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What you like/dislike at hobby shops

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Old 07-29-2002, 03:07 PM
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Warmonger
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Default What you like/dislike at hobby shops

If you could design the "perfect" hobby shop in your area or online what would be different from what's available to you now (other than the obvious "lower prices" type comments)?

Thanks for the input...
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Old 07-29-2002, 03:11 PM
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Default What you like/dislike at hobby shops

It would be right next to my house. I would also have a line of credit, of which the balance would mysterously dissapear every month due to some strange computer problem.
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Old 07-29-2002, 03:36 PM
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Default What you like/dislike at hobby shops

Most hobby shops cater to the beginner which is great. All hobby shops need to carry the main lines of ARF airplanes for the person who is getting into the hobby without building time but need to stock products that cater to the builder. Walk into a Hobby Town and ask someone how to use silkspan and dope on a sheeted scale model such as a Zirolli and they probably will not know what you are talking about.

I visited Diamond (spelling?) hobby in Oshkosh WI which catered to electric R/C almost exclusively. It was a nice change since they carried the full line of electric equipment and stocked stuff that is not normally found in the chain shops. I do not fly electric but know where to go if I need that type of product.

I like hobby shops that carry the full line of product. If you are going to carry Sig dope carry the full line and not just one or two cans. Same goes for hardware and radios. If you sell JR sell all of the servos and support equipment.

There are many cottage industries out there selling specialty parts for different types of airplanes and I believe that it is hard to sell some of this stuff in large enough quantities to justify stocking it. Mail order or Internet sales will help move some of this specialty product and still keep it on the shelf for the local people.

For a shop (brick and mortar) to thrive I believe that it will have to utilize mail order sales and web site sales and carry unique products along with the entry level products.
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Old 07-29-2002, 03:58 PM
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Default LOTS OF CHOICES--ESPECIALLY HARDWARE

Most stores have the standard GP hardware and a few things from DuBro. I love choices!--Different control horns, linkages, wheels, etc.....

The BEST HOBBY STORE I HAVE BEEN IN---(and I have been in quite a few) was a converted country store in Summerfield NC. Hangar 3 I think it was called. The only place I have seen that STOCKED Webra 4 stroke engines--and they had one of each! They stocked every engine I had read about or seen advertised at the time. About 8 years ago I was looking for a Cermark 40 size Ultimate and called every mail order company advertizing in RC Modeler and MAN with no luck. They had 2 of them. When it came to covering, you were not limited to Monocoat and Ultracoat. There was the Coverite-fabric and film in ALL of the colors, Sig's covering-HEY-they had covering I had never heard of--ALL IN STOCK!
What makes this so strange is that I have been in hobby stores in NY, FLA, VA, NC,SC,GA that advertise in all of the major mags---but the best I stumbled across completely by accident!
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Old 07-29-2002, 05:04 PM
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I would want the people who worked there to know what they were doing and understood the products they were selling. I would also like for them to be aware of new products in the marketplace. Many times I see a new product announced in one of the major mags, ask about at a LHS and get a blank stare - and these people sell the magazines too! I get tired of hearing "well, it isn't my copy of their catalog so I don't know "nuthin" about it". Sometimes they offer to call on the product "sometime" and many times they don't. These offers are usually in direct proportion to the anticipated cost of the item.

My .02.

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Old 07-29-2002, 05:08 PM
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Default Re: LOTS OF CHOICES--ESPECIALLY HARDWARE

Originally posted by AJF 2
Most stores have the standard GP hardware and a few things from DuBro. I love choices!--Different control horns, linkages, wheels, etc.....

The BEST HOBBY STORE I HAVE BEEN IN---(and I have been in quite a few) was a converted country store in Summerfield NC. Hangar 3 I think it was called. The only place I have seen that STOCKED Webra 4 stroke engines--and they had one of each! They stocked every engine I had read about or seen advertised at the time. About 8 years ago I was looking for a Cermark 40 size Ultimate and called every mail order company advertizing in RC Modeler and MAN with no luck. They had 2 of them. When it came to covering, you were not limited to Monocoat and Ultracoat. There was the Coverite-fabric and film in ALL of the colors, Sig's covering-HEY-they had covering I had never heard of--ALL IN STOCK!
What makes this so strange is that I have been in hobby stores in NY, FLA, VA, NC,SC,GA that advertise in all of the major mags---but the best I stumbled across completely by accident!
Would that be Summerfield, just North of Greensboro? Wonder if it's still there?
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Old 07-29-2002, 05:17 PM
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Default What you like/dislike at hobby shops

Thanks for the input so far...

