FlisKits in stores!

Discussion in 'Low Power Rocketry (LPR)' started by mach7, Oct 15, 2003.

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  1. Oct 15, 2003 #1

    mach7

    mach7

    mach7

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    I was just in the Georgetown hobby store in northern Mass, and they had the complete FlisKits line. I went back today and bought a Tumbleweed, my first FlisKits rocket, I missed out on the Duces Wild someone had already bought it. My friend picked up a Richterwrecker.

    Hope the weather holds out so I can see the 3 D's fly this fall.

    Mach
     
  2. Oct 15, 2003 #2

    Ryan S.

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    sweet, It isnt anywhere near Milton is it?

    I wish the hobby shop across the street from my house would get FlisKits
     
  3. Oct 16, 2003 #3

    astronboy

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    I was in Riverdale, NJ on Sunday while on a trip, and they carry a very nice selection of Fliskits, as well as several other smaller rocket companies.
     
  4. Oct 16, 2003 #4

    jflis

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    It is exciting to see our products appearing in more and more stores. The shop in Georgetown is Pratt Hobby Shop (NOT to be confused with Pratt Hobbies in Virginina (no relation) nor the Pratt Hobby Store in Texas (no relation)... ...must be something about the name "Pratt"... LOL

    I haven't had the chance to get these new shops up on our web and with my computer out i'm just falling further and further behind on updates, so....

    Ryan: I am *assuming* ;) that you have introduced the hobby shop across the street from you to our products...???

    jim
     
  5. Oct 16, 2003 #5

    rstaff3

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    I talked to the hobby store manager I know and gave him a brochure. He said that they haven't done well with any kits other than Estes, and that their big seller is starter sets. Sounded like he politely took it but wasn't that interested. Too bad, despite loving the on-line world, I still enjoy walking into a brick and mortar store and fondling the goods :)
     
  6. Oct 16, 2003 #6

    jcsalem

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    I got the same reaction at HobbyTown in Burlington, Mass. They'd phased out Aerotech kits due to lack of interest.

    -- Jim
     
  7. Oct 16, 2003 #7

    jflis

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    Well, november begins a push for hobby shops. we will be contacting them and sending them details of our products, our wholesale program along with a company prospectus. It is our hope that more will say "yes" than "no"...
     
  8. Oct 16, 2003 #8

    wscarvie

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    Hi Jim,

    Are you looking for suggestions for likely stores? For instance, the Hobby People folks tell me that they don't carry anything they can't order 10,000 of at a shot. Therefore, they only carry Estes and Quest. The local hobby store, however, carries Custom as well and orders in single-store amounts.

    That kind of info might make it possible for you to target individual stores more effectively, IF you don't already have that kind of info and IF you have time to assimilate what would, I'm sure, be a flood of suggestions from us enthusiasts.
     
  9. Oct 17, 2003 #9

    jflis

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    oh, we're well aware of these restrictions. That is why we aren't courting the distributors at this time. But it won't be too much longer before we can handle such orders (beleive me :) )

    But we are putting together an agressive program to reach as many individual hobby shops as we can, across the country and around the world.

    jim
     
  10. Oct 17, 2003 #10

    SwingWing

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    A local hobby shop in our area has the Fliskits line. I thought it was cool to have my hands on 5 Deuces Wild at one time, with 2 Richter Reckers right beside!:D
     
  11. Oct 17, 2003 #11

    powderburner

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    I would politely suggest that before marketing your products to distributors, that you set some kind of contractual limits or controls on end-seller prices for your kits. I have no idea how you do this, or even whether it is possible at all, but I think the future of our hobby is very dependent on it. Let me try to explain.

    I am no genius when it comes to business matters, but I have never understood why manufacturers allow mega-merchants (like W-world, HobLob, etc) to sell kits at reduced prices. This severely undercuts the small independent hobby shop owners, who end up with shelves packed with full-priced (and sometimes over-priced) kits. Even though I love to poke around in real-world hobby shops, I must confess that I don’t want to pay their
    prices when I can wait for a month and get the same kit on a HobLob sale.

    The small independent hobby shop ends up with reduced sales, or none at all. He gets tired of watching his inventory collect dust. He eventually decides to quit selling model rockets at all. Who can blame him? And when the next kid discovers model rocketry and wants to pick out something different from the plastic junk he got in his starter kit, there is no where for him to go. If Mom and Dad will not help him look on the internet to find FlisKits and make a mail-order, then that kid is done with rocketry.

    This situation is most severely evident on motor prices in my area. Why would I go to the hobby shop and spent 50 to 100 percent more for a three-pack of motors? How does W-world sell them so cheap, and why can’t the hobby shop get the same deal from the distributor?

    This business system seems to be designed specifically to run the little guys out of the market. I suggest you take this opportunity to do something to help them.

    There, I’m finished now.
     
  12. Oct 17, 2003 #12

    n3tjm

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    They order a huge amount of them... Estes gives them a very good deal, and Wally World sells them for a low price and still makes money. With the kits, when they run out, they run out. I remember buying my Astrocam starter set from them $20... Hobby shops what $40. $20 is still cheaper then just the kit!
     
