a little OT - Unhappy events at Athearn Models

On 1/12/04 7:59 AM, in article snipped-for-privacy@a-err.com, "Charles


Never saw the logic in that myself in my own case, but don't some states tax inventory?
There's also the power some people see in inventory "turns", or how many times a year you sell thru your inventory (the more the better).
--
Brian Ehni


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What is more important a $100 item that sits on the shelf, or a $100 item that you sell and reorder 6 times a year with a 30-40% markup, seems to me that you make more money on the 6 items that you do sell, then the one that just sits there. So you sell the item that doesn't sell at a loss so you can use that money to buy items that do sell.
It costs you money to have stock sitting one the shelf.
How do you make a little money in a hobby shop?
Start with alot of money <grin>
We could get into the cost of money and return on investment if you really want to get into it
-Hudson
(who works in a hobby store with stock that has more senority there then I do)
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On 1/12/04 9:48 AM, in article snipped-for-privacy@news.skypoint.com, "Hudson Leighton"

Been there, done that. I occasionally had sales, but never sold anything for less than I paid. At least until the going out of business sale.
--
Brian Ehni


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If it's sitting on your shelf unbought, why would you worry about replacing it? You have limited shelf space. Dump it and replace it with something that sells - repeatedly.
The trickiest thing in business is keeping your finger on the pulse of "what do people want to buy from me?".
The next one is "How can I get more people to buy from me?"
Jay CNS&M North Shore Line - "First and fastest"
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snipped-for-privacy@aol.comjkelm (JCunington) wrote:

Which, depending on your location, may or may not make your minimum order quantity.
Kennedy
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Charles,
If you have inventory that you can no longer get restock on, or is not selling; you might want to sell it off below cost to at least get some funds out of it to invest in inventory that does turn over. The other side of the coin is if you consider it to be collectable. In the case of Athearn inventory, it will be available through Horizon certified retailers, so the 'collectable' issue is dead.
I suspect we may see some large scale dumping of Athearn by Walthers and other jobbers who no longer will be able to job out the line. Remember about 2-3 years ago when Life-Like produced too many E units? They unloaded them, and it seems like every felt market/train show I went to had them for $20-30 each; the N scale ones were going for as low as $18 each. My LHS has already received back order cancellation notices for Athearn back orders at Walthers.
Jim Bernier
Charles Kimbrough wrote:

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writes:

It's not generating money sitting on the shelf. In fact sitting long term costs money as I pay taxes on my inventory held at the end of the year. For example if I have a Loco that I paid $60 for and can't sell for say 2 years I'll have taxes to pay. Say at 5% that engine would now have cost me $66.15 to watch collect dust. That drives up my operating cost and reduces my profit that can be used for new product. Pick enough losers and don't get rid of them and it'll be adios! Now if I sell that dust collector at a discounted price of say $70 and take that $70 and buy $60 in freight cars that I sell them at a full retail of $100 and reorder 4 more times I 'll have turned a "turkey" into a "cash cow" that generated $160 in gross profit as opposed to zero sitting on a shelf long term. <G> That's the simplfied version.
Dave
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I'm not talking about holdingout for long term for hogher than MSRP. I'm talking about the thought that every one that can't get Athearn will start dumping on March 1.
Dave Henk wrote:

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writes:

Neither was I so how did you get there? Might want to reread my reply. I never even mentioned holding onto a product for a higher MSRP. Heck that would be insane to say the least. Although I do know shops that resticker old stock with new higher MSRP these didn't sell before and will be there the day they go out of business.
Dave
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snipped-for-privacy@aol.comspamthis (Dave Henk) wrote:

I understand that, but I think Charles was referring to a prior statement that distributors like Walthers would be dumping their stock. If he wasn't, I am. <g>
Presumably a smart distributor would stock Athearn stuff that sells well. Since it will sell anyway, why would they have any incentive to "dump it" just because the supplier is changing? Or is it slower selling stock that's being referred to?
Mike Tennent "IronPenguin" Operating Traffic Lights Crossbucks Special Effects Lighting http://www.ironpeng.com/ipe
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Mike,
There are two scenario's here:
o - Dealer or wholesaler who will no longer be able to get Athearn Product due to Horizon's policy. He can sell off their remaining inventory, but will no longer be get more. Eventually he will have just the 'slow movers' in stock. He can either sit on them, or 'blow' them out by a sale. At least he will be able to take what money they get from the 'sale' to buy other inventory that he can get and move. In the case of distributors like Walthers who will no longer be able to get Athearn Products, they may very well 'blow out' the remaining inventory so they can invest it in products they can get and wholesale to retail dealers. There is no sense in advertising/cataloging products they can no longer supply to their dealers.
o - Dealer who is able to get Athearn Product from Horizon. This will be business as usual. They should be very good service from Horizon, based on what my LHS has gotten from them in the R/C market. Now, if he ordered too much of a slow moving item, he may want to 'fire sale' it recover some of his investment to apply it to a faster moving product.
Just basic retail business 101.....
Jim Bernier
Mike Tennent wrote:

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And if by doing so, they temporarily saturate the market, putting a bite into Horizon's cash flow.... <g>
Thanks for the explanation.
Mike Tennent "IronPenguin" Operating Traffic Lights Crossbucks Special Effects Lighting http://www.ironpeng.com/ipe
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I thought he asked about items sitting on shelves. If a distributor drops a line I do Not dump it right away if it was selling. I prefer to phase things out bu reducing prcing over time until it goes away. Basically it's a judgement call over whats saleable.
Dave
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snipped-for-privacy@aol.comspamthis (Dave Henk) wrote:

Contrary to popular opinion, Inventory isn't an asset, it's a liability. Holding on to inventory means you don't make money on it; you're losing money. Which is why manufacturers do the just in time thing. They don't want to store stuff for any length of time.
Which is also why some Internet dealers aren't fully responsive; they don't have the inventory they advertise. The best of both worlds is a distributor with a 24hr turnaround to the seller, and the seller to you. The seller doesn't hold, and the cash does flow.
Kennedy
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I will warn you in advance. this is going to be a lo-o-o-ong post.
I have learned quite a few things from the Athearn buyout talk that I had never heard or even thought about before. A lot of information since I started this ball rolling two days ago with my original post. But as I learn I also become more confused as to "why". If you do not mind I would like to go here for a while.
So far from the replies I see that (pardon the oversimplification);
Brick & Mortar hobby shops are good. they are bad.
Brick & Mortar hobby shops that offer web and mail order service are good. they are bad.
Home based web and mail order services are good. they are bad.
(Are there other discounter groups out there anymore?)
And for the most part I think all of us have been going around the issue of "why" one group is better than the other. Too be honest, I see no real and meaningful logical difference between the three groups just emotional differences between individual preferences which should be expected. To me one seems to compliment the other.
Back in the 1960s.
I think most folks tend to forget their roots so to speak. S.S. Kressgee (spelling?), Cranks, David's, Woolworths, and what later became known as Woolco all sold Atlas, Tyco, Bachmann, and Athearn locomotives and plastic car kits (Woolco & David's only?). These stores were my introduction to HO model railroading and later on non-RTR kits. They were cheap and had relatively large selections and choices and I found them to be fun to build. There was absolutely no way I could have afforded hobby shop prices at that time and so would never have started. So in that sense discounters have been around a long time. Woolco sold Athearn at a minimum of 30-50% below the hobby shops. I remember the hobby shops complaining about the discounters even then. I wonder how many on this list took advantage of these discounters then.
.Next we had Hobby and trade shows. I think we also forget that they have been around almost as long as there have been trains. Back then there were tables set up by people who operated out of their homes and very few Hobby stores were represented. There were some deeply discounted items being sold in those days as well. Seeing items 50-70% off was not all that unusual if I remember correctly.
. Finally mail order was not quite as big as it is now but it existed. Looking back at my 1950s and 1940s Model Railroader magazines show me mail order has existed almost as long as there have been model trains. I also notice that all mail order was not always from Brick & Mortar hobby shops. In fact the only thing I see that is different is the numerical amount of ads. There are literally eight or nine times as much ads these days.
Today.
Well the department, drug, and variety stores are either out of business or dropped their railroad hobby lines around 20 years ago. Some of the complaining/non-complaining hobby shops have dropped by the wayside as well during this time. And a few have made it to this day.
As far as I can see, the Train show circuit has not changed much at all. Some of them seem to be a little better organized is the only difference I have seen.
And mail order continues to be strong and we have the advent of the Internet both for sales and for information that once was the private domain of the hobby shop. Now we don't have to wait for the hobby dealer to tell us of new products. All we need do is visit our favorite manufacturer's web site.
For 40 years that I know of, there has been a need and a market for discounted model train merchandise. The reality of the discount stores dropping their train lines would not have lessoned that need. Something would eventually come to fill the public's desire for cheap quality trains. After all, isn't that what America is all about if you think about it.
How many out there willingly pay list or a marked up price for a new automobile? How about the house you live in did you offer the seller a bid higher than they wanted (those without competition)? And I suppose you go to the most expensive grocery store to buy your food and household good and materials? And only frequent the most expensive attractions, while paying full price? Of course not! Then why on earth would you expect the public not to want to try and find model items as cheap as possible? Some will say that this is not the same thing. Of course it isn't. but what's the difference? To date there is only one company which has successfully broken the mold on this country's quest for inexpensive products. Even the drug industry has had to cave in to some extent.
