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pete beadle

HOBBYSTORES - Stores notice

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pete beadle

Hi all

Latest info on the HobbyStores web page.....Seems that Hobbystores are going online ONLY........

Sadly, and entirely due to the adverse conditions that have affected the model trade over the last few years, the reluctant decision has been taken to close with immediate effect the following store branches:- Chelmsford, Enfield, St.Albans, Reading and Watton.

HobbyStores will continue serving all of our loyal customers through our ever growing online store so we would like to take this opportunity to assure all our customers that they will continue to be able to purchase the very best radio control models and products from around the world from Hobbystores. It is not a decision we have taken lightly, but with the momentous changes in retail driven by the growth in web sales, it is the only option to enable Hobbystores to offer the range of products backed by service that the keen modeller needs to enjoy their hobby to the full.

We will continue to offer service, warranty and returns support and will fulfil all existing orders through our website which itself will be moving to a new bespoke home shortly.

Pete Beadle

BARCS1702

 

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EssexBOF

From memory I think I only went into the Chelmsford branch of Hobby Stores approx 3 times since it 1995, when it ceased to be Radio Active and stocked most items for the modeller at that time. From 1995 they just never stocked anything I needed, so what is the point of wasting time & fuel going there, plus it always felt impersonal, which was not the case when owned by R A.

Think I have said this before,shops do not stock stuff that most modelllers want, but this applies to items not modelling related.
This week , the curtain rail bracket broke in the bedroom. Being Harrison Drape, we thought it would be widely available. Wrong. We tried several of the big outlets whilst out shopping, Homebase, B&Q etc and a curtain outlet all with no success. My partner then said to give the small hardware store in the town a try. The lady searched the shelves for Harrison Drape bits but none were there, so it appeared they no longer stocked them.
She then said there was a box of odds & ends under the counter and we found 2  in there Result!
I then tried the net & found plenty of  H D items on there, so driving round is not a good way IMHO in todays market place.
We are lucky in that there are a couple of outlets here in Essex , Active Scale and Balsa Cabin, where most bits and pieces can be bought.

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gem

Just driven past the Chelmsford branch and sure enough the shutters are across the Windows. 

Like Brian I have very rarely had need to visit the store but would you believe it, I was planning a visit today for some bits and pieces. Never mind Mr Internet will sort it out.

 

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RamJam 53

It's a real shame when this happens. There is nothing more theraputive than spending half an hour wandering around a Model shop and chewing the Cud with like minded souls. I suppose it is very difficult to compete with internet suppliers, especially when people would rather have it delivered. What gets me is the fact that my Father used to take me to model shops, help me build the models, take me to fly them. When we weren't fishing or going for a day out at the coast. He was a Blacksmith who regularly worked shifts of 12-14hrs a day, not easy days either. I often ask myself what has changed and here I am sat on my behind "talking to people I may never meet". We just don't make the effort anymore it seems and this is the result. Right I'm off to go order some new wing servos for my Swift S1, only joking, I'll be visiting my Local Model Shop:yes:

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RamJam 53

Mind you I am lucky to live within 6 miles of my LMS, probably why I still go there.

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Jef Ott

I actually did go out of my way to support Hobbystores in Chelmsford, in a vain attempt to keep them going, because I prefer the shopping experience one gets from going inside a real shop. They often ordered me less commonly stocked items, and I often made impulse purchases of (sometimes rare) tools and materials as a result. I built a rapport with the guys behind the counter.

There is a hardware shop, which I frequent too, where you can still buy nails of any quantity, and they are placed in a free brown paper bag! 

I also afford the luxury of a milkman now, as, one day I may well be old enough to really appreciate this service, and the recycling of the glass bottles is far less wasteful of the earth's resources.

Yes, I make internet and supermarket purchases too, but whenever practical I do support small local businesses. I wish more people could be less shortsighted and do likewise for their long-term good.

