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DT
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What do people think about the current state and future of slot car shops, physical and virtual?

Do you have a high street hobby shop? What does it mean to you? What are the good aspects and the bad about them?

What are your feelings and experiences of online shops?

No commercial plugs please!


A couple of years ago, I used to have 3 hobby shops in my local town. There is now one left. I bought a couple of Fly Vipers there and paid 20 euros more per car for the pleasure (compared to online shop average).

I would support my local hobby shop more if the guy was able to contribute more and give me something that I couldn't find on the Net. He has to divide his time between trains, war gamming and die-casts though. I find that I go into his place knowing more about the products than he does so I don't see why I should pay a premium for his products.

 

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Overall, in the long run etc, I think a reduction in shop fronts for slots is absolutely inevitable. We can like it or not like it, but I am quite certain it is going to happen, it is happening. They won't disappear, IF there is a big enough demand, but they will reduce in numbers and nothing we do will change that in the long run. It's not just slots, it is EVERYTHING. It is unstoppable, imho. On that basis, there seems little to be gained in ignoring the Online-Only people. Often, these are the people with the news, the latest releases, the best prices etc. We are here on the boards, solely by virtue of the net so it would seem somewhat perverse to use that net-enabled facility yet ignore other net-enabled facilities! I do feel that we might as well embrace 'that which is going to happen whether we embrace it or not '.

I have two little hobby shops in my local town. One doesn't carry slots and the other carries a few. But, as in Nuro's experience, he has nowhere near the breadth of knowledge that I have, the poor guy can't afford to carry more than a dozen recent (but not bang up to date) cars. Basically, I almost never buy from him because he hasn't got what I want and I can obtain it quicker than he can. I think, and hope, he wil stay in business, but he is never going to be any bigger than he is and he is never going to retire on his profits - sad, but a definite fact.

imho, it is ONLY the net that has created the current resurgence in slottistry. The mini-renaissance has nothing whatsoever to do with the bricks and mortar shop-fronts. But you are allowed and even encouraged to disagree wih me!
Let's hear it . . .
 

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The high street presence is growing. You may not believe it but there are more high street shops than in last 30 years stocking slot car sets. Both in Europe and the USA.

And this is going to have a beneficial effect on the specialist retailer who offers the wide range of accessories and add ons.

You will find that the large "set only" type outlets have increased their range of offerings this year, and with more stores offering product.

The newbie market requires a presence. The product has to be visible. It is 3 dimensional. Something which does not come over too well on the internet.

The on-line shop attracts the experianced collector/enthusiast who has decided to investigate the hobby further having decided to expand after maybe the purchase of 1 or 2 sets, some track and 3 or 4 additional cars.

Beyond this point the enthusiast will be looking to see what clubs are in the area. The better and more successful specialist shops will be near to club circuits and places where enthusiasts can gather.

The on-line shop is there for people who do not have ready access to the products that they want locally. If folk had a choice of being able to visit a local store to shop, or purchase on-line, folk would visit the store as long as opening times are convenient. That means opening until 8 or 10 pm though which many small retailers do not.

I am rather amazed that hobby shop retailers don't open until 8 pm and close at 5 or 5:30pm. No good at all to the working enthusiast. This is where they go wrong, and this is where the on-line presence wins.


Moped
 

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Generally as previously stated this has nothing to do with Slotcars, just general retail business.

In general, you get what you pay for!

If you want to handle goods and ask advise prior to purchase and take the goods away there and then - buy from a shop.

If you don't need the advise - by from a supermarket or large chain store.

If you know what you want, know all about it, don't mind waiting a few days for the post, have a credit card by on line from the cheapest place you can find.

If you know what you want, know all about it, don't mind waiting a few days for the post, have a credit card and want to build up a relationship with a dealer to obtain discounts and preferential treatment on limited editions etc, then buy on line from one dealer and try to meet him at swap meets!

The above is not rocket science!

I used to work in a shop selling expensive camera equipment (long time ago) there were shops cheaper than us and postal order companies a lot cheaper than us, we still did OK, customers got face to face help and advise and if anything went wrong they brought it back to us and we dealt with.

The internet is great for CD, DVD's, Slotcars from Ebay etc, etc where it falls down is service! i would personally never buy an expensive camera on line for example. (would you buy a real car on line?)

Tropi is right regarding the web, but i would humbly suggest that the increase in Slot cars (profile, quality, etc,) is not wholly down to the web! It has played a great part, but not all. See slot car clubs, better product, better marketing on the part of manufacturers most of which is not web based! (see Goodwood, Roadshows, magazines and clubs).