Entire industries have been formed to satisfy our need for discounted products in all parts of our daily lives (that silly cable TV shopping channel sticks in my mind as one of the more stupid yet successful examples). In the interim for trains, some mail order companies attempted to fill the opening that the discount store made when they dropped their product lines. Also, I am sure they were really never quite able to fill it adequately were they. but still the hobby shops did not flourish did they? Why? Could it be that a larger percentage of the general population still demands price value? It is really beyond my knowledge and the scope of this posting to attempt to answer that. I'll leave it to the reader to make his or her own decision.
From what I can see it appears that the old discounters failing or leaving the market have given rise to larger scale operations from the home businesses. The advent of powerful computers, email, newsgroups, Internet, and perhaps even eBay I am sure helped fuel this phase. I expect that the non-store front hobby businesses are the current version of our Woolco of the 1960s, but with a far greater selection that I attribute to our desire for variety, distinct, and accurate models. But it took the power of the Internet to make it work well.
Since a large (?) percentage of Athearn products historically were purchased at discounters I truly wonder what will happen to the company's sales in the quarter beginning April 1st and perhaps July 1sts. I assume it will drop by slightly less than whatever percentage that was served by the ousted discounters. Just because a "Horizon" dictates a sales venue change it is certain that a large percentage of those who frequent the discounters will necessarily be able to comply by rushing out to their local hobby shop or other authorized location to pay a higher fee. I would assume that the local hobby shop will not be lowering their retail price on Athearn after March 1st. And that may just be a mistake once the distributor's inventories are sold out.
From this group I heard mention of several other manufacturers being bought out by a sole distributor. Were they as large as Athearn either in size or in sales? Were the "original" distribution channels and retailers similar? If they were not then a direct comparison approach would be meaningless and perhaps grossly misleading.
Another question that interests me concerning statements being made on Brick & Mortar stores is the inability to match the pricing structure of the "at home" business. This might be an ignorant question but. why not? The "at home" business has to stress total sales volume over price. The distributor would have to be offering a lower per unit rate because of the volume purchased. I can see no other way for the venture be able to get the needed discounts from the distributor and thus be profitable. If the two retailer types were charged the same it would be doubtful that the "at home" retailer could under price the Brick & Mortar shop the way they are. Thus a rather simplistic statement would be to say "why can't the hobby shop do the same!"
The hobby shop already has the necessary resources in place. Honestly, I do not know the time constraints on either but for the sake of argument lets say that will not be an issue. The shop would have to have a two tiered pricing structure in the beginning (maybe) but I would imagine the new volume(s) now ordered would surpass the home business and qualify the hobby shop for the best distributor discounts. I am sure this would not work in real life but I would sure like to know why it wouldn't.
Several years back I worked for Verizon Wireless Messaging (a wholly owned subsidiary of the Verizon Corporation). Another arm was the cellular telephone operation. Verizon decided to drop the pagers, not sell or spin off but actually shut down. And transfer assets to the cell telephone arm (except the personnel), not because the company was not profitable (it certainly was) but because it was not profitable enough. I wonder if that is a reason why a hobby shop owner would not want to play both sides. The amount of return is too low????
I would ask the Hobby shop owners (if they wish to voluntarily share those numbers) whose business had failed the following questions (I would love to hear from the current owners as well but that might be giving to much competitive information to the "enemy"), I am curious as to what went wrong. In the 60s I knew of several Hobby shops that shut down but I do not know why. In one case the owner passed away and the family did not want to continue.
