At the Amherst show, I heard a rumor that Pioneer Valley Hobbies, just up the street from the BigE was closing. Today's newspaper verified it.

https://www.masslive.com/news/...-after-25-years.html

The shop holds it's ancestry to the legendary H.L. Childs in Northampton. (In fact I believe one of the display cases was from the original Childs store.)

I enjoyed owner Dennis Gamelli's quote in the article that the store was "Amazon's Showroom!"

For most of the store's existence, I drove within a block of it on my commute so it was easy to pop in and pick up something. With their move several years ago, the store was about 25 minutes out of my way making my visits there less frequent.

I wish Dennis success in his retirement plans of building a Garden Railway!

Lad Nagurney

 

Original Post

I saw the notice last night. It's a shame but  hopefully the owners can have a great retirement. Perhaps I'll stop in and pick up a few things for my layout. 

"All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them".-Walt Disney

"Well? You coming? Boy: Where? Conductor: Why, to the North Pole, of course! This is the Polar Express!"

 

 

Perhaps there's a Ph.D. dissertation in marketing in the train hobby -- to be earned by someone who would research current acceptance of the practice of "window shopping" for trains at a local train hobby store, then walking away to place an order at eBay or Amazon to "save a buck or two," and then returning  to the hobby store for repairs to items purchased in the digital marketplace that don't work.  IMHO, hobby stores would be justified in posting this notice at the front door:
                        
                            REPAIR PRICING POLICY
1)  If you bought it here, $12/hour plus parts at list price. FREE diagnosis.
2)  If your bought it elsewhere, $24/hour plus 100% mark-up on parts. $40 diagnosis charge.
3)  If you bought it on e-Bay or Amazon or other online site, $36/hour plus 150% mark-up on parts. $60 diagnosis charge.
4)  Otherwise, seek repairs via e-Bay or Amazon.  Good luck ...

Mike M.

 

 

 

Mike H Mottler posted:

Perhaps there's a Ph.D. dissertation in marketing in the train hobby -- to be earned by someone who would research current acceptance of the practice of "window shopping" for trains at a local train hobby store, then walking away to place an order at eBay or Amazon to "save a buck or two," and then returning  to the hobby store for repairs to items purchased in the digital marketplace that don't work.  IMHO, hobby stores would be justified in posting this notice at the front door:
                        
                            REPAIR PRICING POLICY
1)  If you bought it here, $12/hour plus parts at list price. FREE diagnosis.
2)  If your bought it elsewhere, $24/hour plus 100% mark-up on parts. $40 diagnosis charge.
3)  If you bought it on e-Bay or Amazon or other online site, $36/hour plus 150% mark-up on parts. $60 diagnosis charge.
4)  Otherwise, seek repairs via e-Bay or Amazon.  Good luck ...

Mike M.

 

 

 

I don't think that will work..   Years ago I worked at a speed shop in the Detroit MI area.  The speed shop I ran was 1 of 3 in a small chain of stores. Jegs and Summit racing were taking a lot of our sales.  The other two shops adopted the thinking similar to yours.   Punish the people that shop elsewhere.  While I instead decided I would try to work with people and at the very least get close to price matching  parts.  Sales at my store skyrocketed.  Sales at the other two went down.   To the point the sales at my location were supporting all 3 stores.  

And as others say folks use  online source to save a couple dollars.    I was looking a an MTH boxcar at a local hobby shop.   69.99..   Checked online later and it was 39.99 to 42.99 at a number of sites.  Folks are stuck between a rock and a hard place.   Most of us have hundreds of cars (rolling stock) and some even that many engines.    Unless you have unlimited funding, its hard not to justify looking online.

Jim  

Operator of the Southern Railway System.