How about how much you buy online vs. in your LHS and why?

I personally buy most of my major purchases online because:

1) I can save a few bucks (online sales, mfr. direct sales, Tower promos, etc.)

2) my LHS's are too far away (30 minutes one-way is the nearest decent shop)

3) they don't make combo deals

4) Even if they happen to have the kit, they generally never have "everything" I need to complete a bird from start to finish. Seem to always be missing something I want.

With that said none of the shops in my area have even "most" of the ARF's I want to buy. They seldom have the newest and hottest.

Am I alone?
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Old 07-29-2002, 06:07 PM
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Default What you like/dislike at hobby shops

My LHS is less than a mile from my house. So no problems there. He stocks most of the stuff I need to finish a kit. The latest kit I built came with a lot of hardware, but I changed most of it out because it was all metric. I got everything I needed at the LHS. Anything tower stocks, I can get at the LHS in a couple of days, and usually at the same price, or close enough that the shipping costs balance out with the taxes I pay locally. I use hitec flight packs though, and I get the best deal on them from servocity, so thats where I get all my receivers & servos from. I bought an Irvine 53 last year, and got the best deal on that by ordering online from a hobby shop in the UK. I also bought an OS46fx recently and I got it at the LHS for the same price as Tower sells it for. In a nutshell, my decision making comes down to a balance between costs and availabilty, it all depends on how quick I need it, and how much I am willing to pay. I've been in a few of those "hobby town" places, and I dont like them. If thats what my LHS was like I would probably order a lot more online.
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Old 07-29-2002, 06:10 PM
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Default What you like/dislike at hobby shops

Mike's Hobby Shop doesn't have enuf ARFs for you? I thought that place is ARF city!?
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Old 07-29-2002, 06:12 PM
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Default What you like/dislike at hobby shops

Would that be Summerfield, just North of Greensboro? Wonder if it's still there?
--Yes it is the one north of Greensboro--and saddly--no it is not there anymore. As I hear the story, they were open 7 days a week, one of the partners sold out to the other and then he "burned out"
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Old 07-29-2002, 06:22 PM
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Default What you like/dislike at hobby shops

The perfect hobby shop should have experienced workers. I was at Hobbytown the other day trying to buy MC-59 glow plugs. The guy looked and said they didn't have any. So I asked if I could order some. He said no (I'm like ***!), and continued on to say they just got a shipment and some *might* be in it. I asked if he could look and he said no because it wasn't unpacked yet and he wasn't sure there were any. Then he offered O.S. plugs which I'm not going to pay for and the cheap Fox plugs just don't last. He said I should buy MC-9's and just lean out my truck (I told him I had a plane earlier).

People like this really get me going. I just wanted to take a few steps back and then launch myself over the counter at him.

Back to the subject...

My perfect hobby shop wouldn't have a back room, just have lots of shelf space. The customer should also be able to pick up their own parts. None of this behind the counter junk. Except maybe engines and radios, and other small and expensive parts. Nothing under $30 should ever be behind the counter.
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Old 07-29-2002, 06:23 PM
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Default What you like/dislike at hobby shops

Originally posted by Ron S
Mike's Hobby Shop doesn't have enuf ARFs for you? I thought that place is ARF city!?
Hehe... Mike's is cool, but sadly almost an hour each way. All we have in my area is a couple small car shops and a franchise store that does very little plane stuff (didn't even have 15% fuel last time I made myself go back).
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Old 07-29-2002, 06:44 PM
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Default Ditto to everything above

But to really be the IDEAL Hobby Shop...

