Go Back  RCU Forums > RC Airplanes > Questions and Answers
Reload this Page >

Opening a RC Related Hobby store

Notices
Questions and Answers If you have general RC questions or answers discuss it here.

Opening a RC Related Hobby store

Old 02-25-2003, 08:18 PM
  #1  
jlgrebe
Thread Starter
My Feedback: (7)
 
Join Date: Nov 2002
Location: Marietta, GA
Posts: 56
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Default Opening a RC Related Hobby store

I am considering (early thinking stages) opening a retail hobby store in Marietta, GA. I don't know about the rest of you, but I am not aware of any full-line shops in the area since NHS closed.

I am interested in hearing opinions about this idea. Do other people in the north metro Atlanta area agree that we do not have enough retail options?

What lines of product would be most attractive?

Is everything price driven in this hobby, or is there perceived value to having a well stocked local shop?

Thanks for taking the time to answer.
Old 02-25-2003, 08:57 PM
  #2  
BingoFlyer
Senior Member
 
BingoFlyer's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Lady Lake, FL
Posts: 352
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Default Opening a RC Related Hobby store

Most every thing is price driven in this hobby, a well stocked shop with knowledgeable employees would be a positive.

You will have to remember that you supplier is also your competitor. Both Great Planes and Horizon (distributors) have mail order discount stores and you will have to come close to matching their prices or your costumers will mail order.

A well stocked parts and accessories shop will help (few will mail order for the small stuff but will cry when the LHS has to close the doors because of low profit.

It would also be an advantage if you can find a good area and low overhead (not likely).

With all the negatives I would like to say that many LHS do indeed survive and make a fair profit but I have seen many go under.

I lived in an area that the LHS was 95 miles round trip for me to use and was in a resort area in NW Michigan, he started carrying cameras and then optical equipment to supplement the R/C and finally closed the doors to the R/C.
Old 02-25-2003, 10:06 PM
  #3  
coomarlin
Senior Member
My Feedback: (1)
 
coomarlin's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2002
Location: Morgantown, WV
Posts: 1,015
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Default Opening a RC Related Hobby store

Seems like there are a lot of negatives to opening your own shop. The trend now adays is that the smaller shops can't compete with the huge mail order companies like Tower and Horizon.

It is often said that the best way to make a small fortune in the hobby business is to start with a large fortune

Sad but probably true.
Old 02-26-2003, 02:22 AM
  #4  
Tippie
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Private, GA
Posts: 298
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Default Alcoholic

Kind of like alcoholics, always figure a bar would be a good investment since they spend so much money there. Anyway, all it takes is $100,000 to get started with inventory. There is a definite need for a good RC hobby shop in the North/Northwest/West Atlanta area but as already pointed out you have to compete with your own suppliers and all the other internet sellers. High traffic location isn't necessary with this niche market. The problem as I see it, is that the customers expect you to have every thing they need, want or ever thought of buying, in your inventory which you know is impossible. But, then they buy from the mail order/internet supplier and are willing to wait 1 or 2 weeks to get it at 5% less and complain about the poor service from the LHS. If you want, I can furnish a name of a friend that tried to start a hobby shop in Marietta with a partner about 10 years ago and didn't make it. He can tell you all about it, and the internet wan't that much of a factor then. If you expect to make a living at it, good luck. If you are retired and just want to have fun and enjoy the hobby they you can probably survive. Give Bill Divins, at the Hobby Stop in Peachtree City a call when he is there (Monday-Wednesday 10am-2pm) or go look at his store. Three retirees own it, Bill is the President. Good Luck, hope you make the right decision.
Old 02-26-2003, 03:52 AM
  #5  
Homebrewer
My Feedback: (8)
 
Join Date: Dec 2001
Location: Colorado Springs, CO
Posts: 1,359
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Default Opening a RC Related Hobby store

I knew two people who were in the hobby business. Both of them had this to say:

Its easy to make a SMALL FORTUNE in the hobby business...all you have to do is start out with a LARGE FORTUNE.

Profit margins on ARFs, engines is next to nothing. Higher profit margin items such as screws, pushrods, wheels, etc...don't sell as well since ARFs hit the scene and come with all necessary hardware,

If you wish to open a hobby shop as a hobby, go ahead. If you are looking to support yourself and your family, I'd think twice.
Old 02-26-2003, 03:14 PM
  #6  
jlgrebe
Thread Starter
My Feedback: (7)
 
Join Date: Nov 2002
Location: Marietta, GA
Posts: 56
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Default Opening a RC Related Hobby store

Good feedback so far. I thank all of you for your input. I have spent some time lately in a large franchise hobby store. Their prices on planes, helicopters, and related items seems to be 5% to 20% higher than the best prices advertised in RCM and Model Aviation magazine (e.g. JR 10x @ $1,499 -- $250 higher than Horizon) -- and I do not see them moving a lot of high-end plane related merchandise. BUT -- they seem to do a booming business with cars (gas, electric, on-road, off-road, you name it), and RTF park-flyers (e.g. HobbyZone, GWS, etc.) -- I do not know nearly as much about prices in this area of the RC hobby, but I have to imagine that their prices are similarly high here as well. So why are they able to sell so much car stuff -- is the consumer less informed? Is the market more oriented toward parents buying for the kids vs. buying for themselves?

