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RangerStl

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Just saw this being discussed over on RP;

Online ordering threatens local hobby shop
Contributed By Rachel Richardson

Kevin Roberson grew up racing slot- and radio control cars, so when the opportunity arose to manage the Symmes Township HobbyTown USA shop, it seemed like a dream job for the Maineville enthusiast.

But that dream job is now in peril as an explosion of online buying choices threatens to make the independent hobby shop a thing of the past....

Read the rest here;
http://rodeo.cincinnati.com/getlocal/gpstory.aspx?id=100210&sid=157413

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As someone who is trying to break into the "niche" world of LPR kit manufacturing and sales, I am puzzled by the fact that the Internet is seen as an enemy of "brick and mortar" businesses rather than a huge ally.

It is often asked "How would people see your business?" Aside from all the standard, I call them "Classical" approaches that work when advertising in your town, people who cry "foul" at the encroachment of the Internet seem to all miss the same things. There is a parallel online world out there that is completely intertwined with people's daily lives.

RC-universe, RMR, RMS, probably 50 plus big crafting/scrapbooking forums... Buy advertising, join a free forum and do promotions or plug your business, the internet is not a limiting factor, it is a limitless resource. Look at the bottom of TRF's main page sometime and you'll see double the number of guests viewing the site as members, so your audience is greater than just any forum's registered membership base.

Limitations on the retailer are time, advertising budget, and willingness to supplement local advertising on radio, TV, billboards, etc. with ONLINE advertising. You can't sit in the back room and wait for people to find you whether you are operating from a classical approach or an online approach.... you gotta go find customers and show them why they want to buy from you. This is the same as before, but instead of going out on the street in your town, you go to a suitable online community.

Big, flashy expensive websites are cool to look at, but simple works, too. Online credit card transactions don't have to be Paypal... my bank does online and POP credit card payment services as well.

I cannot fathom why any "brick & mortar" business would be dying other than they are not giving their customer the shopping experience they are looking for. Everyone talks about the rocket hobby dying off and the median age of rocketeers and hobbyists in general increasing... You gotta start advertising the hobby and craft scene where your new generation of customer hangs out.

This is the newest "Warehouse Store" mentality. We went from small shops to strip malls to Wal-Mart to SUPER Wal-Mart.... Now you have the entire planet at your fingertips. The entire flippin' planet. We're advancing backward in time back to the days of the catalog store (Sears and Roebuck), except the catalog is WHATEVER you want and the store is the ENTIRE online commerce world.

How can you not make money when you can potentially do business with any person on the planet who owns a computer?

Sorry, this struck a nerve with me and I thought I'd vent a little bit.

N
 
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Mikus

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"The 5,300-square-foot shop specializes in radio control or RC cars, planes and boats, model train supplies, and slot and Pinewood Derby cars in addition to its array of educational toys, model rockets, magic supplies, military board games and dollhouses."

I do not know of a single "hobby shop" in Houston TX (Population: 2 Million+) that carries all of those. If so, I would probably live there. :marshmallow::marshmallow::marshmallow:

The ones I've seen generally:
1) Close at 5pm.
2) Charge full retail.
3) Have small product offerings (generally Estes only).
4) Have no knowledge about rocketry.
5) Do not support any Rocketry Clubs.

Why support brick & mortar establishments? They just gouge me, the rocketeer, so they can get more RC products to sell. :2:
 

troj

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There are a couple factors at play here.

First, dedicated hobbyists tend to be cheap. Look how often you see someone posting the question, "Who has the lowest price for XYZ?" An online-only retailer has low overhead as opposed to brick & mortar, and therefore typically has lower prices.

Second, inventory is expensive to maintain. A brick & mortar shop that's half empty will turn customers off, and they won't come back. But you never see that razor-thin inventory level that a mail-order outfit can carry.

Third, mail-order it's easy to become highly specialized. Let's use Rokitflite as an example -- he can afford to offer a very limited number of kits, in very limited quantities, and make a profit at it. A brick & mortar shop has to have a wide range of products on the shelf, at all times, including those parts that people rarely need, but expect to be able to find.

