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Promoting the hobby

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  • Member since
    January 2001
  • 123 posts
Promoting the hobby
Posted by mnwestern on Wednesday, September 26, 2001 3:26 PM
I applaud Kalmbach Publishing, Walthers and other model railroad groups for banding together in a new effort to promote the hobby to new people.

For too long little has been done to bring new people into the hobby. Sure, we have train shows, open houses, etc., but we never really "actively recruit" at these events.

When the NMRA announced a major dues increase this summer, President Pollock admitted the group basically is accepting a drop in membership because of it.

At that time, I wrote him urging the NMRA take the lead in recruiting. Rather than hitting a smaller membership with higher dues, try to grow the membership to increase revenues. I realize this is a somewhat radical idea in America today when companies increase profits not by growing, but by shrinking.

I suggested the NMRA staff and trustees establish a training program to teach region and division leadership how to recruit. One way would be to offer training sessions at national conventions so that those attending can take what they've learned home and apply to their efforts.

Another way would be to send staff members out to visit each regional convention at least once every few years to teach them there. In college, our fraternity did both of these things to help chapters learn to "Rush" new members. They had sessions at national conventions and sent out "chapter advisors" to visit on campus every few years.

To often you go to train shows and there is no NMRA, regional or divisional representation. There are no manned informational booths to answer questions and encourage people to join.

I challenge shows, too many of which have become only money-making flea markets, to provide free space to NMRA groups for such booths. If we don't grow the hobby, your shows are doomed as there will be fewer model railroaders seeking to buy things from your vendors.

I further challenge flea market-only shows to diversify by inviting portable layouts to set up and run, offer modeling clinics and model contests. Make the show more like a mini one-day NMRA convention. Expose all those from the general public who might visit the show to the fun that awaits in model railroading and that there is more to it than just buying and selling stuff at a flea market.

If you live in the upper Midwest, you can see what such a show is like by attending the 7th Hutchinson Model Railroad Show, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Sat., Oct. 13, 2001, at the McLeod County Fairgrounds in Hutchinson, MN (about 50 miles west of the Twin Cities.) You will find all of the above (including a dozen layouts in Z, HO, S-Am.Flyer, and O scales), plus a display staffed by Thousand Lakes Region/NMRA officials and division members to answer questions and sign up new members.

I further urge and challenge NMRA regional and divisional leaders to do a better job of growing their groups and the national organization. You are the grassroots. It starts with you.
  • Member since
    April 2003
  • 302,230 posts
Posted by Anonymous on Wednesday, September 26, 2001 6:51 PM
Terry,
I wholeheartedly agree with you on the "flea market" phenomenon.
What I would like to see at the train shows in my area are more clinics aimed at beginers, & especially young ones. Have more small layouts, built with starter train sets, with some hands-on operation. Too many time the layout space at shows is taken up exclusively by clubs with huge layouts, which I won't deny, are certainly crowd-pleasers, but can also be a little bit stand-offish.
I think it might be a good idea to show a kid what he or she can create on a couple of bookshelves in a bedroom, & not leave them thinking that they need a 20x40 foot layout, & $10,000 worth of equipment to really enjoy the hobby.
  • Member since
    April 2003
  • 302,230 posts
Posted by Anonymous on Monday, October 1, 2001 10:59 AM
your right in every thing you say,the big problem,in my area,is you dont know who the officers of "NMRA" AND THEY LIVE ALL OVER,the west coast,the only time i have ever seen,them altogether is at a nati'l show"NMRA" NEED TO TELL THERE LOCAL PEOPLE TO I.D THEM SELF, I ONLY RECALL SEEING ONE NMRA BOOTH SET UP AT ONE TRAIN SHOW,WHERE A PERSON ENTER'S THE BUILDING, I RUN 4TH DIV.,O GUAGE & WE ARE SETTING UP THIS WEEKEND AT LYNDEN,WASH,FAIR GROUNDS,YOU GET TWO COUNTRIES INVOLVED>>>>>THANKS

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