What was their average markup over procurement cost they had to have in order to meet expenses and liabilities and still have a reasonable profit? Would a further average 5% reduction of procurement costs have made a difference in saving your company? What else could have been done to save or resurrect your business? I know the numbers will be different based upon what area of the US you live in. As will be the reasons for shutting down. I am sure others and I know I am interested in knowing the pitfalls above and beyond the Home run businesses. For as long as I can remember I have thought that owning a full service storefront hobby shop would the neatest thing in the world. If you have not figured it out by now, I like to talk. On just about any subject in fact. My warmest recollections of the hobby shop I frequented in the 60s was the weekly meetings in the back room, the technical conversations on the hobby, and even the political discussions of the time (Vietnam not Iraq). That is one intangible that the "at home" folks cannot provide. BTW: That is one aspect I like about my "new" local hobby shop which happens to be farther away than most of you would go (interpreted from comments made here in the last few days).
Think I'm nuts? Maybe, but one thing's for certain, I do not fear failure. I am a retired member of the armed forces. I have been laid off four times from high tech firms in the last 10 years by companies going out of business or moving production/operations overseas. I own my own home based part time business (as a professional service provider). No hobby retail sales venue is more restrictive than the business I operate. I must be state licensed, insured or bonded, operate with a business license, continually advertise, I must pay an astronomical sum (very high fixed costs) each month to have updated and timely information (some months more money goes out that come in), must have x amount of associated continuing education credits in order to regularly renew said license, I am required by federal law to keep a complete paper trail for a minimum of 5 years thus requiring additional storage area (more $ and gives one zero chance to hide from the IRS if audited), and if I make a unreasonable mistake the best I could hope for is the loss of my state license, the worst, jail time. Even if I had no intention of committing fraud!
Several posters have stated that because of the restrictions they will no longer buy Athearn. I would urge you not to take such a drastic step, you will only hurt yourself in the long run. Athearn still makes (or has made in China) a quality product. If you wish, please email, write, or call Horizon with your comments. I doubt it will do much good in the short term. Horizon will not listen to us even if all members of this newsgroup were to contact them. Their decision was finalized in a boardroom months ago. It would take 10,000 or more messages just to show up on their radar as a potential problem. Hear again is their contact information should you wish to contact them.
Horizon Hobby
4105 Fieldstone Rd.
Champaign, IL 61822
Phone: (217) 352-1913
Toll Free: (800) 338-4639
Fax: (217) 352-6799
http://www.horizonhobby.com
Does Wal-mart sell Athearn products? Out here they do not. Well, it could take the loss of sales from a chain like Wal-mart to gain their attention I am afraid. And I am just as certain that is will happen over time. I assume that the kits are Athearn's biggest sellers. Anyone know for sure? I do think that the kits should be placed on the endangered species list as they will most certainly be hit the most by Horizons marketing decision. Before the board is willing to admit to a bad decision they will certainly have shut down the US manufacturing of kits, perhaps world wide production as well and focus on RTR (more profitable).
This post actually turned out longer than I had originally envisioned. Pretty much due to the fact I also scanned and responded to all the pertinent views stated thus far.
From my perspective on this issue I will continue to use reputable online, email, and local hobby vendors as each serve a useful function and fill a sometimes competitive niche but at times are complimentary as well. It will vary year-to-year but right now I spend about 30% of my hobby dollar online and the remainder at the local hobby store(s). For me that means anything less than 40-50 miles or so. But hey, that's life in the Bay area.
For my online dollar; as long as ECMR provides even half of his current level of service I will go with him. I have seen nothing slipshod, unethical, illegal, or immoral about his operation. Quite the opposite in fact, I found his service to be highly professional (quick, reliable, friendly, and honest). Everything I would ask for in a Storefront operation. His professionalism actually fooled me into thinking that he was a shop owner. I just found out otherwise yesterday he was not. Believe me when I say, there are a few Bay area Hobby shops who could learn something from him it customer relations. The rest of my online dollar goes to eBay for some of the harder to find older models. But eBay is extremely risky. Go into this area knowing you are throwing away your money. That way when the inevitable sting happens you are better prepared for it.
