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Local Model Shops

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Dave Hess01/09/2018 17:55:19
303 forum posts
18 photos

I'd like to support local model shops, but my nearest three are each nearly an hour away in different directions. Anyway, I decided to visit each of them.

The first one was more like a warehouse. There wasn't much to have a mooch around because their large stock was separated from public access by a large counter. I had gone there with the intention of buying a Ripmax Bolero, but when I got there, I couldn't remember the name because I have memory problems. Anyway, I described the plane as a largish low wing 3D plane that was blue and white and I gave its price as £129. The guy looked in his catalogue and said that they didn't have anything like that. I asked to look at the catalogue and found it in seconds. He then went and got it and plopped it on the counter. I asked about the electrical stuff I needed, but he more or less said, "Choose stuff from the catalogue", but I had no idea exactly what I needed, so I left it for another day. He didn't seem bothered.

Shop no.2 was easier. I arrived at the shop to find a notice on the gate, "Closed for two weeks holiday". Two hours and two gallons of petrol wasted.

Shop no.3 today was also disappointing. I went in to find one assistant on his mobile phone and the other talking to someone who wasn't buying anything, so i had to wait a couple of minutes before the one talking to the guy felt embarrassed enough to break away and help me. I needed three propellers and some cyno. Bear in mind that I've spent about £1500 on this hobby during the last month, and I'll probably spend as much again in the near future if somebody can convince me what to buy, so I had an open mind about whether I was going to come back with an armful of boxes.

They didn't have two of the propellers i needed, so I came away with one propeller and the cyno, there was no attempt to engage me in any sort of conversation or find out the sort of thing I might be interested in. Cash rich guys like me with no need to work and no wife or kids just want to get out of the house and talk to people. Maybe that's why the other guy was in the shop.

I was thinking something like this;

"Hello, what sort of planes do you fly that needs those propellers?"

"I fly mainly fun-fly type planes but I'd like to get into 3D"

"Yes, we see a lot of guys in your situation. we've found that this plane is very popular with them, and seeing as you're new here, we can knock £5 off the price." Etc.

Nobody wants the hard sell, but at least they should make a visit to the shop engaging.

To be honest, it's a lot easier and cheaper to buy stuff from the internet, and I got a lot more interesting conversation from the chat boxes than I did from any of the real people at these shops, plus, there's always one with stock of what you want.

Maybe I'm too idealistic; however, it's pretty sad when you know the name of the AI on the Hobbyking chatbox, but you have no idea who's standing behind the counter of your local hobby shop!

I know some of you are going jump in to defend your own friendly model shops. I used to go to the Balsa Cabin in Heybridge and Radio Active in Chelmsford, which fitted exactly my paradigm of how a model shop should be, so I know know they're not all the same, but I'm wondering how many new customers your shop loses while you're having a long chat with the guy behind the counter.

Malcolm Fisher01/09/2018 19:24:05
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619 forum posts
7 photos

David,

That's a sorry tale. I am fortunate in that my local model shop usually has anything I want/need but if not will order it for me. There is nearly always time for a chat with whoever is behind the counter and other modellers who happen to be there. However no one is ignored and no conversation takes precedence over a potential sale however large or small that might be. The shop also has a good on line reputation.

Perhaps you should come up here to live in Yorkshire. wink

Malcolm

Allan Bennett01/09/2018 20:37:19
1555 forum posts
39 photos

I'm lucky to have a local model shop with a knowledgeable owner. But my recent visits for small items (servo wire, servo plugs, glue) have resulted in 'out of stock at the moment; will get it next week'. Two weeks later, still no stock, so back to the internet.

The owner of the previous, now defunct, model shop here once told me that one of his major problems was that many of the wholesalers required minimum orders, so he couldn't order unless he knew he would have enough buyers to make it worthwhile.

Tom Sharp 201/09/2018 21:09:15
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3554 forum posts
18 photos

To run a successful business, you need the perfect unique product and the required number of perfect no hassle customers.

