Did the Eastern Division change York soon enough?

First I want to say I am a York fanatic. I love the whole experience from the opening National Anthem, to the search for items, the OGR get-togethers, the one on one demonstration of products, the availability of products. York is an event unlike anything else anywhere.

Starting at the next meet we have it open to the public. If this last week has shown anything it has shown the meet had to change.

1)The aisles were much wider in Orange and Purple Halls. That means the dealers are disappearing.  I don't know why many dealers decided to not come was it due to personal reasons, economic reasons or are they no longer in business?

2)The crowds were much thinner in Orange and Purple Halls. The member hall's traffic seems to hold their own.

3)At one time it was rare to see earlier than modern era trains in the dealer halls. Yes you had a couple of dealers that had some items but it was predominately new modern trains and train items. That is no longer the case. For the first time I saw lots of second hand trains in Orange Hall. Is this because the dealers are slowing down and not ordering as much from Lionel and MTH or have the dealers been over-loaded with items they are buying from estates? Are they saving their newer trains for the Spring Meet with fresh buyers entering the halls in April.

4)Did dealers and TCA members alike decide to wait until the Spring to show-up due to all the changes?

5)Was the move to add the public soon enough to save the York Meet or is it already too late? Is this a reflection of the decline of the hobby in general, the new normal?

The York meet is is about to change forever. The product mix is going to be different. More than likely we are going to see more low end starter sets for sale for these new consumers. With the public will we see more HO and even N scale for sale?  Will the Eastern Division reach out to HO manufacturers and dealers to come to this Brave New World?

What do the rest of you think?
Scott Smith

 

Original Post

I did not notice that the aisles were any wider in Orange, although I did notice some dealers which weren't there.  (Does anyone know what happened to the guy who makes tank farms?)

Noticed a lot more empty tables in the member halls, especially Blue & Silver.

Lots more folks with mobility issues.  Should eliminate one row of tables in each member hall and widen the aisles.

Also did not see as much recent production being blown out - I wonder if the manufacturing volumes are lower.

What makes you think things will be any different in April? Unless someone will be paying to run a lot of "open to the public" advertising, who will show up?

As far as I could see, the aisles, with dealers sitting in them, were still a pain in the neck in the dealer halls. I also noticed a number of people holding up traffic while "playing" with their hand-helds (asking the wife for permission to buy something?). Yes, I noted the lack of, and need for, arrows in the Orange Hall. Seemed pretty much the same York to me since 1984.

Does it really matter if it was soon enough?  If it wasn't there's not much we can do about it now.  I still think we as members of the TCA need to step up and help.

This post may be followed up by an overly graphical repetitive answer.

Opening to the public in April isn't going to change much at all if they don't promote promote promote. Radio, TV etc. Even then, you think people are going to travel to the middle of no where for a train swap meet? I just don't see it happening. All the photos I have seen here and all over social media looked like a very thin crowd, no matter the day.

 

Laidoffsick posted:

 Even then, you think people are going to travel to the middle of no where for a train swap meet? I just don't see it happening. 

Absolutely, 100% agree.  

On an unrelated note, kind of sad to see empty table(s) in the Orange Hall.  

- Mike

 

 

Middle of nowhere?  Maybe folks on the east coast are spoiled.  I've often driven 3.5 hours each way for a good train meet, and I've known people to drive much farther than that.  If you draw a 3 hour circle around the largest train meet on the planet, it includes a lot of people.

I don't know if opening to the public will have the desired results (if anyone can even articulate what the "desired results" are), but you've gotta try.

Time will tell.  I'm sorry to state I was guilty this meet of contributing to one empty table in Red.  I had a large surge in effort at work recently that just didn't let me prepare enough to bring stuff with me to sell.  I did still manage to attend though, so hopefully my purchases helped others a bit.

I heard of a few dealers whining about the extra 2 hours on Saturday, but I doubt for most that will tip the point of them not showing up at all.

-Dave

Greenberg and other local shows in the area are reasonably well attended, so if 20-30% of those folks make the trip to York it would seem to be a worthwhile effort. Whether the same number of folks can be turned into dues-paying members is another matter...it would seem doubtful.

Maybe I was travelling in a bubble, but it seemed that this York was pretty crowded. I had to drive around for a bit Friday AM to find a parking spot...first time that's happened in a loooong while.

PD

 

Geez the EDTCA just can't do right by some of you.  Up until 3 years ago it was status quo.  At least this leadership team is trying.  It may not work but they are trying.  Some of you guys should try to run a train meet the size of York and see how easy it is and then have everyone else tell you how to run it.  

