@Mike Wyatt posted:
I am NOT saying that Menard's train products are anything bad at all. They are an outstanding value. Especially for metal wheels and trucks (which seem to be fading away toward more plastic). And their line of buildings is terrific - probably not to be matched by the LHS due to the cost of inventory. And most local Menard's do not have trains for 12 months a year.
But it is impractical for a hobbyist (like I think most OGR people are) to rely on internet sources for the majority of their purchases each year (not dollars- number of transactions). Paint, glue, bags of ballast, bags of foam turf, balsa and basswood, - etc. But w/o the LHS- we are stuck buying these types of things less often than we need them- that $50 purchase would increase to $65 including $ 15 shipping, not to mention the "wait".
We NEED a place locally to go and buy these incidentals. Menard's could be that local place in many areas, not all. And only IF they stock, and if that is 12 months a year.
@Mike Wyatt - you raise a very important point, and therein lies the conundrum for us in this hobby. Web retailers don't solve that emergency need on a Saturday when we finally get a break from our jobs to work on a train or layout related project and need a supply that day. The LHS fills (filled?) the same void as a local hardware store. Quick in-and-out. In the case of local hardware stores, while many have gone under, Ace and other chains still operate some and Lowes, Home Depot, and Menards are available. I can get fasteners, drill bits, etc. in 20 minutes. Not so with hobby materials.
Until a couple years ago, I had a LHS nearby that had SOME O-Gauge items along with items for other gauges and hobbies. They folded up. Then, last year, the Trading Post in Old Brooklyn closed. Both of those stores were within 10 miles. Now, it's possibly a 20-30mile trip to Hobby Lobby to a crowded retail strip mall with lots of traffic for things like you cite (glue, ballast, turf, etc.) or waiting for an etailer to deliver.
I think we're going to need to get used to O Gauge items being shipped to us. Judging by the Trading Post's shelves over a decade of visits, I don't think O Gauge inventory turns fast enough for most of today's brick-and-mortar retailers. Heck, even Dick's Sporting Goods now guides you to their website for many of its shoes.
I've started taking inventory and creating train parts needed lists on Sunday and Monday for the following weekend's projects. Not like the old days when I could drive a few miles, pick up a few needs and a few impulse buys.