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Allied Model Trains in Los Angeles Closes

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Allied Model Trains in Los Angeles Closes
Posted by Metro Red Line on Tuesday, July 07, 2015 1:24 AM

Allied Model Trains, one of the Los Angeles area's oldest and largest model railroad hobby shops, has just closed, effective today.

Allied originally opened in 1946 in the West Los Angeles area, with a large, highly-stocked store on Pico Boulevard as their longest storefront. In 1989 they moved to nearby Culver City, to a custom-designed building fashioned after L.A.'s Union Station. In 2007, the store's owner Allen Drucker sold the store and leased the Union Station-style building to local photography retailler Samy's Camera. Allied was purchased by the owner of former competitor The Original Whistle Stop in Pasadena and moved to a smaller storefront just across the street from the Union Station-style store in Culver City where they have been since.

The store's proximity to the entertainment industry made it a popular store for model railroading celebrities like Frank Sinatra, Rod Stewart and Gary Coleman.

There is no closing sale; the store's stock is expected to be moved to The Original Whistle Stop in Pasadena.


Their website currently reads:

Dispatched from Allied Model Trains, Culver City, California

 

July 7, 2015

 

It’s with great sadness we send this message to our friends, customers and vendors.

 

As of today July 07, 2015, we are closed. Due to circumstances beyond our control, the stockholders had to close and declare insolvency.

 

We had sixty-nine wonderful years and we are sorry the journey has to end.

 

All of us at Allied Model Trains, Nick, Fred, George, Karie, Sam, and Dave thank you for all the years of support.

 

 

Allied Model Trains

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Posted by hon30critter on Tuesday, July 07, 2015 1:46 AM

Too bad. Another sad sign of the times I guess. I'm sure there will be more.

Dave

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Posted by AntonioFP45 on Tuesday, July 07, 2015 7:24 AM

Quote - "As of today July 07, 2015, we are closed. Due to circumstances beyond our control, the stockholders had to close and declare insolvency." - end Quote.

Stockholders had to close? So this business was not privately owned? I wonder since there have been many cases where small to medium sized businesses that were owned by a corporation were either sold off or shut down, even if they were making a small profit.

I wonder what the actual case is with this business? Rising taxes due to their location? Increasing liability insurance? Past frivolous litigations?

Just wondering behind the keyboard but from my understanding, California's business tax structure, high rental rates in metropolitan areas, and insurance regulations are not friendly to small businesses with small profit margins.

 

 

 

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Posted by V8Vega on Tuesday, July 07, 2015 9:29 AM

LA's new $15 minimum wage didn't have a thing to do with this.

Dennis  San Fernando Valley CA.  Joined August 2009

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Posted by JOHN BRUCE III on Tuesday, July 07, 2015 11:06 AM

My understanding is that Allied was acquired when the Druckers sold it in 2007 via a partnership. I believe the partnership at that time was between Fred Hill and Brian Brooks of The Original Whistle Stop in Pasadena and Nick Barone, formerly an employee of the Drucker Allied. Apparently Brian Brooks left the Whistle Stop partnership about 2010, and although Fred and Nick are mentioned in the message, he is not. 

I don't understand the reference to stockholders, as I don't believe this was ever a stock corporation.

My subjective impression has been that things hadn't been doing very well for Fred and The Orliginal Whistle Stop, either. I would not be surprised at an equivalent announcement in the future from them.

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Posted by rrebell on Tuesday, July 07, 2015 11:11 AM

V8Vega

LA's new $15 minimum wage didn't have a thing to do with this.

 

And the politicos think these things will not affect buisness! I see mass closings of things like restaurants, already happening in some citys which will lead to more unimployment.

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Posted by Southwest Chief on Tuesday, July 07, 2015 11:30 AM

AntonioFP45

Stockholders had to close? So this business was not privately owned?

Many closely held (privately owned) businesses issue stock.  And often these stock holders are famly members, owners, business partners, etc...  But this stock is not publicly traded.