Two words

Topless Saleswomen!
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Old 07-29-2002, 07:05 PM
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Default What you like/dislike at hobby shops

At this rate, it's just a matter of time before the LHS is a thing of the past. At that point, still think you'll be able to 'save a few bucks', when one giant mail-order outfit exists? When you call up to order your prop or glow plug, still think they'll just 'throw em in'? If you think so, you might want to go back and take a look at history. I buy from hobby shops.
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Old 07-29-2002, 07:23 PM
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Default What you like/dislike at hobby shops

Originally posted by YellowAircraft
At this rate, it's just a matter of time before the LHS is a thing of the past. At that point, still think you'll be able to 'save a few bucks', when one giant mail-order outfit exists? When you call up to order your prop or glow plug, still think they'll just 'throw em in'? If you think so, you might want to go back and take a look at history. I buy from hobby shops.
Point taken, but one giant mail order house already exists (and they own the mfg. and distributing for a bunch of brands) and the best way I can think of to combat it is to have more and better stores (in my area anyway) and that includes competitive pricing in those stores. No?
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Old 07-29-2002, 07:26 PM
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Default What you like/dislike at hobby shops

In addition to MinnFlyer's suggestion...

A hobbyshop should have knowledgable staff. I was in a local shop a while back looking for some paint. I was looking for "RAF Roundel Red". When I asked the guy if he had it he said he had never heard of "Randel Red". When I reiterated the word "Roundel" to him, he got all defensive and told me he wasn't a plane person, but that he knew everything there was to know about turbo chargers and blowers. I left without my paint. Funny thing is, they don't sell turbo chargers and blowers - they do however, sell hobby paints. If the staff doesn't know the products they sell, then they are not a useful resource to their customers.

Russ.
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Old 07-29-2002, 07:32 PM
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Default What you like/dislike at hobby shops

I am fortunate enough to have a LHS owner who OWNS, OPERATES, TRADES, and FLYS HIMSELF. This is hard to beat! His prices are the same as the mail order and you do have to wait till Friday if you order Tuesday. He seems to get all of the new stuff quicker than everybody else, plus he is a friend. There are nice people at mail order places, but no friends there.
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Old 07-29-2002, 07:49 PM
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Default What you like/dislike at hobby shops

The prices at my LHS are nearly the same as at a mail order, but there is a 10% discount for AMA members. This cancels out the tax and then some. So the prices equals mail order but there is no shipping charge or wait.
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Old 07-29-2002, 08:06 PM
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Default What you like/dislike at hobby shops

I know there are stores that hire minimum wage people who know little more than how to run a cash register--but mail order places do the same--this is what I posted months ago in the thread "where to buy cheap servos"-


-Hobby Horse had the best price at the time I ordered mine--but I had a bad experience with them. A girl was taking my order and she did not know what I wanted. When I tried to explain she put me on with somebody else(a man). I knew what I wanted and it was not the $60 1/4 scale servo although I did not know the exact product number at the time. I was very tactfully trying to explain that I wanted the Hi-Tech 1/4 scale servo that was not $60 when I was told if I wanted to ask questions I should not call the 1 800 number and that I should call back on the other number to talk and ask questions.-------

At that time I had a $100.00 going on-(believe me, 8 years ago a $100.00 order was big---to me anyway)-needless to say, I cancelled and have never called again.
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Old 07-29-2002, 08:54 PM
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Default What you like/dislike at hobby shops

True,

Fact is, though, an actual store-front retail establishment cannot continue to sell at mail-roder prices and stay in business long. Usually, the mail order prices are 5% above what small shops pay for the item, so there's no way they can turn a profit.

I was talking about when there's ONE big mail order outfit. Right now, there are several, but it won't stay like that at this current rate. It's just a matter of time before there's only one. Then, they'l set the price for maximum profit, including establishing minimum overhead (fewer employees) parameters. That's the way of big business, and the small businesses that used to compose the backbone of American economy are SOL.

I used to manage a LHS, and lemme tell you, it's tough. Guy comes in, asks to 'see' a kit, opens the box, rifles through it for an hour, asks 1,128 questions about it, then goes and buys it from Tower because they sold it for $5 less (and threw in some cheap glue). Then, he usually has the nerve to come in and get your valuable help in installing his Tower Hobbies 4-ch. radio into his 5-ch. plane, because he can't figure it out. This same guy will come in and present a Tower catalog and ask if I can match prices on Futaba servos (because he really wants to do business with me). I check the prices, just to find that Futaba servos are sold to hobby shops at 9.99, and the same people sell the same servo in Tower for 10.99 (and no tax!). If I agreed to go for the $1 profit, I'd be using the dollar to pay the phone bill for the order, the guys who open the box and tag the merchandise, and the little percentage on the credit card sale. As you can see, it's not so simple for the LHS. For those who complain about brain-dead employees, you're right often enough. We had a shop, though, where half of the employees were sponsored pilots, some of them even famous experts. It doesn't make a difference to the guy who wants to get his smudges all over some fresh balsa and then go buy the kit from Tower.
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Old 07-29-2002, 09:40 PM
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Default What you like/dislike at hobby shops

Canesugarules,

What store in New Orleans are you refering to??? I get down there several times a year where is it?