 

They are trying, shouldn't we do our part and promote, encourage, and attend if able?

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York will evolve just as the hobby has the past 30 years.  I will go and support it. It is more than a show, it is and has been an event for years. The top 10 percent spend the most money at York , all the big boys better bring more creative layouts to the show if they are trying to lure the public into the hobby,remember the wow of the showroom layouts, what is there now is terrible. Even OGR and its Ameritowne line could create a display that triggers the imagine to build an affordable home layout, not just piles of building kits in a booth. These examples of displays can show the public the apps and at the same time encourage growth of the hobby. The orange hall will need a combination of dealers and layouts to lure and repeat foot traffic on the public days of York. Let it be said,I love York!

dk122trains posted:

 all the big boys better bring more creative layouts to the show if they are trying to lure the public into the hobby,remember the wow of the showroom layouts, what is there now is terrible. Even OGR and its Ameritowne line could create a display that triggers the imagine to build an affordable home layout, not just piles of building kits in a booth. These examples of displays can show the public the apps and at the same time encourage growth of the hobby. The orange hall will need a combination of dealers and layouts to lure and repeat foot traffic on the public days of York.

That I do agree with.  The dealer and manufacturers were the ones asking for this change, rightfully so, but they need to now do their part with displays reminiscent of 5-6 years ago.  The Apps should be something displayed because when the public comes in with the kids, they're the ones who will be holding their smart phones. The other important thing will to engage the public.  Go to them, don't wait for them to come to you.  

 MTH has always done a great job at App presentation along with Bachmann.

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My observation is that the Halls I was in while I was in them were fairly crowded Thursday, Friday and even today Saturday.  Admittedly i don't spend my precious time at the Meet to monitoring attendance volume, I have fun hunting for layout items, trains and socializing.   Several vendors I asked told me it was a great Meet or the best Meet they've ever had!  

I've said on all the threads here about the non-member public attending the York Meet that I don't know where they will come from or how much of a difference it will make. Most O gauge model train enthusiasts in the region already attend. But even if they do increase attendance, will they be buyers?  A Greenberg's Show is held in January in what is the Orange Hall and it is sparsely attended.  And it only covers about half of the building. It costs less, no membership required and the public stays away, even with the local advertising. 

The proposed changes will not affect my enjoyment of the York Meet. The TCA Eastern Division does a phenomenal job in organizing and hosting the Meet. I find train items I want and need every time and have so much fun seeing friends and making new ones. They can invite whomever they want. I'm happy that they invite me to their marvelous toy train event. 

Brian

President, Chief Executive Officer

Penn American Railroad

"Serving the Basement"

 

Northern Central High Railers

Tri-State HiRailers

 

Eat, Sleep, Run Trains, Repeat !

MartyE posted:

...................That I do agree with.  The dealer and manufacturers were the ones asking for this change, rightfully so, but they need to now do their part with displays reminiscent of 5-6 years ago.  .................

+1.  The major displays both Lionel an MTH created when thy were still trying to out-do each other at York (prior to their unofficial gentleman's agreement to scale it down so each could save money attending the meet)should be pulled out of moth balls at least for next April's York to help maximize the impressive nature of the meet for any public attendees who have never been there before.

-Dave

With regard to the parking comment above, as I've said elsewhere, I have found parking more crowded Thursday mornings the last several Yorks, than previously.  I had better, not good, but better parking Friday morning.  I noticed the wider aisles, and the empty tables, too, which seem a contradiction....buyers are showing up, but dealers aren't?   When I am lucky, the Strasburg O scale show, and the Timonium scale show are on the weekends of York week.  I have attended both before while at York and they are not unattended....has their attendance dropped off?  There was a time, when I was finding stuff, that I would attend any train show within reasonable, and sometimes beyond, reasonable reach.  If people that close to Timonium KNOW (advertising, flyers, published announcements) the show is going on, they will attend, at least once....maybe not after they discover it is not all HO or N. In this hobby of tinplate trains, and in other hobbies I am familiar with, the people with the interest discover where the big  and relevant shows are.  I doubt if many will be brought in unless it is well advertised.  I am not finding much in York in old trains of interest to me...these seem to have gone to the internet auctions; the few remaining manufacturers seem to have fallen back into the pre-Williams mode....nothing new of interest to me. except for a stray car or two, is being produced. I did not make as many circuits of all the halls as usual and left earlier than usual.  I, for several Yorks, have not thought it worth the trip for those two reasons.  (personal problem, maybe)

??Another one of THOSE!!??  What you want to sell is not what I want to buy!

