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Another LMS gone

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IanN20/10/2016 13:54:52
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This isn't actually new news as it happened two or three months back, but I haven't seen any talk of it on here so thought I'd mention it

Another LMS bites the dust - well, actually it's still open, but as a retail walk in shop it might aswell not be

I've been meaning to pop over to Slough Radio Control for a while now since their move to new premises a couple of months or so back, and had a free day this week. Love 'em or hate 'em (I always got on fine there) the old shop was a very good size, rammed full of stuff and (bar the usual niggles re out of stocks that seem to have been par for the course just about everywhere these past few years) had just about everything that you could wish to browse to your heart's and wallet's content. Many hours spent weighing up which clevises and horns to buy, pick up a few extra props and a couple of LiPos while I'm at it, and not infrequently the odd kit or larger purchase

Well, what a disappointment the new place is. Basically it's a warehouse for the online and mail order operation with a very small "showroom" at the front. When I say showroom think of an average sized living room in a 3 bed semi displaying a small random selection of kits, with a shelf of adhesives, and a rack each of film covering and some less than optimal grade wood, and some mags spread out on the windowsill - that's pretty much it.

If you want anything else you have to ask at the counter, whereupon someone treks out back into the w/hse at the rear and brings you (hopefully) what you've asked for. Archaic, clunky, and not a comfortable or easy way of shopping - especially if you have a list of quite a few items

The owner obviously sees the way forwards as online and mail order, and specifically not walk in customers - and that's fine, it's his train set so he can play with it how he wants. Interesting though that one of their facebook comments is "it is a shame we lost much of our showroom space but we have a small showroom in the front. It is a case of adapt to survive in the online age. The move gives us lots of extra warehouse space that should benefit all those who shop online with more stock available at the best prices we can".

Well, I bought the noseleg I went for but when it came to the saddle clamps it was "sorry, we were just about to order those" - oh dear, so much for "more stock available" then!

None of this is a criticism of the guys there, who were as friendly as ever - probably grateful just to see someone walk in as the footfall has obviously dropped off significantly. However, for anyone thinking of making a journey to browse or just visit, as quite a few used to at the old place, you will likely be hugely disappointed at a wasted trip

John F20/10/2016 14:20:57
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If a LMS is still open, will sell you something you want and will try to help I dare say that it is not a wasted trip.

IanN20/10/2016 14:33:01
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Unless like me you needed 8swg saddle clamps wink

John, don't get me wrong, I'm not saying they're not helpful and that it's not a useful resort to have in extremis if you live within striking distance and need something right there and then. They are, and it is

Just that an awful lot of the reason for going - the viewing, browsing and selection process- has gone. It's no longer a shop in the accepted sense of the word: just a service counter

You can gauge it from this image off their facebook page. The "showroom" is the small sticky out bit with the windows, to the right of the large grey shutter - that's it

slough rcm.jpg

Geoff S20/10/2016 15:56:00
3895 forum posts
56 photos

Oddly enough I visited the only model shop anywhere near me yesterday, GeeDee's in Nottingham. It's on the edge of the old lace marker area and not much more than a stone's throw from the dance hall where I met my wife over 50 years ago. Our rare visit to Nottingham was more of a nostalgia trip than anything because it involves 2 buses rather than the one which takes us into Derby. I just find driving into a city centre and finding (and paying!) for parking tedious beyond belief so almost never do it now we have free bus travel.

The shop was OK but it caters mostly for model railway or plastic modellers. The skills of the top makers of plastic display model aircraft is outstanding but, for me, a model aeroplane has to fly - at least once . There's a small section devoted aeromodelling which is well stocked but nothing like as well as the shops I used to use a lot that have closed. I made a couple of small token purchases. I'll be surprised if the shop survives in its current location.

Geoff

Jon - Laser Engines20/10/2016 16:06:12
5669 forum posts
272 photos

I agree 100% with comments about the new layout at slough. Its ill conceived and dosent work. It would work if it was argos style with loads of minions scurrying round like ants grabbing things and the actual hand over taking seconds as you already paid at the automated booth thing. But even then, it is no good for modellers who will spend many minutes with two packs of clevises in hand muttering 'slec...or radio active? what about those sullivan ones i saw before...what was it dave was using? they were shiny, i liked those...hmmmm' before finally buying all 3.

