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Hawkins Rail

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Hawkins Rail
Posted by tin can on Monday, April 24, 2017 5:14 PM

I have heard that Saturday, April 29th will be the last day for Hawkins Rail.  Mr. Hawkins is calling it quits for health reasons.  What doesn't sell by Saturday will be going to auction. 

In an ironic twist of fate, I am going to be in West Lafayette this weekend to move my son to Fayetteville, AR.  He graduates from Purdue on May 14th; but he is through with all of his classes on Thursday; and he wants to get out of his rent house before another rent payment is due on Monday.  I hadn't planned on dropping by Hawkins on this trip; but I am going to have to make an effort. 

Two of my favorite reasons to go to Indiana will be no more; my son playing Purdue football and Hawkins Rail. 

Remember the tin can; the MKT's central Texas branch...
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Posted by Doughless on Monday, April 24, 2017 7:33 PM

Jack Hawkins had been slowing down the past few years, so this is no surprise.  Last time I was there, the shop was packed full of new and NOS items, hard to find parts, and hard to find items....as it always has been.

I don't know how long he's been in the business, but its got to be just short of forever.  He's advertised in every issue of Model Railroader for almost as long.

Good luck to Jack.

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Monday, April 24, 2017 8:15 PM

I go to Indianapolis a couple of times a year for business. I have been going to Hawkins Rail for more than twenty years. This store will be missed.

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Jack has been in poor shape the last few years. The last time I was there the store was not open during normal hours. This retirement is well due.

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This is sad for me. He always had stuff I could use, and I think I never left there without spending at least $100.00 in the store.

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There was a gray STRATTON & GILLETTE covered hopper on the store layout for a while. I dropped it off there years ago.

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I guess there will be no more trips to Lafayette for me.

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-Kevin

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Happily modeling the STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD located in a world of plausible nonsense set in August, 1954.

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Posted by rogerhensley on Tuesday, April 25, 2017 5:58 AM
When I closed my shop in 1983, I sold what was left to Hawkins. he had been in business for a long time then. Yes, he will be missed.

Roger Hensley
= ECI Railroad - http://madisonrails.railfan.net/eci/eci_new.html =
= Railroads of Madison County - http://madisonrails.railfan.net/

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Tuesday, April 25, 2017 8:12 AM

Going to auction probably means the inventory will go at a fraction of the value, in a bulk lot, and alot less than it were sold in preparation for a closing with some 3-6 months advanced notice publicized.  If Hawkins merchandise was still at full MSRP as when I visited, that may be why he still has so much left and sounds indeed like it will all be sold at auction, with profits being a lot less than if moved at discount prices ahead of time.  If so, his choice of course.  The down side is a lot less profits to him and his family.

I visited Hawkins back in the early 1990's and IIRC, Hawkins wasn't a spring chicken back then.  I was surprised last year to find out Hawkins Rail was still open and apparently with his legendary inventory of model train goodies.

I when I visited his shop around 1992 with some fellow hobbyists, he had the fullest inventory I had seen in a smallish shop, but prices were all full MSRP.  Me being a poor grad student didn't buy anything due to the pricing being too high for me, but if you wanted it and was willing to fork over, he had it or could get it.  That was the type of store he had - I recall hearing him on the phone helping customers find things - at full MSRP.

Rio Grande.  The Action Road

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Posted by BRAKIE on Tuesday, April 25, 2017 9:08 AM

riogrande5761
Going to auction probably means the inventory will go at a fraction of the value, in a bulk lot, and alot less than it were sold in preparation for a closing with some 3-6 months advanced notice publicized. If Hawkins merchandise was still at full MSRP as when I visited, that may be why he still has so much left and sounds indeed like it will all be sold at auction, with profits being a lot less than if moved at discount prices ahead of time. If so, his choice of course. The down side is a lot less profits to him and his family.

The train show dealers  will get  90% of that stock and more then likely the other 10% will go to e-Bay sellers at or near bargain basement prices.

I've seen a pallet of Athearn RTR cars went for $275.00 bid and that was one of the cheapest bids that day.