Matt from Anaheim, CA and Bayfield, CO
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Posted by Metro Red Line on Tuesday, July 07, 2015 2:41 PM

V8Vega

LA's new $15 minimum wage didn't have a thing to do with this.

 

 

It did not, because the $15 wage has not yet gone into effect (it won't fully go into effect until 2020) and that Allied Model Trains is (was) located in Culver City, which is a different municipality.

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Tuesday, July 07, 2015 3:03 PM

AntonioFP45

Quote - "As of today July 07, 2015, we are closed. Due to circumstances beyond our control, the stockholders had to close and declare insolvency." - end Quote.

Stockholders had to close? So this business was not privately owned? I wonder since there have been many cases where small to medium sized businesses that were owned by a corporation were either sold off or shut down, even if they were making a small profit.

I wonder what the actual case is with this business? Rising taxes due to their location? Increasing liability insurance? Past frivolous litigations?

Just wondering behind the keyboard but from my understanding, California's business tax structure, high rental rates in metropolitan areas, and insurance regulations are not friendly to small businesses with small profit margins.

 

 

 

 

"Stockholder" can just as easily refer to multiple private investors in a privately held company.

$15 minimum wage - that wqould get me out of the hobby shop business real fast.

I don't really know much about California, never been there, but what I have heard would keep me away.

Sheldon

    

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Posted by Metro Red Line on Tuesday, July 07, 2015 3:39 PM

rrebell

 

 
V8Vega

LA's new $15 minimum wage didn't have a thing to do with this.

 

 

 

And the politicos think these things will not affect buisness! I see mass closings of things like restaurants, already happening in some citys which will lead to more unimployment. 

 

FYI, the $15/hr minimum wage in the City of Los Angeles does not go fully into effect until the year 2020, and Allied Model Trains is located in Culver City, a different municipality. So much misinformation here.

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Posted by andrechapelon on Tuesday, July 07, 2015 4:03 PM

rrebell

 

 
V8Vega

LA's new $15 minimum wage didn't have a thing to do with this.

 

 

 

And the politicos think these things will not affect buisness! I see mass closings of things like restaurants, already happening in some citys which will lead to more unimployment.

 

 

Restaurants? The average lifespan of a restaurant is 5 years and 90% go out of business within a year of opening.

Source: restaurantnews.com 

http://www.restaurantnews.com/restaurant-industry-trend-the-move-towards-a-more-upscale-look/

It's a tough business. Most don't make it and it has nothing to do with the minimum wage. 

Andre

It's really kind of hard to support your local hobby shop when the nearest hobby shop that's worth the name is a 150 mile roundtrip.
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Posted by Milepost 266.2 on Tuesday, July 07, 2015 4:28 PM

Metro Red Line

 

 
V8Vega

LA's new $15 minimum wage didn't have a thing to do with this.

 

 

 

 

It did not, because the $15 wage has not yet gone into effect (it won't fully go into effect until 2020) and that Allied Model Trains is (was) located in Culver City, which is a different municipality.

 

Never let facts get in the way of a good rant.

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Posted by up831 on Tuesday, July 07, 2015 6:00 PM

Wow! It's interesting how a discussion on a hobby shop closing segued into a discussion about minimum wage.

sort of back on topic, I think it's really sad and unfortunate when such venerable institutions as Allied close their doors.  When I lived in So Cal, I never went to Allied.  Not because I didn't want to, but I would've had to make a special trip to go there.  I hope The Original Whistle Stop can stay in business.  I used to shop there a lot.  This was when they were further east close to Rosemead Bl.  

Allied ran ads in MR ever since I can remember.  They might have even run ads in Model Trains.  We all know things change. That's life.  But, it's a little sad to see something like these "anchors" fall by the wayside.  Progress?  I dunno.

I do support my LHS when I buy something.  I just don't buy that much these days.

Less is more,...more or less!