For what its worth though, none of the staff like it either, but they are stuck and the only thing that will change it is if a flood of complaints from customers pours in, which is unlikely to happen as we are all setting the world to rights on here!

Richard Wood20/10/2016 16:46:06
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If you want anything else you have to ask at the counter, whereupon someone treks out back into the w/hse at the rear and brings you (hopefully) what you've asked for. Archaic, clunky, and not a comfortable or easy way of shopping - especially if you have a list of quite a few items

Brings to mind the Two Ronnies Four candles sketch!
I haven't used SRC but their ads in RCME were always interesting.
Hope they succeed, we can't afford to lose any more shops.


MattyB20/10/2016 17:45:10
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Posted by Jon Harper - Laser Engines on 20/10/2016 16:06:12:

I agree 100% with comments about the new layout at slough. Its ill conceived and dosent work. It would work if it was argos style with loads of minions scurrying round like ants grabbing things and the actual hand over taking seconds as you already paid at the automated booth thing. But even then, it is no good for modellers who will spend many minutes with two packs of clevises in hand muttering 'slec...or radio active? what about those sullivan ones i saw before...what was it dave was using? they were shiny, i liked those...hmmmm' before finally buying all 3.

For what its worth though, none of the staff like it either, but they are stuck and the only thing that will change it is if a flood of complaints from customers pours in, which is unlikely to happen as we are all setting the world to rights on here!

Hmmmm... Not sure I agree. The layout is only ill conceived if the most of their sales are to people visiting the shop in person. Clearly that is no longer the case, hence why they have changed their model to make it easier and cheaper to fulfil online orders at the expense of customer experience in the shop. If 80-90% of their sales are online, why would they do anything else?

We have to face facts - with current participation levels, the huge variety of products now available, competition from the likes of HK and eBay and high business rates the local model shop is dead. No amount of cheerleading to support them is going to make a difference - in a few years there will only be a few large "clicks and mortar" style model shops around, and the vast majority of the smaller ones will have disappeared. It is sad, but this is a niche hobby and there just isn't enough sales out there to support a place on the high street against the huge amount of low cost variety online.

Edited By MattyB on 20/10/2016 17:46:33

Paul Marsh20/10/2016 18:05:44
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Strange you mention that. I popped in on the way to the Southern Model Show. I haven't been in the new shop until then. The other one was really great, a massive shop, loads of stuff to look at and buy and 2nd hand models hanging from the ceiling which you can but and loads of kits on the shelf.

The new shop, well, went in, "looked" around, took 30 seconds and walked out, wondering why I bothered detouring off the M40 and wasting time entering the address in my car's Sat nav in the first place.

Shame, great shame...

There's always Leeds, like Slough used to be, but still as it was - two floors of it.!

It looked like this before. Drool! Spent load of money there.

shop_slough.jpg

Edited By Paul Marsh on 20/10/2016 18:11:58

Basa20/10/2016 18:35:48
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42 forum posts

Slough Radio Control Models I used to love that shop even though I lived 120 miles away , my daughter lived near by , but the problem is if you don' t use you'l loose it .

GeeW20/10/2016 18:38:08
120 forum posts
9 photos
2 articles

Another vote for 'underwhelmed' with SRCM's new "showroom".

But on the other hand I have enjoyed going to Andover Models and TJD....hope to swing by Motors & Rotors in the next week or so as I travel quite a bit with work.

kevin b20/10/2016 19:09:15
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1960 forum posts
172 photos

I use Leeds Model Shop a lot. It is less than a mile from my works and they are a great bunch of people working there.

Trust me, they are struggling the same as all the other LMS, but are still trying to keep the old fashioned shop. I reckon that their mail order side is subsidising the shop to a considerable degree.

Slough have moved from retail premises to an industrial unit. I moved my business (service industry in Leeds) from a main road location, onto an industrial estate. The same size, the same staff and easier access to the main roads. That was 5 years ago and now my business rates and insurance are about half of what they were. Combined with fuel savings (all types), it has improved profitability by over 40% ! I would imagine Slough have probably done similar, or better.