I recall that a LHS (primarily planes and trains) got into cars for a while, and the foot traffic (and sales) increased significantly. But, after a year or so, the owner got out of selling cars because of the hassels with customer returns -- people would buy expensive cars, abuse them for a weekend (crash, run engines lean, etc.) and expect the LHS to refund their money. By the way -- that LHS is no longer in business.

More points to consider for additional feedback

Thanks
Jim Grebe
AMA 391982
Old 02-26-2003, 04:29 PM
  #7  
FLYBOY
My Feedback: (11)
 
FLYBOY's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Missoula, MT
Posts: 9,037
Likes: 0
Received 2 Likes on 1 Post
Default Opening a RC Related Hobby store

I had a hobby shop for a long time before I went to flight school to fly real planes. You need another line to keep it afloat unless you go mail order. You don't get as many discounts from wholesalers if you are mail order. It is tough because your cost on a lot of kits and engines are what you can get them mail order. Tower and Great planes are one in the same. Great planes sells to you as a retailer, tower sells to the public at darn near the same price the shop would buy it. You need to sell cars too. They bring in a lot of traffic. You also need to keep anything to do with cars under glass or behind the counter. I had a high theft rate from kids till I moved them. It was my secondary business, so I sold kits and engines and radios at darn near mail order price, and the small stuff sold at retail. It worked really well. You can go through $100,000 putting inventory in in no time and it doesn't take up much space. If you have people that know what they are doing and can talk to customers and are good with people, you can do well. You can also have one employee do nothing but sell online. That would help. It is a fun business. I have often thought of putting in a small one in our new shop. It would be fun. PM or email me if you want some more info. Good luck if you try it.
Old 03-01-2003, 02:13 AM
  #8  
Farmall
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: Ligonier, IN
Posts: 10
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Default Opening a RC Related Hobby store

I agree with everything posted above, been there done that,

My rule #1 now, Don't turn your hobby into a business, it will ruin the hobby. It is so true! I know...

Overhead will kill you, your markups will be too high to compete and your market share will be too small.

If you must open a store you must do mailorder because you will need the volume, problem is the competition there is outragous already and you will have to give things away to sell them.

Open a craft shop instead they seem to do well....
Old 03-01-2003, 04:39 AM
  #9  
w0mbat
My Feedback: (1)
 
w0mbat's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2001
Location: Cape Coral FL
Posts: 517
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Default Opening a RC Related Hobby store

I believe the key to running a hobby shop and being successful is either having a large enough inventory to compete with Tower or doing something that no one else is doing. Get set up with manufactuers other than Great Planes - who are willing to work with you on volume purchases. Next, have a marketing plan. Most people I see in the hobby shop business have no clue how to market products. They rent a building, put $5,000 or $10,000 in inventory into it and expect the products to sell themselves. You need to advertise - newspapers, hobby magazines, internet, etc. If you have no advertising or graphic design experience, that puts you at a disadvantage right away because now you have to hire someone. Also, you need a good internet website with an easy to use shopping cart. I see a lot of hobby shop websites that are very poorly designed.

Do something like selling your engines at cost in order to draw people to your store. People will walk in to buy an engine and probably leave with many other items.

And finally inventory. Why would I want to buy items from you, if it takes you a week to have them shipped in? I might as well order directly from Tower or Horizon, save a few bucks and have it shipped to my door. Products are really hard to sell when you don't have them in stock. Advertise only what you have in stock and ship every order complete, the same day.

Like Flyboy said, you have to be good with people. Overly friendly on the phone - every day - all day! Handle every problem right away and don't hassle anyone. Make people want to order from you because they like you.

Don't let the naysayers get you down - find a niche and run with it! There's plenty of room for good hobby shops.
Old 03-01-2003, 02:26 PM
  #10  
joeyM
Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2001
Location: langhorne, PA
Posts: 71
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Default stock up on car parts!

a friend of mine opened a hobby shop about 1 mile from me--he is doing pretty well--shop has been opened for 1 year--he told me the majority of his business is car kits and car parts--doesnt sell many airplanes.....joe
Old 03-07-2003, 03:16 AM
  #11  
trent92
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: San Antonio, TX
Posts: 2
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Default franchises

All...is there any other Hobby Shops franchises other than HobbyTown USA?
Old 03-07-2003, 05:03 AM
  #12  
CafeenMan
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Spring Hill, FL
Posts: 4,734
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Default Opening a RC Related Hobby store

Here are my honest thoughts. Keep in mind that I have no business sense.

The only shops I see really making it are one of three types:

1) Online/Internet sales only. High volume/low prices, zilch for customer service. More on that later.

2) Established shops that have a large following of old-timers. When the older generation isn't around any more I expect those shops to disappear too.

3) Shops owned by people famous within the hobby. People go there to get their specialized knowledge. Obviously a guy won't give you the time of day if you're buying everything from Tower and bringing it to his shop asking him how to put the ducted fan in and never buy anything from him.