Traindiesel posted:

... I've said on all the threads here about the non-member public attending the York Meet that I don't know where they will come from or how much of a difference it will make. Most O gauge model train enthusiasts in the region already attend. But even if they do increase attendance, will they be buyers?  A Greenberg's Show is held in January in what is the Orange Hall and it is sparsely attended.  And it only covers about half of the building. It costs less, no membership required and the public stays away, even with the local advertising....

 

Well, Traindiesel, central PA's January weather doesn't harken many folks to venture out much, especially when coupled with the post holidays fatigue and its associated symptoms that many feel during January so it's no surprise the Greenberg crowd is sparse. I'd guess if the present format of the TCA October meet was moved to January that it wouldn't fare much better than the Greenberg show you mentioned. I especially wonder how many tables and attendees would be in the member halls considering the aging demographics of TCA members and the inclination of that age group to either spend the deep winter months in southern areas with warmer climates or for the ones who spend January in the northern colder climates to stay put in their warm homes and travel as little as possible during the uncertain, generally inclement and certainly cold month of January. 

ogaugeguy
TCA


 




For me it was another great York. I did the all the halls 4 times. Found some great bargains. I can't wait for April to get here. I will be there on my birthday April 27th. Tuesday was a great day for the bandit meet at the Wyndham  almost all the tables were sold outside. Inside the ballroom all the tables were sold out.

Eddie G

Traindiesel posted:

Oh, I don't know, the Big E show in Springfield, Ma. seems to do very well with attendance while being held in January. 

Maybe so, but then obviously MA's dot and local municipal road crews in MA are in a totally different league from those in PA when it comes to clearing roads during inclement winter storms. It's like comparing a major league playoff team to one of baseball's lowest farm teams. 

ogaugeguy
TCA


 




Mallard4468 posted:

  Maybe folks on the east coast are spoiled.  I've often driven 3.5 hours each way for a good train meet, and I've known people to drive much farther than that.  If you draw a 3 hour circle around the largest train meet on the planet, it includes a lot of people.

 

If you draw a 2 hour circle around York, the "public" has about 20 train shows to attend each year. Most of these are Greenberg shows, Timonium Scale shows, Allentown, and local TCA shows (public admitted 1 hour after opening). In fact, 6 of these shows are within a half hour of York. Bottom line: the "public" is not "starved" for train shows in SE Pennsylvania.

Hopefully, if the public shows up at TCA York, they may decide to join the TCA so that they can get into all 6 buildings rather than just 2. On the other hand, most non-member train people are into HO or N gauges. Slim pickings at York for those.

This York was an eye opener for me. It seemed like attendance was down quite a bit, but the changes don't stop there. The Brown Hall is gone, the Purple Hall is an empty shell of what it used to be. Dealers in the Orange Hall seemed to have much less new product. There was considerably less new or fairly new high end product in the member halls.

What's going on?

1) The economy has peaked and, with that, we have manufacturer caution, dealer wariness and maxed out train buyers.

2) Many members are reaching the age where making the trek to York may no longer be easy enough.

3) Hobby shops/small dealers are going out of business in greater numbers.

4) The Internet has made it so much easier to get the items that buyers want, the appeal of York is diminished as it has been for many of the other train meets.

5) The cornucopia of new product has finally reached gargantuan size. How much more can the market consume without an enormous stomach ache?

Scrappy

Passengers will please refrain, This train's got the disappearin' railroad blues...

Traindiesel posted:

Oh, I don't know, the Big E show in Springfield, Ma. seems to do very well with attendance while being held in January. 

I agree, I don't think the January date is the issue.  Lots of people have cabin fever and a train show is a great remedy for that!

George

TCA, NMRA, PRRT&HS Modeling the PRR Panhandle Division between 1948-1957.

ogaugeguy posted:
Traindiesel posted:

Oh, I don't know, the Big E show in Springfield, Ma. seems to do very well with attendance while being held in January. 

Maybe so, but then obviously MA's dot and local municipal road crews in MA are in a totally different league from those in PA when it comes to clearing roads during inclement winter storms. It's like comparing a major league playoff team to one of baseball's lowest farm teams. 

Yes, that's probably true. But that's not a factor when it's not snowing. 

Brian

President, Chief Executive Officer

Penn American Railroad

"Serving the Basement"

 

Northern Central High Railers

Tri-State HiRailers

 

Eat, Sleep, Run Trains, Repeat !

