Mail order on the increase?

Do you guys who've been around a while find yourselves ordering more from magazine ads and/or net sites, and going to the LHS less? I've
noticed that as traffic increases around here (Portland, OR) I'm less and less inclined to drive the eleven miles to the only well-stocked hobby shop in the area, and more inclined to order direct. Buying balsa, plywood, etc. from places like Lone Star or Superior is way cheaper than going to the LHS, and often kits, engines, adhesives, etc, are not enough cheaper, considering gas and frustration with traffic, to make it worthwhile to buy locally.
While I WANT to support my LHS, I'm doing it less recently. Driving 28 miles into the country to fly is bad enough; driving eleven miles through city traffic is too much. What about you guys in other parts of the country?
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I did Tower for lots of stuff at first. Since there's been a hobby shop/pawn shop about 46 miles away. He'll meet or beat Tower and he flies and he's a nice guy so I buy MOST from him now. Less online/mail order. mk

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Geoff, So what part of Portland do you live in? I'm figuring by well stocked, you mean Tammies. There are others. I myself don't like mail order. I like to touch, feel, & hold things b4 I buy them. Price isn't an issue, since my LHS matches Tower's prices. I also don't like waiting a week or so for the UPS truck to show up. Then there is the hassle of returning some thing that didn't fit or work out right. Paul in Redland
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Paul in Redland wrote:

You return stuff? You're supposed to save it for the next model!
Is Aero Sports on Glisan still 'well stocked'? It used to be my LHS when I lived in Damascus and it was on 122nd and Division. I stopped going when Leon retired.
If I know I'm going to need it I mail order balsa, paint and other bulk building materials -- the good suppliers will select balsa for you, at the LHS you get what's left after all the good stuff has been picked out (unless you're early -- then you can pick out all the good stuff yourself!).
--

Tim Wescott
Wescott Design Services
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Paul in Redland wrote: Redland, as in the Oregon City suburb?

SE, near 39th and Powell.

Yep.
The new one in Jantzen Beach is a joke; Coyote in OC is good, but small. And RC Modeler NW is waaaaaay out there.

For some things, you're right. But when you buy $100 worth of balsa?
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Geoff, Yup, Redland as in rural Oregon City, though not quite suburb status yet. I also like Tammies but find that the drive to Beaver Town just isn't worth it for me. I haven't been there in over a year. I do my business with Coyote in beautiful down town Oregon City, it's close. Russ is expanding his store and I really like the fact that his main emphasis is aircraft. If he doesn't stock something I want, he'll order it for me and price it the same as Tower w/o any shipping charge. Having said all that, you sound like a scratch builder ($100 worth of balsa) my hat's off to you, I wish I had that kind of time. Are you with one of the area clubs? Where do you do your flying? Paul ...............in Redland
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Honestly- I haven't bought anything from a mail order house since I ordered a bunch of hard to get 1/16 x 1/8" spruce, from Sig, around 1970- ! So I guess I'm not the one keeping all these places going...                 Paul
Geoff Sanders wrote:

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HOBBY/PAWN SHOP? THATS NEW ONE ON ME!!! but i like to do both(support LHS and mail order) because most of the shops in My area all cater to the car, trucks rc'ers and for good reason- they spend big money... fliers(heli too) don't. it's as simple as that.
wrote:

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Gig Wrote:

In My section of our country, the north east and yes I am being vague, some so called hobby shop's are being operated out of hardware store's, garage's and any local peddler on any given street corner, well not that just yet but I think you know what I mean. When I was in the business I had to have a legitimate HOBBY SHOP before I was able to get the big boy account's, lol. It seem's now the big 5 can't give these account's away, what's that about? To drive 28 mile's for any hobby would make me search for another hobby but this one is so addictive. I only have to drive 1 or 2 minute's from our field but don't feel bad, we are getting grief from 1 :censored: and now we can only fly when the park is open. We used to be able to fly year around but there is always' 1 :censored: to spoil the fun. I would like to believe that we model aviator's, boater's, driver's and all around R/Cer's can get together and function as 1 group, with 1 voice and make a statement, leave us alone we are just having good clean high octane fun. Flying field's are being lost all over the USA and it is not getting any better. If any one has any idea's, other than all those that have come before(, there not working) I would like to hear your voice. Maybe from this little forum a loud voice can be summoned, it's needed for the future of flying. The number's are saying so. AMA is losing member's, flying field's are being lost, boater's are losing their water's and driver's are losing their track's. We are all in the same boat,lol. Let's get together and feel alright.
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I can usually sneak off during work hours to hit my LHS as I work outdoors and am citywide. Simple task to detour a couple of blocks on the way back to the city yard at the end of the day. I do order things online from time to time but since nobody is home to sign for things during the day I really weight the decision. Quite often I have things shipped to my father's house. He is retired and home during the day. He then brings whatever it was to the field the following saturday or I drop by on the way home from work. (This is also handy when you buy that kit that comes in a large, hard to explain to the better half, box) I try to support my LHS whenever I possibly can. The owner will usually match or beat large item prices for me. The thought of the only hobby shops remaining if he goes under being Slobby People or Hobby Clown is too depressing to contemplate even tho we have both here in Santa Clarita and the Slobby People is within walking distance. They mainly cater to the car dudes so getting help at the plane counter requires patience.
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I've been intentionally trying to do the opposite. I spent a lot of money at Tower Hobbies last year, but I also patronized a couple of the LHS pretty steadily.
This year I'm trying to spend more locally to support the local hobby stores. I'm only web ordering stuff that they either don't have locally or that I can't get locally, for the most part.

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I'm back in the hobby after a 36-yr absence.. There is a very good hobby shop 23 miles (ea. way) from where I live. I was surprised to see the price of today's electronics was so in-expensive, compared to 1970. However, I was 'shocked' to see the price of ALL other RTF, ARF, kits and supplies. Needless to say, I started to shop from the internet and mainly from Tower Hobbies. Since last October, I've spent $1700, saving $210 in discounts and freebies, $128 in St.tax, and $75 on S.& H., for a total savings of $413. Now the other guys in our chapter tell me the DHS (distant hobby shop), will match any internet prices. Maybe too late, but Great!
I realize, it's important to support the DHS, but a $ is a $. I'm retired, so I don't have that much to waste. It cost me $6 to drive my truck both ways to the DHS. Then there's the St. tax of 7-1/4%. At my age, I hate to pay any more tax!
The reason I like Tower Hobbies is....They are just a few hundred miles away and it takes three days to receive an order. If you read their web-pages carefully, you should know, 'And Can See' EXACTLY was you're getting. Yes, I've made a couple mistakes and so have they, but THEY have always corrected the mistake at NO extra charge for S.& H.. If I call them on Monday, I usually receive the replacement by Friday, just in time for a week-end of flying. Being a reitred design engineer, I also plan my projects so I don't overlap buying accessories, such as; chargers, connectors, terminals, battery packs etc..
If I need something in a hullava big hurray (which I rarely do), I'll drive the 46 miles. For what it's worth, the DHS is owned by a bunch of hobbyists that don't rely on it for a living. I buy ALL my fuel from them because it's too expensive to have it shipped by UPS. In the end, I'll probably spend a few hundred dollars in their shop each year. EXAMPLE: I needed a electric connector to charge a battery pack. The DHS charged me $1.79 + tax, for ONE terminal, when I could have bought FOUR of the same item for $1.79 over the internet.
Finally, most of my projects are planned AHEAD, so I don't mind the UPS delivery time. At this time, I'm working on a ARF EP Helicopter. This may take awhile because I'm the first to try a Heli in our chapter.
Enjoy the flying season. I am! ____________________________________________ Earl Scherzinger, AMA #40329

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wrote:

I am afraid the trend is increasing. Our local hobby shop no longer carries kits and although he sells lots of balsa, he is going towards electric cars, electric planes, ARFs and so on. Poorly stocked monokote, too. The proprietor says he can get what you want on special order, but his performance in that area is poor as he sometimes takes a few weeks to get what you wanted. Other than that, we have Hobby Lobby in the area, but they are rather high priced IMHO and are 99% electric.....so...the mail order houses that carry what the long time modeler wants are doing better all the time...go figure... Frank Schwartz disappointed in Hendersonville, TN
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Well, Yes, of course the nearest hobby shops are 40 miles north 60 miles southwest 90 miles east or 80 miles southeast.
Yes, I buy all my stuff over the Internet.
Now back when we HAD a LHS, I bought virtually everything from there.
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OTOH, most local hobby shops sell on the web. Those who don't face extinction.
Our LHS does more business on the web than locally, according to the owner.
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Geoff 30 years ago I ordered mostly from mail order because it was way cheaper than local hobby shops. These days the LHS prices are close enough to tower prices that I prefer to give my business to the local guys. I do order occasionally from web sites though. If I need something not in stock, the LHS will order it and pick up the shipping, so If I'm not in a hurry I'll do that. If I am in a hurry, I'll order it myself and pay the shippng to get it faster. Ed

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Geoff Sanders wrote:

Yes. Absolutely.
I've

Absoulutely. Went into the LHS yesterday since I needed emergency CA and other glues,. Christ it was expensive,.
Looked at a spare folding prop. 20% more expensive than I got the last one posted to me even *including* postage.
To buy just diesel for that trip would have cost me around 6 ($10) Ad in wear an tear on the motor and its nearer $20...that covers a LOT of postage.
And when I got there, there was not a single kit of interest,all gasser ARTFS of the same or similar looks, the electric motors were overpriced and crap, he didn't carry a spare switch for my futaba tranny 'special order sir'
and frankly, its probably the last time I will bother to go. I can pone up tow or three UK mail order companies, and get the stuff in the post by the next day. I sill like to select balsa by hand though...but thats a once a year trip..
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I tried going to the local hobbyshops, but they never have what I want in stock, other than little parts, which I do try to buy locally. I would buy fuel from them too, if they ever had what I wanted in stock without a half inch of dust on it.
We have a local hobbyshop "Just R/C" in northwest Georgia which I will try to buy from more frequently. He supports our club, so I'll support him. The grouchy old fart. Hi, Bob! <G>
Ed Cregger
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I pretty much hate to order stuff online. I hate having to pay for shipping and I also hate having to be home to sign for it when it comes. I live in the L.A. airport area of S. California and believe it or not, the only shop around is a "Hobby People" and they act like they are a small Mom and Pop store and can't afford to have much of an inventory. If you want a prop ... you get a choice of about one of three made .. a crystal for your receiver ... oh, don't have that one .. even though there is a blank space on the hook marked for it. Come back a week or two later ... still blank. It's not like they had a run on that frequency. It's hard to believe how little they stock. I look through their catalogue and see what I want, go over there, and they never have it. I pretty much just use them for small parts and balsa and HAVE to order the other things online. Is this typical for "Hobby People" or is it just the A-holes that run this store?

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-------------
To me, it is typical of every hobbyshop I've been to in my entire life.
There was a time when there weren't that many choices in the hobby product line, but even then the hobbyshops didn't stock all that much. I had one shop owner tell me that the largest container of glow fuel available was a quart. I went out to my car and brought back in a Gallon container of Fox Missile Mist and showed it to him. He insisted that his distributor did not sell fuel in containers larger than a quart. This was the days before the word discount had invaded the hobby and everything sold at MSRP. Naturally, four quarts cost a lot more than a single gallon container. I learned early on to shop via snail mail for most of what I wanted. America's Hobby Center was my hero of the day.
With all of the choices of products that are available today, but with only so few customers in a given area, is it any wonder that hobbyshops cannot meet our needs unless we are rank beginners and do not know what we are doing?
It would be heaven on Earth to walk into a large hobbyshop that had everything that I could possibly want, but that simply isn't going to happen. It isn't financially doable. Our hobby is about expression and creativity, not buying the same ARF as everyone else. The present hobby supplier paradigm is on the edge of collapse, if I read the owner's abandonment of the Hobbico/Great Planes/ Tower conglomerate to their employees correctly.
A large part of our hobby has moved into the toy arena. The original core of modelers still exists, but it is not worthy of big business' attention. After the shakeout occurs, we may have real hobbyshops again, but the low prices will have disappeared. This is just the way that I see it.
Ed Cregger
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