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Posted by RR_Mel on Tuesday, July 07, 2015 6:37 PM

ATLANTIC CENTRAL

 

 

I don't really know much about California, never been there, but what I have heard would keep me away.

Sheldon

 

 

You are so right Sheldon, I’m trapped here!
 
 
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Posted by vsmith on Tuesday, July 07, 2015 9:01 PM

AFAIK Allied had no real Internet presence and that's a real necessity these days. You can't rely only on walkup business anymore. I always had positive experiences there and the staff was great. I'm sad to hear it's gone but I think it was just in a location where the demographics for that kind of hobby just doesn't exist anyone. Also it's on the West side of LA which is a traffic nightmare 24-7, I don't go out that way anymore simply because of the woeful traffic. I go to Whistle Stop fairly often I hope that they can survive the new economic model. They seam better located as they are usually pretty well patronized.

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Posted by Uncle_Bob on Tuesday, July 07, 2015 9:55 PM

Metro Red Line

 

 
rrebell

 

 
V8Vega

LA's new $15 minimum wage didn't have a thing to do with this.

 

 

 

And the politicos think these things will not affect buisness! I see mass closings of things like restaurants, already happening in some citys which will lead to more unimployment. 

 

 

 

FYI, the $15/hr minimum wage in the City of Los Angeles does not go fully into effect until the year 2020, and Allied Model Trains is located in Culver City, a different municipality. So much misinformation here.

 

Easy on the "misinformation" stuff.  A couple people posted an opinion that differs from yours, so you post the same thing twice and decry "misinformation."  It may be that they thought LA City and LA County operate under one government.  Or, it could be that, again, you think your opinion is "right," and anyone who disagrees is "wrong."  The problem is, you can't have actual economic growth simply by saying a fast food worker should get $15 an hour.  Most companies can't afford to almost double their payroll and remain in business.  Also, increased prices are passed along to the consumer, so you can probably look forward to a $10 Whopper in the near future.  Finally, why is it suddenly so important for burger flippers and other unskilled labor to earn the same pay as many people in private industry or government?  If you're going to pay $15 an hour for unskilled labor, I want $50 an hour for my work.  That, unfortunately, would turn our economy to dust thanks to hyperinflation and the collapse of the banking industry.  Then, we'd be more concerned with surviving another day than we would be with what hobby shops are closed, or whether LA City covers Culver City.

There's your rant.

And I'm sorry Allied closed.  I gasped when I saw the headline, but, having read the posts, it seems to be another sign of the times.  Hail and farewell.

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Posted by Metro Red Line on Tuesday, July 07, 2015 10:38 PM

Uncle_Bob

 

 
Metro Red Line

 

 
rrebell

 

 
V8Vega

LA's new $15 minimum wage didn't have a thing to do with this.

 

 

 

And the politicos think these things will not affect buisness! I see mass closings of things like restaurants, already happening in some citys which will lead to more unimployment. 

 

 

 

FYI, the $15/hr minimum wage in the City of Los Angeles does not go fully into effect until the year 2020, and Allied Model Trains is located in Culver City, a different municipality. So much misinformation here.

 

 

 

Easy on the "misinformation" stuff.  A couple people posted an opinion that differs from yours, so you post the same thing twice and decry "misinformation."  It may be that they thought LA City and LA County operate under one government.  Or, it could be that, again, you think your opinion is "right," and anyone who disagrees is "wrong."  The problem is, you can't have actual economic growth simply by saying a fast food worker should get $15 an hour.   

 

I would agree with that, but the fact is, the $15 minimum wage won't go into effect for another 5 years, and the other fact is, LA City law does not apply to cities that are outside of LA City. I can understand worrying about a threat that is real, but when it simply isn't real, or does not directly apply to the situation, there is no need to worry. I have no political agenda with my post, I keep politics out of this forum, and in fact my political views are very nuanced and complex. I don't automatically favor one side over the other, I want to have some real information before forming an opinion. And sometimes my opinion might surprise both sides. So I was just posting news and facts, that's all. 

