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Your first hobby shop

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Posted by floridaflyer on Thursday, March 30, 2023 1:37 PM

My first hobby shop was in Dunellen NJ, just out side Plainfield. that was in the late 40's. Long gone now.

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Posted by snjroy on Thursday, March 30, 2023 1:38 PM

I finally found the time to read this thread. What a treat. Mini Wayne gets the prize for his picture on the pedal car Smile.

There is just no substitute for a small shop with nice vendors that are there both for the hobby and the money. Online shopping is really killing that... Anyway, there were two "real" hobbyshops downtown Ottawa in the 70s that everyone went to, Hobbyhouse and Hobbyland. The original owner of Hobbyhouse passed away, but his son took it over. And he is just as nice as his dad, so we are very lucky. I try to spend there as much as I can to keep the tradition alive. Another hobby store (Hobby Centre) openned I don't know when at the other side of town. They are also very nice folks, and I go there on occasion. We are really well served in Ottawa. At least in HO scale...

Simon   

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Posted by ripvanwnkl on Wednesday, April 5, 2023 7:47 AM

Davis Trains in Milford, Ohio.  Sadly it closed in 2007.  

Dave

USAF (Retired)

 

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Posted by NorthsideChi on Sunday, May 7, 2023 1:55 PM

Was planning a bike ride this week to Chicagoland Hobbies.  According to their website the building is being sold and the owner is retiring.  Seems to be a routine thing lately to decades old family businesses being replaced by condo buildings.  They had a great selection. Everytime I went there the place was busy. They had an excellent selection and always kept the place well stocked.  

I give them all the credit for helping me restart my interest in the hobby in 2015

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Tuesday, May 9, 2023 3:22 PM

NorthsideChi
According to their website the building is being sold and the owner is retiring.  Seems to be a routine thing lately to decades old family businesses being replaced by condo buildings.

Sadly, that's a fact of life, not just now but always.  When the owner wants to retire and no-one in the family (or anyone else) wants to take over the business that's the end of it.  And not just hobby shops, it happens to restaurants, diners, bakeries, burger joints, "mom & pop" hardware stores, you name it.

It's understandable really, the owner works his (or her) butt off for years so the kids can go into better paying professions and have a better life and not have to work so hard.  

And of course if someone made the owner an offer for the property he couldn't refuse who can blame him for taking it?

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Posted by richhotrain on Wednesday, May 10, 2023 5:10 AM

Flintlock76
 
NorthsideChi
According to their website the building is being sold and the owner is retiring.  Seems to be a routine thing lately to decades old family businesses being replaced by condo buildings. 

Sadly, that's a fact of life, not just now but always.  When the owner wants to retire and no-one in the family (or anyone else) wants to take over the business that's the end of it.  

Rent and retirement, the two most prevalent reasons that local hobby shops close. I lost all three of mine for those two reasons.

Rich

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Wednesday, May 10, 2023 11:25 AM

richhotrain
Rent and retirement, the two most prevalent reasons that local hobby shops close.

Down here we go through Hobby Shops at an alarming rate... Just off the top of my head...

Clear Track Ltd.

The Hobby Hound.

Metro Trains.

Caloosa Hobbies.

Prestige Models.

The Enginehouse.

I am sure there are a lot more.

Rent and retirement are not the problem. My experience is that for some reason in Lee County, Florida only a certain type of personality opens a hobby shop, and they are not welcoming places.

I live literally less than two miles from a model train shop and a game store, and I never go to either one of them. The atmosphere in both make me feel unwelcome.

If I drive to Sarasota, Melbourne, Tampa, West Palm Beach, or Orlando I can go to a hobby shop that is warm, helpful, welcoming, and they appreciate me shopping there.

-Kevin

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Posted by wjstix on Wednesday, May 10, 2023 1:57 PM

Mine has to go with an asterisk I guess. My first hobby shop was Hub Hobby in Richfield MN in the 1960s. However, that was when it was in the Hub Shopping Center about a block from my house (and the MN&S "high line"). Hub Hobby is still in Richfield but it moved a mile or two west in the 1980s. 