There's my two penny, euros, dollars depending on where your from and who your buying from!

Gareth
 

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DT
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
QUOTE The internet is great for CD, DVD's, Slotcars from Ebay etc, etc where it falls down is service! i would personally never buy an expensive camera on line for example. (would you buy a real car on line?)

I bought my Fuji S1 Pro online


I think that it quite feasible to buy a car or other big expensive item online. You could have a showroom that specialises in allowing clients to check the car out, touch feel and test-drive. Once you have decided on the model, you go online, choose your configuration and find a dealer that can have it delivered to your door the cheapest. Sure you have to take into consideration servicing, after-sale service and the eventual resale of the car.

I selected and configured my latest car online, the dealer was just a minor inconvenience along the way.
 

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I guess a lot depends on where we live.
In town or out of town, a big city or a little one.
The only slot cars (for sale) that I have ever seen have been in toy shops, which are usually way out of date and yet still at maximum price. My personal experience has taught me that it isn't worth my expense in either fuel or time to visit them. Every single slot car I buy is by internet/phone/mail order - it's quicker, less bother and it's usually cheaper for ME.
If it were not for the net, I definitely would not be into slot cars at all.
So again, for ME, the net is actually everything!
But some people might be luckier, of course.

Just slightly off topic, but previously referred to - I often do buy expensive and sophisticated equipment via the net too. I have very occasionally had to return computer components and that really is a pain in the backside! But this is rare and the overall cost saving is definitely favorable. But I am careful from whom I buy really expensive equipment - I make sure they have a decent 'track record'!


EDIT
Just seen Nuro's response a minute before mine - yes, I too have bought a digican online - sadly not an S1! Also, yes, given the right circumstances and set-up, I would consider buying a real (new!) car on-line.
 

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I agree with mope- it's only due to high street shops that I became aware of current slot cars' loveliness. However now, I do most of my purchasing online (so far i've just used ebay, pendle, and slotcity. all have been great.

If I'm in a high street shop, have the money, and they have a car I want, then I will buy it from there, but usually they don't. or I don't. though occasionally you can turn up gems- I was in antics in cardiff at the weekend. I've been there a few times (the in-laws live nearby), and I've never spotted anything I wanted, but this time I noticed a team slot citroen ZX, that had obviously been taking up shelf space for years. It's a hideous livery, and not a great model, but I drive a 3-door ZX so I just had to have it. it's a hoot to drive without the magnet. I didn't even know the car existed...

The town I live in (leamington) isn't big on model shops. in fact there'sonly one, and he mostly does diecast and tinplate. he's started carrying carrera slots (so far a tentative step involving an F1 set and the 2 ferrari F1s), so I'm going to get my "winged warriors" through him- because I want him to stock more slot cars. and hopefull there to be more slot racers in town to race against...
 

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Nuro, same here, although I do educate my localist retailer for a browse of his trade catalogue!


We have ordered lots online.. we bought all sorts, like hoovers, washing machines, nearly a car at one point, loads.

It's just things dont always appear when they are said to!

Inte.
 

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Matt Tucker
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Suppose I'm lucky - I walk past a model shop on my way to work and regularly purchase from them esp paint, lead etc and the occasional car. They do get most new releases (normally only 1 or 2 of each) in stock pretty quick. I get a discount cause I'm a member of a local club (normally 10%). Also got another two shops within 20mins drive all with same discount - none carry a huge range and its only sets and cars but its an enjoyable drive round Northants touring the slots shops of the county (anybody want to write a guide to slot shopping?). I enjoy the browsing aspect and seeing the models close up.

However I do most of my new purchases from online shops. Internet is only real way of getting your hands on the stuff you want esp if you want it earlier than your other mates to show off at the club!

Overall most of my £ goes on-line.

Matt
 

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Funny, just talking about this on another board...

My experience: I've purchased and sold HO stuff on eBay. That's what actually got me back into slot cars. I thought they'd all but died off.

After looking through more 1/32 cars online though, I wanted to change. The eToys sell-off was painful to watch. I missed out due to my indecisiveness.

I found a great hobby store in Denver, Colorado that advertised carrying the major slot cars manufacturers. I called them and found out they had an in-store layout up all the time. I drove up, eagerly played with the cars for about an hour, and left determined to switch scales. Their staff was very knowledgeable and even carries parts! I sold off my HO stuff (except the really rare Aurora T-Jets) and went back to purchase. I dropped almost $600 for two Circuit 4 sets and 4 extra cars.