Powered 100% on DC.   

carsntrains posted:
Mike H Mottler posted:

Perhaps there's a Ph.D. dissertation in marketing in the train hobby -- to be earned by someone who would research current acceptance of the practice of "window shopping" for trains at a local train hobby store, then walking away to place an order at eBay or Amazon to "save a buck or two," and then returning  to the hobby store for repairs to items purchased in the digital marketplace that don't work.  IMHO, hobby stores would be justified in posting this notice at the front door:
                        
                            REPAIR PRICING POLICY
1)  If you bought it here, $12/hour plus parts at list price. FREE diagnosis.
2)  If your bought it elsewhere, $24/hour plus 100% mark-up on parts. $40 diagnosis charge.
3)  If you bought it on e-Bay or Amazon or other online site, $36/hour plus 150% mark-up on parts. $60 diagnosis charge.
4)  Otherwise, seek repairs via e-Bay or Amazon.  Good luck ...

Mike M.

 

 

 

I don't think that will work..   Years ago I worked at a speed shop in the Detroit MI area.  The speed shop I ran was 1 of 3 in a small chain of stores. Jegs and Summit racing were taking a lot of our sales.  The other two shops adopted the thinking similar to yours.   Punish the people that shop elsewhere.  While I instead decided I would try to work with people and at the very least get close to price matching  parts.  Sales at my store skyrocketed.  Sales at the other two went down.   To the point the sales at my location were supporting all 3 stores.  

And as others say folks use  online source to save a couple dollars.    I was looking a an MTH boxcar at a local hobby shop.   69.99..   Checked online later and it was 39.99 to 42.99 at a number of sites.  Folks are stuck between a rock and a hard place.   Most of us have hundreds of cars (rolling stock) and some even that many engines.    Unless you have unlimited funding, its hard not to justify looking online.

Jim  

I don't know the economics of the bobby and model railroad industry, so apologies in advance if my speculating is out of line. I cannot imagine the difficulties in running a small, independent retail store these days.

The often-cited troubles of the hobby and model railroad industry aren't unique. Big box stores and Amazon/online e-tailers have hurt other industries, as well. Small hardware shops are another example. 1-800 Flowers put a dent in local florist business. 

One of my favorite bicycle stores went out of business due to big box stores and consumers who'd pick the proprietors brain, leave, and order online. I find that despicable, but I know people do it. In response, though, the proprietor closed his store and now offers fee-based consulting to bicycle purchasers and a mobile bicycle repair shop. He's never without work and doesn't have to manage bicycle inventory or pay rent. In one case, he dropped shipped the parts I needed to my house and came to my house to do the repair. 

My guess, however, is that the knowledgeable repair guys on this forum are never without work, especially as the products have become more sophisticated and finicky.  

I enjoy shopping online -- but when it comes to trains, at least for me, nothing beats going to my local train shop, sitting down with coffee and going through a catalog to order from or simply buying what they have in stock. The experience and customer care is great. I guess it depends how the store is run, my local store does offer decent discounts on engines and sure I could probably save a little more online but their discount is good enough for me to keep shopping there. Also, some stores have a strong online presence as well and that helps them to stay afloat. 

-Xavier

Was there today.  25% off everything.  Some cars left, some fast track.  Picked up the last of their Kadees, smoke fluid and scenic express stuff.  They were busy.  They still have a good amount of HO, rockets, plastic models.  Odds n ends 

Quoting from the newspaper article referenced in the initial post:

"There is his age, along with the couple’s desire to spend more time with their grandchildren. And Gamelli wants to spend time on his own hobbies. That includes creating an outdoor model railway — a “garden” layout, in the hobby’s parlance, that he’s started working on at his home."

My comments:

He's pretty darn lucky to be able to retire at 65, although I wouldn't have done it at that age even if I could have afforded it. I know (or knew) far too many people who retired fairly early and then came to regret it (or worse).

I can well understand wanting to spend as much time as possible with the grandchildren. I now have two grandson's, for the first time in my life and at my "senior" age, and they are at the top of the priority list for my remaining years. Lucas, who will be three in October, is playing with Brio-style Thomas trains now, and he will be advancing to his own Lionel Thomas stuff after his birthday this year (I have a full still-in-box assortment including Thomas, James, Percy, and others, so all that's needed is setting up a FasTrack layout on the train room floor).