Percy Verance01/09/2018 21:26:43
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8108 forum posts
155 photos

My nearest model shop closed down about 18 months ago, although the buyer of that business is in the process of opening a new shop, although he appears to be experiencing some difficulty with suppy of utilities or so I've heard. I always tried to support the *old* shop prior to it shutting down, although the proprietor did comment that the internet had a negative effect on his turnover. Since the closure I've chosen a couple of shops whom readily operate online ordering, and I've used them regularly. Only today I've ordered 4 mini servos and a 7ch 2.4ghz receiver.

I have heard the *minimum order* story before. I've no idea if it's true anymore, although the way some distributors now work appears to have changed. The shop I use the most ( which advertises itself as your local shop on the internet) often quotes dispatch lead times of 2 to 3 days. I'm assuming the order goes straight to the distributor, whom then send the goods directly to the customer. That appears to be how it seems to work now.......

Tom Sharp 201/09/2018 23:23:33
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3554 forum posts
18 photos

some e shops now use a traffic light system

red, out of stock

yellow, it's at the wholesalers/importers

green, it's in stock.

Martin Harris01/09/2018 23:29:29
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8890 forum posts
221 photos

I had a very illuminating conversation with a local model shop proprieter at our club this afternoon. The horror stories involving the antics of certain distributors were most intriguing and too numerous to detail or recall at this hour!

In his opinion, a large electronics chain and a major toy retailer came to sticky ends largely due to the policies of various distributors who saw them as preferable retailers for drones and helicopters rather than traditional model shops. These chains had policies of no quibble refunds or exchanges and the typical impulse buyer would bring back the wreckage or new toy that simply hadn't really floated their boat to claim a refund. Without any specialist knowledge, the assistant would simply accept that the product was faulty as stated - both the retailers and distributors sharing massive losses as a consequence. There were even cases of customers walking into shops with a transmitter and empty box claiming that their drone had flown away and being given a complete new outfit or a refund.

Deliveries from many of the major distributors have been sporadic - up to 6 months between order and delivery on several occasions. Mark-ups were only around 12% and a few larger concerns were getting discounts on bulk purchases and selling for less than the normal traders could buy for!

He also recounted getting a "special Christmas offer" to make a £20,000 order from a very well known toy and model manufacturer - and within a couple of weeks finding the same products being widely advertised and sold direct to the public by the manufacturer at less than he'd just paid! When asking whether he could return the now virtually unsaleable goods, their attitude was "tough, you've bought them"...

He is only able to remain in the model trade by having diversified but you have to wonder how much longer he will be able to justify continuing to supply modelling goods without the support of his suppliers.

John Stainforth02/09/2018 00:00:56
314 forum posts
38 photos

It's not all bad news on the local model shop front. My "local" model shop (Redfin in Letchworth) is excellent. It's surprisingly well stocked and the owner (Jason) provides really useful and knowledgeable service.

flyless02/09/2018 05:57:22
20 forum posts

Great model shops in hockley essex. Active scale models

Rich too02/09/2018 08:30:10
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3053 forum posts
1070 photos

Poor service from your lms is not unusual unfortunately. My lms was discussed here, and one of the owners posted on here - that was over a year ago and never to be seen again. I pm’d the owner at his request, and he didn’t even bother reading it.

Edited By Rich too on 02/09/2018 08:31:53

Allan Bennett02/09/2018 11:12:30
1555 forum posts
39 photos
Posted by John Stainforth on 02/09/2018 00:00:56:

It's not all bad news on the local model shop front. My "local" model shop (Redfin in Letchworth) is excellent. It's surprisingly well stocked and the owner (Jason) provides really useful and knowledgeable service.

Interestingly that's the shop I was talking about in my posting yesterday. Obviously the stuff I'm looking for is too obscure -- he had plenty of ready-made servo lead extensions, for instance, but no wire and plugs (at the time I was there) for you to make your own.

ken anderson.02/07/2019 09:24:35
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8454 forum posts
773 photos

we have went from 4 LMS shops to none in recent years,the last one closing right this min...…….so now its the internet or nothing.

sad times for anyone who is coming in to the hobby,starting from sq 1.

ken anderson...ne..1 ….. LMS dept.

