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Talking Points About Your Local Hobby Shop

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  • Member since
    October 2019
  • From: Boulder, CO
Talking Points About Your Local Hobby Shop
Posted by Viper101 on Sunday, November 15, 2020 2:33 PM

Hello Everyone!

 

As my profile says, I am a journalism student at CU Boulder, hoping to graduate here soon. I have been working on a feature story that is about a local hobby shop here in Colorado (Colpar's HobbyTown) and needed quotes from customers there. 

Unfortunately, with the pandemic really taking burning through Colorado, I've decided that going there to get interviews may not be the wisest choice. Instead, I've come here to hopefully get quotes from you all! 

If you're comfortable with me quoting you, just comment your answers to these questions below (if you'd like PM me your name and state of residence so that I can fully attribute you). 

 

What does your local hobby shop bring to the table that a chain like Walmart does not? 

Has your hobby shop expereinced a dip or a surge in sales/customers during the pandemic?

Do they specialize in other hobbies, or mainly plastic model building? 

How long has the store been in operation? 

Have you (as a model builder/hobbyist) been building/tinkering more due to any restrictions put in place by your state? 

Are you worried that your hobby shop will close if businesses are told to shut down again?

 

Once again, if you feel comfortable being quoted, feel free to comment below and PM your name and state of residence (If you wish!). Also if you are an employee of a model shop and wish to answer any of these questions, please do so. 

 

Thanks for reading!

 

Alex

  • Member since
    March 2003
  • From: Western North Carolina
Posted by Tojo72 on Sunday, November 15, 2020 3:05 PM

What local hobby shop ??? Crying

  • Member since
    April 2020
Posted by Eaglecash867 on Sunday, November 15, 2020 3:18 PM

Colpar seemed to be giving up years ago with no COVID going on.  I stopped going there because they never seemed to keep their stock levels up on paint and other supplies...lots of empty paint racks and bins.  Would have loved to keep supporting them as I have since the 80s, but they just didn't seem like they wanted to be doing it anymore.  I didn't feel like I had any choice but to start buying stuff on-line.  Most of the time that means I'm still supporting a mom and pop operation...just not in my own town.

"You can have my illegal fireworks when you pry them from my cold, dead fingers...which are...over there somewhere."

  • Member since
    September 2012
Posted by GMorrison on Sunday, November 15, 2020 3:55 PM

Tojo72

What local hobby shop ??? Crying

 

But...I thought you stole mine!

Modeling is an excuse to buy books

 

  • Member since
    August 2014
  • From: Willamette Valley, Oregon
Posted by goldhammer on Sunday, November 15, 2020 3:57 PM

We had one shop close when he lost his lease.  Another has really downgraded his stock of plastic kits, really focuses on r/c.  His paint line was almost all MM.  The last one closest to me (40 miles) is r/c, train and plastic.  OK selection, but paint is thin on brands.  Best one is 90 miles away with good selection and several paint lines.  I find myself looking more and more to online, but do patronize the 90 mile shop when I get up there.

 

  • Member since
    September 2004
  • From: Denver
Posted by tankboy51 on Sunday, November 15, 2020 4:10 PM

I have been going to Colpars since 1976.  I used to go there twice a week, sometimes three, before I remarried and moved to Westminster.  I still go there once a month, until COVID.  That's OK, as I build mostly 1/35 armor and I have all the kits I need, and a lot I don't.    Colpar means Colorado Partners in case your interested.   I have been friends with the old owners, and still friends with the current manager. 

I feel they are as well stocked as ever.   Dragon kits are going way down though probably due to high retail prices, but the new brands  with larger boxes, Meng, Tasca, Border and others take their place.  I'm not into car model at all, so how they are doing I have no clue.  Same for airplanes and flooty things.  They used to have IPMS meeting there, CoMMieS where they built, chatted and other modeler stuff.  

The paint supplies have changed as Testors has gone away, as I've pretty much gone to Tamiya, it has no impact on me.   I use a Hobby Town 2 miles away from me for emergancies.  But I still go to Colpars.

I like to buy from Colpars,  I like having local hobby shops.  We used to have several in the greater Denver area, not any more.  

I live close to Boulder, I used to live there and know the town well, I can tell you stories. 

You can quote me, why, it's beyond me.   