 

The other fact is, I just heard from a reliable source today that the closure had to do with some sort of legal action placed against the business. As to what specifically, I don't know, but those are all facts, and not opinion, and not speculation.

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Posted by JOHN BRUCE III on Wednesday, July 08, 2015 9:59 AM

As I understand it, what eventually brought Carstens Publishing down was legal action from a bank. I've got to guess something like this was involved with Allied. Allied was in some sort of credit problem it couldn't resolve and was presumably forced into bankruptcy.

A question raised on another forum was why Allied didn't hold a going-out-of-business sale. The short answer would be that the stock is being moved to The Original Whistle Stop, where it will presumably just go on the shelves at MSRP.

What really went wrong and caused the closure is another question. If you check the Yelp reviews for Allied, they're pretty lukewarm, a few wow! greats! balanced by a lot of complaints about unfriendly staff, parking, and so forth. Remarks on other forums suggest that for years, there hadn't been new stock, out of stock items hadn't been reordered, etc, which suggests to me that Allied had been put on credit watch by its distributors.

The same problems of no-new-stock, out of stock reorders, unfriendly staff, etc have gotten especially bad at The Original Whistle Stop in the past few years.

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Wednesday, July 08, 2015 3:42 PM

JOHN BRUCE III

As I understand it, what eventually brought Carstens Publishing down was legal action from a bank. I've got to guess something like this was involved with Allied. Allied was in some sort of credit problem it couldn't resolve and was presumably forced into bankruptcy.

A question raised on another forum was why Allied didn't hold a going-out-of-business sale. The short answer would be that the stock is being moved to The Original Whistle Stop, where it will presumably just go on the shelves at MSRP.

What really went wrong and caused the closure is another question. If you check the Yelp reviews for Allied, they're pretty lukewarm, a few wow! greats! balanced by a lot of complaints about unfriendly staff, parking, and so forth. Remarks on other forums suggest that for years, there hadn't been new stock, out of stock items hadn't been reordered, etc, which suggests to me that Allied had been put on credit watch by its distributors.

The same problems of no-new-stock, out of stock reorders, unfriendly staff, etc have gotten especially bad at The Original Whistle Stop in the past few years.

 

If you have to depend on bank credit or distributor billing cycle grace periods to stock the shelves of your store - you are already in trouble.

Start up capital is one thing, holiday terms from distributors another, but generally you need to be able to own what is on the shelves or you are headed for failure.

My view on this comes from several decades in retail, some in the hobby/model train business, and some as an owner in another retail business, not to mention nearly 30 years of self employment in various businesses.

Sheldon

    

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Posted by Doughless on Wednesday, July 08, 2015 4:24 PM

JOHN BRUCE III

Remarks on other forums suggest that for years, there hadn't been new stock, out of stock items hadn't been reordered, etc, which suggests to me that Allied had been put on credit watch by its distributors.

As someone who works in the lending industry, I'd say your observations and suggestion sounds about right...as general retailing goes. 

They may not have been allowed to draw on a line of credit or use supplier grace period due to slow pay in the past, or in more recent times, lenders try to forecast the future of a retailer and if they don't pass the "test", the line is not renewed even though the retailer may not have ever missed payment.

Since the inventory was moved to a different location, and not liquidated, its possible the lenders and suppliers are satisfied that Allied's location was a big part of the problem.

I know nothing of their situation.  They may not even use credit and the closure could be strictly an internal strategic decision.

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Posted by JOHN BRUCE III on Wednesday, July 08, 2015 4:56 PM

I had a couple of chats with Fred Hill over the years about this sort of thing. In one, he definitely said he had problems over his credit balance with Walthers, which was why items he'd ordered for me weren't coming through. I got that message pretty clearly and decided to use my credit card, not his, and go to Walthers directly, not through him. More recently, he attributed the difficulties he was having in Pasadena to items out of his control, including apparently unsympathetic distributors. This was recent enough that I assume he was under pressure over the Allied situation.