  13. Oct 17, 2003 #13

    astronboy

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    Powderburner wrote: "I would politely suggest that before marketing your products to distributors, that you set some kind of contractual limits or controls on end-seller prices for your kits."

    This is called 'price fixing' and I believe that it is either illegal, or at least the courts have made it non-enforcable. If you collect vintage ESTES kits, you will note that on 1960s and early 1970's kits, the price of the kit was printed right on the tag. This stopped in the mid -1970s when 'price-fixing' was knocked down by the courts.

    I believe Lionel Trains brought this to a head as they were attempting to shield the Mom and Pop train shop from losing sales to the newer toy store discount chains.
     
  14. Oct 17, 2003 #14

    wscarvie

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    Yep, this is price fixing. In my other hobby life, I play miniature wargames. The biggest vendor in that hobby does price fixing by refusing to distribute to any store that offers their products at more than a certain discount threshold. They also refuse to distribute to anyone that sells their products through an on-line store (they have their own very profitable on-line store). They're big, and have lots of outlets, so they can afford to do this.

    BUT, this has garnered them a reputation as profit-mongering SOBs in the hobby. LOTS of my friends refuse to buy from them anymore, and so do I.

    I totally respect the motives behind your suggestion, powderburner. I try very hard to support the local stores over the national chains. This means I have to pay more, sometimes, but I get other advantages from this as well. Like getting to know the people who own the store, becoming a part of the little hobby community centered on that store, and getting first rate advice from them when I need help. Try asking hobby questions at Walmart :)

    What can Jim and Brian do? Not much, I think. They've got to look out for their company. Volume can be driven both by expanding to more and different distributors, and by maintain such a great reputation that people buy your kits (at least in part) because they like you and your business practices. He's got the second half of the equation nailed, in my opinion. How to balance reputation with increasing distribution channels (with the potential for discounting, etc.) is a hard problem. I don't envy them the responsability for making those choices.

    Best of luck to Fliskits as they expand. There are treacherous waters ahead. Here's wishing you smooth sailing.
     
  15. Oct 17, 2003 #15

    powderburner

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    I am familiar with price fixing. That is when a group of businesses agree to control the prices by which a commodity or product will be sold.

    Price fixing is not when a manufacturer decides on a price at which he is willing to sell his product to a wholesaler or distributor. And retailers are still free to set whatever prices they want.

    The manufacturer is completely free to set an effective minimum price. This happens all the time in industries like automobiles, electronics, and many others. After a minimum cost is set, retailers are free to sell products for as much as they want to charge. Free market forces will prevent them from trying to charge too much. And not many retailers will sell at prices below cost.

    If the manufacturer bumps his prices up that means more of the profit ends up in his pocket instead of in the distributor’s pocket. That does not break my heart. We have too many greedy, no-value-added middle-men in our economic system.

    I believe that someone, sometime will have to stand up to the mega-merchandisers and refuse to play the game their way. If not, we will lose our local hobby shops. Those of you who have had the chance to observe the retail condition of our hobby over the past 20 or 30 years have certainly noted the almost compete evaporation of model rocketry from store shelves (as well as many other hobbies). If we continue with the current way-of-doing-business, your future choice will be to ‘buy it at Wal-Mart’ (if they decide to carry the items at all) or to scour the internet for a place to do mail-order business.

    If you like to be able to go to a real hobby shop, they must have enough of your business to make it worthwhile staying open. That means they must have a substantial portion of your business, not just an occasional, charitable, token purchase. How many of you spend 3/4 of your rocketry dollars at your local shop? (I don’t.) For the hobby shop to have a chance, the playing field must change. It has to start somewhere.

    I don’t know what the numbers are or should be, and I don’t mean to pick on FlisKits. I would like to make the observation that, if Estes won’t do it, here is one more chance for the rest of us to begin making changes.
     
  16. Oct 17, 2003 #16

    jflis

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    Very interesting discussion and one that (for obvious business/legal reasons) I can't go into too much detail with... ...however, I can say these things:

    At this time, and in the foreseeable future, I see us dealing directly with hobby shops and the like, both brick-n-morter as well as web based. We *specifically* do not see us courting department stores or toy stores for the very reason that was mentioned here: "who would you ask a question of?"

    If you have an RTF starter set, you can market it at a toy store or department store because it is ready to go, right out of the box (turn-key, as it were... :) )

    In the case of a kit like FlisKits model rocket kits, you are gettings (as I've said to many in the past) a bag of raw materials with a set of instructions. They are anything *but* RTF. The modeler needs glue, tools, paint, etc. In many (most? all?) these things are not available at retail/department stores. (i've never seen a wal-mart with CA glue and accelerator let alone sanding sealer). Also, we want our retailer customers to have a happy experience with our kits and in order for them to do that they need to be able to go back to the place of purchase and ask questions.