I've purchased more from the same store, as well as a local one in Colorado Springs that has begun carrying more stock. Their only problem is price and knowledge. This is a general hobby store, and they know very little about slot cars in general. They are trying, and I'd like to see them make a good go at it, so I purchase a few cars there from time to time. The downside is that it cost me $41 each for two of the new Carrera Mopars, when they list online for $30. The nice thing is that I was able to hold the cars in my hand, take the display cover off, etc. I like being able to do that.

So, I do both types. BTW, I purchased my Chevelle online and had a good experience. Just depends on the purchase.

David
 

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I get so frustrated with my local hobby store.They are big into RC and Trains and for the longest time carried very little slot car stuff.I would always give them the chance by special ordering stuff in, but it would take for ever or they would foget and not order it in.I put it down to poor management.

I was in one day and the owner of the store was there and I was telling him how frustraiting it was to get slot stuff from his store, and he listend and said he was looking at getting a big shippment in as he has noticed there seems to be more demand for the stuff, I said great and tried to point him in some direction on what to stock, but I got the feeling I was standing on his toes so I backed off.

Just last week I visited the store and to my horror, I noticed shelf's and shelf's of slot cars, ALL NASCAR,I asked if there was a fire sale and he got the cars cheap, and the sales guy (who is the owners son) said they had done some research into slot's and Nascar is the hot item in slots just now I said really, but I am looking for a GT car and I got the same old answer OOO we will need to special order that in.

So again another sale lost and another Inter- net sale win.

Stewart
 

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Scott Brownlee
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QUOTE You could have a showroom that specialises in allowing clients to check the car out, touch feel and test-drive. Once you have decided on the model, you go online, choose your configuration and find a dealer that can have it delivered to your door the cheapest.

Okay, so how's the owner of the showroom going to make any profit with all his potential customers going off and buying elsewhere?

We get this simplistic argument in the 1:1 car world all the time. Just look at all those folk who (thought they'd) bought themselves a bargain by going for an import. Then car doesn't arrive for months and when it does it isn't the spec ordered. Most Japanese imports were actually stolen cars so no car and no money once the cops find you. Great, eh.

Where did they all go screaming for help - especially when it breaks? That's right, the poor smuck who has invested in a fully equipped workshop and trained staff that they refused to buy from to save a bit of money.

I agree, the trend is for fewer high street shops, but God help us when buying anything we'd like back up for.

However, history teaches us that we don't know everything. Look at book shops (at last in the UK). Previously the book industry protected the book shops by limiting supply to supermarkets and others. "Cartel!" cried the govt and forced a change. Cheap big sellers were promised, but an end to specialist books also prophesied. Instead what happened? More book shops and cheap books at other places too. Tesco selling Harry Potter at virtually half price the minute they could, but still the traditional book shop having a big pay day. Why?

Well, choice for one. The cheaper, wider availability spread the audience by putting books in front of them at good prices. People previous reluctant to wander into a stuffy book shop happily bought at ASDA.

However, the even more significant thing was the coffee shop. Instead of rolling over and dying the traditional book shop installed a coffee shop. Suddenly books were secondary, but people going in for a coffee in a nice atmosphere browsed the shelves, saw new releases they might otherwise have missed and Bang! - increased investment in books shops across the country.

The parallel for slots, or even hobby shops is the web based retailer. They can offer cheaper prices, but just what is the coffee shop equivalent for the hobby store, I don't know. A track or club, maybe.

Scott
 

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DT
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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
QUOTE how's the owner of the showroom going to make any profit

I imply that the showroom is designed and paid for by the manufacturer.

A speciality showroom that can cater for the needs of all types of clients. How often have you gone into a garage showroom either to be ignored or to be pounced on by a salesman?

I think that perhaps it is in the manufacturers interest to show the car and let the dealer to sell it and supply parts and service. Look at how margins are falling in the industry. Wouldn't the dealers make more if they didn't all have to splash out on shop fronts and forecourts?
 

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Part of what made me sell up my retail business (photographics) four or five years ago was the lack of control I had over my prices.

We were a specialist outlet. A fair chunk of our business was the hobbyist. They are the worst. They love their hobby too much, want to buy it all but don't want to pay over the odds. Fair do's, they spend more than the average punter who comes in at Christmas and just before his summer hols.