Fourth, there are a LOT of people who will go into a brick & mortar shop, look through things, ask questions, figure out what they want. Then go order it online, because they can get a better price. Yet, they've cost the store money, in terms of employee time, with no payback.

The last one is why I bought my camera locally -- I'd gone in to a camera shop to ask questions about models, so I felt I owed it to them to buy from them. Even though I could've saved $200+ by ordering online. I know a lot of people who wouldn't think twice about going in to the camera shop to get the info and touch & feel, then go order online to get the price they wanted.

Fifth, having stores that are setup for brick & mortar try to do mail order is a difficult proposition. Mail order customers expect their products in short timeframes, which means someone has to be available to fill those orders. But you can't have it be the person who's waiting on customers that walk into the store, or you risk driving those customers away. This equates to even greater overhead for the store.

Sixth, your mail order customers will only buy if your prices are competitive. Which means you either have lower prices for mail order than walk-in, which irritates walk-in customers, or you drop your prices across the board. That means you better build up your sales volume quickly or you're in a world of hurt, due to the lower prices, but increased overhead.

-Kevin
 

RangerStl

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"The 5,300-square-foot shop specializes in radio control or RC cars, planes and boats, model train supplies, and slot and Pinewood Derby cars in addition to its array of educational toys, model rockets, magic supplies, military board games and dollhouses."

I do not know of a single "hobby shop" in Houston TX (Population: 2 Million+) that carries all of those. If so, I would probably live there. :marshmallow::marshmallow::marshmallow:

The ones I've seen generally:
1) Close at 5pm.
2) Charge full retail.
3) Have small product offerings (generally Estes only).
4) Have no knowledge about rocketry.
5) Do not support any Rocketry Clubs.

Why support brick & mortar establishments? They just gouge me, the rocketeer, so they can get more RC products to sell. :2:
And this is why I think they're not giving the customer the shopping experience they want. I know it's tough to keep the doors open with the margin you make off of stuff you have to sell. Most places buy their stock from a distributor who has to take their cut, so the hobby shop guy pays TWO markups usually.

Why limit yourself to just the people who walk in the store? Sell to that rocket guy sitting in his underwear in the basement flipping back and forth between Youtube videos of rocket launches and skater kids breaking their arms on "ouchmyface.com" funny video site? :shock: OOPS! perhaps I've said too much... :blush:

N
 
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RangerStl

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There are a couple factors at play here.

First, dedicated hobbyists tend to be cheap. Look how often you see someone posting the question, "Who has the lowest price for XYZ?" An online-only retailer has low overhead as opposed to brick & mortar, and therefore typically has lower prices.
Everyone is "cheap". How did Wal-Mart get so big?

Second, inventory is expensive to maintain. A brick & mortar shop that's half empty will turn customers off, and they won't come back. But you never see that razor-thin inventory level that a mail-order outfit can carry.
This is an issue, for sure.

Third, mail-order it's easy to become highly specialized. Let's use Rokitflite as an example -- he can afford to offer a very limited number of kits, in very limited quantities, and make a profit at it. A brick & mortar shop has to have a wide range of products on the shelf, at all times, including those parts that people rarely need, but expect to be able to find.
I don't think it's easy to *make a living* as a highly specialized retailer.

Fourth, there are a LOT of people who will go into a brick & mortar shop, look through things, ask questions, figure out what they want. Then go order it online, because they can get a better price. Yet, they've cost the store money, in terms of employee time, with no payback.
This is a problem that will only be realized if all brick and mortar places disappear... when it's too late.

The last one is why I bought my camera locally -- I'd gone in to a camera shop to ask questions about models, so I felt I owed it to them to buy from them. Even though I could've saved $200+ by ordering online. I know a lot of people who wouldn't think twice about going in to the camera shop to get the info and touch & feel, then go order online to get the price they wanted.
This is a reality, for sure.

Fifth, having stores that are setup for brick & mortar try to do mail order is a difficult proposition. Mail order customers expect their products in short timeframes, which means someone has to be available to fill those orders. But you can't have it be the person who's waiting on customers that walk into the store, or you risk driving those customers away. This equates to even greater overhead for the store.
It can be done. It is done all the time.