David Reid
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Old 07-29-2002, 09:57 PM
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Default What you like/dislike at hobby shops

That is great insight Shaun... Retail is hard enough and even harder when the biggest distributors control big retail channels too (online, mail-order, etc.).

It is great though to see some hobby shops importing their own lines now and some struggling U.S. mfrs. seem to be finding new owners, etc... Maybe a smart LHS owner will have a chance if this continues.

In my case a large number of the planes that I think are cool are not even carried by the LHS. I wouldn't have known about them without searching the web, but my point is the LHS is obviously not doing the same (and putting one on the shelf). These kits are not handled by the conglomerates and should allow some profit.

If I'm so smart though maybe I should give it a go
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Old 07-29-2002, 10:05 PM
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Default What you like/dislike at hobby shops

THE BEST HOBBY STORE IS IN THE US IS WINDER HOBBY IN WINDER GA. MARK HAS ALL KINDS OF RC STUFF. AND HE TRADES ON USED PLANES AND HAS ALOT IN STOCK HIS IS 770 867 9148. THANKS LOGGER
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Old 07-29-2002, 10:18 PM
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Default What you like/dislike at hobby shops

Originally posted by YellowAircraft
Fact is, though, an actual store-front retail establishment cannot continue to sell at mail-roder prices and stay in business long. Usually, the mail order prices are 5% above what small shops pay for the item, so there's no way they can turn a profit.
Hmm... a LHS here sell radio gear at 5% below magazine ad price, and everything ellse at 10% less. How does he turn a profit.

In the long run, the LHS must be price competitive with mail order if it is to continue to prosper. I don't mind paying a little more at the LHS, in fact most of my hobby dollar goes to LHSs, but I don't care to line their wallet with my hard earned money.

You are right that most small LHS can't afford to compete with the mail order giants. The only way to stay in business is to grow larger. That way, the LHS can stay healthy on higher sales volume.

As for the perfect LHS, I think they should concentrate on the one advantage they have over mail order - letting the modeler get the small parts and misc items right there and then. This means a fully stocked parts shelves. I could care less if my LHS has the ARF or kit in stock - 4 out of the 5 ARFs I bought from LHS this year I special ordered. These days, with the internet, online forums and downloadable manuals, I already know exactly what I want before I make a buying decision. ARFs and engines are never an impulse buy with me. AFAIMC, the LHS don't need to have every ARF or engine in stock, just a few to show the lines they offer.
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Old 07-30-2002, 07:49 AM
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Default What you like/dislike at hobby shops

This LHS that sells at 5 and 10 percent below mail order, who are they? I'd like to find out how they do that, also! No, a LHS can't try to be price competitive with mail order in order to prosper. There's no prosperity in that at all. The LHS and the mail order probably get their merchandise from the same distributor, and the mail order guy buys an item hundreds at a time. An LHS might buy the same item three at a time. The distributors sell at volume discounts to the mail order guys, who, can sell it at 3% less than the LHS, but still make 10% more profit. That's the reality.

So many hobby customers get mad when they don't see every single item in a given line on the shelves of a shop. As a consumer, I am also impatient that way. Remember though, that the LHS guy loses the ability to stock the shelves every time he loses a customer to mail order.

I got out of the LHS business mostly because I realized that I could be buying turbines instead of spending that money on anti-depressants. The best one, though: You've spent two hours making your customer a veritable expert on RC. Finally, he says, "Ring it up." You've got the stuff at the counter, he's filling out his check, and when you turn around to grab some ZAP for him, some *****hole behind him whispers that Tower has all the same stuff in a combo that would save him $45 (the *****hole doesn't mention that the combo comes with the cheapee stuff). The customer says "Really?" and cancels the sale, walks out the door with the number to Tower that the friendly *****hole wrote down for him on the back of one of our business cards.

The fella in the story, you know who you are!
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