I know that in many town centres the costs of running a small shop are in excess of £2,000.00 per week, before you employ staff and buy stock. You need a lot of people walking through the door and high profit margins to cover that and model shops get neither.

I didn't used to go into Leeds Model Shop on a Saturday as it was always too busy for me. Now I can go in anytime to "browse". I calculated that I probably spend about £1,200.00 a year in there, so how many customers do they need like me to make it pay ? Probably more than they get is the answer !

If you live more than about 10 miles away from a LMS (and haven't got a bus pass), then the transport costs are likely to be dearer than having any purchases delivered and you won't have the disappointment of discovering they are "out of stock". How many modellers live within 10 miles of a LMS. Again, not enough.

This is life these days and we have to think ourselves lucky that we (thick rose tinted glasses on) lived through the modelling "good times", with lots of busy, friendly shops and large open areas where people were happy to see us playing with our toy planes.

 

Has anybody noticed how much cheaper our hobby is these days ? I wonder why. wink

kevinb. tell it as it is, not as it was.

 

Edited By kevin b on 20/10/2016 19:15:54

Edited By kevin b on 20/10/2016 19:16:26

GeeW20/10/2016 20:14:27
120 forum posts
9 photos
2 articles

SRCM's location and parking is fine, ditto staff, just no showroom is the gripe!

Trevor Crook21/10/2016 07:50:16
1026 forum posts
71 photos

Slough is one of my nearest model shops now (still a half hour drive away) but I haven't been since they moved and don't like the look of the new place. My last couple of trips have been to Addlestone Models. Traditional model shop, stocks most of the bits and bobs we need, and the staff are helpful. Yes, there are loads of plastic kits and model railway stuff too, but where else would those modellers go? Airfix kits are as rare as hen's teeth in a shopping centre now.

I also use West London Models, who also have a good shop and staff, but they are a bit further for me.

Allan Bennett21/10/2016 08:42:34
1775 forum posts
55 photos

Apart from the emphasis on internet trading, a move to premises like that is probably also down to the high cost of running a shop in a town centre. My local model shop -- Mainly Models -- moved from town centre to a small unit in an industrial estate a few years back, and the owner reckoned he saved a small fortune per year in rates alone. With the pressure on prices, caused by internet competition and China, he couldn't afford not to move. He keeps a walk-in facility with limited stock of "essentials" but, even with a week or so's wait if I order something, it's still nice to be able to pop in for a chat and a browse when I pick it up.

Cuban821/10/2016 10:11:19
3097 forum posts
1 photos

Providing that these 'warehouse syle' shops have a decent website, keep good levels of stock that is keenly priced and offer quick and reasonable delivery, I don't have a problem with them.

The days of our youth spent with our noses pressed up against the local model shop's display window are long gone - don't forget the up and coming generation who thrive on web-based everything and don't see wandering around a shop as a worthwhile pastime.

I'm struggling to recall the last fairly expensive item that we bought from a high street shop - probably our Sony TV that we got from a supermarket five years ago when we ditched the old box CRT one - everything else has been ordered on-line and delivered to our door.

 

Edited By Cuban8 on 21/10/2016 10:18:13

Nigel R21/10/2016 10:12:40
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I find the thread title somewhat incorrect. They're not gone, after all.

Town centres are expensive to operate from and most specialist shop trade is via the internet and mail order. Not just RC gear. Any specialist hobby stuff. The move to online has been going on for about 20 years now, so this sort of change isn't news, or new, or surprising. Town centres are the domain of lowest common denominator stuff. If RC shops are going to survive (and you do want them to survive, right?) then the old style town centre dusty aladdins cave isn't going to do it any more. Things are different, businesses have to adapt. Or die.

I vote they adapt.

As a similar example, a "local" bike shop I used to use for the odd bike (and numerous small bits) gave up opening the shop on most days, they did Wednesday 4-7pm and Saturday morning. 90% of their business went internet based. Staffing the shop wasn't worth it. The main reason they opened up was to do bike fitting service and for service drop-off / pick-up, and most people who bought their bikes worked Mon-Fri and raced on Sunday.