Sixth, your mail order customers will only buy if your prices are competitive. Which means you either have lower prices for mail order than walk-in, which irritates walk-in customers, or you drop your prices across the board. That means you better build up your sales volume quickly or you're in a world of hurt, due to the lower prices, but increased overhead.

-Kevin
Competitive pricing will be the key. At some point, a reversal of the trend might be necessary. Have your slightly more expensive prices online while the bargains are only available to those who come in the door. OR, if your business will not tolerate that, work toward the goal of having the online portion of the business pay the bills and maintain the shop as the smaller, lower margin operation with customer face-time, not the other way around...

In the case of the Hobby world, have AWESOME in-store prices on the stuff that is difficult and expensive to ship like rocket engines or nitro fuel or Li-Poly batteries, BIG kits or airplanes. Then have good shipping deals on the smaller stuff and accessories which are usually higher margin.

N
 
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follr

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For small towns like mine, online is really the only option. A few years back there was a Michaels store here. They closed after their lease was up, just not enough support for that kind of stuff. 75 miles (one way) to Tucson is hard to justify a trip. Most of the time a trip is for another reason and the hobby shop is low on the list. Don't get me wrong, I like to hold the product in my hand and help out a local guy, but in reality its not always feasible.

Also in rocketry there is a broad spectrum of hobbyists. Look at this forum... LPR, MPR, HPR, Scratch build, Scale, etc. Look into RC your find Cars, Boats, Planes, helicopters, electric/Gas. Trains are another monster. A brick and mortar store needs to cater to a broad range of hobbies. Internet sales or "e-commerce" can be very selective.

Another thing to consider is that in this kind of economy and as people lose jobs and money is tighter, not everyone is still able to have these expensive hobbies. Online retailers are feeling the pinch too.

I think a lot of businesses have had to change their business models to remain competitive. It's easier than you think to begin internet sales. Start small. There is some good examples of business models in this thread already.....



my .02 cents :eek:
 

RangerStl

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Right, there is a vast world out there full of people who don't have a hobby shop in their neighborhood.

I have dreams of buying the hobby shop in my neighborhood. They don't really do much with online sales, basically when you make an online order it goes to their distributor directly and they get a small cut. Selection from the distributor is limited.

I dream about taking their whole inventory online. Drooooooool. :cheers:

N
 

rocketsmith

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Selection is the problem at my local shop. They don't carry 5.5" airframe tubes or composite building panels. I am beyond the Estes rockets and so HPR stuff is usually only available online. I do go to the shop and usually buy all that I can, even at the inflated prices, but $3.95 for a 1/4" thick plywood centering ring? I can buy a whole sheet of 1/4" baltic birch ply 5' x 5' for 30 bucks and cut 100 centering rings myself. Unfortunately this is the hard part of capitalism, compete or die. And we all have to remember, there are ,what, maybe 20,000 rocketeers in the country, not counting kids that buy a kit or two and then quit. Spread that out over 50 states and thats 400 guys per state spending money at a store. Can't pay rent with those numbers.
 

JRThro

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Third, mail-order it's easy to become highly specialized. Let's use Rokitflite as an example -- he can afford to offer a very limited number of kits, in very limited quantities, and make a profit at it.
But does he really make a profit? As few kits as Scott sells, and as seldom as he sells them, and as much time as it must take him to kit them up... if he doesn't actually lose money on the materials, he surely loses money on the cost of his time. I mean, selling a few dozen or even a hundred kits isn't going to make anyone much money in any case.
 

luke strawwalker

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"The 5,300-square-foot shop specializes in radio control or RC cars, planes and boats, model train supplies, and slot and Pinewood Derby cars in addition to its array of educational toys, model rockets, magic supplies, military board games and dollhouses."