 

  • Member since
    July 2008
  • From: Albany, NY
Posted by jeffpez on Sunday, November 15, 2020 4:14 PM

Hobby Town here closed many years ago and all I now have is a store mostly dedicated to model railroading. There's one small isle of plastic kits and another for supplies that's mostly Tamiya paint and Model Master. If they have a plan for replacing the MM paint I'm unaware of it. I love having a somewhat local place to buy stuff but he charges full retail so I don't use him as my primary source. I like browsing thru the kits hoping to find something new and interesting but that rarely happens. I would assume he's hanging on at best and don't expect to see him open much longer. It's sad and the story with so many in the retail industry. 

  • Member since
    June 2011
  • From: Detroit
Posted by garylee on Sunday, November 15, 2020 4:28 PM

Here's a quote for you, "The internet murdered the local hobby shop."

 

I'm actually pretty lucky because we have a two store chain in Detroit called Nankin  Hobby and we also have Great Lakes hobby, which are both excellent old style hobby shops. Their prices are much higher but I still try to buy a lot of stuff there just to support them. I'm always preaching that we should support our local hobby shop so every once in awhile I have to practice it.

 

I haven't heard about a new brick-and-mortar hobby shop opening up in a couple of decades, but if we try to support the local shops we have left they might be able to hang in there for another couple decades, but eventually they're going to disappear altogether and you'll have to buy everything online.

Detroit, where the weak are killed and eaten. Bwahahaha

  • Member since
    March 2003
  • From: Western North Carolina
Posted by Tojo72 on Sunday, November 15, 2020 5:35 PM

GMorrison

 

 
Tojo72

What local hobby shop ??? Crying

 

 

 

But...I thought you stole mine!

 

 

Actually,I do have a Hobby Town,but I wouldn't call it a LHS,good for paint and glue.

  • Member since
    August 2005
  • From: Mansfield, TX
Posted by EdGrune on Sunday, November 15, 2020 6:54 PM

Something the OP needs to understand about Hobby Towns

They are a franchise operation.  The local franchisee must carry items which may not be of interest to many scale modelers.  RC aircraft, cars, and boats.  Airsoft type guns, puzzles, wooden toys,  magic stuff, Gundam,railroad.  Then you get to "mainstream" scale model genres; cars, aircraft, armor, ships, and figures.  The home office mandates the percentage of shelf space each area gets.  

In the Dallas/FtWorth area one franchisee owns several store.  They stock all the HT gack. He has been responsive to the desires of his model community.  He was an early adopter of the Vallejo paint line.  There is a significant fantasy community and he has brought in the Reaper line of paints.   Here has also brought in Gunze and Mission Models paints

Hobby Town is not inherently evil.  A good franchise holder will be aware of his customers wants and work within the HT market scheme to maximize his sales presence. 

The OP may want to contact the Hobby Town corporate offices to ask how they see the COVID epidemic has affected their business and what they see as the future.  There have been reports that the model railroad segment (in the UK) has grown over the past 6 to 9 months.  

  • Member since
    June 2011
  • From: Detroit
Posted by garylee on Sunday, November 15, 2020 7:43 PM

There's also Hobby Lobby, which is pretty much Nationwide in the United States, and kind of like the big box store of the hobby shop world. They usually have a small modeling section and a somewhat decent paint selection but they can be very handy for large ticket items because you can always get a 40% off coupon on your phone. If you're buying something like an Iwata airbrush that can be a really big help.

Detroit, where the weak are killed and eaten. Bwahahaha

  • Member since
    April 2009
  • From: Longmont, Colorado
Posted by Cadet Chuck on Sunday, November 15, 2020 8:55 PM

.

Computer, did we bring batteries?.....Computer?

  • Member since
    August 2005
  • From: Seattle, WA
Posted by Surface_Line on Sunday, November 15, 2020 10:34 PM

Viper101
What does your local hobby shop bring to the table that a chain like Walmart does not?

Do they specialize in other hobbies, or mainly plastic model building?
How long has the store been in operation?

Like most of the posters here, the greater Seattle area has also lost a few dozen local hobby shops over the past years, either due to the owner's retirement or lost lease.  But that's not what you asked about.  There are a few Hobbytowns around, but that's a chain, not a real LHS.  Seattle has one really good plastic-model focused hobby ship remaining - Skyway Hobbies.

