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Fair well to a new friend; Caboose Hobbies in Denver, Colorado

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Fair well to a new friend; Caboose Hobbies in Denver, Colorado
Posted by jjdamnit on Monday, July 25, 2016 1:30 PM

Hello all,

After hearing the news about Caboose Hobbies I took the hour-and-a-half; one way trip, down last Wednesday.

I arrived early and parked in their small lot. They open at 10:00 am. By 9:45 am the lot was full.

There were folks from as far away as Wyoming and Kansas (judging by the license plates).

When I walked in the mood was somber. Some folks were simply visiting and reminiscing. It was as if a close friend had been diagnosed with a terminal illness and people were paying their respects.

The shelves wern't "Mother Hubbard" bare but the selection was definitely limited and many pegs were empty.

As per "The One Who Must Be Obeyed" I always come with a list; whether I stick to it is another matter.

I found most of what was on my list, and a few other items that my tool box was missing.

At check-out I felt guilty for prospering (25% off everything) for their loss. I guess I was also mourning the loss of a GREAT hobby shop.

I saw one of the employees that I've gotten to know over the past few years. As usual I said hello. He reciprocated the greeting but not as enthusiastically as he had in past encounters. (I also see him at the local Denver Train Show and always greet him by name.)

I never got to say good bye to the LHS's the piqued my interest in HO railroading as a child. But I got to pay my respects to the one that has re-kindled my passion.

As for the future of a hobby shop that is in the Guinness Book Of Records; as the largest hobby shop in the world, I wish them the best.

When I walked out the doors, I thought to myself, "Good bye to my new friend that I barely got to know before your demise."

No matter what incarnation the new Caboose will take, I'm just glad I got to know the original.

I don't know if this will help, but I hope this helps.

"Uhh...I didn’t know it was 'impossible' I just made it work...sorry"

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Posted by slammin on Monday, July 25, 2016 1:45 PM

A trip across the mountains to Denver always included a stop at Caboose Hobbies. Even if I didn't "need" anything, I never left empty handed. The future seems pretty vague. I hope they can re-open as a bick and mortor. Unfortunately, my current schedule will not allow the pleasure of a farewell visit.

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Posted by E-L man tom on Tuesday, July 26, 2016 9:22 AM

I was just there last Christmas, as is customary when I go back to Denver to see my now adult children. Little did I know that it would be my last time to set foot in that building ever again. I do hope that they continue walk-in sales, as that was always something that I looked forward to when visiting Denver.

Tom Modeling the free-lanced Toledo Erie Central switching layout.
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Posted by maxman on Tuesday, July 26, 2016 1:42 PM

"We have come to bury Caboose Hobbies, not to praise them."

    Mark Antony

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Posted by jjdamnit on Tuesday, July 26, 2016 2:24 PM

E-L man tom
I do hope that they continue walk-in sales, as that was always something that I looked forward to...

I whole heartily agree!

What makes a GREAT hobby shop is not only the walk-in sales, but also the service and advice from fellow enthusiasts and the depth of knowledge amassed from year of expereince. 

As with this, and other fourms, that accumulated knowledge is what attracts me.

Yes, we can get that same advice but the human contact cannot be replicated (yet) through a computer and the internet. 

In what ever form Caboose Hobbies continues I will support them with my purchases.

Hope this helps.

"Uhh...I didn’t know it was 'impossible' I just made it work...sorry"

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Posted by b60bp on Tuesday, July 26, 2016 4:15 PM

I must say that I feel your pain. I have a very large soft spot for the old hobby shops I grew up with, one in particular. When I was a kid it was something of a Saturday ritual to take the bus across my end of town and scour the goodies there. It was always a place of wonder and inspiration and I always came away with something, even if only wood, a magazine or catalogs. But those were the stuff of dreams and grand plans . Model Trains mag was great and I recall buying my first MR, September, 1959.  Good times and good memories.

There are still good shops around town but none of them have the same feeling, even if their inventory is much better. But the two hobby shops on my layout were inspired by childhood and youthful memories.