I do not know of a single "hobby shop" in Houston TX (Population: 2 Million+) that carries all of those. If so, I would probably live there. :marshmallow::marshmallow::marshmallow:

The ones I've seen generally:
1) Close at 5pm.
2) Charge full retail.
3) Have small product offerings (generally Estes only).
4) Have no knowledge about rocketry.
5) Do not support any Rocketry Clubs.

Why support brick & mortar establishments? They just gouge me, the rocketeer, so they can get more RC products to sell. :2:
Yeah, I agree Mikus, and I try to hit ALL the LHS's in Houston that carry ANYTHING remotely rocketry-related at least once or twice a year... sometimes more if I specifically need something.

1) agree on the hours-- LHS's need to be open a little more on the weekends and evenings, maybe open later to compensate, or closed on Monday/Tuesday or something to compensate for longer weekends (nobody wants to work 24/7 and shouldn't have to, got it! (PS that's why you couldn't PAY me enough to run a dairy farm!)

2) charge full retail or even mark the stuff up-- I've found sometimes I can get a better deal ordering online, EVEN WITH PAYING SHIPPING, than I can get at the LHS... sometimes I buy a few things just so I can get them 'instantly' but then there's the gas and trip (35 miles to the closest non-chain LHS for me) so that makes computer to mailbox awfully attractive too--especially if I can afford to wait a few days. And with vendors that ship "instantly" that wait usually isn't over 3 days or so, despite being 'out in the sticks'...

3) I can tell you for a fact that MOST of the hobby shop's rocketry selection is PATHETIC in the Houston area-- the one exception is the shop out on I-45 South just north of the NASA Parkway. They at least carry Estes AND LOC/Precision parts, kits, and supplies, and some Aerotech reload stuff. All the other hobby shops in Houston are lucky to have one pegboard with rocket stuff, and the only thing I've seen OTHER than Estes is a few Red River kits in north Houston. So basically that means 'order online or do without'.

4) don't know rocketry and could care less-- rocketry isn't a 'big ticket' hobby like RC whatever, so they're not interested. I've had uninterested shop help come right out and tell me 'get a REAL hobby' when I asked about some rocket stuff... The attitude SUCKS at most hobby shops when it comes to rocket stuff because they KNOW most rocket-related sales are maybe $50 or so, whereas the typical RC purchase is probably WAY higher for RC components, and even if it's just parts or building materials the purchases are probably a lot more frequent despite the lower total. When I DO get any help in a hobby shop, they'll practically knock you down to get to an RC guy who walks in the store. Also, I was in a LHS looking for parts here while back (RC hinges/screws for a rocket project) and they flipped off ALL the lights in the store 2-3 minutes before closing time (5pm) where I couldn't even see what I was looking at and could barely see to get back to the register, which was well lit by the door. Sorry that's just RUDE. I get it, ya been here all day and wanna go home-- lock the door at 5 so nobody else can come in, and go help everybody lollygagging in the store if you want to 'hurry' them along.

5) don't support local clubs-- that's a pretty fair assessment by and large, though certainly not universal. Most RC oriented shops aren't particularly interested in supporting anything rocketry related; generally a store has to be run by or employ some rocket enthusiasts and be considerably 'rocket oriented' before they'll actively support any rocket club activities, in my experience.

For me, on a limited budget, it comes down mostly to price, since rocket-related 'service' from the LHS's are slim to nonexistant. I have purposely quit trading with a hobby shop before because of rude comments made by the staff to me, and purposely avoid another one if I can help it because of their rudeness. Sorry but if you want my money, the only REAL strength of the LHS is 1)knowledge, 2) customer service, and 3) on-the-shelf availability. Sorry having to "order" it for me, come back in two or three weeks, make another 35 mile trip into the city, doesn't cut it for me. I can do better than that at home.

Later! OL JR :)
 

Bravo52

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You guys would be very surprised at the number of "mail order" hobby shops out there. Not Many!! Most of the ones you are used to are strictly focused shops that are low volume single specialty type things. Horizon and Great Planes, two of the biggest, if not the biggest distributors, won't sale to people without a storefront. There may be a few exceptions out there but not many if any at all.
 