But folks would come in, take a full demo of a camera and at the end ask me to match some mail-order suicide merchant's price that left me with a markup of maybe 10%. Once upon a time I could offer to get close, tell the punter they could walk away with their heart's desire there and then and make the sale. Slowly it changed,

"If this guy can sell it at that price so should you! You're ripping me off!"

Fantastic.

Film sales used to be our cash cow. We could make a buck on that. Then came along the discounters. I now buy film retail, from the Channel Islands mind, no VAT, cheaper than I could trade for the shop.

I got out of it.

The thing that cracked me up was no sooner had I sold up to a major national retailer and folks had had a taste of his low, low stock levels and the disinterest of the new management I was getting stopped in the street by folks saying,

"It's not the same now so and so has taken over. They don't take the interest like you and your staff used to."

What's my point?

I don't know. I've been venting my spleen here in a cathartic style and lost my thread!

Er?

Well, toy and model retailing in the UK seems to be on the wane, certainly as far as specialist shops are concerned. They can't afford the big rents that saddle our high streets.

Near me I have a model shop, big on RC and railways and a toy shop that sells a limited range of Scaley stuff (be still my beating heart). Further afield there is a guy that stocks more of the Spanish brands, but he is further afield. So, I buy online.

It surprises me that Gaugemaster (UK Fly importer) and the SCX importer can continue to block online only outfits. It's maybe a sweet move to protect the high street but I can't help thinking their heads are in the sand in some way.

Okay, rant over. Time to work.
 

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QUOTE their heads are in the sand in some way.
It is true.
Many, but definitely far from all shops are going to go out of business.
The world IS changing and we can psychologically accept or reject it, but the reality is that it will change over time, regardless.
I strongly suspect the situation will swing too far the other way and some that die will eventually be resurrrected again. That's how life is.
 

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Yep, things ebb and flow all the time. I'm just not sure of the recovery you suggest.

I went over to Reading on Monday, Rotechniks relieved me of some of my stash in exchange for fettling the wankel. I trotted into the town centre, hadn't been in many, many years. There used to be an excellent general hobby shop on one side of town. I was shocked to see that that side of town generally had gone down hill, boarded up and fly postered windows abounded. Model shop long since gone. Ambled around the main shopping area. There was a general toy shop flogging the Margate missiles and a tiny little dusty place, down an unprepossessing arcade off a back street, that had maybe 20 cars in a corner. I was amazed that a conurbation the size of Reading had no more to offer.

Did I miss something?
 

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the problem with a place such as reading is that it's a bit too close to london. the larger a city is, the greater the radius it can pull on/distort the economies of neighbouring towns, particularly on specialist shops. a town that may have supported 2 or three model shops elsewhere gets the trade travelling to the bigger stores in bigger nearby cities or Out-of-town Shopping centres.

Birmingham has a similar effect on my area- the nearest "high street" slot stockist (apart from the local guy with a couple of carrera F1s) is 30 miles away in worcester. Getslotted might be closer in birmingham.

I think there has been a decline in hobby shops generally- Worcester used to have three seperate, good shops. slightly different specialisations, but three. this was about ten years ago. now it's one.

Leamington used to have one dealing in R/C, but that's gone in the last five years.

I don;t mind paying a small premium over net prices for getting a car in a shop- Though I'm not going to pay stupid money. It's nice to leave a shop with somethng you can start cooing over immediately. The last time I bought a slotcar from a shop was june/july-ish. It was either a sport Gurney GT40 or sport Alesi DTM, from MZ newcastle and MZ manchester respectively...

anyway, about that importer thing. does this mean Scalemodels have a shop-front? is itat the poynton address in the website? only I'm going to be around the poynton area on saturday and if he's open, I might pop in.
 

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scalemodels and shop? nah not that I know of.. give them a ring day before you go as it is his house.. he's not doing all too bad as you may well see!!

Inte.
 

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Yeah, I looked up the address on multimap and realised it's actually somewhere I've driven past a couple of times, so I know it's a well-heeled area. It's just up the road from poynton golf course, where a friend of the missus lives. small world.
 

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I live in the Reading area (UK) and know exactly what one of the other guys means (and no, you didn't miss anything). In Berkshire the outlets for slots are shocking, and nearly 99% of my purchases are made online (via the usual suspects!).

However I have found that a certain large chain hobbycraft store has a large selection of fairly current Scaley cars and loads of sport track/accessories, plus and I know this is hard to believe but a good portion of SCX cars and track! And not at premium prices, I say well done.

However for the smaller model shop I don't see light at the end of the tunnel, all I see is endless shelves of diecast minichamps!

Gecko
 
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