B.P.

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Posted by Firelock76 on Tuesday, July 26, 2016 4:58 PM

I felt the same way about the old Highway Hobby House in Ramsey NJ, even though you were taking your life in your hands driving up Route 17 to get there.  I tell people Highway Hobby was where I used to blow all my money before I met Lady Firestorm.

It's gone now, several years.  The owner wanted to retire, none of his kids were interested in taking over the business, he did own the building and sold it at a handsome profit.  So, what are you going to do?  Time marches on, things change, and not always for the better.  Sic transit gloria mundi.

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Posted by BRAKIE on Tuesday, July 26, 2016 7:49 PM

As far as hobby shop closures two hit me hard.

First was Frank P.Halls on S. High St. in Columbus.  I practically grew up in that shop. His boys did operate "Hall's Hobbies" on the far East Side but,they closed.It wasn't the same as the old shop.

The second shop was Paul's Hobbies in Norwalk. I would make that 100 mile round trip twice a month because IMHO it was well worth the  trip and I never left his shop empty handed.Paul was a good man to talk to and deal with. He passed on and his wife tried to run the shop but,she decided to close it.

Larry

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Summerset Ry.


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Posted by hardcoalcase on Tuesday, July 26, 2016 8:53 PM

In a former life I traveled through Denver every month, so Caboose Hobbies was a must-do, and I have two especially fond memories there:

1) The small display layout encased in plexiglas where, upon a close look, one could notice the gang of chimps that escaped from the zoo truck and have spread over the area creating havoc.

2) the in-store repair service that fixed my first HO loco that I got for Christmas in 1958 (big sigh!).

A landmark in the MRR hobby.

Jim

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Posted by b60bp on Tuesday, July 26, 2016 10:26 PM

BRAKIE
talk

The second shop was Paul's Hobbies in Norwalk. I would make that 100 mile round trip twice a month because IMHO it was well worth the  trip and I never left his shop empty handed.Paul was a good man to talk to and deal with. He passed on and his wife tried to run the shop but,she decided to close it.

 ----------------

Hey, I remember Paul's. My wife's from Sandusky and when back there visiting I always scout out local shops. That was a good one and had very nice inventory. How many shops have Bethlehem Car Works passenger car kits in stock? Paul was a Reading Company fan and had Kitbashed a nice model of the King Coal passenger train. Too bad it's gone too.

B.P.

 

 

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Posted by kasskaboose on Tuesday, July 26, 2016 10:28 PM

Quite sad reading/seeing a hobby store or company go under.  Caboose hobbies had a great selection, but I found that MB Klein is great for that and prices.  It also helps that they are 'across the river' in MD.

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Posted by BRAKIE on Wednesday, July 27, 2016 7:28 AM

b60bp
Paul was a Reading Company fan and had Kitbashed a nice model of the King Coal passenger train. Too bad it's gone too.

That was a great looking model..I was hoping the Norwalk club preserved that train.

If Paul's shop was still around the current owner would get 90% of my business.

BTW..I loved his large selection of BB and Roundhouse freight cars and his large Champ decal inventory. Back then I still enjoyed painting and decaling freight cars.

Larry

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Summerset Ry.


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Posted by E-L man tom on Wednesday, July 27, 2016 9:27 AM

When I got back into model railroading back in 1993 I was living in Dayton, OH. There were many hobby shops around then, all around the Dayton, Cincinnati, Springfield and Columbus areas. Very likely not so today.

Tom Modeling the free-lanced Toledo Erie Central switching layout.
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Posted by BRAKIE on Wednesday, July 27, 2016 9:36 AM

Tom,The good news there's still several good shops in Columbus. I need to head down that way and fill up on miscellaneous items I need for my winter projects.. 

Larry

Conductor.

Summerset Ry.


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Posted by retsignalmtr on Wednesday, July 27, 2016 10:40 AM

I cannot mourn the closing of another hobby shop especially one that I probably would never visit. Too many good shops in my area have closed so that there are none anywhere nearby forcing me to make my purchases online. Their landlord can probably get more rent leasing the space unfortunately to a POT SHOP.

