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Best chain stores for buying rocket supplies?
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    6th June 2010
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    Carmel, IN
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    Best chain stores for buying rocket supplies?

    Hi folks,

    I'm wondering if I'm missing any local places for rocketry shopping. Here's what I've found in the Indianapolis area so far, sticking to national chains to get best location-agnostic input:

    Hobby Lobby: reasonable selection of rockets and supplies, no separate parts, discounts and sales often.

    Michael's Arts & Crafts: smaller supply of rockets and engines, no parts, discounts and sales often (currently out of stock of all engines- clearanced, hope they restock!)

    Hobby Town: very large selection including parts, high prices (Estes list price for example)

    Toys R Us: One or two starter kits only, no separate stuff, waste of time

    WalMart: despite several posts from folks on this board about buying stuff there, I have never seen any rocket stuff at any of several WalMarts near me.

    Are there any other places I should look? I generally scavenge on a weekly basis looking for good sales.

    Online I like to use AC Supply Co (if over $100, free shipping, and delivers fast to me because of geographical proximity).

    Any feedback appreciated!

    Marc

  2. #2
    Join Date
    18th January 2009
    Location
    NW Houston, TX
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    If you shop at Target, their plastic bags make *great* parachutes!

    Where do you buy your glues, hobby knives, painting supplies, etc.?
    John R. Thro, NAR #84553 SR
    I first launched a model rocket in June of 2004 and was *immediately* hooked. Today, I have kits or have built rockets from:
    ASP, Custom, Edmonds, Estes, Fliskits, InFlight, Neubauer, PD Rockets, Quest, Red River Rocketry, Rokitflite, Semroc, plus several more scratchbuilt rockets.
    After about a year of being pretty inactive, I've got the bug again in the summer of 2011!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    21st April 2010
    Location
    So central WI, USA
    Posts
    3,344
    glues, paint, sandpaper(ahem coated abrasive) etc. local hardware store .
    rex

  4. #4
    Join Date
    6th June 2009
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    Metro Motown, MI
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    In the Midwest, Meijer's goes hot and cold on rockets. Every few months they seem to get a new stock of stuff, then a few weeks later their shelves are bare. I would guess they only re-stock on rocketry stuff 2-3 times a year.

    They basically carry the Estes RTF starter kits, but I have picked up some cheap engines there from time to time.

    I have heard a couple times they were going to quit carrying rockets, but gone back and they had more starter kits.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    19th January 2009
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    Southern California
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    Quote Originally Posted by JRThro View Post
    If you shop at Target, their plastic bags make *great* parachutes!

    Where do you buy your glues, hobby knives, painting supplies, etc.?

    Home Depot square RED plastic sheets located in big boxes near the exit - intended for use on 'long loads' that extend out of the back of cars or trucks as a safety flag. PERFECT for making parachutes.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    18th January 2009
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    Behind enemy lines in Socialist California
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    4,650
    Here's the story for Central/Northern Cali...

    Hobby Lobby: There are no Hobby Lobby stores here.

    Michael's Arts & Crafts: No rocketry kits or supplies for several years now.

    Hobby Town: Marc G said "very large selection including parts, high prices (Estes list price for example)" and I can totally agree with his statement.

    Toys R Us: No point in looking there. One or two kits, no motors whatsoever.

    WalMart: Varies from store to store. Some carry nothing, some carry kits, some carry kits and motors. Motors are the first to go and never last long enough to be discounted.

    To say California is not a rocket-friendly state is a vast understatement. Most chain stores have simply gotten out of supporting the hobby rather than dealing with the regulations, liability issues, and such. Small hobby shops are the last remaining supporters.

    When rockets are outlawed, only outlaws will fly rockets. I'm guessing the famous "I'm not a criminal, I just want to fly rockets" T-shirts originated here in the PRC.
    Kit (AKA Cranky Kong)
    Total Total Impulse as BAR (2010): 8,466.69 Ns (Equivalent to a 65% M motor.)

    On any number of government watch lists...

  7. #7
    Join Date
    18th January 2009
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    NW Houston, TX
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    624
    Quote Originally Posted by shreadvector View Post
    Home Depot square RED plastic sheets located in big boxes near the exit - intended for use on 'long loads' that extend out of the back of cars or trucks as a safety flag. PERFECT for making parachutes.
    Thanks for the tip, Fred. I'll keep this in mind if I ever want to make a bunch of identical red parachutes... which I may.