I went to see what I could get but,I was outgunned by train show dealers and everything going at lot prices.

It was fairly good entertainment and the caterers had good coffee.

Larry

SSRy

Conductor

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Posted by dknelson on Tuesday, April 25, 2017 10:02 AM

I never had a chance to get to Hawkins but did notice his ads. 

I once attended the auction of a well stocked hobby shop (more than trains) and it was a very interesting experience, for the people watching if nothing else.  They were selling by the aisle, or by the glass case, so for the most part the bidding went way over what I was prepared to pay.  One aisle was nothing but Athearn blue box; another was all track, of various makes; yet another was all locomotives, and so on.   Each went for thousands but still pennies on the dollar.

One glass case was filled with games and "gaming" (Dungeons and Dragons etc) stuff and a young-ish guy bought it for a couple hundred dollars.  But on top of that case was the shop's K&S point of purchase display for brass and other metal sheets and shapes.  A guy walked over to the winning bidder and bought all that K&S metal (and the display) for $10!  The guy probably sold the glass display case itself to someone else cheap.

I noticed the ends of aisles had their own inventory and those were auctioned seperately.  This was my chance.  For $75 I got about $100 of die cast contruction equipment toys of no real interest to me, but also about $500 (list price) of Plastruct styrene and ABS plastic stuff.  I am still working my way through that investment and likely will have some left over when I kick the bucket.

Dave Nelson

 

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Posted by mlehman on Tuesday, April 25, 2017 1:54 PM

Hawkins Rail is an institution that will be missed by many. Thank you, Jack! My first piece of brass came from Hawkins, a Westside HOn3 C-25. It's a great loco and I paid what I considered a fair price for itback in the 1980s.

I won't ding Jack with faint praise for his MSRP prices. Thing is, those prices were often from years ago, ignoring any intermediarty increases (if they happened.) Otherwise, it was often an out-of-production item you were happy to see at MSRP - especially in the days before ebay.

Don't get me wriong. I like a discount as much as anyone. But you also need to see value and Jack's selection -- on the shelf right on front of you -- tended to make up for whatever that 10% off meant to me in many cases. A bird in the hand is worth two or three in the bush at a discount.

The fact that Jack was open all those years and is retiring because of health reasons speaks to the fact that he ran an economically viable business. One need only look at all the discount houses that have opened and closed in that time to begin questioning whether the mania for discounting is good for our hobby or not. The only thing I could say with certainty about discounting is that it results in fewer retailers. Short-term, the pricing can seem attractive, but eventually consumers may not find the pot of gold they think there is with discounting.

Mike Lehman

Urbana, IL

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Posted by tin can on Tuesday, April 25, 2017 2:47 PM

Well said, Mike.  I never quibbled about price, because I knew I could walk out of his shop with things that I could never find anywhere else.  And there were lots of consignment bargains, too.  Sigh...

Remember the tin can; the MKT's central Texas branch...
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Posted by riogrande5761 on Tuesday, April 25, 2017 3:26 PM

Back when I visited Hawkins in the early 1990's, a lot of the stuff on the shelf wasn't that "old", relatively speaking, probably a lot of it less than 10 years.  Now someone brought up an interesting point about MRSP and being happy to pay it these days which I compare to "back then", and yes, it makes a difference. 

In the present day, if Hawkins had stuff from 10 or 15 years ago on the shelf, prices have gone up so much in the last 10-15 years that if you found something that was ten years old still priced at the original MSRP, relative to todays prices, it was not too bad!  That point is well taken.

Let me give an example of what I mean.  Athearn produced 2-packs of the HO Fruehauf 40' trailers for 18.98 MRSP back in 2007, ten years ago.  Ten years later they have 1-packs of the same trailers marked at $24.98 MRSP.  Ouch!  That is an example of where I would actually be pretty happy to pay full MSRP for those 10 year old trailers!  If ol Hawkins still had some of those 2007 2-packs, well, that would be quite a bargain by todays standard.  In fact actually did find a shop which still had 2-packs for sale at near MRSP prices of those trailers and was happy to buy them, bunches of them.  They've had them for so long they finally marked them at sale prices and I bought some more.