Evo666

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I think video games is killing any hobby shop whether its online or not.
 

kandsrockets

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I don't know about that but video did kill the radio star.................:rolleyes:
Thanks Jerry, Now I have to clean the soda out of my keyboard after spitting it all over from laughing.
 

NjCo

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I cannot fathom why any "brick & mortar" business would be dying other than they are not giving their customer the shopping experience they are looking for.
Rent is EXPENSIVE. Simple as that. If some guy is running a online store out of his garage then the biggest part of his cost structure is just inventory. He might also have to pay a few people to help out. But that's nothing compared to owning a physical retail location that customers can walk into and look at product. Retail space is more expensive than warehouse space (if the online store is big enough to need this) and retail stores typically have more people on staff than online stores.

The way many stores try to fight back is to have an online presence as well but because their costs are higher they can not offer the discounts that an online only store can and still make a profit. They also have a hard time increasing their available inventory to compete in the online world because they don't have the available cash to buy additional product.

So any way you look at it retail stores are really squeezed and it's not just in rockets or hobby stores . . . it's most independent retail stores. And especially in these times with tight credit. The money just isn't available to compete with online stores or big box stores. So be prepared to see more retail hobby stores going down the tubes.
 

dave carver

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What's killing them for me is $8.39 for a pack of A8-3's:(
 

kramer714

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Rockets are little different from other hobbies in that many people launch in groups. Another model is the online presence followed up with supporting the launches.

Jack Girabaldi from Whats Up Hobbies has a good online store but what really seals it is the ability to talk to a warm body (who knows rockets) and know that he will be at the launches. Many times instead of ordering online, I order from Jack, and ask him to bring it to a launch. If you have ever seen the Whats Up hobbies trailer at a launch it is VERY well stocked.

Dependable, reasonable cost, good service, and supports the hobby.

A slightly different business model.
 

BRC

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Can you believe my local guy is closed on weekends...During the week he says. "I can order that for you.." (Not exactly sure why then I need him). Most are impulse shoppers, if your inventory is on the slim side, there is no impulse buying...But I think this is what occurs when someone tries to turn thier own hobby into a business. He will specialize in what interests him, then complain that no one buys RC-10's anymore !!!

:2:
 
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stantonjtroy

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Rent is EXPENSIVE. Simple as that....
Not just expensive but OBSCENE!!! I don't know how property managers sleep at night. I've worked for a couple of different hobby shops in my younger years and even then the rent was rediculous. I think that combined with the fact that there are so many different hobbies a shop needs to cater to (and each rather specialized) that they really can't fully support any one. I know one I worked for specialized in mostly R/C aircraft. They had a couple three locations and a lucrative mail order service. That was 15 years ago. He just closed his last location. Online you can focus on one particular niche. Online train shops, online R/C shops, online Rocketry shops. I think this is simply the genesis of the hobby shop rather than it's death. Those who can't evolve, perish. Change is the only constant. Don't get me wrong, I do like the local shop. I get down and talk to and buy from Scott when I can. But the fact is the closest shop is 18 miles away, in the city that translates to a half hour or more in travel time. My laptop is across the room. If I want anything but the basics, the shop has to order it. I can order anything I need myself, often for less. Doesn't mean I'm cheap, it means I have a limited disposable income and I want the most for my buck. That and I think many of us, the builders anyway, like the invention, adaption and inovation that comes with the hobby and that's hard to support from a storefront. I turn to the local shop mostly for motors and building supplies. Because I do a lot of scratch building I get most of my tubes an nosecones online. It's the only way to have access to the variety of styles and sizes I need.
FWIW
 

rstaff3

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Hobby stores aren't alone. Computer software places are gone, many computer stores are gone, Blockbuster is all but DOA, book stores are closing left and right. I could go on but I haven't had my coffee. All because there are cheaper on-line/mail order alternatives.
 

accooper

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I have to agree with Mikus. A new Hobbytown just open in San Antonio. They close sharp at six and earlier on Saturday. They carry very little Rocket stuff right now, although they promise more in the future. And they charge full retail.

