Future of local Hobby Shops

Several posts recently complained about the demise or lack of good hobby shops that support the model builder. In my area (Colorado
Springs / Denver), we don't seem to be experiencing the problem. We have very large well stocked stores such as Caboose Hobbies and Colpar Hobbies that reside in store fronts that used to be supermarkets. As you can imagine, with this much floor space, they are well stocked with kits, resin / photoetch, paints and everything the novice and scratch builder would want. We also have a dozen Hobby Lobby locations and several smaller shops including ones that specialize in everything from OOP kits to a store that sells nothing but the 1/500 HERPA type of diecast aircraft / mini airport stuff.
I think it may be due to the fact that we have a large military population in the area, both active and retired, and they seem to be interested and active in modeling. I wonder if this holds true in others areas with large military populations or is it just the thin air that makes this area model happy?
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I remember being at Ft. Hood and the only true hobby shop with aftermarket and a decent plastic military (armor/aircraft/ship) selection was called Regiments and it was in the Wal-Mart plaza. There was another shop that was more or less a chain-type shop that had large amounts of RC, train, and toy/hobby stuff. Don't know if they are still around there.
Here at Ft. Knox, there is one decent shop in Louisville (40 miles away) and a train/car (with some military models) down in E-town about 17 miles away.
The best number of great and decent hobby shops within 30 minute drive was when I was stationed in Ft. Devens. There were quite a few but the military population was few. Only Natick Labs, Devens, Hanscom AFB and a few smaller installations.
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i hate you! (g)
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Since I've been modeling for over sixty years now, I have noticed a lot of hobby shops come and go.
One problem is that running a business requires some expertise in both that business AND general business principles. I have known some really nice proprietors who were really great modelers, and really nice guys, but I felt they really didn't understand business all that much. It was almost as if the business were a hobby.
I have noted that chains seem to survive much better than individual mom and pop operations. Probably they have some real pros somewere in the system.
Hobby shops are no different than most small businesses. I have read that well over half of all small businesses fail in first year. Knowing a particular business doesn't mean the proprietor understands general business principles. And there is no exam to pass or degree or anything like that. Anyone can open most small businesses.
I like to support my local shops, but sometimes it is frustrating to see some of their poor business practices.
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On Tue, 25 Apr 2006 18:30:51 -0700, Count DeMoney wrote:

Here in Austin, TX, we have a shop that has been around since about 1972. It has a well-deserved reputation as being one of the finest in the nation. Throughout the many economic downturns over the past 30+ years, and the video game revolution, the computer game revolution, and the pretty much disappearance of our hobby being something the "the kiddos" were interested in...the shop has prospered, and expanded a half-dozen times. The reason: the professionalism of its proprietors and associates. They run it as a *business*. Far too many hobby shops are run by modelers, who as kids, dreamed of having a hobby shop when they grew up. Unfortunately, as they matured in age, they did not mature in business sense. You know the type of shops I am talking about --- cluttered, dis- organized, and are really more of "model builder hang out sites" than businesses, there to be successful. On the other hand, the shop I referred to above, in 30+ years, has rarely (if ever) had a "sale". But they will almost *always* be "in stock", organized, and with a knowledgeable staff, up on the latest things in the hobby. On other words --- consistency.
"Simpson's" creator Matt Groening often relates the following tale. At virtually every convention he attends, people come up to him and say:
"Hey Matt...the 'Comic Book Guy' character. I *know* him! You based him on the guy who runs the comic book shop in *my* town!"
"No", replies Mr. Groening, "I based him on the guy who runs the comic book shop in *every* town."
:o)
Sadly, far too many "hobby shop proprietors" are not far removed from "Comic Book Guy".
--

Greg Heilers
Registered Linux user #328317 - SlackWare 10.2 (2.6.13)
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On Wed, 26 Apr 2006 04:55:58 GMT, Greg Heilers

Is that Kings? I was in Austin in the late 80's and managed to find the shop. I was impressed then. David SBX Model Shop http://www.sbxmodelshop.co.uk Suppliers of Montex Masks to the world!
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wrote:

Well, Hobby Shack in Jacksonville is pretty close to Little Rock AFB and its owner is a retired C-130 pilot... ;)
--
Al Superczynski, MFE, IPMS/USA #3795, continuous since 1968

My "From" address is munged - use 'modeleral (at) swbell (dot) net' to respond
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On Thu, 27 Apr 2006 00:59:40 GMT, Al Superczynski

Boils down to Right Place-Right Time,which never works out in most cases.
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The attitude of a shop's owner and employees can make a big difference.
I was working on a movie a few years back and had to get a couple of radio control aircraft models. One of the shops here in the SF Bay Area was happy to help as he had the required aircraft subjects. When I arrived to pick them up I found that he had raised the prices by over 50% over what they had been the day before. He told me that the movie people always pay more. I told him to go to hell and have not been back since. He had always copped an attitude anyhow.
Ended up getting the same two models air mailed from Colpar Hobbies in Colorado for less than the original price including next day postage.
Berkeley Ace Hardware and Franciscan Hobbies are my two favorites. Both have come through for me so may times that I've lost count.
Tom
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there is a hobby store, Kit and Caboodle in El Cerrito, CA, near Berkeley, that has moved 3 times in around 20 years. Now they are in a spot that is so easy to miss and much smaller then their last store. the new owners don't appear, at least to me, to be too much into the business. they carry supplies for several hobbies in a small store. And what I find strange is that they do not have any jet aircraft models. When I pointed it out to them they did not even realize it... they do have, though, a nice selection of estate sale kits and 1/32 WWII Revell kits. Wonder how they make it with Berkeley Hardware just about 10 minutes away.
Craig
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Al Superczynski wrote:

I live about 22 miles from the United State Military Academy at West Point and there aren't any worthwhile Hobby shops there, but those guys don't have much time for hobbies. :-)
--
Bill
In Hamptonburgh, NY
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I spent a couple years at Lowry and really enjoyed the hobby shops in the area. Denver is about the only place where I was stationed that had such superb hobby shops. I forget the name of the town now, but heading into the mountains was a great little narrow gauge hobby shop that I enjoyed going into and drooling over their range of brass - so if you bought some there and it was corroded, now you know why.
wrote:

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