Stix
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Posted by richhotrain on Wednesday, May 10, 2023 2:13 PM

SeeYou190
 
richhotrain
Rent and retirement, the two most prevalent reasons that local hobby shops close. 

Rent and retirement are not the problem. My experience is that for some reason in Lee County, Florida only a certain type of personality opens a hobby shop, and they are not welcoming places.

Kevin, that may be true down where you live, but in the Chicago area and suburbs, rent and retirement are by far the most prevalent reasons for closures.

Rich

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Wednesday, May 10, 2023 11:21 PM

richhotrain
Kevin, that may be true down where you live.

Yes, that is why I tried to make it clear that my comments were only about Lee County, Florida.

-Kevin

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Posted by maxman on Friday, May 12, 2023 3:04 PM

SeeYou190
My experience is that for some reason in Lee County, Florida only a certain type of personality opens a hobby shop, and they are not welcoming places.

Have the new owners just moved there from Chicago?

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Friday, May 12, 2023 3:25 PM

maxman
Have the new owners just moved there from Chicago?

Most people on the West Coast of South Florida have moved here from the midwest, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, and Illinois mostly. I guess that is a good possibility.

It just amazes me that I can walk into a hobby shop in Sarasota or Tampa and get greeted with "welcome, what do you model, and how can we help", but in my back yard I get greeted with "let me give you a quick reaction test to hot-button issues so I can see if you are the kind of person I want shopping in my store".

So weird.

I'll drive the 70-120 miles to spend money at a store where they are glad I came in to shop, whether or not I agree with their personal beliefs.

-Kevin

Living the dream.

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Friday, May 12, 2023 4:08 PM

Too long ago, I don't remember.

Rio Grande.  The Action Road  - Focus 1977-1983

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Posted by richhotrain on Friday, May 12, 2023 5:26 PM

maxman
 
SeeYou190
My experience is that for some reason in Lee County, Florida only a certain type of personality opens a hobby shop, and they are not welcoming places. 

Have the new owners just moved there from Chicago? 

My guess is that they move to Lee County, Florida from whatever town maxman lives in.

Rich

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Posted by Road Foreman of Engines on Friday, May 12, 2023 6:42 PM

My first hobby shop:

 don't remember the name, but it was in Ventura county, California in the late '60's. I bought the Revell engine house.... for$1.98. This was a groundbreaking kit at the time, we were getting a lot of building kits from West Germany, and the Revell kit was U.S. prototype. Bought some Atlas switches there too. I was running Tyco/ Mantua engines at the time, they still run!
  This store had a little bit of everything; ships, planes, cars, and some trains. Long gone now....

Paul

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Posted by maxman on Friday, May 12, 2023 7:50 PM

richhotrain
My guess is that they move to Lee County, Florida from whatever town maxman lives in.

Probably correct.  I noticed a recent decline in population.

"I'll drive the 70-120 miles to spend money at a store where they are glad I came in to shop, whether or not I agree with their personal beliefs."

Not sure if I agree with this or not.  If they keep their personal beliefs to themselves is one thing.  If they hit you in the face with them is another.  Local (non-hobby) place very close to me had a very large sign in front of their place supporting their political choice.  Then when you went in they had what I would call a shrine to the same individual.

No thanks. I'll get my tractor oil elsewhere.

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Sunday, May 14, 2023 12:02 PM

maxman
Not sure if I agree with this or not.  If they keep their personal beliefs to themselves is one thing.  If they hit you in the face with them is another.  Local (non-hobby) place very close to me had a very large sign in front of their place supporting their political choice.  Then when you went in they had what I would call a shrine to the same individual. No thanks. I'll get my tractor oil elsewhere.

