Vanishing hobby stores

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dr wogz

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There used to be a hobby shop on St. Catherine's street here in Montreal.. a little specialized shop, specializing in trains. (And they had an equally impressive window train display.) I remember going win with my day when I was.. (the 1976 Olympics were in town..)

But it eventually moved, likely due to the fact it was on St. Catherine's street!~ Montreal's hi-end shopping / tourist center!

it did move, and also morphed into a more 'general' hobby shop. I remember going in with a friend, and asking about the kite on the ceiling: "How much for that one?" (there were about 4 or 5 hanging up)

The guy at the counter didn't know, so he called his boss. "Yeah, the pink one. Yeah, triangular.. Yeah.. I guess so.. Sure.. thanks, click"

he came back with $50. I said "sold!! In fact, I'll take both this one and it's twin.. and string?" as I ask about the needed lines for a large stunt kite.

"$20 sound good?"

Sold.. here's my MC..

So 2x 7' wingspan dual cord stunt kites and 2x 'eagle claw' Kevlar control lines, all for $140 before taxes..

(The kites retailed for $150 each at the time..)

 

prfesser

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Hate to break the news but I rarely support local hobby shops. Its not practical when I can buy what I want online and if one online store doesn't have it I can shop elsewhere. I have the items shipped to my door and I don't waste my time or gas driving around looking for what I need. I may have to wait a few days and spend a small amount on shipping, but that's a reasonable trade off. I went to Home Depot to look for some attachments for my Micro Dremel tool and they didn't have the items I wanted so I was able to get them on eBay. Again I wasted of my time. It may not have been a hobby store, but same principle applies.
I would gladly support a hobby shop if there was one within reasonable driving distance. We used to have one in-town but it disappeared. The closest thing is Hobby Lobby in Paducah and Nashville, but I no longer shop at Hobby Lobby for ethical reasons.

So it's ACSupply for me! I'll start the Skylab Saturn V that arrived recently as soon as I'm done turning aluminum. And papering fins on the Big Bertha. Gluing them on. Smoothing up the fins on the 3" WAC Corporal. Assembling motors for static test. Cutting up and weighing propellant grains, making a smaller graphite nozzle...and...

I ain't never gonna get started on that Skylab. :(

Best -- Terry
 

Ez2cDave

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National Balsa you can.
True . . . You can get their "hand-selected" Balsa.

They primarily only "select" it by weight and there is a lot more to it than that . . . [ A grain, B grain, C grain, straightness, grain uniformity throughout the sheet, density throughout the sheet, straightness, tendencies while flexing and twisting ( especially for glider "Wing Wood" ) , etc, etc, etc. ] .

Frankly, wood selection is probably the most critical part of Model Rocketry.

Dave F.
 

Jimmy

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I would gladly support a hobby shop if there was one within reasonable driving distance. We used to have one in-town but it disappeared. The closest thing is Hobby Lobby in Paducah and Nashville, but I no longer shop at Hobby Lobby for ethical reasons.

So it's ACSupply for me! I'll start the Skylab Saturn V that arrived recently as soon as I'm done turning aluminum. And papering fins on the Big Bertha. Gluing them on. Smoothing up the fins on the 3" WAC Corporal. Assembling motors for static test. Cutting up and weighing propellant grains, making a smaller graphite nozzle...and...

I ain't never gonna get started on that Skylab. :(

Best -- Terry
I would be interested in following your progress on the Saturn Skylab build someday.
 

mket

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We are lucky to have a LHS that looks to be thriving. I asked the owner how he does it when others are failing, and his one word reply was "Gundam". He gets regular shipments of mountains of models, most already paid for as pre-orders. He also carries Warhammer minis, Funko Pop toys, etc. etc. etc. None of those are my thing, BUT it allows him to have a nice wall of rocketry stuff from Estes and others, and a complete selection of Estes and Quest motors, including the newest Q-Jets. I get regular Facebook updates from the store showing newly arrived items, and he even sends out locally produced videos with employees actually building products from the store. I'm sure none of this is cheap or easy, but it seems to make all the difference. I make every effort to buy stuff from him before checking at Hobby Lobby and ordering online as a last resort.

View attachment 462979
Wow that's well stocked.