What Skyway offers is a haven for plastic modelers. 
--I believe he has been in business for 25 years, although that may be way off.
--He carries plastic model-related products only, although there may be a few resin or diecast kits tucked onto the shelves.  He gets some but not all of the most up-to-date kits, and takes orders for currently available kits that are not in stock.
--He buys estates from our relatives as our bodies stop keeping up with our stash.  These older kits go on his shelves and are always a treasure hunt when you visit.
--He has a number of ranges of model paint and is familiar with their colors and details.
--He has tools and miscellaneous modelling related products - airbrushes, chisels, putty, and things I can't remember.
--He is a player with the large Seattle IPMS chapter. 
--The owner knows the names and interest areas of folks that shop there more than a few times.
--He has/takes time to chat with customers - "How is your family?", "How did you like this kit?", "Have you tried this brand of paint?", and much more.

This is what the "local hobby shop" meant to us before there was an internet.  Quote what you wish.

Good luck,
Rick Heinbaugh

  • Member since
    June 2011
  • From: Detroit
Posted by garylee on Monday, November 16, 2020 6:58 AM

We've got a shop like that here in Michigan, called Dean's Hobby Stop. He usually runs an ad in the back of fine scale modeler magazine that says he wants to buy kit collections and his shop is kind of the same way, when you go in there you never know what little treasure you might find.

Detroit, where the weak are killed and eaten. Bwahahaha

  • Member since
    November 2009
  • From: Twin Cities of Minnesota
Posted by Don Stauffer on Monday, November 16, 2020 7:16 AM

My Walmart does not stock any model stuff.  No kits,paints, nor aftermarket.  That is what my hobby shop does for me.

 

Don Stauffer in Minnesota

  • Member since
    September 2004
  • From: Denver
Posted by tankboy51 on Monday, November 16, 2020 10:18 AM

Just a brief history of what I can recall about Colpar in Denver.  I moved here in 1976, from Iowa City.  Colpar was already around then.  They had been around for a few years.   They were small store, not related in any way to Hobby Town.  They sold most everything. Trains, R/C, etc  It was very crowded in there, but they kept it orderly.  Later on they bought another store front and doubled their size.  Much later, in 2012 or so, they had to move to their current location, even bigger.  Soon, they joined with Hobby Town.  So there is a lot of independence from them, I realy dont know it at all. 

I met most of my current friends there.   I learned most of my skills from IPMS meetings in the '70s.  We had two chapters then, it's up to three now, more if you count  the metro area, include Colorao Springs, Longmount etc.  Model building is my life in a way.  I don't ski, my wife loves to, my daughter loves her horses. I still have IPMS meeting via zoom from my house, thanks to COVID. 

Colpar is great.  They have two stores, have for almost 40 years, on two sides of the city.  The one on the west side of Denver is smaller, but they can deliver between the two.  I mostly went to the one In Aurora.   I can't say enough about how good they are.  No, I never worked for them.

  • Member since
    October 2019
  • From: New Braunfels, Texas
Posted by Tanker-Builder on Monday, November 16, 2020 10:45 AM

Hi Alex;

      My name is Gary J.Geracci and you may quote me. Now here's what is happening in San Antonio. We have two, Yes, only two Hobby Shops that are privately owned. There's Dibbles, He specialzes in train stuff and pretty much anything related to those scudders.

       Then there's a fine little place called Hill Country Hobbies. He caters mostly to the Plastic crowd. he has some Gundam stuff (Recent) and lots of aftermarket stuff hanging on the walls. magazines and all kinds of products for working on models. It is a new owner who has it now. It was owned By a very nice retired Air Force fella whose name was Gary Emory. Gary's philosophy was" It's my hobby shop and I'll run it my way!"

      High Quality insults were always expected there. But only the type in a friendly mode between modelers! He had seats near the front counter where you could chew the plastic, Nose around in the model you were going to buy or had just bought, and just B.S. about model building. The New owner ( God, I wish I could remember his name!) That's so rude, I know. He has the same setup and he's fun to be around too.

     I had some money to invest and I went to my local bank to see if a Hobby Shop was feasible here in New Braunfels. The only other one is all the way up in Austin and that's King's ( I haven't been there in some time.) Worse traffic that San Antonnio. bWell! It is the state Capitol ya know! I was looking at a closed Firestone Store

      Back to the feasability study for my shop. No Parking in town is a problem. Walk In quantity was on the line too. New Mall? opened up, called CreekSide. You have to drive around to get to a lot of it. So Walk-Ins are questionable. Final Disposition Denial of financial backing due to the problems I noted. Minimum start-up needed would be astronomical due to high store rents everywhere.