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Posted by Geared Steam on Wednesday, July 27, 2016 12:02 PM

retsignalmtr

 Their landlord can probably get more rent leasing the space unfortunately to a POT SHOP. 

You hit the nail on the head. 

 

"The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination."-Albert Einstein

http://gearedsteam.blogspot.com/

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Posted by Firelock76 on Wednesday, July 27, 2016 2:06 PM

Geared Steam
 
retsignalmtr

 Their landlord can probably get more rent leasing the space unfortunately to a POT SHOP. 

 

You hit the nail on the head. 

 

 

That could change.

Remember, pot's still illegal as far as Federal law is concerned.  The Justice Department of the current administration has decided to ignore states like Colorado that have decriminalized marajuana, but with a new adminstration Federal enforcement could come roaring back.  Federal law overrules state law every time. 

Personally, I'm a states-righter on this, I could care less how Colorado or any other state chooses to handle pot. 

Unless it kills a good hobby shop!

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Wednesday, July 27, 2016 4:45 PM

retsignalmtr

I cannot mourn the closing of another hobby shop especially one that I probably would never visit. Too many good shops in my area have closed so that there are none anywhere nearby forcing me to make my purchases online. Their landlord can probably get more rent leasing the space unfortunately to a POT SHOP.

 

This comment is completely unfounded and not approperate here in my opinion.

Sheldon

 

    

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Posted by Firelock76 on Wednesday, July 27, 2016 6:24 PM

ATLANTIC CENTRAL
 
retsignalmtr

I cannot mourn the closing of another hobby shop especially one that I probably would never visit. Too many good shops in my area have closed so that there are none anywhere nearby forcing me to make my purchases online. Their landlord can probably get more rent leasing the space unfortunately to a POT SHOP.

 

 

 

This comment is completely unfounded and not approperate here in my opinion.

Sheldon

 

 

Maybe so, and quite probably so.  But here's the thing...

When a part of your past or your life, which was always there, and you assumed (be honest now, like most of us) would always BE there, whether it's a movie theatre, a burger or hot dog joint, and ice cream parlor, or the bowling alley where you met the girl who would become your wife suddenly disappears, never to return, it hurts.  Maybe more so than we'd like to admit.  A favorite hobby shop certainly fits into that category.

So you can't blame someone for getting a bit bitter about it, can you? 

All of us know that time marches on, and things change and never stay the same, but it still doesn't lessen the pain.  And if a hobbyist can't give vent to his feelings to other hobbyists, then what are we here for?

That's all, jumping off the soapbox.  Thanks for listening.

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Wednesday, July 27, 2016 9:16 PM

Firelock76

 

 
ATLANTIC CENTRAL
 
retsignalmtr

I cannot mourn the closing of another hobby shop especially one that I probably would never visit. Too many good shops in my area have closed so that there are none anywhere nearby forcing me to make my purchases online. Their landlord can probably get more rent leasing the space unfortunately to a POT SHOP.

 

 

 

This comment is completely unfounded and not approperate here in my opinion.

Sheldon

 

 

 

 

Maybe so, and quite probably so.  But here's the thing...

When a part of your past or your life, which was always there, and you assumed (be honest now, like most of us) would always BE there, whether it's a movie theatre, a burger or hot dog joint, and ice cream parlor, or the bowling alley where you met the girl who would become your wife suddenly disappears, never to return, it hurts.  Maybe more so than we'd like to admit.  A favorite hobby shop certainly fits into that category.

So you can't blame someone for getting a bit bitter about it, can you? 

All of us know that time marches on, and things change and never stay the same, but it still doesn't lessen the pain.  And if a hobbyist can't give vent to his feelings to other hobbyists, then what are we here for?

That's all, jumping off the soapbox.  Thanks for listening.

 

Having worked in several hobby shops in my younger years, I have some insight into why they close up.......