Now the above example is a bit more extreme than most, you get the picture.  Hawkins was that kind of place; he had a lot of stuff that had been out for some time that others were out of, because he didn't discount. 

Back in the early 1990's, most of the stuff he had still around didn't represent anything like the kind of price advantage that we have seen in the past 10-15 years, so yes, I was cash poor and looked for discounts as a grad student to help me afford stuff.  I didn't really have enough funds (with a wife who was very stingy with letting me spend money on trains), to be "charitable" and buy from the full MRSP shops.

These days my 2nd wife is more hobby friendly and I have a much better hobby budget then my grad school days, but hey, the prices of our toys have really shot up as many know .  At $45 a pop for some of ExactRails latest or $53 for Moloco's latest, you bet I still look for discounts where I can, or bargains.  I'm not ashamed to say so.

tin can
Well said, Mike.  I never quibbled about price, because I knew I could walk out of his shop with things that I could never find anywhere else.  And there were lots of consignment bargains, too.  Sigh...

Yes  Hawkins always did have a reputation have having what most other shops were long sold out of.  And yes, you paid full price for it.  Thats what remember from my visit.   I don't remember the consignment stuff but maybe that came later, or I didn't see it - we're talking 25 years ago.

Thankfully we now have alternatives like ebay or train shows to find those things long sold out, and usually with some patience, well below MRSP too.

Rio Grande.  The Action Road

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Posted by Doughless on Tuesday, April 25, 2017 7:07 PM

TBH, I think the inventory at his store grew as time passed.  Some of it is stuff that never sold at MSRP and that other products have since replaced.  There is a fair amount of that likely being auctioned too.

Old MSRP pricing on modern RTR stuff would be in high demand.

I doubt if he has much in terms of DCC or DCC/Sound items.

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Posted by tin can on Wednesday, May 03, 2017 9:42 AM

I made it to the store about 3:00 pm last Saturday.  His family has done a fantastic job of straightening / cleaning the store; it had never looked better.  Lots of inventory left, although I did not get the details on the pending auction.  Mr. Hawkins was there, and I got to talk to him for a while.  Another amazing hobby shop is now a memory.

Remember the tin can; the MKT's central Texas branch...
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Posted by SeeYou190 on Wednesday, May 03, 2017 10:24 AM

Something just occurred to me...

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When I was driving through Indiana in the early 1990's I stopped in Hawkins Rail for the first time. Jack had an entire shelf of nothing but undecorated freight cars. I did not need to dig through hundreds of painted models to find the undecorated cars I was looking for. I think I spent around $200.00 that day on undecorated HO freight car kits. They were probably almost all Athearn Blue Box models.

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I can't say for sure, but thay might have been when (or why) I switched to HO scale. If it had not been for that amazing selection at Hawkins, there might not even be a STRATTON & GILLETTE railroad today.

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One well stocked hobby shop, even if it was 1,000 miles from home, sure had an impact on my hobby.

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Thank you Jack! Enjoy your retirement my friend.

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-Kevin

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Happily modeling the STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD located in a world of plausible nonsense set in August, 1954.

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Posted by tin can on Thursday, October 12, 2017 4:08 PM

There is a "live auction" tomorrow on ebay from Stout Auctions of Williamsport, Indiana that has some inventory that looks like it came from Hawkins Rail.  That is my supposition.  But there is a lot of stuff that I never saw at Hawkins, either so it may be a joint sale of several hobby shops. 

Any way, a live ebay auction is new to me, and there is a lot of quality stuff.  Curious to see how it goes.

Remember the tin can; the MKT's central Texas branch...
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Posted by SeeYou190 on Thursday, October 12, 2017 8:06 PM

Live auctions have irritatedf the living daylights out of me. Each item is only up for a few seconds, and often it ends while I am still actively bidding.

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Good luck.

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-Kevin.

Happily modeling the STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD located in a world of plausible nonsense set in August, 1954.

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