       I did find one place. $800.00 a month . Utilities not included! Then There's a sign Permit etc. It's only slightly bigger than my 20' by15' living room. The business is out there. But with real estate costs in a Mall area going for so much, a start-up isn't possible without a BIG capital outlay just to open the doors. That's why I hope King's, Dibble's and Hill Country outlast the Covid. 

      Kin youse imaagine trying to find really good stuff at Hobby Lobby or Micheals? ( We do have both of them) Here's hopin!

  • Member since
    July 2016
  • From: Malvern, PA
Posted by WillysMB on Monday, November 16, 2020 10:58 AM

I grew up in south Denver, but left in 1971 to go to school in Boston. Most of my friends went to either CU in Boulder or CSU in Ft. Collins.

Growing up in Denver in the 60's, our local Hobby Shop was Bonnie Brae Hobby, a "full service" modeling shop with kits (both flying and plastic), paints, tools, advice, and comraderie. Even the local Rexall Drug had a reasonable kit selection that introduced me to Airfix and Heller. Just before I left for school, I heard about a new shop in Aurora which was probably the early Colpar.

Those days are long gone, Bonnie Brae folded decades ago and is now a flower shop, and I haven't seen a model kit in a Walgreens or CVS ever. The only shop here in Philadelphia I've seen any kits or supplies in is Hobby Lobby. However, during COVID, we may see some changes - stuck at home with time on their hands, there seems to be an uptic in interest in modeling, old cars, etc. Specialty boutique-type shops were seeing an increase in interest before the pandemic as Millenials sought something more gratifying than spending time and money at big-box stores in the Mall. Could the Hobby Shop be coming back?

fox
  • Member since
    January 2007
  • From: Narvon, Pa.
Posted by fox on Monday, November 16, 2020 11:18 AM

"What's was a LHS?" Haven't seen one of them in a long, long, time.Crying

Jim Captain

Stay Safe.

 Main WIP: 

   On the Bench:  Revell 1/96 USS Kearsarge - 70% 

I keep hitting "escape", but I'm still here.

fox
  • Member since
    January 2007
  • From: Narvon, Pa.
Posted by fox on Monday, November 16, 2020 11:19 AM

"What was a LHS?" Haven't seen one of them in a long, long, time.Crying

Jim Captain

Stay Safe.

 Main WIP: 

   On the Bench:  Revell 1/96 USS Kearsarge - 70% 

I keep hitting "escape", but I'm still here.

  • Member since
    September 2004
  • From: Denver
Posted by tankboy51 on Monday, November 16, 2020 11:20 AM

I used to go to Bonnie Brai  hobbies.  The original store in the Bonnie Brai neighborhood had to close years ago.  I went there many times.  The next store was in Littleton, not far from my job.  They were big on games. They had room for Gamers and other hobbies.  They closed recently, too bad.  Denver used have many hobby shops.  It takes me back to the good old days.

  • Member since
    October 2019
  • From: Boulder, CO
Posted by Viper101 on Monday, November 16, 2020 11:39 AM

All due respect, but I am aware of the fact that HobbyTown operates as a franchise. 

Colpar is unique in the sense that they bought in to HobbyTown, rather than selling out. This is information coming directly from both a manager and a long time employee. HobbyTown's page even says as much (different language though).

I made no claims of HobbyTown being "Evil" so I hope that comment wasn't directed at me. 

Contacting the corporate offices may be a good idea, if they can get back to me before my deadline. Data is always welcome so thanks!

 

Edit:

This was supposed to be a reply to someone in this chain, but I am not use to FSM's forum setup so I didn't attach the text as a reply apparently. 

  • Member since
    August 2014
  • From: Willamette Valley, Oregon
Posted by goldhammer on Monday, November 16, 2020 11:49 AM

Viper... The 90 mile away shop I referred to is Tammies in Beaverton ( part of the Portland metro area.  Not the Denver area, but maybe worth a call to see how they are faring in these times.  They do have a line ad in FSM.

 

If you hit the reply button on the post you want to quote, then hit the quote button.  You can remove any part of it you don't want.