Like Dennis, I would dearly love to have an outdoor garden railroad for all my Large Scale trains, but that has eluded me to this point. I have not given up hope though, 'cause all I need is something modest that will afford me the opportunity to run some trains or trolleys and make use of some of the still-to-be-built structure kits that I have.

Anyhow, I can relate to your thinking, Dennis, and just want to thank you for your contributions to the hobby. Here's wishing you all the very best in your retirement!

Dennis used to have a live steamers track around his house, which he had to give up. Being at the store is almost a seven day a week job with only a few days off a year.  To run a small business is very demanding.

Mike H Mottler posted:

Perhaps there's a Ph.D. dissertation in marketing in the train hobby -- to be earned by someone who would research current acceptance of the practice of "window shopping" for trains at a local train hobby store, then walking away to place an order at eBay or Amazon to "save a buck or two," and then returning  to the hobby store for repairs to items purchased in the digital marketplace that don't work.  IMHO, hobby stores would be justified in posting this notice at the front door:
                        
                            REPAIR PRICING POLICY
1)  If you bought it here, $12/hour plus parts at list price. FREE diagnosis.
2)  If your bought it elsewhere, $24/hour plus 100% mark-up on parts. $40 diagnosis charge.
3)  If you bought it on e-Bay or Amazon or other online site, $36/hour plus 150% mark-up on parts. $60 diagnosis charge.
4)  Otherwise, seek repairs via e-Bay or Amazon.  Good luck ...

Mike M.

 

 

 

While I understand the sentiment behind this, getting mad at the customer (the one spending the money that makes a business possible) and trying to punish them won't build any business.  The likely outcome is that the customer will buy from another shop that doesn't want to punish them, or maybe they'll just find another hobby.  In any case, they will avoid the bitter sourpuss.

There is a middle way.  Have a low-overhead location (people will go out of their way for a specialty item like trains), and offer discounts of 10-20%.  In most cases, that will narrow the gap between buying from the dealer vs. buying online and paying for shipping.  Some people will still buy online to save a buck, but you can't convince everyone. 

Another thing that needs to be resolved is to level the playing field where sales tax is concerned - it's not fair when some sellers have a built-in price advantage of 5-8%.  IMO, the recent changes to this are confusing and half-hearted.

One thing that turns me off about a retailer is when they don't have parts and accessories IN STOCK.  If I want a common part or accessory and they say "we can order it", my reaction is that I might as well just buy the whole thing online.

Lad Nagurney posted:

I enjoyed owner Dennis Gamelli's quote in the article that the store was "Amazon's Showroom!"

 

As I build my fastrack empire I've looked on Amazon and I have never found the prices to be that great of a bargain. Most prices are list or better.

I get better deals from some of our forum sponsors.

Sean

 

TCA 14-6985#

 

Buy me a ticket on the last train home tonight.


Best of luck to Dennis Garnelli in his retirement. The demographics of the model train audience and those that own many of the train stores has been changing, especially so in the last ten years. Online buying has also altered peoples buying patterns and has greatly affected the train show calendar. As the years progress, as with all else in life, continued change lies ahead .  There are still 1.2 million model train enthusiasts in the USA (all gauges) , and the train market is several hundred million dollars.  I believe its safe to say that this hobby will continue to evolve and go on for many years to come. Don't worry you will still be able to buy your trains!

Builder of the Hill Lines ( New Delta Lines). Recreating history for the model RR community.

MCKCONRR posted:

The main issue is that small specialty stores struggle with adapting simple technology to supplement their business.  

Agreed,  Dennis never had a online presence, No website, no online sales, nothing.  You don't adapt with the times you are not going to survive.

John,

Not the same Pioneer Valley

Stopped in the store today picked up a few things it was great to stop in on my day off.IMG_20200218_185232382

"All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them".-Walt Disney

"Well? You coming? Boy: Where? Conductor: Why, to the North Pole, of course! This is the Polar Express!"

 

 

Attachments

Photos (1)

Add Reply

Likes (2)
Khayden93MikeH
Post
OGR Publishing, Inc., 1310 Eastside Centre Ct, Suite 6, Mountain Home, AR 72653
330-757-3020

www.ogaugerr.com
×
×
×
×
×