So far this last few weeks I have been able to shop on the internet and find what I want at a lot lower price (except estes engines) and most times no postage.

Andrew From Texas
 

luke strawwalker

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I have to agree with Mikus. A new Hobbytown just open in San Antonio. They close sharp at six and earlier on Saturday. They carry very little Rocket stuff right now, although they promise more in the future. And they charge full retail.

So far this last few weeks I have been able to shop on the internet and find what I want at a lot lower price (except estes engines) and most times no postage.

Andrew From Texas
Hope they have better luck than the Sugarland HobbyTown USA... they were only open for about a year or so. Really a shame, because the owners and staff were really nice, and I bought what I could from them to support them because of that, but like someone said, the rent killed them. They had a 'standard' sized storefront in a little shopping center astride a Kroger and the rent was killing them, so they sold down to nearly nothing trying to get the store to fit in a "half-storefront" (like some take-out pizza joints, cell phone stores, etc.) to save money. The property company had agreed to put a divider wall into the store to split the storefront into two, to help lower their rent, but I guess with the loss of customers and the selldown and stuff they just couldn't make a go of it.

I guess that's why most hobby shops tend to be stacked floor to the rafters with stuff, with tiny narrow aisles most folks can't pass each other in, and so crowded with stuff you can't find anything... Gotta make the most of the available space. Course when you're a fatboy like me, that makes it rather hard to get around in there... :) OL JR :)
 

chanstevens

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Well, I am an occasional patron of the store in the article. For me, it's about a 15 minute drive into a PITA traffic area, and I drive past a LHS that's a 5-minute bike ride from my house to get there. Why? The LHS isn't open at all on Sunday, closes by 6:00 most weeknights when I can barely get home by that time, and has very little stock. The Hobbytown USA has outstanding selection, several very knowledgeable sales people, and painfully full retail pricing.

I can certainly sympathize with their plight, as I spend almost all of my hobby money online shopping for best overall pricing. Where the brick and mortar shop wins my business is when I need advice--I'm trying to solve this problem and need help, etc., or when I want to browse to see what neat tools, materials, etc. might be out there.

For someone looking to get into a hobby, paying $30 or so retail for good advice on a starter set is getting better value than someone hitting Wal-Mart or trolling online to get the same thing for $20. For someone that know what they want, that $30 starter set is a ripoff.

Hobbytown can't compete on price, and I don't think a brick and mortar store can effectively compete on the internet, especially if there's already a dominant player (ehobbies, amazon, hbbylinc, tower, etc). Where I DO think they're blowing it, though, is not differentiating between "newbie" products and "veteran" products and setting different margins. That RTC sailplane kit or train set is something that sells well to a physical shopper and can command a decent premium. Once they get hooked, though, the LHS has to learn to sell the consumables like motors, batteries/servos, etc. for lower margin. Sure, none of us will pay $8 for a pack of motors we can buy online for $4-5, but we'd probably be willing to pay $0.50 more for the convenience (and to save on shipping).

The blind spot is the people that take advantage of the physical presence to look/touch, then go home and comparison shop. I get why they do that, but it's just wrong. Give the guy the business that did the work of getting you interested in the product.
 

MarkII

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As I mentioned in the other thread, the one big thing that my regional hobby shop (can't really call it "local") provides for me as a rocketeer is the ability to buy Estes E9's without having to pay Hazmat charges. (The only rocket motors that they stock are Estes.) I usually buy my black powder D's there, too. I don't really mind (too much) that they charge $18 for a 3-pack of E9's (and driving 104 miles round trip to get them), since I don't buy enough of them at once to make ordering them online and paying Hazmat a worthwhile proposition. I also get my B6 and C6 booster motors there too, because neither Walmart nor Michael's carries them. In fact, the only BP motors that I do buy online are Micromaxx, because no brick and mortar store that I know of carries them. I also always get my CA, epoxy and miscellaneous other building supplies (such as styrene, music wire, aluminum and brass stock, butyrate dope, Pine-Pro balsa filler, Microscale decal products, etc.) from the hobby shop, because it is a convenient one-stop shop for them. It saves me from having to track down all of these items and more from a multitude of suppliers online, having to pay shipping for what would really be a dozen dinky little orders, and then having to wait and wait for the stuff to wend its way up and in to where I live. Yes, it is a bit of a pain to have to drive all that way to get to the only hobby shop in this entire region of the state; it's not a place that I can just run down to on the spur of the moment. I usually make 2-4 trips per year, and I take a shopping list with me. It is very much like making a seasonal journey out of the backcountry to go to the general store for supplies. This hobby shop fulfills certain needs for me better than any online retailer can do, even with online's lower prices.

