In days of my youth (about 150 or so years ago), there were a lot of great hobby stores about... many more than there are today. I'm sure they are suffering from the so-called "Amazon effect" just like so many brick and mortar establishments... this is nothing new. These stores were usually owned by curmudgeonly know-it-alls who more or less talked down to you about what you were up to, but that didn't matter to me, I valued their sage advice and it *usually* worked out well.
Where is this all going, you ask?
A few days ago I wandered into the Spare Time Shop in Marlboro and found out the hard way Midwest no longer manufactured AeroGloss Sanding sealer so I started looking around and heard of this stuff sold by a company called Brodak. It sounded good so I dropped an email to the spare time shop to see if they might want to possibly stock this stuff. Short answer was: "No, there are not a lot of wood guys around any more." He also said they have 'pine car derby event" stuff for sealer. Ok... well I know how to order on-line and pay a nice shipping fee or I can drive out to Hog Heaven Hobbies near Sturbridge... whatever. He did lament a bit about how our membership doesn't come in on a consistent basis (I get that it's easier to click on something... maybe he doesn't), but what the fellow also reminded me about was (as snipped from the email he sent and cleaned up a bit):
"We give an annual birthday 40% discount (for cash purchase, 30% otherwise) on "kits/boxed items/rockets"! Remember we give a club" discount of 20% on in store purchases, and can go as high as 30% for cash payment on "bulk" orders and/or "quantities"; our RI suppliers delivers, so HASMAT
is not an issue; pass this info along;"
So there are some details we as an organization we may not know about for the Spare Time Shop... I hate paying shipping, I hate paying HAZMAT, and I LIKE wasting time milling around a store... maybe you do too ?
Furthermore I saw that he had a supply of the Estes 29mm BP motors and has good stock on 18/24 mm motors as well. No composite stuff tho...
John "not trying to sound like a shill, but I'd hate to see these guys dissapear" Petrakis
I find this to be an excellent topic. I'm sure most people our age have fond memories of going to hobby shops for trains, slot cars, models and even chemicals for my chemistry set. I remember a shop at the Liberty Tree Mall that sold Estes kits and engines. I once visited the Spare Time shop and noted that they have a large selection of kits, parts and engines. I noticed that everyone in the store was 50 years old and above. You bring out some very valid points concerning online purchases. Traffic stinks everywhere. When can I drive from Revere, MA to Marlboro without hitting all kinds of traffic? Especially on route 20. For the most part young people don't do hobbies, they are into computer games. It's so refreshing to see young people involved at CMASS launches. Some weekend I'll try to get down to the Spare Time shop and buy a few rocketry items.
My hope for the few remaining "real" hobby shops in the area is to see our members go thru them from time to time. The more we do that, then the more inventory they might stock... if they stock more inventory, we'll pay less in shipping (which I think mostly makes up for the cost of paying retail depending upon quantity ordered and so forth) when we do buy some stuff. I'm not sure the math would necessarily work out... but I don't mind paying a bit more so long as the gap isn't too big And to top it off, I get to drive home with stuff.
I took a road trip to the Spare Time Shop in Marlboro. I bought a $20 kit and received a 20% CMASS discount. They have a Saturn kit. I think the cost is $80. There is a hobby shop called the Hobby Bunker in Malden, MA that also sells a few kits and BP engnes. They are willing to order engines that they do not have in stock. They sell CA and epoxy.
I have been an all too infrequent participant in this hobby over the years and many people in this club probably don't know who I am anymore. But, I managed the Spare Time Shop for a little over 9 years. I gotta say I don't know what the aversion most of the membership has to shopping there. I have told many people about all the discounts mentioned above 40% on your birthday, 20% for being a CMASS member, bulk order discounts, price matching, no shipping. Plus he has a number of "Holiday sales" throughout the year where he has given as much as 60% off on items. I have passed out flyers for these sales at several launches in the past. He will also always order you anything his distributors carry. Yet I can count on one hand the number of club members I remember seeing in the store. I have been back as a customer 4 or 5 times since I left working there. The Rocketry section is shrinking down again. At one point He stocked rockets from Aerotek, Estes, Quest, Custom, Starlight, Sunward, Rocketarium, and Launch Pad. I was working on convincing him to carry Fliss Kits but he never did give in. The Estes and Quest stuff sold well enough but the rest of it.... nope. Quest dropped off the planet and Aerotek screwed all their distributors who promptly stopped carrying their products. Paul is one of those old curmudgeons you mentioned and is very set in his ways. If it's not putting money in the till he doesn't put effort into it.
My attitude was always If you stock it, people will come in to buy it. His attitude is if people come in to buy it, I'll start stocking it. In the end he looses because 90% of the people just shrug their shoulders and say eh, I'll just order it on Amazon. It's probably cheaper anyway (even if it isn't).
Going to a Hobby Shop isn't supposed to be about money. It's about having the items you purchase in your hand as soon as you purchase them. Then going out to the car and opening them and starting the daydreaming about how you are going to build them. What paint scheme. What decal options. Modifications. Motors. Getting excited to build something cool for the 1,000,000th time. Even if you know it's just going to go in the stash when you get home.
It's about the social interaction while you are there. Remember when humans engaged in social interaction? Some of the best conversations I have had in my life took place in The Spare Time Shop. I spoke with WW2 veterans from all branches of service. Korean Veterans, Vietnam Veterans, Gulf War Veterans. NASA, Raytheon, Lockheed, Boeing, Electric Boat, and Sikorsky employees. And a couple NFL and MLB players as well. I learned a LOT about humanity, history and modeling just hanging out at hobby shops.
And there's a little bit of adventure in it too. At least I think there is. It could be the Texan in me but I enjoy getting in the car and driving to a place. I used to drive 3 1/2 hours down to Houston just to go to 2 shops I liked have some lunch and drive 3 1/2 hours back. Driving down to Countdown Hobbies in Conn. back in the day or even to Hanger 18 in NY was no big deal. In fact, it was fun.
Sorry about the rant guys. I hope you will consider stopping in to your local shop whatever/wherever it is and supporting them.