Oh brother.  I have to agree, if you're a retailer it's best to keep the politics OUTSIDE the front door, especially if you're a hobby shop.  Most folks into this hobby look at it as a refuge from this crazy world we live in and don't care to be reminded of it in what should be "neutral ground." It's a mistake to assume we're all of one mind, which is why political discussions here are an invitation to an immediate thread-lock. ALL should be welcome no matter what their personal or political beliefs are.  If you've got the "Stars & Stripes" hanging on the wall that's fine, it's everyone's flag, but go no further. 

 

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Posted by wrench567 on Sunday, May 14, 2023 6:01 PM

  My first hobby shop was not a hobby shop at all. Even though we had a large Lionel empire in the basement, my dad got us boys into slot cars. Once a week we would go into Cleveland to a slot car emporium to race on the big track. There they sold cars, parts, and accessories for the slot cars. In the back of the emporium there was a small HO scale layout. Looking and studying that layout is what really kicked off the model railroad bug. Sure we had the Lionel, but it really wasn't modeling. Then the plastic model kits bit me. After building many models of cars, trucks and a 1/16 scale funnycar that won several blue ribbons life took over. 

    The shops I remember the most was a Lionel shop in Akron. Owned by a grumpy old guy but had everything you could want in Lionel. And a large multi scale shop in the west side of Cleveland. Sorry but I can't recall the names. We're talking 50 to 60 years ago. I'm lucky to remember my name.

         Pete.

     

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Posted by wrench567 on Sunday, May 14, 2023 6:31 PM

DonRicardo

My current hobby shop is Centerline Hobbies on Cape Cod, near the Hyannis Mall. Excellent in service and stock!

 

 

 

    Mine too.

        Pete.

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Posted by MidlandMike on Sunday, May 14, 2023 9:00 PM

While not my first hobby shop, there was an Ace hardware in Traverse City, Mich. that at Christmas would sell model trains.  They had a small O gauge layout, and as I remember, mostly sold O gauge.  After Xmas they would be relagated to a back corner until sold out.  New owners discontinued this anout ten years ago. 

Now I see Menards home improvement stores (a midwestern chain and 3rd largest behind Home Depot and Lowe's) has a model railroad line of products.  All this kind of reminds me of the old Madison Hardware.  Another hardware owner who had a thing for model trains.

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Monday, May 15, 2023 7:18 AM

MidlandMike
While not my first hobby shop, there was an Ace hardware in Traverse City, Mich. that at Christmas would sell model trains.

That reminds me, when I was six years old (or so) my Dad went to a local hardware store around Christmas time and I went along with him.  As was typical of the time this hardware store sold Lionels and there was a wall behind the counter FULL of them!  Wow!  To say that impressed me was an understatement!  In fact, I've pretty much replicated what I saw as a six-year-old on the walls of my train shed.

As I understand it Mr. Menard is a fanatic O Gauger hence his involvement in retailing O Gauge trains, in fact I've been told Menard purchased all the modern era trains Williams tooling and dies from Bachmann.  Beyond that I know nothing, Mr. Menard is kind of a "mystery man" who never grants interviews to the hobby press.  

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Monday, May 15, 2023 8:18 AM

For decades, the Ace Hardware store in Bonita Springs, Florida had an amazing display of Lionel Trains.

Maybe they still do, but it is not on their website.

-Kevin

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Posted by York1 on Monday, May 15, 2023 9:59 AM

I grew up in a small town, and in the 1950s this building was the drug store.  In the back aisle of the store, there was a wall of trains and model cars and model planes.

Seeing the building now on Google, it sure seemed like it was a lot bigger back then.  I'm sure the number of models was small, but to a kid, it was like a wonderland.  I remember standing for a long time dreaming of buying a bunch of stuff.

Somewhere along the line, I changed from model trains (too expensive) to model cars.  I remember that AMT was a favorite model company.

York1 John       

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Posted by cowjock on Monday, May 15, 2023 10:48 AM

First hobby shop. It was located in a small steel town of Phoenixville , Pa. "Bills Hobby Shop"  it had plastic models and HO trains, just a hole in the wall hobby shop. That was in the late 60s' early 70s'. Loved that shop they even had a peanut roster in there.

