "bottom line". Who woulda thunk it.

Not too many businesses stay in business based on "nostalgia." ;)

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Posted (edited) · Report post

Not too many businesses stay in business based on "nostalgia." ;)

Uh, Harry...posts 20 and 21, the two I'm referring to, are about businesses that are thriving because of good value for money and customer service, not some sappy nostalgia trip. They apparently realize that to maintain a viable bottom-line, it's good to have some awareness of how other things factor in.

Edited by Ace-Garageguy

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