I still prefer the "touchy - feely" sensation I get when I look at merchandise at my local hobby shop. I always have been and always will be the type of person who wants to see something before they buy. I want to know ahead of time that what I think I want to fit a particular niche is actually what I need. For all the pluses of mail ordering, that is one area they will never truly compete in. Web pages can only do so much in mitigating that disadvantage. For this reason and the fact I am the "sit around the pot belly stove" type I will continue prefer Hobby shops for the majority of my purchases. But under no circumstances will I ever pay premium prices for a run of the mill item as Horizon would wish for me to do. I will do without first. My premium dollar is far better spent on Premium items at the hobby shop.
But for the life of me, I still cannot figure out why Horizon is willing to throw away sales. That is what really puzzles me. More so in light of the Walther's reinstatement in allowing web sales. Time will tell that's for sure.
Tell me, was this too long? <GRIN> Told ya!
Art
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Oops, my proof reading sucks. Lets chang this...
Since a large (?) percentage of Athearn products historically were purchased at discounters I truly wonder what will happen to the company's sales in the quarter beginning April 1st and perhaps July 1sts. I assume it will drop by slightly less than whatever percentage that was served by the ousted discounters. Just because a "Horizon" dictates a sales venue change it is NOT certain that a large percentage of those who frequent the discounters will necessarily be able to comply by rushing out to their local hobby shop or other authorized location to pay a higher fee. I would assume that the local hobby shop will not be lowering their retail price on Athearn after March 1st. And that may just be a mistake once the distributor's inventories are sold out.
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A brick and mortar store can't hide inventory from the tax man (If they *have* inventory. Most I've seen don't) Frequently the tax man isn't even aware of the home discounter, and even if they were, it is doubtful that they would bother with them. Frequently home stores are exempt.
In addition, a home business doens't stock tens of thousands of dollars in products. (If they did, they wouldn't be a home business!) Stocking products in that amount requires money. If you have the money, then it's your money at risk, not in the bank drawing interest. If it's not your money, then you have to pay interest on it in addition to the risk.
So, we have some reason why a brick and mortar store can't price as a home business:
1. Taxes - Inventory, display cases, cash registers, and other fixtures are charged a tax that has to be paid. Home stores frequently evade these taxes and get away with it because they are small sources of income, or are exempt from the tax altogether. Heck, in Texas they also charge you a tax on the office supplies you have!
2. Interest - If it's the brick and mortar store owner's money, that is money that is not invested (and earning money elsewhere) or it's borrowed money, which he has to pay interest on. A home store frequently doesn't have any stock at all.
3. Business licenses and inspections - Home stores are frequently exempt or evade (or are unaware of) the requirements. Brick and mortar stores cannot.
4. Capital investment loss - If you are a brick and mortar store and choose the wrong products, this loss has to be made up somewhere. A home store doesn't have that problem. No (or not much!) stock!
5. Other business expenses - A home store frequently is not required to certify their books. A brick and mortar store almost always is. That means hiring a CPA to check your accounting. As for gas, water, sewage, electricty, a home store already has these expenses. A brick and mortar store has to have these services in addition to providing a living for the owner, employess, return on investment for stock holders or partners... Also, a home store already pays for "show" space. A brick and mortar store has to pay, and frequently pays at a higher rate for commercial zoned business. Don't forget ads! Yellow pages, radio spots, and the like.
6. Return on investment - Again, at some point a brick and mortar store owner has to say to himself "Gee, I can get MORE for my money by collecting INTEREST on the investment I have in stock. BS on this, I'm closing up! No more idiot customers! No more bums sleeping in the doorway! No more tagging to paint over! No more having to get up at night and go to the store because the police called when the alarm went off! No more shoplifting! WOO HOO!" A home store doesn't have these problems. They stock very little, or nothing at all.

