Loss of Builders

Here and there through this board and a few others, we seem to lament the loss of home builders, and a few point to the loss of local hobby shops.

“Normally” I buy via internet, but this past week I was “treated” to an example of a possible answer to some voiced concerns. I decided to buy a few pieces of balsa from a local shop - so I could get a start on a new construction idea/technique. I walked up to the counter with four pieces of 4" x 48" x 1/8" balsa, and 1 sheet of 4" x 12" x 1/4" balsa. Imagine my surprise (or horror) when the total bill came to a few cents short of a $20 bill !

For a moment I thought the clerk was kidding so I laughed. When there was no return laugh, I asked if the wood came with a new Spektrum DX7 radio. Again no laugh, but a hint of irritation. Finally I came right out and said -“you are kidding - right? Please recheck the SKU numbers!”

Teenage clerk gave me the look that indicated the age of the dinosaur was long past, and perhaps I should get out more often. Holy crap - no wonder I don’t support my local hobby shop! No wonder most only carry “plastic boats”! No wonder there is a lack of serious builders when base composite core material like this costs a quarter of a new AM Radio transmitter, receiver and two small servos. Have I been out of touch? Just when did balsa sheet jump from $1.50 per piece to over $3.00 per piece? How many others out there are part owners of their local hobby shop based on dollars spent? Is this really the future of the hobby/sport?

Maybe there “IS” a plastic boat in my future!


EDIT - ADDED: just checked and Lone Star Balsa sells same piece for $1.48 each… vs. $3.45 ???

I smell “RIP-OFF”

one of these years, i’ll get some low cost, high quality composite hull kits out there. the price of glass, even “s”, is so cheap.
i notice to some of the name brand stuff, like “sig”, “midwest”,
that stuff is $$$$$$$.
i’ve been trying dollar/craft shops that carry balsa, but even they’re catching on.

Hi Dick, remember there is a minimum $25 charge on wood at Lone Star.

Well I would like to jump in to defend your and every other LHS, (local hobby shop.)
If anyone here has been in retail then you, like me, will have some sympathy for any LHS. There are no rich LHS owners.
Every other persons business looks really easy from the outside but many are running on the bones of their arse.
Just try to imagine how much money is tied up in stock just so we can pop in when we get the urge to purchase some luxury item to help build one of our creations.
How much is that store owner paying out in rent, wages, telephone, rubbish collection, etc etc, all the dozens of fixed and regular costs, just to exist.
Without a profit the store will close, so next time you want to buy a blade for your modeling knife or some special adheasive for that ABS kit you may find a Mc Donalds where your LHS should be.
Of course it will cost more than from an internet e-store, ( although do not forget to add the freight and packing costs,) they have no overheads and in many cases no stock (they order on your order, sometimes from the same importer as supplies the LHS.)
Sometimes that little bit extra is worth it. The convenience, the service, even the smile you get with your purchase.:smiley:
Make your LHS owner your friend, they can be a great help when it comes to publicity when trolling for new recruits to your hobby.

This is a general rave and not directed at you Dick.:stuck_out_tongue:

I mostly agree with Ian. The medium sized town where I live used to have 3 model shops - all run by nice people who built models themselves. Now there is one and that is struggling. Its fate is sealed by the fact that it can no longer afford to carry reasonable stock. When I wanted a razor saw blade the other day I had to wait for a week or ten days or buy it off the internet with next day delivery (and cheaper). I regret to say that I bought it off the internet.

The same applies to unusual standard tools. The traditional tool shop in Llandudno was unable to sell me a pin chuck, could order one, ten days delivery, special delivery charge (and these are people I know quite well, the delivery charge was imposed by their supplier). Internet - next day, and cheaper.

I used to feel bad about this but my contribution is not going to stave off the inevitable. If you run a specialised business you need volume - and that means internet. And remember that in many cases the internet supplier is the LHS that has cut out the overhead of a high street store and is just as prepared to give advice over the phone as it was face to face.

i don’t know about struggling. two shops in the gta (advanced, and john’s photo) they seam like there doing pretty good. every piece of cnc’d bling is in there. saw a buggy engine for $600.00.

Ya John, I know - but that would only be $5.00 more than what I had already spent - and I would have a crap-load of balsa - not just 5 pieces! :smiley:

I too found a close-out sale at a different LHS and in talking with owner, he was retrenching, and carrying all his stock in his garage, selling by internet/phone/fax, eliminating the kids who ran the shop and skimmed from the register, and the customers with “sticky” hands who like to “pocket” small items. When last discussed, his costs remained the same for stock - but he got rid of money lost from employees, inventory theft and a lot of overhead.

I don’t mind profit, but when it raises costs to double (or more) I really think the owner needs to step back and look at his business plan. My guess is the shop originally supported the hobby of it’s owner - whether planes, boats, helis, cars, railroads or crafts - and it expanded based on walk-in trade. When the walk-in found better pricing and faster delivery - the walk-in’s faded, leaving the owner with a business that never had a plan at start-up.

I think a big part of the problem is that a large precentage of hobby related products are kits or premade parts. not many people make stuff from scratch anymore. hence places like tower thrive because one kit is the same as the next; not so with raw materials. i surfed the net for hours till i found a place that sold 1/8" thick 48" long contest grade balsa.

We have become a throw away society, it really is depressing some times.

where i live. we used to have 3 real good hobby stores. and they used to have friendly people behind the counter. but now we have the one. and the people there are quiet rude. the prices are jacked highed. only because they are the only store with in 30 miles. and also they carry mostly airplane stuff.
NOW i for one am still building my own boats. and a hull for $40 is not bad. you just have to know where to find automotive fibreglass. and how to make some of your own parts.
is you want a specialized item. then I order on line. gbmy. is a great store. and he is friendly. i have been trying to get our hobby store to carry more sail stuff. but he always comes back with 15 sailors. to 200 flyers. what would you carry


As Ian will probably confirm, we really are very lucky here in the U.S. I walk into my LHS here in Denver, and marvel at the low prices of materials and RC electronics compared to what I used to pay in New Zealand. I still have a little left of a 1.2mm sheet of aircraft ply I bought in NZ for about NZ $42 (exchange rate is about 70cents US to NZD$1 at present). The equivalent sheet in size and quality at my local hobby shop is about USD$12. I’m in heaven - I have to pinch myself to make sure I’m awake!

The benefit of the LHS is being able to inspect what you are getting (rather important when choosing timber). They deserve some support. I patronize both the internet sources and my LHS. When you are in a bind on a Saturday and need something urgently, it is nice to know you are recognized at the local hobby shop.

Dick - p.s. - our local hardware store has balsa, aluminum and hardwoods at cheaper prices than the LHS. But they don’t ask me about my latest “project”.