Saturday, March 8, 2014

A Death in the Family

I usually try to keep my blog positive and focused on how to improve modeling skills and attitudes.  This post is going to be different, it's all bad.  I few years ago I moved close to a major metropolis and close to a hobby shop.  Before that I lived over an hour away from the closest shop so I rarely went to them and when I did I had to make sure I got everything I needed for at least a month.  I used to take a random Saturday morning and hit a couple of places and stop at a few other stores we didn't have locally.  I didn't hang out there and I didn't know any modelers there, I was just a random customer.  I bought a few kits and fewer detailing parts, I wasn't exactly keep the hobby shops in business with my purchases.   I remember on particular day, I made the circuit of all the hobby shops in the Columbus area just to check them out.
After we moved close to Columbus, I found out that most of the hobby shops had closed.  It's the same old song about hobbies dying off with our generation and "them kids only wanna stare at their video games" that we've all heard or said a million times.  There is one hobby shop that is close to my house and I regularly go there, as a matter of fact, it's my Friday night hangout.  Several guys go there and hang out on Fridays and build models, we've gotten to know the owner quite well, and we basically get the run of the place.  After our weekly build sessions, we all go to a local restaurant and have a couple of beers and shoot the bull a little.  I spend reasonable money there, usually buying a kit a month and lots of detail parts, I would be considered a "good" customer.
The point of all of this is, this hobby shop is closing at the end of the month.  Gone.  I will now have to drive halfway across town for my Friday night modeling fix.  Luckily, the same guy owns the other store, so that relationship will continue.  In talking with the owner about this, his biggest reason for closing is poor sales and his greatest competition is the internet and Hobby Lobby.  He cannot match the prices.  Now I understand capitalism and all that, but let's examine what you really get when you buy from the local hobby shop.  Yes, kits cost way more than you can get them for with your 40% coupon at Hobby Lobby or you can order them for on the internet and I can blah, blah, blah about how the local guy has to keep the lights on, but you don't care, you just want your 10,000th kit for the cheapest price you can get it for.  Next time you're in Hobby Lobby ask the clerk about that nifty new photo etch kit you saw in a magazine or who's making that really cool resin conversion for the kit you just bought.  Go ahead, I'll wait.  That RC car you had to have so you bought it online because it was cheaper, feel free to email them about how to dial it in for optimum fun.  Again, I'll wait.  You need some quick service on it, feel free to swing by and have them help you out.  I'll wait.  You want to scratchbuild that gizmo on your dohicky?  Make a quick trip to the online hobby shop with your kit and compare sizes and thicknesses of Evergreen styrene to get exactly what you want.  I'll wait, I'm not real busy.  How about the thrill of having a 1/4 oz bottle of Testor's overnighted at a cost of $10 so you can finish up that model for a big contest?  Ask the swap meet guy to take a return on a kit because you already have that one and you don't need another, of course, you'll have to wait until you find him again months later. Again, I'll wait for you, take your time.
I agree, the cost of stuff at a hobby shop is higher than online, higher than Hobby Lobby, and higher than the swap meet guy. But you can't hang out with other modelers at any of these places (OK, you can at the swap meet because it's usually at a model show).  You don't get advice or tips there, and they don't recommend cool way to do stuff and then show you how to do it.  Don't give me the bullshit about how online forums are the same as hanging out, they are not.  Having been in both situations because I lived so far from a hobby shop I relied on the internet for all of my modeling interaction and then moved close enough to hang out at a shop, it ain't the same.  My modeling has improved greatly through personal interaction compared to online interaction.  To those guys who do not have the live interaction option, I feel for you.  As car modelers, we are a bunch of cheap bastards.  We want a superdetailed 100% accurate kit for $5.  We wouldn't spend $2 on a detail kit if it made the model run like a real car.  "Oh my God! $30 for a kit!  That's ridiculous!! I remember when these were $2 when I was a kid."  Get over it, gas was 19 cents a gallon and candy bars were a dime, too.  Hobby shop owners are not getting rich off of you, they are in it because they love it.  The guys trying to get rich left 30 years ago, this is a dying pastime, as it dies the cost will go up.
Next time you pontificate about the tragedy of the local hobby shop closing, ask yourself how much money you spent there in the last week.  Then think about how much money you spent at the last show, at Hobby Lobby at 40% off, and how much you spent online.  Then think about how you are going to get those basic supplies you need once the local hobby shop is gone.  Now who killed the local hobby shop?
"Rat Fink" Ron

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