    Say what you want about, for example, Radio Shack. But when I go back to them and ask "how do I set the base unit to ring too?", they show me. If I ask a *pick-a-name*-mart employee "how do I set the base unit to ring too?", I get a blank stare and they say "phones? phones are in aisle 2"....

    I am also of the opinion that there are enough retail hobby shops out there (as scarce as they seem to be) to keep us (FlisKits) busy for quite a while. Let us explore *this* avenue first, then see what we have to do to grow beyond that.

    As for driving efforts to keep the mom-n-pop shops open, I am a big beleiver of this and to answer one question, yes, *I* am one of those people who purchase *all* of my hobby needs at hobby shops for the very reasons discussed. To give them the business from me that they need from all of their customers in order to stay in business. The only exception is when I am doinog a class. If I can get motors cheaper online or at a dept store, then I will because I am passing these costs onto the school I am teaching for. But for *my* use and my companies use, I support the local shops. Needless to say, they love me for it :)

    This strong growth in FlisKits is both exciting and somewhat intimidating, but I beleive that we have a good "scope" out there and are growing at the speed that we can manage with strong prospects for the future.

    We'll be around for a while. We'll make our mark and then still be here and growing. FlisKits is in good hands, I assure you. It is our intent/belief/goal that "model rocketry", as a hobby is *now* in good hands too.
     
  17. Oct 18, 2003 #17

    Ryan S.

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    o yeah of course. But I dont think they carry them though I havent been over there in a whilee
     
  18. Oct 18, 2003 #18

    Rocketmaniac

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    The other day I was surfing the web, looking for some fin stock for my Expeditor..... I went to Commonwealth??? website and notice FlisKits!!!! ...... I was surprised and pleased to see them......

    I have some small business experience..... After my Air Force career, I owned a small computer business.... I sold and serviced computers, printers etc. ...... I ran the business for just over 5 years. The first 2 years it was a part-time job..... I did the business from early morning to early afternoon.... Then I changed into the "AF" guy.......The business just started as a way for me to get "dealer" discounts for my personal needs. Then a guy at work wanted some work done and it started taking off....

    The service part, I could beat anyone in town, other small computer stores, wal-mart, sears, staples (on and on) You go back to wal-mart with a simple computer question and the wal-mart associate has that "deer in the headlights look" My service is what made my business grow....

    BUT (you knew there was going to be a but) when it came to sales...... That was a different story....... People would come to me and ask for a quote on a new system...... I would tell them say $1200 (that was over 4 years ago) Then they would to go wal-mart and find one very close for $900....... It was hard to make them understand what that extra $300 would get them..... The best service in town.........

    I was making some money, but I was having to put most of it back into the business.... You can't make a business grow without more money... Plus it was not a steady income..... At the time it was just me and my wife....... Then in the summer of 1999, I shut it down...... My wife was 11 or 12 weeks away from have our child...... I hated the idea of giving up the business, but I needed to bring home a better income for my family..... I did not want my daughter growing up thinking "daddy is a bum" so I got a "real job" (funny, now she is 4 and she only thinks "daddy is never home")

    I always try and support the "mom & pop" places..... You usually pay a little more, but get better service... When a business is growing past the small, local level to a larger scale is when failure is most likely........ Transition is a killer!!!!!

    With all this said....... I hope for continued success for FlisKits!!!!! It's a jungle out there..........
     
  19. Oct 18, 2003 #19

    KermieD

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    I don't think the biggest problem for your local hobby guys is Wally World at all. It's really the online retailers. Like Jim said, WM doesn't have all the other supplies I need, and, in all honesty, the kid getting his starter set at WM isn't the one that's going to keep your hobby store in business anyway. It's the guy on the forum here who's going to blow 30 bucks on body tubes, another 20 on nose cones, and another 30 on balsa, not to mention CA, epoxy, finishing supplies, sealer, etc.

    So, yes, I buy my motors at the cheapest price at the big stores (Wal-Mart, Toys R Us). The only other games in town here are Hobby Lobby and Hobbytown USA. Both of them have some serious buying power on a big scale and neither of them make the effort to provide a reasonable price for motors.

    Now on the other hand, Commonwealth Displays or Magnum Rockets *DO* have everything I need and at greatly reduced prices over the local guy. Odds are mom-and-pop don't have all the specialized stuff I'll need, aren't ordering again till next Thursday, and won't have the product to me for 2 weeks. Ross at Magnum actually called me to say that my order was going to be delayed by ONE DAY since a part was out of stock and he was going to have to have his distributor send it directly. He's also given me very good advice from time to time as well when I asked for it. I have yet to wait more than 3 days (order Tuesday, get it Friday) to get stuff from Ross and that's just how long UPS takes.

    Besides, since the local guy has to be up to speed on dozens of hobbies, he really isn't much help for rocketry anyway. I've already passed up anyone in the store when it comes to rocketry knowledge, and those of you who have been here a while will be able to testify that I don't know half as much about this hobby as most of you.

    Bottom line is that Ross or someone else online wins, both from the service perspective *and* from the expense viewpoint. He's the guy who's gonna end up tanking the guy down the street.
     

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