I don't know what a home store would have for volume.

I'll buy that total volume affects discount levels. I'd have to say that with no facts to back me up that home stores do not have the volume a hobbyshop does. But like I say, I could be wrong. I simply do not have the data.

A home store can be profitable because it flys under the tax man's radar, and doesn't require the huge investment in fixtaures and services a brick and mortar store requires. The home store's total cost of doing business is lower (I'd venture to say *much* lower) than a brick and mortar store.

I'd also venture to say that a brick and mortar store gets a better discount, but needs higher margians due to the higher total cost of doing business. For the reasons above, I think it fairly obvious that a home seller can always price lower than a hobby shop, given the same discount rate.

I'd say the simplistic answer is "Because it costs *more* to run a hobby shop as a brick and mortar business than it does to sell out of the home."
I've owned 5 businesses. I ran 2 from home, and 3 from store fronts. I know whereof I speak. (And all but one sold for a profit.) A home business can be very inexpensive vs. a store front. If you run your business out of your home, you don't have to buy "slip & fall" insurance, for one. Many states mandate that a store owner have libility risk insurance. It's not free.
No business open to the public has an easy time of it, be it brick and mortar or home selling.
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her fur as she delicately combs it with her rough pink tongue. "Cat,
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Thank you for the insight.
I need to digest this information for a spell. And then I'll pose some more questions.
Thanks again,
Art
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Don't bet on it, I have known a couple of people who ran mail order business in the 90s. Their basement was full of their product. They always bought bulk, getting the best value for the dollar spent. Like one fellow told me, I have to pay the same wether my basement is nice and clean and empty or filled with product for me to sell. If you buy enough, you get a discount. You pass the discount on to the clients as your average markup is he same.
The one fellow Adam ran a discount comic book mail order business. He would buy new from the manufacturer and used from various sources, then list all in his catalog and sell away.
I also knew a fellow in Oakville who ran a mail order business for 8mm and 16mm films, his basement was full of boxes with product in. When VHS tapes hit the market, he quickly liquidated his 8mm and 16mm and went into the mail order VHS business.
Both of these fellows had upwards of $15,000.00 dollars worth of inventory.
Have not heard from Mike the Video felllow in quite some time, by now I guess he has moved to DVDs as I have.
--
Will
HO - Credit Valley Railway
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snip
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Thank you for your reply. I have looked books for hobby shops (brick and mortar) that had upwards of $50,000.00 worth of stock. Looking at the store, you wouldn't think that much was there (bare shelves, mostly).
I'm not saying that home hobby resellers are a bad thing. I'm saying that it takes both a hobby store and home resellers to make a vibrant hobby. However, if one has to go, the home hobbist shop would do less damage in the short run. In the long run, model railroading is in trouble unless more new people discover it or come back to it. Everybody loses if that doesn't happen.
Showing off the hobby is best done for John Q Public in brick and mortar hobby stores. Shows are good, but not something that would appeal to anyone not already interested. Home tours are good too, but suffer the same problem as shows. If someone doesn't already have at least the beginnings of the bug, it's of no import to them.
A steam engine running around in a display window draws such a crowd.
It pulls in people from all walks of life, all levels of society, and all income levels. You can see in their minds eye as they watch; the smoke laying down against the coaches, the lonesome moan of the whistle, the clack of the rails and adventures far and away.
In America, there are 3.4 million people out there that don't have a job. (More than that really, but that's the "official" number.) Many are so afraid of losing their job that they work ever harder, ever more hours to keep what they have. Leasure time shinks as the ever increasing demands of efficiency are answered, the tidal wave of increasing costs of housing, health care and insurance saps the econimic might of this nation. (Durn, I sound like I'm running for office!) As income and leasure time decrease, so does the ratio of the numbers in the hobby vs. the number of people in our nation. Model railroading simply becomes something too expensive in time and money to afford.
Costs for things that really matter: A home, a doctor, children, all increase, while the things that really don't matter, like cars, tvs, computers, and yes, model railroading things, shrink.
Now, as I see it, there are many reasons for the hobby not growing at the rate of the population (which means that it's shrinking, even if the absolute numbers are growing).
1. Not much passanger rail anymore. Sure, there's Amtrak. Most won't go on Amtrak. A trip that you can do in a car in two days, or a bus in one takes three and a half days on Amtrak. Most people want to spend that time on vacation, not riding the train. (Aside from foamers like us.) Look at the price of a bedroom on Amtrak vs. Motel 6.
So people don't get direct experience with railroading, much. Sure, they see trains, lots of freight moving. If it is even thought about much, it's only to curse the train for blocking the street and making them wait, or read in horror when a "train struck a car" (like the train can swerve or stop!). (Again, unless they are foamers like us.)
2. Leasure time, lack of money (as above).
3. Bad press. When was the last time something positive was said on the local news about railroads? Most often it is a talking head recounting the bloody horror of a person ripped from the loving arms of their family by a train too cold and impersonal to swerve or stop. If it isn't that, then it's the noise and traffic snarls they cause. Never mind the brick for their home came by train, fate forfend they should remember that the gravel for their roads came by train, and the plastics and cars? Right out the window.
4. Law suits. Be it CSX buying land or Amtrak being late, a drunken bum that shouldn't be in charge of a train, or runaway equipment crushing the life from a worker, railroads are almost always shown in an unfavorable light in the press. Why would you want a hobby that reminds you of things so negitive?
5. The sheer task of building a layout can be daunting to this "tab a in slot b" society. Most people I know that are not into model railroading couldn't change sparkplugs in their car, nor do they have any tools to do it. Building a model railroad requires skills in planning, engineering, electronics/electrical, carpentry, artistic talent, and eye for detail and a hand for the exact. It engages the very soul of a person and challanges them to grow in all areas of human endevor. That is scary to many. "I gotta do what?!"
6. Divorce. Dad/Mom isn't as likely to be able to build a railroad when supporting kids, nor have the money after alimony & child support is paid.
These are only my opinions.
Enough writing and talking about it! LET'S PLAY TRAINS!
--
I put down my book, The Meaning of Zen, and see the cat smiling into
her fur as she delicately combs it with her rough pink tongue. "Cat,
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