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David Mills
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Cherish your Local Hobby Store

November 29, 2017 · in News · · 16 Comments

The internet has been a huge benefit to the modelling community IMHO, nevertheless it is always sad to see announcements like this one in tonight's Evening Standard.
For those of us that live in North London does that now leave only Hannants ?

16 responses

  1. It such a shame to see specialist model shops close due to internet competition. It is, I'm afraid, going to continue, but, wherever we can we must do our bit, so "Support your local shop"

  2. I frequently find that when I add in shipping costs, that "cheap" model on the internet is more expensive than the same kit in the LHS at full price. So it's not hard to support them.

  3. From someone who has no hobby shop in his small country, and would never be allowed to mail order paints or glues via the mail, I highly value getting to enter hobby shops in the countries I visit.

    Those of you who have them in your country should really appreciate them and visit them!

    On another note, maybe someone can explain:

    How is it that enamel paints that travel in aircraft over the US in the mail, from one US address to another are safe- but become immediately hazardous when put on an aircraft travelling from the US to another country!? Must be a miracle of science!

  4. I try to use the few remaining shops as much as possible [ much like the local hardware store].

  5. It is, indeed, a sad story to hear of another local hobby shop closing, especially one that has been trading for such a long time. I'm sure that competition from on-line retailers is a major factor, but I don't think it's the only one. The customer base has changed radically over the years. I remember when I was a young kid, in the 1950s, rushing to Hannants in Lowestoft, or Woolworths, to look at, and hopefully buy, the latest release by Airfix. Does this happen now? I think not. Modelling is no longer a popular past time with youngsters. Modern children are more likely to be excited by the latest mobile phone or computer game. Modelling today is mainly an interest for older people like us...I could go on with this argument, but I'll let someone else have a go.

    • I agree with you. I think its been a complex issue as to why. As a kid Kits were in every toy shop in town. Now its only specialty stores. I ran a modelling program at the charity I worked and we had kids from 9 to 16. Their main interest was Basketball. But they loved building kits. They didn't know they existed. So exposure is part of it. One of the parents donated a couple of hundred bucks. We bought supplies and found a big stash of Commando comic collections (12 in one big book) for 5.00 each. Got one for each of the kids. They came back and their parents said they read the whole thing. Some said in one sitting. When they came back they didn't ask about building planes, but asked to build Spitfires, Mustangs, Wellington bomber, asked about the RAF in Burma. Kids will build kits if they have the right environment. Which as modellers we don't always do. I've been at events where guys have said no stinking kids in our hobby they will just mess it up. Then 5 minutes later saying kids today are c**p and they don't build kits. These guys can't have it both ways.

      I have often thought for shops maybe they need to become a bit more social. Most have really cool owners and some have events and things regularly. But a lot don't. I really only go when I need something. But if there was a gathering i'd go and hang out and I am bound to buy at least some paint or something while there.

  6. Here in the States the local hobby shop is a thing of the past.

  7. I only wish there WERE a LHS that I could support. The only remaining "stores" that carry any kind of kits and/or supplies are 'chains' such as Hobby Lobby and the like. However, they carry no where near the inventory one can peruse on the internet. Leaves one little choice any more than to utilize the mail-order places.

  8. I don't know anything about this hobby shop in particular but I wonder if they have been trading on line as well as over the counter because these days you have to if you are going to survive, you have to move with the times. a friend of mine runs a second hand book shop ,it was her life's dream to spend her days in a quiet little shop surrounded by books so she packed in her job ,threw every penny she had into it and damn near lost the lot because just not enough people walk through the door even to cover the rent ,now she trades on line as well and she's doing fine, trouble is she hasn't got a quiet little book shop she's got a job,go figure...


  9. I've just re-read the newspaper article it says " Mr Harris has tried everything to compete with on line retailers" I rest my case ,I'll bet this guy could still save the place if he went on line as well as over the counter, hell I'll buy from him wouldn't you ? there's a whole world out there but they wont come to him he needs to go to them.

  10. Maybe if he tried stocking some mobile phone accessories he would attract customers who would then discover models, just a thought.

  11. That is the future. Within the coming years you will travel virtual trough the supermarket and the hobby shop. Picking out the items you want with your mouse. Put it in the basket and check out.

    The variety that for instance Hannants has to offer, a private shop can never carry this inventory. Expensive and there is no go around of the articles. At least not fast enough.

    The new modeler is buying the box, looks for etch and special decals, combined with special paints and weathering equipment. We all have our own favorites. Again, you can not expect the shop owner, to have this all in storage. So, the shop that want to survive needs to have a well filled shop and a web shop at the same time.

    I can see daily, in the city of Sluis how many shops are closing down, just because of the web shops and their discounts.

    In the Netherlands we have two super shops (aviation mega store and flash aviation) that can deliver a lot, but even I have to admit, that Hannants in the UK is my favorite web shop.

    "In stock" is also a very important phrase. And again, you can not expect this from a local trader.

    It is hard, but it is the very near future.

    Regards, Dirk / The Netherlands.

  12. Yes Dirk, I fully agree. Yet my heart bleeds every time a shop closes. Ten years from now, classic hobby-stores are a thing of the past as long as they haven't moved into the cloud. No matter how much we like to discover what a physical shop has in stock, they can not compete with the internet version. Size matters.

    I saw it coming since some years ago, there was an article in the newspaper here about the income of a shop owner (600 EUR/Mth):
    I'm sure you can translate this via Google (it's also in the cloud). I can't help but feel sorry for them. It's not because you are good a modeler you can make a living of it... Alas...

    It's impossible to make a decent living out of trading kits in case you're not on the web, where turnovers can be much bigger. In the end, model kits don't degrade, good ones are bought by people who research before they buy and are 'consumed' (i.e. built) over a longer time frame than it takes to ship. Therefore trading them is ideally suited for webshops that ship to the buyer rather than welcome the latter in a high street shop.

    I see it more of a moral obligation to trigger young people away from computer games into this hobby which is more diverse and much more creative. This in the end can ensure a wide range of products and quality kits in the future. I always try to interest kids for what I do as a modeler and it generally works once they discover what exists. Given the high street model shops disappear, us, modelers are increasingly required to do this part of the education exercise on our own.

  13. We have a couple of local shops still in existence in our community, and I think the main reason they stay open is because the owners are basically retired and don't have to produce a huge profit. One of them was interested in selling out last year, and I evaluated making him an offer, but once I delved into the financials, it wasn't a viable enterprise from which to derive an income.

    I've often thought, as some have mentioned, that in addition to being on the web, shops like this should look for other ways to ensure customer loyalty and traffic. I would love to see one of the local shops set up a library of reference materials, and charge a small monthly or an annual fee for "membership" to the library. I build most subjects only once, so don't spend much money at all on reference books and magazines. A similar thought around specific types of tools. (3D printers, punch and die sets, etc.). Another option my wife and I have discussed is to combine with a craft store that caters to women, so there is involvement of both sexes in the store traffic (would have to be very niche to compete with HobbyLobby, etc.).

  14. Hi Greg, yes, a combination of makerspace like you have for 3D and laser cutting etc., reference point and a kind of creative place for youngsters (a kind of kindergarden for older kids) to learn about the art of modeling could work. Many bookstores have now a café upstairs so the atmosphere they deliver with the purchasing experience can never be met on the internet. This is key I think!

  15. For me the nearest LHS is a 4 hour round trip in the car. When I am there I'll always leave with something

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