I thought the meet well attended.  Maybe the Purple Hall was less filled and maybe the aisles were a bit wider in Orange, but it "felt" the same to me.  How's that for an unscientific analysis? 

I know the member halls were crowded as usual.

As has been said earlier in this thread, advertising will be the key to drawing the public to the meet.  However, there is a very good story to tell and lots of selling points.  I don't think the public will stay away if the Eastern Division does a good job of marketing.  And given the past few years, I think the Eastern Division is doing a lot of things right.

George

TCA, NMRA, PRRT&HS Modeling the PRR Panhandle Division between 1948-1957.

Since the dealer hall residents were told they will be required to stay until 4pm, some were not happy. I spoke to a few of the larger store owners and the complaint that they would be arriving back home at a too late hour was a driving force. A few that were located farther away are considering not attending. They are unwilling to stay another night and absorb hotel and food costs for their crews. Apparently the driving force for the public admittance is the big two manufacturers. Lionel was actually selling apparel and trinkets at the show which I don't remember them ever doing. A glimpse of the future? If a few of the high volume store sellers vacate the meet, buying options will shrink for attendees and the dealer halls could turn into a trade show type atmosphere. That would certainly be considered a backfire..........................

Scrapiron Scher posted:

This York was an eye opener for me. It seemed like attendance was down quite a bit, but the changes don't stop there. The Brown Hall is gone, the Purple Hall is an empty shell of what it used to be. Dealers in the Orange Hall seemed to have much less new product. There was considerably less new or fairly new high end product in the member halls.

What's going on?

1) The economy has peaked and, with that, we have manufacturer caution, dealer wariness and maxed out train buyers.

2) Many members are reaching the age where making the trek to York may no longer be easy enough.

3) Hobby shops/small dealers are going out of business in greater numbers.

4) The Internet has made it so much easier to get the items that buyers want, the appeal of York is diminished as it has been for many of the other train meets.

5) The cornucopia of new product has finally reached gargantuan size. How much more can the market consume without an enormous stomach ache?

...

Elliot, you had a first-hand look at what I've been saying for a few years now.  Each and every month here on the forum, we see sales from forum sponsors that often offer product at less-than-preorder prices.  Bottom line... we don't NEED York for our train-buying extravaganzas.  They're right here:  both as new products from dealers, as well as Mint, Like-New, and excellent-condition products from forum members.   

Newly catalog'd products from many of the major importers represent huge "opportunities" to spend big money on big-ticket purchases everywhere we look nowadays... look north and you'll spend $1K on that small steam locomotive... look east and there goes another $2K on an articulated steamer... look south and you thought you'd spend $250 on some rolling stock but wound up buying 4X your original plan for another $1K out the door... look west and you've just spent another $2K on an ABBA configuration of locomotives!    It's just crazy!!! 

Between purchase and pre-orders, even folks who attend York are already maxed out.  So they proceed cautiously at York... or worse yet, decide not to even make the trip. 

We can't fight the laws of physics:  many of us have been adults in this hobby since the 1980's... some even longer.  That's a good 4+ decades, most of which have seen toy train offerings explode almost endlessly since the days Lionel closed its factory doors in Hillside, NJ.

I attended York for 5 hours on Thursday... the first hour was to take care of deliveries from my recent for-sale thread on the forum.  The 4 hours I spent at the show were primarily in the Orange Hall -- stopping by at booths of the key O-Gauge importers, a few dealers, plus one well-known layout builder with a studio in the Adirondacks.    Then a quick jaunt over to the Purple Hall - which turned out to be a waste of time (for me, anyway) other than to add to the 8,000+ steps I walked that day. 

By 4PM, I was back on the road.   And the back of my SUV had two small boxes in it:  2 new MTH/LCT Standard Gauge #4010 tankers from SideTrack Hobbies, which I could have purchased ANYTIME for a good price.  Nothing particularly special about buying them at York -- aside from the fact they were my token purchases for this trip.

Aside from my need to get home for a business commitment on Friday, I can't help but wonder how representative I am of MANY folks in the hobby.  And when I saw TONS of what I'd call "just regular, good ole rolling stock and locomotives (mostly new old stock)" at many dealer booths in the Orange Hall, my eyes just glazed over... thinking, "Who's gonna buy all this stuff???"    Yes, I admit I was moving rather quickly through the hall -- due to my limited time at the show this year.  But even at that, I concluded I've reached a new stage in this hobby.  I still LOVE it like there's no tomorrow.  But it's an entirely different ballgame these days.  Can't put a better handle on it than that, but something has definitely changed... and continues to change in that direction.