This soapbox is now finished with if someone else fancies a rant :)

 

 

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pete beadle

Hi all

Ramjam is right, there used to be real pleasure in wandering around in your local model shop and yakking with the like-minded souls who were there at the time

Trouble is, we weren't BUYING anything!

Today, the market for model flying has changed beyond all recognition. Look at the glossy boxes on sale  at present........virtual shelves stacked high with quadcopters, FPV foamies, airborne camera platforms.......nothing the average retired gent can possibly afford out of his "disposable income|" because he hasn't got any!

I've been saying for years now that my generation, the post-war "baby boomers" will be the last to build and fly, recognisable designs of model aircraft - and unfortunately the market we represent is reflecting this and shrinking every day - these days, for example a bank simply wouldn't lend someone who intended to go into business by opening a model shop a single penny

So get used to it lads and keep calm and carry on.......it's the only game in town now!

Regards

Pete BARCS1702

 

 

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EssexBOF

This is what got me into model aircraft in the early 50's and you needed a model shop then to get it to fruition. These were the best publications ever and still fetch good prices today

Model Avation Planbook Ian Allan.png

Model Plans Annual.jpg

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RamJam 53

The book that got me into RC models (after flying FF in my younger years) was RC Soaring by Dave Huges. I bought a McGreggor 27MHz set, complete with servos. The TR was a lovely Light Blue brushed Aluminium affair, not plastic. Then bought a Big Impala to learn on. I think everyday was Sunny too.:P

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thermaldoctor

I think a big part of the problem is that many local model shops have always sold basic generic RC stuff to cater for the widest audience as possible which of course makes a lot of sense but please let me explain why I think in 2016 it is their major downfall and many still seem to not understand why their businesses may be failing;

When we were younger and just starting out the local model shop stocked and could sort out all our needs with a load of planes, radios and accessories that were totally appropriate and often above our abilities so a trip to the model shop was well worth it - particularly given the advice given from a more experienced modeller setting you out on the pass to success. Once the path to success became a reality any sort of specialism or desire for more niche or sought-after products meant you had to mail order those sort of products from the more specialist model shops because the local model shop could no longer cater for your needs. Hands up how many people reading this were buying their stuff via credit card over the phone and getting things delivered by mail order from more specialist model shops long before the internet was ever invented and then using their local model shop for the cheaper lower margin 'just run out need it quick or forgot to order' stuff like balsa wood, glue, clevises and the like.

I think one of the problems lies in the sad fact RC planes are simply not attracting many newcomers. Therefore the generic local model shop has been seeing a declining amount of new customers seeking basic RC products to start off with and have been failing to sell the 'complete deals' and/or higher margin products in the volumes they once did. Instead their main footfall purchases have been replaced with low margin balsa wood and K&S metal tubing etc rather than the more profitable Futaba Challenger complete sets or a RC Trainer planes complete with engine etc of yesteryear.

I also think that with the emergence of the credit card and telephone mail order possibility to specialist shops (circa late 1980's) meaning you could get exactly what you wanted delivered at a price that was right to your doorstep next day meant less and less reason to go into your local model shop if they didn't stock it.

I believe the internet has accelerated and accentuated the failings of a local model shop who do not specialise or have exclusive lines in their product range. For example a model shop on the high street selling generic props, generic engine mounts etc will often always be out priced by the same item on e-bay or by a much larger model shop specialising in mail order. If that particular model shop is one of the larger ones specialising in mail order then all they are doing is driving down margin on their products in order to compete which is a hiding to nothing.

Please consider some examples to illustrate my reasons. In the late 80's/early 90's I was massively into racing RC cars at a regional and national level. Quite quickly the local model shops failed to stock or even understand what I was on about so I used 2 main companies who were then local model shops but specialised in top end RC car racing and credit card telephone mail order and really knew their stuff and stocked all the parts and accessories I needed that were available next day. One was called Otley Model Sport (based in Otley Yorkshire) and the other Apex Models in Crowthorne, Berkshire. Now both of them are much larger and better than ever before and still sell a huge amount of stuff both locally and nationwide via their high street shops, telephone mail order and the internet.As a contrast the local model shop I bought my first basic RC car from in 1986 (Boomerang) whom I went back to 6 months later asking for faster motor and battery upgrades and looked at me blankly closed many many years ago.