  • Member since
    April 2009
  • From: Longmont, Colorado
Posted by Cadet Chuck on Monday, November 16, 2020 12:14 PM

Decades ago, I used to frequent a very fine LHS in Wisconsin.  They had everything, especially lots of the special tools and supplies needed for balsa and tissue airplanes, and wooden sailing ships, which were popular then.

The Mom and Pop decided to retire, and gave the booming business to their kids, who promptly drove the place into bankruptcy, and probably absconded with whatever assets remained.  Sad day for me, and all the other modelers.

 

Computer, did we bring batteries?.....Computer?

  • Member since
    September 2006
  • From: Bethlehem PA
Posted by the Baron on Monday, November 16, 2020 1:28 PM

garylee

Here's a quote for you, "The internet murdered the local hobby shop."

I disagree.  Bricks-and-mortar hobby shops, especially the small, sole proprietorships, were already dying out, long before the Internet became generally available and using it became common, in the early 90s.

The typical sole proprietor hobby shop exploded in numbers along with the explosion of the hobby in the 50s, as the first Boomers were old enough to pick up the hobby.  That demographic trend drove the rise and expansion of the classic model companies, like Monogram, Aurora, Revell, Airfix, among others.

The typical hobby shop owner who started his business when he was in his 30s, say, in 1960, was in his 60s by 1990.  As these people started to retire, they often found no one to take over their businesses.  They already had competition from bigger chains and single retailers.

The Internet made it easier to run such a business without the cost of having a store, true, but you still had to run the business.  Those who wanted to be a hobby vendor, adapted.  But the bricks-and-mortar store, generally, was already on its way out.  With notable exceptions that many of us know of locally.

The bigger the government, the smaller the citizen.

 

 

  • Member since
    September 2004
  • From: Denver
Posted by tankboy51 on Monday, November 16, 2020 1:51 PM

Its just my observation, but a lot of sales at HobbyTowns seem to be R/C cars and planes.   They have parts that get broken and need to be replaced.  Colpar and other HobbyTowns have big supplies of those and staff.   Plastic kits dont need them.  I could be wrong.  I used to work part time, at a different hobby shop, back in the late 1970s and we sold lots of R/C aircraft parts that needed replacements.  People don't want to wait days for delivery for car and plane parts. They wet to play with them right away, can't blame them.

  • Member since
    September 2012
Posted by GMorrison on Monday, November 16, 2020 1:55 PM

Another reason often cited for the closure of hobby shops is Atari. 

Modeling is an excuse to buy books

 

  • Member since
    July 2011
  • From: Armpit of NY
Posted by MJames70 on Monday, November 16, 2020 2:27 PM

It's a choice - video games are not cheap, either. A new console will be $4-500 this holiday, and with games $60 apiece. Parents and kids spending their money on that could easily chose models instead. But they're not. 

Meanwhile, my closest store is a former independent that went HobbyTown. They are a ghost of their former existence, being about 85% r/c stuff now. It's not even worth going there for models anymore. They used to have a good paint section, but they don't keep it up.  Guaranteed you go in with a small list of colors, something will be out of stock Confused And they wonder why people turn to the internet...

  • Member since
    September 2004
  • From: Denver
Posted by tankboy51 on Monday, November 16, 2020 2:34 PM

I just thought of this, not a reason for distress, was that there was big break in to steal R/C parts at both stores. I know of one time they broke in though the roof and stole a bunch.  And staff had to be aware of shoplifters at all times.  Not plastic kits really, but parts of  R/C cars.  

  • Member since
    March 2017
Posted by Armor_Aficionado on Tuesday, November 17, 2020 6:49 AM

Originally from the St. Louis area; we used to have a lot of good LHS, but most of them closed either due to the owners getting old and retiring and nobody wanting to take over the shop, or just not profitable enough (most of them close BEFORE internet shopping became big).  There's still one great LHS in the St. Louis area, Mark Twain Hobbies in St. Charles.  The owners/staff are generally pretty knowledgeable about models, not like some 16-year-old kid who looks at you with a deer-in-the-headlights look when you ask him about the latest Takom Stug. III release!  And they stock a LOT of kits and paints!  They also have a nice display case where they display models that customers have built.  Their prices are still really reasonable, although nobody's going to beat that Hobby Lobby 40% off deal.

 

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