Customer service is a huge plus. When I was a kid and just getting started, the guy in the shop would drive to my house to help me build my model. Then he would drive me to the field and teach me to fly. It was a long drive from his place to mine and the field was going the other way from where he lived. Obviously he went far out of his way to help me out.

The shops I go into now won't even stop playing with their personal model long enough to point me to whatever I'm looking for and I have no desire to buy from them. If the folks in the shop take the time to listen to my war stories and help me out then I'll buy from them. But when it comes to high-dollar items, I have to buy mail order or I'd be priced out of the hobby. I don't mind spending extra on fuel, glow plugs, covering, and other miscellaneous items at the LHS because I do want them to stay in business.

I'd love to see people taking an active interest in the welfare of the hobby rather than getting a quick fix with arf's, internet shopping, etc., but I think that's going to be a long time coming.

In our club people ***** about paying $30 dues every year and we have a great field right in the middle of town protected by a huge property that will never be commercialized, so as long as we don't tick off the owner, we're golden for a long time to come. Point being that some people just never appreciate anything but they expect a lot and that will be something you will have to overcome.

I wish you all the luck though. I'd love to see a good, well-stocked shop with people truly interested in helping hobbyists in every town in the U.S.

Oh yeah... as JoeyM said, if you are dedicated to cars or japanese action figures or whatever the latest craze is you'll do fine. It's R/C aircraft shops that seem to have trouble.
Old 03-07-2003, 05:37 PM
  #13  
FLYBOY
My Feedback: (11)
 
FLYBOY's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Missoula, MT
Posts: 9,037
Likes: 0
Received 2 Likes on 1 Post
Default Opening a RC Related Hobby store

You can make it with a hobby shop if it is in the right spot, and there is a large enough customer base. You can create a bigger base by having more than hobby stuff. I ran my hobby shop out of the back of an office supply company that I worked for. The office supply company covered the overhead, and the hobby shop stuff was a small section in back about 20 X 15 that had a ton of good merchandise that sold. I didn't stock anything that sat. It worked great. You can't do a franchise though. There is not enough money in the business and to have to pay franchise fees on top would kill it.

Get a good business plan together. Figure out what you can put in with it that will sell and help cover overhead and employess and everything else. It is tough to do RC alone and make money. It can be done if you do it right.
Old 03-07-2003, 05:48 PM
  #14  
MinnFlyer
Senior Member
My Feedback: (4)
 
MinnFlyer's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Willmar, MN
Posts: 28,519
Likes: 0
Received 5 Likes on 5 Posts
Default Opening a RC Related Hobby store

Cafeen Man, you left out one type:
4 the guy who runs a hobby shop out of his basement. He is either retired, or only open at night. His profits are minimal, but he's not in it for the money, just so he has a constant supply of parts, and a few visitors each week to chew the fat with.

PS, this is one of my favorite types!
Old 03-07-2003, 06:17 PM
  #15  
CafeenMan
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Spring Hill, FL
Posts: 4,734
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Default Opening a RC Related Hobby store

MinnFlyer - Good point. I know at least one guy like that. He's bought out a couple shops that were going under and then he bought a trailer (tractor-trailer) and put all the stuff in there and also uses it for his personal shop.

But I was specifically talking about shops that are self-supporting and support the owner and employees. Basement shops are great, but they don't pay the bills.
Old 03-08-2003, 03:49 AM
  #16  
ChuckN
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: tucson, AZ
Posts: 482
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Default Opening a RC Related Hobby store

You gotta stock what's moving AND what gives you good profit margins. If you can stay in touch with your customers' wants and needs than you can do OK providing the profit margin is there. Unfortunately, R/C airplane products have the lowest profit margins in the hobby industry. Plastic models, rockets, and trains have some of the best profit margins. Also, keep a close eye on your overhead as the rent (or mortgage) and the utility bills could bankrupt you.
Old 04-04-2003, 04:22 AM
  #17  
Eaglewatch
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Dunnellon, FL
Posts: 108
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Default Opening a RC Related Hobby store

I think what can set you apart is CUSTOMER SERVICE. It's what is being neglected in more and more businesses these days. The small hobby shop business is meant for people who WANT to be involved in hobbies . . . it's not the place for indifference. Take the time to get interested in your customers: it will pay off in many ways. Find out what they build, and listen to their problems (like a good bartender would).
Offer your repeat customers little "specials" or some freebies, to keep them coming back. Get familiar with all the local fliers, the clubs, club activities (maybe sponsor an event or two), and familiarize yourself with all other facets of the hobby markets which you will supply.
If you lack some knowledge of a particular area, read or research that area so you can offer helpful information. Don't be afraid to call on the "experts" in R/C . . . some may not want to help, but many will offer you some excellent advice. It will be the good relations you develop which will set you apart from the mass-marketing, large mail-order firms. And the service aspects will likely be what will keep you afloat, while the guy who ignores his customers and takes them for granted will eventually need another business.

Regards,

Al
[email protected]

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service - Do Not Sell My Personal Information -

Copyright 2018 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.