More recently I have witnessed Martin Briggs models in Ledbury, Herefordshire which was a small shop but manned by Martin Briggs a complete Helicoptor expert with a good name and specialist in helicoptor kits and parts and appealed on a mail order and internet basis to helicoptor pilots all over the UK. He had a thriving succesful business for many years but having sold his shop upon retirement - the new owners lasted next to no time as they stocked it full generic engine mounts, clevises, sullivan snakes etc etc that were not specialist and could be bought like for like elsewhere at a better price. 

Both local model shops I grew up with are still in existence however but have long since changed their business model to adapt to modern times. Both are unrecogniseable. Both are now toy shops selling transformer toys, dolls houses, airfix kits, rubber dinosaurs etc but they are still going and after talking to them are going quite well. Sometimes you can see the odd RC product there are not many.

Sorry for the rant but I really do think the writing has been on the wall for a very long time and the only model shops doing okay have adapted with the times and changed their business models completely or gone with the specialist supplier thing as that side of their business has grown. 

 

 

 

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pete beadle

Hi all

Less than a year ago I was visiting one of my local model shops in West London (who must remain nameless, I'm sorry) as they were downsizing their premises and spoke to Mr X who said he was seriously considering closing down the model aircraft side of the business and concentrating on model railways and boats because, even since they had established an online presence, and reduced staffing levels to reduce overheads, they were still getting visitors wanting aeromodelling items to the shop who were asking for discounts for cash, trying to get one-off club discounts that didn't exist, and ordering items for collection that, when they were told they had arrived in the shop, were told "It's OK, I don't need them now, I've sourced them at a lower price elsewhere"....

Mr X then said this behaviour was commonly and mainly practiced by customers wanting model aircraft, kits, spare parts and other items and was in direct contrast to the shop's model railway customers who "turned up with a list of what they needed, bought what was in stock, and put the rest on back-order and then paid by debit card without requesting discounts on anything"

The shop in question hasn't invoked this change in policy yet but, I can see his point, and I'm sure others will recognise that Mr X really does make a valid point, IS telling the truth as he sees it, and IMHO cannot be blamed for threatening making this change in order to keep his shop open

For me, the most important thing the model shop gave you and me was the ability to handle the goods before you bought them, to allow you to assess the value of your purchase yourself, and that people who bought online and didn't take advantage of this fact, really were taking a big chance buying using a supplier's sales "blurb" and a possibly/potentially Photo-Shopped picture in making their purchases basically ignoring caveat emptor. This, therefore was worth the (slightly)increased price from the shop and specifically the major reason why you shopped there and not online

Personally, I know that I actually have been informed by fellow model flyers (sometimes gleefully) of the fact they HAD acted this way at times and couldn't fault Mr X's logic. I think the pursuit of discounts and "special" prices has no place in a hobby that is based on good engineering practice, fitness for purpose and value for money and that we are, even now, reaping the consequences of the actions of a minority of our fellow flyers and are now locked into an irreversible process of decline for no fault of our own. It's a pity but I can see no way out of it. Let's hope I'm wrong, yes?

Regards

Pete

BARCS1702

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Ribs

Aeromodellers are very distributed and often know what they want. People live busy lives. A saturday spent making a round trip to the model shop to find they don't have the right thing available is not something we are prepared to do, especially not when an online retailer can have it on our doorstep in a few days.

Personally I use just a few, excellent, online shops. Those that get my repeat custom do so because they have bothered to find and stock the kind of top-quality parts and models that I would prefer to buy. They provide clear and comprehensive photographs for each item, whether it is a molded sailplane or an m3 nut, such that I have a  lot of confidence in what I am buying even if I have not held it in my actual hand.