Jon - Laser Engines21/10/2016 10:43:30
5669 forum posts
272 photos
Posted by MattyB on 20/10/2016 17:45:10:
Posted by Jon Harper - Laser Engines on 20/10/2016 16:06:12:

I agree 100% with comments about the new layout at slough. Its ill conceived and dosent work. It would work if it was argos style with loads of minions scurrying round like ants grabbing things and the actual hand over taking seconds as you already paid at the automated booth thing. But even then, it is no good for modellers who will spend many minutes with two packs of clevises in hand muttering 'slec...or radio active? what about those sullivan ones i saw before...what was it dave was using? they were shiny, i liked those...hmmmm' before finally buying all 3.

For what its worth though, none of the staff like it either, but they are stuck and the only thing that will change it is if a flood of complaints from customers pours in, which is unlikely to happen as we are all setting the world to rights on here!

Hmmmm... Not sure I agree. The layout is only ill conceived if the most of their sales are to people visiting the shop in person. Clearly that is no longer the case, hence why they have changed their model to make it easier and cheaper to fulfil online orders at the expense of customer experience in the shop. If 80-90% of their sales are online, why would they do anything else?

We have to face facts - with current participation levels, the huge variety of products now available, competition from the likes of HK and eBay and high business rates the local model shop is dead. No amount of cheerleading to support them is going to make a difference - in a few years there will only be a few large "clicks and mortar" style model shops around, and the vast majority of the smaller ones will have disappeared. It is sad, but this is a niche hobby and there just isn't enough sales out there to support a place on the high street against the huge amount of low cost variety online.

Edited By MattyB on 20/10/2016 17:46:33

The problem is they will kill off whatever foot traffic is left and force those people online. In that case, there is no guarantee they will buy from them. Given the experience i had in there last time i wont be going there again unless its an emergency.

I worked at the old shop for 5 years and this idea was teased back then. I didnt think it was a good idea then and in fact think even less of it now. Generic things like servos can be bought online, but things like radio's are nice to see in person as you can get a feel for it, check out the interface of the menus and all that, not to mention ask a question. When i think of how long i used to spend selling nitro cars and giving loads of time over to making sure they didnt snap the pull start on the first tug, there is no way you could do that online and that is likely to lead to many people not having such a great time with their new toys which is not good for the hobby as a whole. Even with a first hand understanding of how much of the business was mail order, i still think a bigger show room would have been a good idea for things like props that are likely to be regular sellers. To have a back stock of radios and kits, with only one of each tx on display is not an issue, but when i have to wait for 15 minutes to be served when all i want is an rx battery and a pair of mini servos is a bit much.

Also the reason shops are closing is because they make no profit (clearly), and the reason for that is that online price wars/matches are forcing shops to sell with no margins so they make no money or indeed loose money on some items.

Phil 921/10/2016 10:57:38
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4287 forum posts
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I am no expert but is not business rates for a traditional style shops very high and can be avoided by a warehouse style outlet? if this is the case I can understand the new layout especially if most of their business comes from web sales

I know of two other shops that have moved to an industrial state warehouse.

not as nice as a trad LMS but it may be a case of a warehouse or going bust

jonryan21/10/2016 13:33:27
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165 forum posts
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Given the collapse of the pound and that pretty much everything modelling has to be imported, prices are set to rise swiftly. LMS traders who aren't able to find some way of cutting overheads are going to find life even harder.

John F21/10/2016 13:56:15
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Posted by Jon Harper - Laser Engines on 21/10/2016 10:43:30:

The problem is they will kill off whatever foot traffic is left and force those people online. In that case, there is no guarantee they will buy from them. Given the experience i had in there last time i wont be going there again unless its an emergency.

The thing is, as others have said, their aim has changed and they have gone from a human traffic sales business to an internet sales business. They have evolved and developed a strategy to keep their business going.

Who is at fault; the person who shuts down or the person who actually changes and adapts to the differing requirements of the modern age?

I applaud them for changing which not only keeps their business going, and therefore supplying our hobby with alternatives, but also in keeping people employed.

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