It's been an odd week on various social media. Three posts on different forums had a common theme that troubles me.
Example 1 - Someone asks about glue spray for scenic work. I suggest hair lacquer to which they reply "Good idea, I'll check what the missus has and if not head to Amazon."
Example 2 - I've demonstrated a simple continuity test in a video sponsored by Squires Tools. One response, "Thanks Phil, I've always wondered how those work and have no ordered one off Amazon."
Example 3 - A post about a compressor and airbrush uses Amazon links to point readers at the model under consideration.
The common factor is Amazon. Now, I use them myself occasionally, but it seems that the web behemoth has become the default option for a lot of people. While convenient, and possibly cheap if you buy the Prime service anyway, I'd love to see a bit more imagination.
For example 1, I pointed out that hair spray is available from every supermarket and chemist. Your corner shop will have some and it's going to cost less than two quid a can. Even with free postage, I doubt Amazon can beat that.
The tester is trickier. I really like Squires, but you have to ring them up - the website isn't very good. Plenty of people prefer to avoid all forms of human contact, clicking being easier than speaking. You are also limited by opening hours too. That said, once you do talk to them, the service has always been excellent and I don't believe you can stop at one tool costing a fiver. I can't anyway.
For airbrushes, I'd normally recommend Airbrushes.com, especially since we were looking at a Sparmax compressor and Iwata airbrush. More excellent service both before and after sales. Their price is slightly lower too. And Mick Bonwick agreed with me and he knows a lot more about spray painting than I do.
For lots of people, Amazon or eBay are the go-to destinations for anything and everything. Maybe I'm old-fashioned, but that's a shame. Our hobby has loads of small businesses trying to keep themselves going and offering more than just a buying experience. What do you do if you have a problem or question about your new Amazon purchase? Head to a forum, 'cos you are on your own.
Partly, this is about cost. Modellers will trade pretty much anything for the chance of a bargain, but as many eBay auctions prove, neither they nor Amazon are always the cheapest, it's just that people think they are and that's enough.
I'm not sure this is anything other and thinking out loud. I can't change anything. I can't even say I don't use big stores, because I do. The lack of taxpaying send me to local shops where I can, but sometimes convenience wins. Just like I eat McDonalds when I should seek out local cafes.
All I can say is please support the specialist trade. They need us and I think (I might be wrong), we need them.
What do you think?