Jim Carss02/07/2019 09:57:36
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2071 forum posts
82 photos

Ken

North Shields maybe ?

Ken just had a look at his facebook page and the shop close on June 30th, very sad.

 

Jimbo

Edited By Jim Carss on 02/07/2019 10:01:56

Cuban802/07/2019 10:16:30
2772 forum posts
13 photos

I have a model shop within 15 minutes drive, nice people, reasonably well stocked with odds and ends, widgets, paint, fuel, even a small selection of balsa. Rough guess, I spend no more than a hundred quid annually with them. If they don't have what I want they can order, but this might take up to a fortnight because of the way they put their orders through to the distributors - fair enough, however...................

I also have the whole of the UK model trade (those on-line anyway) at my fingertips right here and now, most offering 24hr delivery if you order by midday - internet spend? five hundred quid? probably more, depends on what I'm building and whether I need radio or an engine for a project, so could be much more, you know how it is............

ken anderson.02/07/2019 10:26:30
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8454 forum posts
773 photos
Posted by Jim Carss on 02/07/2019 09:57:36:

Ken

North Shields maybe ?

Ken just had a look at his facebook page and the shop close on June 30th, very sad.

Jimbo

…………………………………………

the very one JC.

ken anderson....ne...1..J.Carrs dept.

Lima Hotel Foxtrot02/07/2019 10:37:43
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353 forum posts
Posted by Dave Hess on 01/09/2018 17:55:19:

"Yes, we see a lot of guys in your situation. we've found that this plane is very popular with them, and seeing as you're new here, we can knock £5 off the price." Etc.

So you want to support your local model shop, but you think they should just discount the money they need to stay open when you buy an item because you happened to walk into the shop one time?

If they did that on a regular basis, they'd go out of business in short order.

If any modeller wants to support their LMS... Pay what the LMS asks you to pay. The people who run these shops are already being undercut by web-based business that don't have the overheads of a physical shop, they have to deal with distributers who can't/won't get the kit into the country, what they don't need is people demanding a discount just for the privilege of having you in the shop.

Andrew Ray02/07/2019 11:25:53
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717 forum posts
19 photos
Posted by Lima Hotel Foxtrot on 02/07/2019 10:37:43:

If any modeller wants to support their LMS... Pay what the LMS asks you to pay. The people who run these shops are already being undercut by web-based business that don't have the overheads of a physical shop, they have to deal with distributers who can't/won't get the kit into the country, what they don't need is people demanding a discount just for the privilege of having you in the shop.

I used to sell cars, it was a family business, are you seriously telling me you would abide by what you have stated here and come and buy a car from me at full price? Of course not, and likewise I won't pay full price and will always try to negotiate a discount. I know you're going to say it's different, but it's not. I have spent as much on models as cars in the past.

And if they had knocked a fiver off the OP may well have gone back and spent an awful lot of money with that shop since he posted the original comment in September 2018, thus reaping the reward of engaging with the customer and offering an incentive to do business with them.

Cuban802/07/2019 11:31:39
2772 forum posts
13 photos
Posted by Lima Hotel Foxtrot on 02/07/2019 10:37:43:
Posted by Dave Hess on 01/09/2018 17:55:19:

 

If any modeller wants to support their LMS... Pay what the LMS asks you to pay. The people who run these shops are already being undercut by web-based business that don't have the overheads of a physical shop, they have to deal with distributers who can't/won't get the kit into the country, what they don't need is people demanding a discount just for the privilege of having you in the shop.

How many local model shops that rely on footfall and are beloved of our boyhoods, are actually left? My local one previously mentioned, fits that description fairly well and I do wonder how they're going to survive. As far as I know their web sales are minimal given it's essentially a one-man band.

Do we consider Steve Webb, Al's, Inwood, SMC, Kings Lynn, SLEC, TJD, Balsa Cabin, etc etc (all of whom I do business with)  and all the others that have a big web presence in the same catagory as the classic LMS? I don't. I wonder how much of their business is split between internet sales and over the counter trade. Do they worry about selling a few accessories for a tenner or the odd gallon of fuel to old Fred coming in for a chat now and again? They all have extensive web sites that must be costly to run and administer, along with packing and dispatch.They're web based businesses as much as anything else now I should think.

