Sunday, July 21, 2013
Support your local model shop
I've just finished reading The Bachman Books written by Stephen King under the pen name "Richard Bachman. The subtitle is "Four dark visions of a terrifying future."
The name amused me, being one "n" from the model train manufacturer. The destopian future thing though, well that's a lot closer for modellers than you would hope.
A message from a friend on Facebook alerted me to the news that Bobs Models of Solihull has closed down. The little cat on the counter won't be getting any fuss from the painty hand brigade any time soon.
Of course this comes hard on the heels of the Modelzone chain of shops shutting their doors.
Bob's Models closure both upsets and annoys me. It was a cracking shop with an excellent range. The staff were knowledgeable and helped the buyer. Despite this, it's gone. Presumably there will soon be another charity shop in the row.
Why is this?
Well, it's not because there is no money around. People are happy to spend over a hundred quid on a RTR diesel and then take to someone who will fit it with DCC sounds and lights taking the bill to nearer £400.
Checking out the prices of modern RTR, they are going in only one direction and its not downwards.
So how come there aren't thousands of happy modellers out there getting gluey and painty building layouts? How come the model shop isn't thriving.
My suspicion is that the answer is simple. The models being bought arrive in the post. They are ordered online from whoever is cheapest. With all the overheads of a physical shop, that probably isn't your local guy. So he might see a punter who wants to chat. Possibly one who buys a few odds'n'sods. The big ticket items - the ones that keep him in business - they go to the web. When they arrive, they get a quick airing on a length of track and then go back in the box.
Sadly, I'm a bit of a lone voice. I don't buy many RTR locos and when I do the local shop gives me a good price and service but 1 every 5 years isn't going to help much. When I suggest they others might like to support their shops I'm told that they can't compete on price.
I wouldn't mind, but this isn't always true. More to the point, they can (if they want) compete on service. What do you do if your new toy is faulty? In many cases, rush to the web and moan on a forum. Then demand that the manufacturer sorts it out. What do you do when the new washing machine doesn't work? You get the shop to sort it out but then you didn't order it by post did you ?
Anyway, judging from a small number of comments on various forums, there are a band of "modellers" who will be delighted when all the shops are gone. They rejoice in the closure of yet another one. I suspect they also enjoy reading that the local pub has closed as they open another can of beer sold below cost price bought from a supermarket and drink it with only a computer and pile of boxed chuffers for company.
Right. Once I've finished this, I'm off to the local model shop. And I'm going to buy something.