These same suppliers provide excellent comminication, package their items well and provide trackable postage. They have a no-quibble approach to problems and returns and are generally also able to provide sound buying advice, when asked. They do all this without my needing to visit in person to their shop.

The result of getting this good service is that I don't then shop around much, looking for a cheaper supplier of the same thing or a cheaper copy or something similar, I go back to the people I trust even it costs a little more. It makes no difference that I've never met them or been in their shop. I value the good service and want to support them. If their being successful and profitable is dependant on them having no expensive shop-front, I don't mind at all.

Ribs

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pete beadle

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Austin

It doesn't take much working out that a physical shop is too expensive to run. Rates, Rent, Heating, Electric, one or two staff to feed. It could come to £1000 per week. Margins on RC equipment and products are very tight (more than general public realise) and would require extremely high turnovers to produce any profit. Put that up against an online retailer with cheap storage and an efficient online shop. Only one winner here unless the physical shop sells something that is a specialist product and cannot be obtained from 100 other online stores.

Model shops used to work well before the internet really took hold. Now they are dead and will never come back, unless of course its a shop with specialist product.

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oipigface

..... and if you want really high quality advice, ask on the BARCS forum. Sometimes you don't even need to ask. You get it whether you want it or not.

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martynk

Biggest problem for me is that you cant choose/select balsa grade and cut from an internet supplier. Anything else I dont mind mail order for

 

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RamJam 53
1 hour ago, martynk said:

Biggest problem for me is that you cant choose/select balsa grade and cut from an internet supplier. Anything else I dont mind mail order for

 

I have to hold my hand up here. I use a well known online supplier for my Balsa. It is graded and excellent quality compared to the firewood my LMS sells, you are lucky to find a piece that doesn't look like a Propeller. I will get it from the MS if I only need a few pieces but usually they do not have the size I need in stock anyway. I have just totted up my spending in the last 6 years at my LMS £2125 or thereabouts.

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oipigface
1 hour ago, martynk said:

Biggest problem for me is that you cant choose/select balsa grade and cut from an internet supplier. Anything else I dont mind mail order for

 

I don't think this is true. If you go to www.balsacabin.co.uk you will find you can choose density (S,M,H), cut, and high quality contest grade materials in a very wide variety of shapes and sizes. It is true you can't actually look at the selections made on your behalf before they arrive at your door, but I have never been disappointed.

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pete beadle

Hi all

Oh you've hit on a raw nerve here!

Way back when, I used to go to the LMS with the "wood list" at the start of my latest build and once, quite early on in my modelling career, I think I was still in short trousers at the time,the owner of the shop put me on the spot by saying "I see you're saying you need medium, quarter grain sheet here, If you can pick the best examples of what you need from the balsa stock yourself I'll give them to you for nothing". BTW This came just after my asking him "So what IS quarter grain?"

Needless to say, I couldn't. I didn't know why the ends of the balsa were coloured red, yellow or green, or what the little numbered stickers were on each sheet, or even how to recognise the grain pattern. I was perfectly happy to rely on his expertise which I knew was FAR better than mine and turned down the challenge in the absolutely certain knowledge that his years of experience had uniquely qualified him for the task of grading the correct wood for the job.......after all he WAS the man to ask, wasn't he?.....

No gentlemen, I still WOULD trust a balsa specialist to sell me what I needed, sight unseen by me, because it was some 10 years after starting to build balsa models that I learned to do this for myself....and, I'll still defer to the chap at Balsa Cabin when I buy from him, in person, at the shows......

Regards

PeteBARCS1702

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martynk

I'll try balsa cabin next time - thanks. I used to buy a reasonable amount of wood from them when I used to attend the FF Nats and I agree, the quality was pretty good.  Still not the same as going in with a set of scales and hunting for and selecting matching pieces though. A wonderful way to spend a couple of hours on a wet afternoon.

 

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