    As often as my wife shops at Target, though, I'd never need to buy a plastic 12" - 18" parachute for my own use again if I didn't want to. I use the side of the bag that's covered with target symbols for the parachutes.
    John R. Thro, NAR #84553 SR
    I first launched a model rocket in June of 2004 and was *immediately* hooked. Today, I have kits or have built rockets from:
    ASP, Custom, Edmonds, Estes, Fliskits, InFlight, Neubauer, PD Rockets, Quest, Red River Rocketry, Rokitflite, Semroc, plus several more scratchbuilt rockets.
    After about a year of being pretty inactive, I've got the bug again in the summer of 2011!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    18th January 2009
    Location
    Boise, ID
    Posts
    2,873
    Hobbylink for motors and mid power reloads and Semroc for parts
    TRA #2967 SAM #0512

    "Isn't gravity a funny thing?" - Todd Rundgren

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MT7fK...324A43291EDD47

  9. #9
    Join Date
    19th February 2009
    Location
    Auburn, WA USA
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    1,167
    The situation here in the Seattle area is much as described by o1d dude with a couple of exceptions. We have a regional chain of stores called Fred Meyer and some of them have RTFs, starter sets and motor assortments of the same sort as WalMart in B's and C's only (three motors, four plugs, four igniters and about a dozen squares of wadding in a package).

    Also the trend at WalMarts seems to be that they're getting out of Estes altogether...in the half-dozen or so stores I case aperiodically looking for motors, they have almost completely disappeared.

    I have seen motors at the one of the two Toys 'R Us stores I check once in awhile, including boosters (well, once).
    Bernard Cawley
    NAR 89040 L1
    AMA 42160
    KG7AIE

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by o1d_dude View Post
    Here's the story for Central/Northern Cali...

    Hobby Lobby: There are no Hobby Lobby stores here.

    Michael's Arts & Crafts: No rocketry kits or supplies for several years now.

    Hobby Town: Marc G said "very large selection including parts, high prices (Estes list price for example)" and I can totally agree with his statement.

    Toys R Us: No point in looking there. One or two kits, no motors whatsoever.

    WalMart: Varies from store to store. Some carry nothing, some carry kits, some carry kits and motors. Motors are the first to go and never last long enough to be discounted.

    To say California is not a rocket-friendly state is a vast understatement. Most chain stores have simply gotten out of supporting the hobby rather than dealing with the regulations, liability issues, and such. Small hobby shops are the last remaining supporters.

    When rockets are outlawed, only outlaws will fly rockets. I'm guessing the famous "I'm not a criminal, I just want to fly rockets" T-shirts originated here in the PRC.
    political commentary edited out by moderator.
    Last edited by Pippen; 7th July 2010 at 01:40 AM.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    18th January 2009
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    Behind enemy lines in Socialist California
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    4,650
    political commentary edited out by moderator.
    Last edited by Pippen; 7th July 2010 at 01:39 AM.
    Kit (AKA Cranky Kong)
    Total Total Impulse as BAR (2010): 8,466.69 Ns (Equivalent to a 65% M motor.)

    On any number of government watch lists...

  12. #12
    Join Date
    6th June 2010
    Location
    Carmel, IN
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    4,154
    Thanks for some good discussion here! I'll check out local Meijer stores.

    Glad to hear that Indy isn't so bad as far as government regs versus other states...

  13. #13
    Join Date
    18th January 2009
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    Back up in the woods
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    Marc G - you have many more choices than I have. There are 4 Walmarts and 1 Michael's in my local area, and by "local" I mean within a 2 hour drive. (The closest is a Walmart that is 1 hr. and 15 minutes away.) Last year, all of my local WMs had all of the Esters "Sustainables" as well as some RTFs, the Solar Scouts launch set and the Customizer parts set. Oh, and engines, too. This year, hardly anything. (In some of them, nothing at all.) My local Michael's has carried the same set of Estes kits for the past several years. But they have always had a few things over Walmart: they carried a much broader selection of Estes engines, from 1/4A to D, plus they have the Blast-Off Flight Pack. They also carry The Alpha III Starter Set (I bought mine there), which I have never seen in Walmart. Michael's also carries igniters, wadding, the Maxi-Rod and a wider selection of kits. They also carry modeling supplies.