Whether different business strategies could have resulted in a different outcome, I simply don't know. Whether other partners disagreed with his strategy is also unclear, except that Brian did leave in 2009.

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Posted by CAZEPHYR on Wednesday, July 08, 2015 6:04 PM

JOHN BRUCE III

I had a couple of chats with Fred Hill over the years about this sort of thing. In one, he definitely said he had problems over his credit balance with Walthers, which was why items he'd ordered for me weren't coming through. I got that message pretty clearly and decided to use my credit card, not his, and go to Walthers directly, not through him. More recently, he attributed the difficulties he was having in Pasadena to items out of his control, including apparently unsympathetic distributors. This was recent enough that I assume he was under pressure over the Allied situation.

Whether different business strategies could have resulted in a different outcome, I simply don't know. Whether other partners disagreed with his strategy is also unclear, except that Brian did leave in 2009.

 

Having two stores in the LA area must have been costly for the overhead is expensive in LA.  The OWS that Fred runs is a nice store and the old Allied seemed like a good idea when Allen decided to end his business several years ago, but it probably was too expensive for Fred and company to own both stores in todays market.

It was indeed a very good era back in the eighties.  

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Posted by NarrowMinded on Thursday, August 27, 2015 10:26 PM

As a long time and frequent customer up until the day they closed I call tell you I saw new stock all the time and they always had what I needed be it decoders, locos in all scales as well as track parts and other supplies, I will say it was hard at time  to pay their full retail prices when I could get the same thing online at a huge discount but what I spent was well worth the return. Being able to ask questions get help, hold the item before I bought it and get all my track supplies  only 10 miles away was priceles.

What really killed this store is the lack of new model railroaders and a lack of living space in Southern California,  houses here seldom have basements or attics and with 3br houses costing $500,000.00+ starting in the crap areas to live in, nobody is using an extra room for layout.

I felt the end coming for that store, over the last years there were few people younger then me (53) ever in there, and I dont recall ever more then one other customer in the store at a time.

 

 

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Posted by JOHN BRUCE III on Friday, August 28, 2015 12:14 PM
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Posted by NarrowMinded on Friday, August 28, 2015 5:32 PM

This is a little suspicious... the open sign was on the door but the lights were off when I drove by yesterday, prior to that the closed sign was up, actually went around the block thinking the might had reopened, I could see there appeared to still be products in the store. 

 

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Posted by Geared Steam on Friday, August 28, 2015 5:57 PM

Sorry to hear this, the two times I visited him while in town on business, the people were very friendly and helpful.

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Posted by betamax on Saturday, August 29, 2015 6:14 AM

Bad timing, as there was to be an auction there on Sept. 9 to sell off the inventory.

 

If you were planning to go, you needed a $500 deposit to bid.

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Saturday, August 29, 2015 7:42 AM

betamax

Bad timing, as there was to be an auction there on Sept. 9 to sell off the inventory.

 

If you were planning to go, you needed a $500 deposit to bid.

 

Or....good timing if the insurance policy ws still paid up to date.........

 

    

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Posted by chutton01 on Saturday, August 29, 2015 7:50 AM

betamax
Bad timing, as there was to be an auction there on Sept. 9 to sell off the inventory. 

If you were planning to go, you needed a $500 deposit to bid.

Sounds like the plan changed from just moving the stock over to the Whistle Stop.

Since my young formative years were during the 1970s in NY, it's hard to think other than "Bronx is Buring" style insurance fraud for the interesting timing, although in contemporary times it's probably some worker left the gas on/overloaded outlets etc. by mistake - e.g. an accident.  Just looks a bit off...

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Posted by vsmith on Sunday, August 30, 2015 7:40 PM
Witness said that they saw one of the layouts inside on fire, someone forgot to disconnect the power pack and it overheated?

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