Generally one of three things happen - not making money, loose space, owner retires.

The solution to the middle one is to own your own building - surprises me that an operation as big and long standing as this one did not own their building.

Personally, never been there, don't generally travel to that part of the world.

Can't say I'm all that attached to any business establishment to be emotional about them closing............

The future of brick and mortar stores in this hobby has been debated endlessly on here, I will not repeat any of that here.

But our hosts have set some standards, and want this forum to be teen/child friendly, so again, if politics is not welcome, neither is the topic rasied by that comment.......

Sheldon 

    

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Posted by PRR8259 on Wednesday, July 27, 2016 11:14 PM

I never got there, but I traded lots of brass with them 15 to 25 years ago.  Their staff was very helpful over the phone at that time, and when I had something I wanted to sell in favor of something else, they seemed to have the best consignment of brass models in the hobby at that time ie my models always sold for a fair price.  Caboose Hobbies made a fair commission (some others have been more greedy than they) and they moved the models quickly and got me paid in a very timely fashion.  Their brass list must have gone far and wide.

In some cases, I had gotten a relative "deal" on something (generally western) here in the East, and if/when I wanted something else more, Caboose Hobbies got me out of that item for even or very nearly even money.  In a few cases I made a slight profit even after paying their consignment fee.

So I remember them as they were prior to the internet:  the monthly brass list sent first class mail, the rush to the phone to call about this or that, and the friendly, helpful staff.  They'd test run engines for you while holding the phone so you could hear it run...a far cry from today's youtube style videos...Things were just different then.

In recent years, I've had a wife, house, and kids, so no brass for 14 years...except a couple engines just recently.

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Posted by sandusky on Thursday, July 28, 2016 8:45 AM
In the interest of literacy, should that be "Farewell"?
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Posted by sandusky on Thursday, July 28, 2016 8:47 AM
I've been once; I share your surprise that as large and established as they were they did not own the building...
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Posted by Geared Steam on Thursday, July 28, 2016 11:45 AM
>But our hosts have set some standards, and want this forum to be teen/child friendly, so again, if politics is not welcome, neither is the topic rasied by that comment.......
Sheldon <

"The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination."-Albert Einstein

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Posted by Waynestrains on Thursday, July 28, 2016 3:57 PM

Wow! I used to go to Highway Hobby House in the early 70s when I lived in New Jersey. I now live in Indiana and just this afternoon I asked my wife if she thought the hobby house was still there. Wayne

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Posted by droughtquake on Thursday, July 28, 2016 4:55 PM

I remember Frank the Trainman in San Diego. My parents bought me my first Tyco train set there back in the early '70s. I remember feeling sad when their listing first disappeared from the back of MRR.

Strength in diversity!

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Posted by NittanyLion on Thursday, July 28, 2016 5:42 PM

sandusky
I've been once; I share your surprise that as large and established as they were they did not own the building...
 

Almost no one owns their buildings.  Even titans like McDonalds and Starbucks lease.

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Thursday, July 28, 2016 9:49 PM

NittanyLion

 

 
sandusky
I've been once; I share your surprise that as large and established as they were they did not own the building...
 

 

 

Almost no one owns their buildings.  Even titans like McDonalds and Starbucks lease.

 

And because of the kind of locations they need, it makes more sense for those businesses to lease.

But a business like a train store or hobby shop can purchase a building tha tdoes not need to be in a high traffic, high rent area and save lots of money in the long run.

Hobby shops need low cost per sq ft, fairly large warehouse spaces these days to be competitve at E commerce, and their store front need not be in the "mall" or strip center - locals will find them and come to them.

One of the most successful train stores in the country, now very big on the internet, located here in the Mid Atlantic, was built on this principal. Their first store was deep in downtown, their current store is in a suburban mixed retail industrial area, but in both cases they own the building, don't have to worry about rent increases on landlords selling out from under them, and I suspect in both cases, they own/owned the building outright - no debt.

Low overhead, the secret to success............

Sheldon

    

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