    Walmart was much better several years ago. When the first one opened here about 10 years ago, it had a HUGE model section with a tremendous selection of Testor's and Model Master paints, airbrush kits, knives, tools, etc., and of course, a boatload of model kits. When I first started looking for rockets there (2004), they had a nice selection of kits in the triangular Launchables packaging. I bought my Gauchito, Lucky Seven, SpaceShip One, X-Prize Eagle and Bullpup 12D kits there. (They had several others. I remember seeing the SpaceShip One E version Starter Set there.) They also had a much larger selection of engines then, and always had a plentiful stock of them. At $4.99/pack, Walmart was THE place to buy engines, too.

    Then, about 5 years ago, the model section disappeared, seemingly overnight. One day it was there, and the next time you stopped in it was gone, with no sign that it had ever existed. About 3 years ago, the rocket kits started disappearing. First the "good" starter sets, then the Launchables-packaged kits, and then the engines. In 2008 the rumor was that Walmart had completely dropped Estes. Then last year, rocket kits and engines came back, but in nothing like the variety and stock quantity of yore. Now they are largely gone again. This fall or next year, who knows?
    Mark S. Kulka NAR 86134 L1, ASTRE 471, Adirondack Mtns., NY
    Opinions Unfettered by Logic • Advice Unsullied by Erudition • Rocketry Without Pity
    In the forest no one can hear you order a grande caffè misto.
    Warning: I brake for invisible squirrels

  14. #14
    Join Date
    16th June 2010
    Location
    Waco, Texas USA
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    57
    I consider Amazon.com a local source. We have the prime shipping scheme and I just picked up 200 2-56 shear pins for $1.52 delivered.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    6th June 2009
    Location
    Metro Motown, MI
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    1,646
    I stopped in the Hobby Lobby near my sister's house on the way to visit Monday, and I was quite pleasantly surprised at the assortment of Estes kits they had in stock.

    I had been there a couple years ago and they had only a handful of RTF and E2X kits -- now, they had a pretty good stock of actual kits along with a fairly decent assortment of motors (a couple of empty hangers, but they had most of the big sellers). And the 40% coupon came in handy.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    6th June 2010
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    Quote Originally Posted by JStarStar View Post
    I stopped in the Hobby Lobby And the 40% coupon came in handy.
    Where did you get the 40% coupon?

  17. #17
    Join Date
    6th January 2009
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marc_G View Post
    Where did you get the 40% coupon?
    http://www.hobbylobby.com/weekly/weekly.cfm
    Blessings,

    John
    NAR#87984

    It can't be my second childhood, I haven't finished my first one yet.

    "When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return." - Leonardo da Vinci

    "If I were giving a young man advice as to how he might succeed in life, I would say to him, Pick out a good father and mother, and begin life in Ohio." - Wilbur Wright, January 10, 1910

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  18. #18
    Join Date
    10th July 2010
    Location
    Richmond, VA
    Posts
    38
    Just wanted to throw in my experiences as a BAR from Richmond, VA and finding stuff. . .

    The Michael's closest to me has a very little bit of stuff, with about 50% being marked for clearance, and only the blast off flight pack and the big C and D engines (forget what the actual engine size was - my stuff isn't that big around) left on the shelf. I bought a Screaming Eagle kit and a Guardian kit on clearance, and got a coupon for 50% off one item when I checked out, that would be good for a week starting three days later. I went back with the coupon and bought a blastoff engine pack (one of two on the shelf) at 50% off ($27.50). . . and got another coupon for 50% off starting in 3 days and good for a week (expiring 7/17). The two blastoff packs had both been opened, so I looked thorugh them carefully to make sure that they were complete. One was and one was not. (I think it was missing one engine and a packet of ignitors.)

    I've checked other Michael's in my travels and found no rocketry section at all to the same low stock levels. I asked one of the clerks at the local store if they were getting out of rockets alltogether or what, and she indicated she thought they were clearing out for new stock. Time will tell I suppose.

    My Wal Mart has nothing for models of any kind.

    Toys R Us has some launch kits, and one of the Estes customizer kits (which I am considering picking up). They have 3 packs of engines that come in some kind of assortment box for around $5.99ea. They had plenty of the mini engines, but no A8-3s, and a few B6-4s. Lots of C6-8s (?).

    There is one local hobby shop in my area that carries Estes and Quest, but their prices are really high. That leaves Hobbytown USA, which has a pretty good selection (Estes, Quest, and a couple others that escape me), but the prices seem high.

    I haven't tried any online companies yet.

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