A few days ago I was going through some old photos of my hobby collection. I found a few photos of cars I first bought from my local hobby store (LHS). I was brought back to a time when online stores and outlets didn’t exist yet and when the local hobby store was the only place to get anything hobby related. This was an important time in the industry because the Internet business was more for bigger companies, and online auction sites were more for the old collectible hobby stuff, rather than current support.
If you look online now, it’s flooded with places to buy from. But, what about that LHS?
We have hit a point in the hobby where we are being drawn to online stores, and overseas wholesalers. We are forgetting about that LHS around the corner. Well, here is the deal: I know this can be a hot topic and could get into a debate, but first I want you to think back to the first time you walked into a hobby store. Maybe it was as a kid like most of us, or maybe as an adult. Now think about the entire in-store expertise and product you can put your hands on. I remember asking and getting lots of advise from the guys on the other side of the counter as a kid. I also remember the best part of all, after all the summer jobs and allowance I was able to go to the store and grab that first kit off the shelve and bringing it home. (Kyosho USA-1).
To me this meant more to me than waiting for the mailman. It just isn’t the same. I know I’m not alone here. Even if your LHS doesn’t have the part when something breaks (which isn’t as common anymore) and they have to order it, most places have a reasonable turn around for the next shipment. This brings me to a question. If you order online and have to wait for it, why is it a big deal to order it through the LHS anyway? Either way you’re waiting, and the hobby store may have it in stock. If it comes down to price (and this is were it can get sticky), you’d be surprised that a lot of hobby stores are very competitive and will work with their customers to keep them coming back. Today’s competitive nature is a little different than back then. Some LHS will price match to an acceptable level with some things. Depending on the situation. You just can’t be a poop head about it when you walk in the door. I know this from personal experience from working for one of the largest hobby supply stores in Canada. Sure, you can expect some stuff to be slightly more expensive in the store because they have staff and a brick and mortar store to pay for. Not to mention the years of experience most stores carry. It’s hard to put a price on that.
If you are a regular customer to your LHS, they are more than likely going to continue a business with you and the people you bring to the store. I know not every store is like this, but a lot of them are. Which is why we need to keep the good ones. Call me old fashioned, but this is what I see. We wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for the good old local hobby store to begin with. Perhaps a bold statement, but it’s true. I know some folks don’t have a LHS, and online is the only way. I get that. Did you know a lot of hobby stores have online stores too? I consider that local support too for those hard to reach people. For those of us with a local hobby store, I say support them too! I know some online deals are just too good to pass up, and that some LHS may not carry the item of need. I understand why online shopping can be a great resource. Always check to see if that LHS can get it, and remember that there is nothing like walking into that LHS and picking out that die cast, RC, or airplane in person. Rather than looking at pictures of it on a computer monitor.
Bottom line, I know not everyone will agree with this topic. That’s cool. Online deals will always be there. Local stock restrictions can happen. I’m not saying you shouldn’t buy online, I’m just saying if your LHS has it, why not show your local support as well?
What do YOU think?