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Monday, May 15, 2023 9:23 PM

SeeYou190

For decades, the Ace Hardware store in Bonita Springs, Florida had an amazing display of Lionel Trains.

Maybe they still do, but it is not on their website.

-Kevin

 

The next time I'm down that way I'll take a look, but honestly I don't expect to find any trains for sale.  Unless it's a Menards I suspect the days of hardware stores selling trains around Christmas or any other time of year are pretty much over.  The last hardware store where I saw trains for sale was Walker's Hardware in Totowa NJ several years ago, but they closed not long afterward.  Too bad, they were a great old-time hardware store, more stuff in there than you could imagine.  A friend who came along just to watch me train shop found something for his bathroom he'd been looking for and couldn't find anywhere!

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Posted by drgwcs on Tuesday, May 16, 2023 6:16 AM

Flintlock76

 

 
SeeYou190

For decades, the Ace Hardware store in Bonita Springs, Florida had an amazing display of Lionel Trains.

Maybe they still do, but it is not on their website.

-Kevin

 

 

 

The next time I'm down that way I'll take a look, but honestly I don't expect to find any trains for sale.  Unless it's a Menards I suspect the days of hardware stores selling trains around Christmas or any other time of year are pretty much over.  The last hardware store where I saw trains for sale was Walker's Hardware in Totowa NJ several years ago, but they closed not long afterward.  Too bad, they were a great old-time hardware store, more stuff in there than you could imagine.  A friend who came along just to watch me train shop found something for his bathroom he'd been looking for and couldn't find anywhere!

 

At one time Ace Hardware had a partnership with United Model Distributors out of Chicagoland that they called "Ace the Hobby Place." That was roughly 20 years ago and United is long out of business. Out of curiosity I googled up that and there are a few left. That led me to Lionel of what combinations are still out there. They showed a little over 20 hardware stores as dealers. A combination store used to be pretty common to do hobbies too. I remember a drug store in Enid,OK that carried trains and believe it or not Lionel still listed a couple of drug/ hobby shop combos. Still a couple of camera/ hobbies stores on there too (of course including Colonial in Orlando.) Most of the camera stores and a whole lot of the independent drug stores are gone though taking out a lot of that possibility. There were still a lot of combinations with gift and craft stores. The most intriguing one though had to be "Classic Trains and Ferarris" although I would hate to see their pricing! What a way to subsidize a hobby shop. Big Smile

Jim

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Tuesday, May 16, 2023 11:07 AM

drgwcs
The most intriguing one though had to be "Classic Trains and Ferarris" although I would hate to see their pricing! What a way to subsidize a hobby shop.

Been there, in Paducah, Kentucky.

Their prices are high, but the Farrari selection is very limited. The owner drives an older Ferrari to work, but none were for sale!

-Kevin

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Posted by Tin Can II on Tuesday, May 16, 2023 11:53 AM

I bought some stuff from Long's Drug Store in CA; they partnered with Intermountain on several special runs.  I bought 24 Santa Fe reefer kits from them; still haven't built them 30 something years later.

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Posted by MidlandMike on Tuesday, May 16, 2023 9:39 PM

Speaking of combination hobby shops, I don't recall Hobby Lobby being brought up.  Our town lost its last hobby shop, and I have drifted into Hobby Lobby when my wife was going there, and I actually picked up some useful hobby tools.  They also have things like Woodland Scenics which are used in a number of hobbies.

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Tuesday, May 16, 2023 10:00 PM

MidlandMike
I have drifted into Hobby Lobby when my wife was going there, and I actually picked up some useful hobby tools.  They also have things like Woodland Scenics which are used in a number of hobbies.

The Hobby Lobby here in town has Vallejo Model Colour paints at a good price with a pretty good selection.

-Kevin

Living the dream.

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