I'm sure York will be around for years to come.  But exactly what it will look like is anyone's guess.

OK... now who's going to Allentown???  Chuck, it's time to plan breakfast at the Hamilton Family Diner... only two weeks away!!!    Count me in!!! 

David

Well, Just got home a couple hours ago after a 7 hour drive. For me this was well worth the drive as this was my best meet ever by far at York. Not sure why, I did talk w several other venders who agreed that they had better sales also, even though traffic was less.  I and many many other vendors have asked for this meet to be opened to the public for years now. WHY ?, to help expose this hobby to the younger generations. If we don't, It is somewhat our fault that this hobby will fade. Certainly MTH and Lionel have and are doing their best by incorporating the new technologies of today to attract the younger generations. That is my 3 cents.

jim r

 

Since the dealer hall residents were told they will be required to stay until 4pm, some were not happy. 

By 9:15 AM on Friday in the orange hall, I observed a dealer going from booth to booth with a notebook taking opinions on the 4PM closing. Whether or not it was a petition against it I could not tell. I could tell that the concept was not well taken with the small booth holders.

Didn't see anyone taking photos in the dealer halls. Didn't see more than a couple of people on cell phones. Above posts in this thread are mixed lighter attendance vs increased attendance. Didn't see any strollers. Did see one guy letting his 2 boys touch a lot of vintage trains at dealer's table without concern for damage. They didn't buy anything either. So far, meet changes seem ineffective IMO.

What is happening at York is also happening at the many "collectors" shows and flea markets I attend each year (in fact, I'm off to "The antiques capital of PA" after I type this).

1. My generation (born 1942) is the last of the avid collectors. We wanted one example of everything. If most were stored in closets, OK. Now people want just a few items in excellent condition to display.

2. From what I can see, the same number of buyers are showing up at big flea markets and shows. It's the sellers that are staying home (to sell on eBay?). There is a big flea market in PA called Shupp's Grove. 20 years ago, dealers had to arrive by 4:30 am Sunday morning to get a space. Today it is a sea of empty tables.

3. EBay has totally changed the collectors market. Look at any "price guide" published before 1998. Then compare those guides to what these items are actually selling for on eBay. I see most stuff I've collected going for half. EBay is "real world", price guides are "wishful thinking".

While it may impact the health of the TCA and the show itself, changing the Eastern Division's York train show is not going to have any impact on the future of toy train collecting / operating.
A person is either interested in collecting / operating, or they are not. Those who are interested will seek out trains.
The impact on the TCA and the show will be seen over time.
Some folks are now expressing reservations.

When I started attending York, the dealers were all in the Yellow hall, under the Grandstand. Maybe it was just my imagination, but it seemed to me that the yellow hall held a lot less sellers than any one of the member halls. So clearly the emphasis was on member to member transactions, as opposed to dealer to member.

Folks say that change is necessary because collecting is dying. Sorry folks, but operating isn't far behind.
There will always be collectors, and there will always be operators. There just won't be as many.

I want to see the Eastern Division and the TCA succeed, so I hope I am dead wrong.

By the way, I had been a regular attendee of antique shows/flea markets within a 150 mile radius of my home. My wife and I have cut out all but two of the shows. One is too close to skip, and seems to be growing in both attendees and sellers. The other is Brimfield. A few years back, Brimfield shrunk significantly in the number of sellers and attendees. The number of attendees has rebounded, but the number of sellers has not. Some of the more famous fields seem to have no more than 1/4 of the sellers they used to get.
Plus the merchandise is changing. There are less genuine antiques. There are a lot of reproductions, and items cobbled together, as is highlighted on shows like "Flea Market Flip".

 

C.W. Burfle

I notice a lot of the rants above are all about product, pricing, and whether I filled the back of the SUV. If that's all I was looking to do I'd stay home. I saw a lot of friend, new and old.  I had a fun Legacy meeting where I met a newbie named Timmy. I saw Eddie G who didn't make it in the spring looking happy as ever. 

If York is all about the train buying I suspect you have something to whine about. If you're like me you probably had a great time and didn't obsess on counting people , product, and pricing. And you were probably happy your SUV got great mileage home without the weight of trains. 

Yhanks EDTCA!  As long as you have a meet and I'm able to attend I'm there. 

This post may be followed up by an overly graphical repetitive answer.

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