Mike
 

boomtube-mk2

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I'd love to support a local hobby store.
Problem is, there isn't one within 2 hours of me.
Not everyone lives in a big city. Online is really my only choice.
Same here, (280+miles round trip/22mpg)x $2.69 per gallon, and rising, = HOLY *@^#!!

In my younger days when I was a climber, we had several shops in a 50 mile radius but now just REI that is mostly clothing compared to the days when I worked there part time while going to school. The times have changed.
REI was once the place people mounting an expedition up K2 shopped, now it is The Gap with bicycles.
 

Bill S

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REI was once the place people mounting an expedition up K2 shopped, now it is The Gap with bicycles.
Tell me about it. I need new hiking boots, none of the big box chains (Bass Pro, Cabelas, Dicks, etc), carry any even close to what I want. I thought oh I used to get them from REI years ago before I moved up here in the late 90s, give them a try. Still nothing I can really use.

I keep reading reviews of various boots that look like they'll be suitable, but nobody within a couple hours even carries them. Kind of have to try them on, and I don't want to play the order several pairs of boots online, try them all on and send back the ones that don't work out hassle. Awesome boots are fine, but if you can't even try them on because you don't live in the middle of some big city with an retailer that carries them... no go.
 
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Blast it Tom!

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You know, to younger me, malls were a great hope. One place, all indoors for store to store, and you would be able to get anything from guns to gutchies, tools to toys, hobbies to home furnishings, pools to pets, sofas to sporting goods. Yeah, right! Go in today's mall and what do your see? Clothes, shoes, jewelry, maybe some housewares, that's pretty much it, over and over, store after store - and the food court. We have three large malls within easy driving distance and haven't been in them for ages. At least one of them just added a Rural King in place of the old Sears. I will go in there, but I haven't been outside of it in the actual mall halls for I can't tell you how long.
 

Bill S

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Tom, funny you mention that, as our local Sears was just replaced with a Rural King, and wow, is that store busy now. In a nearby town, they took the mall, redesigned it so all the stores had entrances on the outside only, different mix of stores and are doing better. This was several years ago, pre-Covid.
 

Blast it Tom!

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Tom, funny you mention that, as our local Sears was just replaced with a Rural King, and wow, is that store busy now. In a nearby town, they took the mall, redesigned it so all the stores had entrances on the outside only, different mix of stores and are doing better. This was several years ago, pre-Covid.
Criminee, you sound like you live near me! We had a mall called the Northway Mall in the North Hills of Pittsburgh (which would have been the 4th in driving distance if I'd have remembered it...) and I think that's what they've done with it. I use to go there as a kid to get Matchbox cars...
 

R. S. Galileo

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I'm at work, so just a quick note: Retail pad space is VERY expensive. Space in a warehouse on the other side of the tracks, not so much. I wonder what that has to do with it?
That exact issue closed down my favorite hobby shop -- Evett's in Santa Monica, CA. The epitome of a mom-n- pop store, run by the nicest folks you could hope to meet. Super knowledgeable. Here's a link to a pretty good article in the LA Times all about it.


I've since moved to New Jersey. There's a couple of hobby shops nearby, but they might carry one or two rockets that you have to hunt for among all the RC stuff
 

Blast it Tom!

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That exact issue closed down my favorite hobby shop -- Evett's in Santa Monica, CA. The epitome of a mom-n- pop store, run by the nicest folks you could hope to meet. Super knowledgeable. Here's a link to a pretty good article in the LA Times all about it.


I've since moved to New Jersey. There's a couple of hobby shops nearby, but they might carry one or two rockets that you have to hunt for among all the RC stuff
Interesting that the article noted they'd looked at 100 or so empty stores in the area and couldn't find one cheap enough. What sort of incentive does a real estate company have to hold empty properties rather than reduce the rent and make some money? There are things in life that I don't understand...
 

Bill S

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Criminee, you sound like you live near me! We had a mall called the Northway Mall in the North Hills of Pittsburgh (which would have been the 4th in driving distance if I'd have remembered it...) and I think that's what they've done with it. I use to go there as a kid to get Matchbox cars...
I live in south central PA, near York, 5 hours from Pittsburg, sorry. :(
 

icyclops

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I'm at work, so just a quick note: Retail pad space is VERY expensive. Space in a warehouse on the other side of the tracks, not so much. I wonder what that has to do with it?
It’s always something...whether it’s store space or warehouse shipping....just depends how you want to set up your business...
 