MarkII
 

MarkII

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My regional hobby shop, Norwood Hobbies in Norwood, NY is surviving (and one could even say that it is thriving) because of a smart move they made several years ago. They went from being heavily focused on model railroading to an emphasis on one of the few hobby products that places like Walmart, Target and Michael's can't compete with them on: gas-powered R/C cars, trucks and boats. They actually expanded into the storefront next door; one side has the trains still, and the other side has the R/C (and assorted other hobbies, including rocketry). Guess which side gets all the traffic? It helps that they are located in the quaint little downtown commercial district of a quaint little village (all the the communities up here are quaint little villages) and that they occupy a building that is probably a century old that they probably own. (Nobody's going to raise the rent on them.) And that they are just down the road from four colleges. (Location, location, location...) And that nitro R/C is really hot around here now. A couple of cool things (from a business perspective) about gas-powered R/C are that the motors and vehicles need regular maintenance (so the hobby shop does a steady business in repairs and tune-ups) and that they seem to be almost endlessly customizable (so they do a thriving business in aftermarket items). Every time that I am in there, they are either selling a new kit or starter kit to someone (high school and college kids, mostly), or are taking something in for repair or upgrading. I haven't gotten in to that hobby, but to me, it's all good anyway. The profit that they make on the R/C stuff enables them to maintain a stock of merchandise for the comparatively smaller niche hobbies (which, in this region, includes rocketry). Plus, like any decent hobby shop, they stock a good number of supplies that are relevant for a number of different hobbies. So even if their main business isn't in my hobby, their success in another one indirectly leads to better support for mine.

MarkII
 
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dedleytedley

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I order online now only as a last resort. About 1/3 of the shipments I've received were crushed by the postal services.:mad: They've even managed to break solid AGATE nodules wrapped in bubble wrap! They rolled around the prairie for millions of years weathering without damage and yet couldn't survive the trip intact.:shock: A friend bought a cannon,that's right, a cannon from ebay last year and it made it as far as canada customs release before it disappeared. So, I thought I'll try a courier, it only costs a little more. When the package arrived I had to pay an extra $30.00"customs fee"+ $7.34 GST!
I find it cheaper to buy locally whenever I can once you add on shipping and aggravation even if the selection is limited and the service is worse. Ted
 

MarkII

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This is the newest "Warehouse Store" mentality. We went from small shops to strip malls to Wal-Mart to SUPER Wal-Mart.... Now you have the entire planet at your fingertips. The entire flippin' planet. We're advancing backward in time back to the days of the catalog store (Sears and Roebuck), except the catalog is WHATEVER you want and the store is the ENTIRE online commerce world.
Well, you can get a lot of things online, but you can't get everything (not even from Craigslist ;) ). Such as getting expert hands-on help with a previously great performing but suddenly now balky, hard-to start and frequently stalling motor in your gas-powered R/C cigarette boat, from the guy that sold you the boat in the first place. People will travel many miles, and pay a decent premium, for that kind of service; I've seen it.

Sorry, this struck a nerve with me and I thought I'd vent a little bit.

N
You made some good observations, but what can we do, ban commerce from the internet?

EDIT: Oops, sorry, I think I misread your post the first time through. :eek:

MarkII
 
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THier

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The best idea to this is one I see. A hybrid store. Ken Allen of Performance Hobbies, has an online store, but also go to launches to sell product. If you need something, and are reasonably close he will meet you to deliver product.
I know there are others like this, but I have dealt with Ken quite a bit.

Tom
 
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