Tuesday, August 06, 2019

Why I love my local model shop

Now, I might have a slightly weird job, but even if I didn't, I'm sure I would love having a local model shop. To me, the convenience outweighs any slight price advantage I might get ordering on-line.

A few days ago, a future mag project deadline being chopped in half, I nipped in to see what there was in the N gauge section. A few minutes, and 35 quid later, I had a bag full of the stuff you see above. Now, I could have ordered over the web, but I wasn't at the stage where the project was fully thought through so I could modify things based on the products I could lay my hands on.

Apparently, there are those (according to popular web forums) who really don't like model shops. I struggle to understand that, I really do. Maybe it's the need to avoid human contact, or simply that their modelling entirely involves buying new boxes for the lowest price possible, but how can you beat rooting around in the depths of a shop for surprises?

Anyway, my local shop is Classic Train and Motor Bus, who reach their 20th birthday this year. That's 20 years of excellent service AND prices. They have just altered their opening times fro close at 3:45 to allow for more time on mail-order and expanding their web presence. Apparently, after analysis, this is the best way to free up time to work on expanding the business, or at least getting down to the Post Office to send off parcels!

If you have a local model shop - pay them a visit this weekend. It's summer and things are quiet, so do your bit to keep them open with a purchase. With a bit of luck, they will them be there when you need them.

Update: Over the weekend, it was revealed at the Ian Allan shop in central Birmingham is to close. This makes me both sad AND angry. It's a terrific shop, and a staple of any visit to the city. I've spent many, many pounds there in the past and yet it looks like there aren't enough people like me to pay the bills. I know there are people who will crow about this saying "I told you so" but if a city centre can't support a single model shop, what hope is there for the practical (rather then filling a cupboard with shiny boxes) side of our hobby?


Andy in Germany said...

I tend to buy materials from architecture suppliers and art shops these days: this is partly because I use a slightly odd scale of 1:55 which is close to the 1:50 architects use, but also because German model shops seem to be 90% focused on box shifting and even online it is near impossible to get the slightly odd bits required for my modelmaking.
I wish it were otherwise and I could wander into our local shop and support them, but their displays are full of HO models, and one locomotive costs more than I'd spend on an entire model railway in several years.
Of course this means that neither the model shops or indeed the art wholesalers I frequent will notice the tiny blip in their sales that my budget would allow.

James Finister said...

A real shame about the Ian Allen shop. Whenever passing through I make a point of buying something from there. Like any good bookshop, it isn't always what I went in to get

Christopher said...

Phil, I applaud your sentiments, but there is no doubt that our UK town and city centres have changed, and are changing. Perhaps this is a southerner thing which is slowly making its way north? Model shops in London started to disappear in the late 1980s? Twenty five years ago, there were at least six locations in Abingdon and Oxford where I could buy model kits and bits of some description. Now there is just one that I know of (not including Howes in Kidlington).

Persons who really don't like model shops (but surely like models)? You've got to be joking! That's certainly a little strange, if not downright weird.

James Finister said...

I'm lucky to have a model shop in our small local town, Mason's Models in Spalding. It is a good shop, but as Andy says, it is hard to find the things I need for EM, OO9 and 7/8ths other than tools and materials and that isn't going to keep them in business. In fact we probably spend most money with them buying jigsaw puzzles It is actually a winning combination: Issy browses and buys the jigsaws whilst I shop in the model part.

Personally, I like model shops, but, as with bike shops, it is often the customers I find inside who put me off.

Phil Parker said...

I know Ian Allan kept a can of air freshener behind the counter and deployed it after the visits from some of the more "aromatic" customers...