AfterBurners

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What do you mean? Order your Balsa at least 25 bucks worth and pay shipping....not like going to the hobby shop and picking out a single piece....no doubt.
Correct there is a $25 min order. That works out to about maybe 6-7 sheets of quality balsa depending on the size, but I've always bought my balsa and hardwood there. I recommend proper storage to avoid any warping. A cool closet works well.

https://www.nationalbalsa.com/
 

CalebJ

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What do you mean? Order your Balsa at least 25 bucks worth and pay shipping....not like going to the hobby shop and picking out a single piece....no doubt.
The statement was that you could hand pick your balsa, and I was asking how that worked.
 

OverTheTop

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Same here, (280+miles round trip/22mpg)x $2.69 per gallon, and rising, = HOLY *@^#!!



REI was once the place people mounting an expedition up K2 shopped, now it is The Gap with bicycles.
REI was great. I used to order hand-held gps units from them, circa 1996.
 

neil_w

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The statement was that you could hand pick your balsa, and I was asking how that worked.
You can specify grain and/or density (if I recall correctly). I wonder if they sort all the wood by weight and grain when they get it, or if they only go picking through it when someone orders hand-picked. I'm guessing the latter, but I dunno.

Honestly, I can no longer imagine buying balsa without specifying density. Before I learned to weigh it in the store before buying, I ended up with pieces both too light and spongey and also too dense and rock-hard. Since I started weighing it and making sure I get something within the target range, I've never had a problem with a single piece (either working with it, or durability). I normally target 10-12 lb/ft^3 (or as close as I can get), which qualifies as "medium density".
 

MaxQ

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National Balsa you can.
Well....if they have it.
I'll have to look into National Balsa.

This morning I searched online for wood strip 1/4 x 3/8 x any length over 24...for a project I'm working on.
After not finding it on three sources...found one (a well known national supplier) that looked promising.
I made the order, then awhile ago, I get an email informing me my order was cancelled because due to the balsa shortage they will only sell to schools.
Why didn't they tell me that on their website BEFORE I placed my order?
So I asked if I could get it in basswood .....heavier, but I'll take it.

Response....we don't carry basswood in those dimensions.

So this afternoon I got in the car, and bought all the balsa and basswood strip in that size I could find.

Where?

The two local Hobby Towns.
Asides from having it on hand, I could inspect it and cull out any warped pieces.

Buying at the LHS is always my first choice.

Buying online is my last resort.

The last balsa kit that came delivered to my door bent in half, with all the wood broken is a prime example of why.
 

CalebJ

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You can specify grain and/or density (if I recall correctly). I wonder if they sort all the wood by weight and grain when they get it, or if they only go picking through it when someone orders hand-picked. I'm guessing the latter, but I dunno.

Honestly, I can no longer imagine buying balsa without specifying density. Before I learned to weigh it in the store before buying, I ended up with pieces both too light and spongey and also too dense and rock-hard. Since I started weighing it and making sure I get something within the target range, I've never had a problem with a single piece (either working with it, or durability). I normally target 10-12 lb/ft^3 (or as close as I can get), which qualifies as "medium density".
Thanks for that explanation. Cleared up my confusion completely.
 

Jimmy

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Radio Shack had just about everything for eletcronics ,lights,switches, you name it. Sadly missed.
Last time I went to a Radio Shack it was all smart phones. I asked the clerk where the resistors were stocked. The reply? Blank stare. The store evolved into something unrecognizable.
 

Buckeye

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REI was once the place people mounting an expedition up K2 shopped, now it is The Gap with bicycles.
Indeed. I remember mail ordering climbing ropes, figure-8s, and carabiners from REI's newspaper-like catalog. Now REI is the place where suburban housewives buy overpriced NorthFace jackets.
 

Marc_G

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Last time I went to a Radio Shack it was all smart phones. I asked the clerk where the resistors were stocked. The reply? Blank stare. The store evolved into something unrecognizable.
I also disliked the change from electronics parts to consumer electronics, but let's be fair... These days, how many people in any given area actually buy resistors or diodes or whatever? The clientele the original RadioShack had disappeared. The Shack's big mistake was not embracing Maker culture and jumping into that market with a vengeance. That was the closest market to the electronic geek of the past. If they had put a couple Maker tech specialist stores in each city, and also stocked computer build components, they would have survived longer and might still be around.
 
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