Have a feeling that's where the money is and the growth potential. Does it matter as long as they stay profitable? But it'll be a survival of the fittest.

Edited By Cuban8 on 02/07/2019 11:34:13

Lima Hotel Foxtrot02/07/2019 11:53:11
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353 forum posts
Posted by Andrew Ray on 02/07/2019 11:25:53:
Posted by Lima Hotel Foxtrot on 02/07/2019 10:37:43:

If any modeller wants to support their LMS... Pay what the LMS asks you to pay. The people who run these shops are already being undercut by web-based business that don't have the overheads of a physical shop, they have to deal with distributers who can't/won't get the kit into the country, what they don't need is people demanding a discount just for the privilege of having you in the shop.

I used to sell cars, it was a family business, are you seriously telling me you would abide by what you have stated here and come and buy a car from me at full price? Of course not, and likewise I won't pay full price and will always try to negotiate a discount. I know you're going to say it's different, but it's not. I have spent as much on models as cars in the past.

And if they had knocked a fiver off the OP may well have gone back and spent an awful lot of money with that shop since he posted the original comment in September 2018, thus reaping the reward of engaging with the customer and offering an incentive to do business with them.

Sorry, but that is a specious argument in all respects. A large single purchase like a car can not be compared with small ongoing purchases like propellers. The capital expenditure is totally different, as are costs for insurance, road licence fund, fuel etc.

Model shops are already discounting heavily. My LMS generally has to take off 10-12% to compete with all the other outlets across all forms of modelling to stay competitive. Why should they then take more money off on the offchance that a customer (who has said he lives an hours drive away) may come back? And how would they police it? Do they take your details for a loyalty card? A photo? GDPR costs money as well. How often do you get the discount? On what items? On model plane parts? An entire plane? A railway set?

There is no reward to be reaped because modellers are generally a tight bunch and will always look around for pennies off. I do it, don't tell me nobody here does the same.

It's laudable that the OP made the effort to visit his local(ish!) model shops, and perhaps more people should do the same, but why bother when items can be posted from anywhere in the UK and overseas.

Andrew Ray02/07/2019 12:27:08
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717 forum posts
19 photos
Posted by Lima Hotel Foxtrot on 02/07/2019 11:53:11:

Sorry, but that is a specious argument in all respects. A large single purchase like a car can not be compared with small ongoing purchases like propellers. The capital expenditure is totally different, as are costs for insurance, road licence fund, fuel etc.

Model shops are already discounting heavily. My LMS generally has to take off 10-12% to compete with all the other outlets across all forms of modelling to stay competitive. Why should they then take more money off on the offchance that a customer (who has said he lives an hours drive away) may come back? And how would they police it? Do they take your details for a loyalty card? A photo? GDPR costs money as well. How often do you get the discount? On what items? On model plane parts? An entire plane? A railway set?

There is no reward to be reaped because modellers are generally a tight bunch and will always look around for pennies off. I do it, don't tell me nobody here does the same.

It is only a specious argument because you chose to see it that way and draw irrelevancies into the equation. It seems you would expect me to earn less because the purchase you make once every so many years costs a lot and you no doubt expect a discount don't you? It is very much a case of seeing what you want to see. And it has absolutely nothing to do with ongoing costs, we are talking about the simple purchase of a product.

And no one said they were expecting a model shop to discount a discounted price.

As an example I drove 2 hours to buy a pair of walking boots from a specialist shop because I couldn't get what I wanted locally. Whalley Warm and Dry in Lancashire offered a fitting service, they don't discount like the chains but they offered a superb service, threw in cleaning materials f.o.c. and a pair of good quality socks at half price. We came away with not one but 2 pairs of boots and I will recommend them highly and will no doubt buy from them again. They engaged with both myself and other half and offered a discount in another form. The same philosophy applies to model shops and to the shop in the OP, Dave implied he was looking to spend somewhere in the order of £1,500 in the near future and this shop would have has as good a chance as any to take his money. They lost out because they didn't fulfil his needs nor his expectations.

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