Advice Overload

 
 
In my last blog I wrote about the dilemma of choosing between an e-tailer and a retailer.  I should let it be known that I purchased my darts from a retail store–a seemingly one person operation.  I bought less expensive darts than I planned as a result of talking to this person.  Yes, that’s right, he undersold me.  I have never had that happen before.

One of the interesting things that the salesperson told me was to “beware of all the advice people want to give you.” 

I have been thinking of that ever since.  Not because people have inundated me with information and “tips” on how to play better darts.  In fact, most people have been encouraging rather than discouraging.  Nobody has told me what to do.  If I want that kind of advice, I am going to have to ask for it.

However, the warning still holds true, but it needs to be modified.  Yes, I am sure lots of people will want to give me advice, but I also bring it upon myself.  By joining a darts chat room, I am sure I will get exposed to lots of “expert” opinions.  By searching our reviews of product, I will be exposed to lots of “expert” opinions.  I can only blame myself.

In my other hobbies, much the same thing happens.  When I wanted to get into RC cars, lots of people to me what to buy, or at least, what not to buy.  They were sure what wasn’t good, but not as clear on what was good.  They had a lot of ideas on how I should spend my money.  Sadly, very few of them agreed, so I was left with lots of information and little direction.

Sometimes these differing opinions are good.  It is good to hear the voices that are debating in your head, actually do it live and in front of you.  It is so much easier to distinguish the truth from the lies, the plausible from the implausible, and the exaggeration from the cynicism.

The dart store owner’s advice is good, but doesn’t help us fight against our nature.  We do things that don’t help us because we overestimate the need for information.  We seek it out, when we should be seeking out experience.

A Pointy Dilemma

 
The internet has been a boon to the hobbyist.  We can research things and find things we could never do before.  We can order and receive products without ever leaving the comfort of desk chair.  While I have reflected on this before, it bears repeating and re-examining.  While the hobby industry is benefiting, hobby shops are not.  Hobby shops can’t compete with internet.

In most cases, I tend to side with the hobby store.  I appreciate their knowledge and understand that their costs (actually having a store) are going to be higher than someone on the internet.  That doesn’t stop me from looking and comparing, though.  (As I mentioned before, doing research on a new hobby is almost as exciting as the hobby itself–call it armchair hobbying)  I am mindful of the price difference when I enter the store.  As long as the difference isn’t too great, I most often choose the hobby store.

If you read my last post (If you haven’t go back and read it now.  Read them all now!!–We will call that a desperate plea for readers) you will know that my latest hobby obsession is darts.  I have only played once, and have sunk absolutely no money into it so far.  In fact, the only livelihoods I have supported are the Royal Canadian Legion’s and its employees.  That is if you call drinking a couple of beers at ridiculously low prices support.

I digress (as usual).

I have started looking for darts.  I spent part of yesterday’s snowstorm driving around to all the usual stores seeing what they had.  Alas, what they had really wasn’t much.  In the end, I ended up at a store that had a whole range of darts, dart accessories and dartboards.  It was tucked away in an industrial area.  I probably wouldn’t have found it without the help of Google and Google maps.

I spend a fair bit of time at the store, trying out various darts and talking to the store owner.  He was helpful and knowledgeable and didn’t try to pressure me.  The prices were a little high, but it was a specialty store and they didn’t really have any low end stuff.  After some practice, I settled on a set I planned to buy.  I say planned because I need to wait out the credit card cycle a little.
Being research driven, I came home and searched out these particular darts on the internet, and found them for sale on EBay.  The price with shipping would save me about forty bucks, if I understand the tax laws.  Of course, I might get hit by duty, but how much could it be.  Maybe five dollars?  So I would save only thirty-five.

The dilemma for me is that I appreciate the time the owner spent with me.  I also would like to go back there to buy accessories and whatnot.  I don’t know how many customers they get, but while I was there (a not insignificant amount of time) I was the only customer.  I don’t think he will forget my face, and he might wonder what happened.

If this were some nameless, faceless corporation run out of the mall, I wouldn’t see it as a dilemma.  I would probably have bought them already.  Of course, I probably wouldn’t have spent so much time at the store talking to the person either.

Basically, I am asking for your opinions–or if you want to share your experiences.  I know some of you run businesses, so you must give me your honest take on the situation.

 

A New Hobby Called Darts

 
 
So it is a new year, and for the Jack of all Hobbies that can only mean one thing… (actually it means many things involving resolutions, but I won’t bore you with those)….it is time for a new hobby.

A new hobby you shake your heads ponderously.  Of course, I answer.  I am the jack of all hobbies because I pick up and put down hobbies with ease.  This time the hobby is darts.

It all started innocently enough.  I came across a game of darts on a sports channel (I guess there was no poker to be shown) and was instantly mesmerized by it.  I am not sure if it is the dramatic score calling, the hot women accompanying the often overweight and less than handsome dart players, or just the overall skill that allows them to place those darts so accurately.  Despite what you might think, it is probably the last one.

Whenever the mood for a new hobby hits me, I turn to the internet.  The amazing tool that allows me to share with you my stream of consciousness ramblings allows me to fulfill most of my hobby dreams as well.  I have searched the price of darts and a dartboard as well as several other accessories that I had no idea existed.

The real clincher was the local dart league.  I discovered a weekly league playing at the Legion.  A quick email elicited an invitation.  I showed up and the head of the league unhesitatingly loaned me his rather expensive set of darts to practice with.  He spent time giving me pointers (as did several other people) and then invited me to play in that evenings matches.  I would certainly call that hospitality–and it didn’t hurt that the prices for beer at the Legion were incredibly fair.

When asked what kind of darts I should purchase, the same people said they would supply me with darts for the next couple of weeks so I could try different ones out before I spent my money.  Can’t really beat that for an invitation can you?

So now I’ve got darts on my mind, several new websites in my favourites, and several new items on my Amazon wish list.  This all sounds like it is moving in a positive direction.  All that remains is for me to make it out to dart night again.

Discontinuations

Goodbye Polly Scale
 
I made up a word….I’m an English teacher, I do that all the time.  Besides, it really fits the topic of this blog.  As a hobbyist, you have lots to cope with.  Of course those things include time, money, frustrations, small parts, and delays in delivery.  The one that seems to bother me the most are discontinuations.

Discontinuations refer to products you want to buy no longer being sold, and there being almost no way to get them.  It’s like going to a Japanese convenience store.  You continually buy a product, only to discover one day that it is gone, and it’s not coming back.  You thought by buying them that you’d send a message to the manufacturer that they should keep making it, but you were wrong.

This happens to TV shows that you love.  You think it’s great, but you might be the only one.  I loved Firefly, and though I know I am not the only one, they killed it.  I loved an 80’s TV show called Shell Game, but it didn’t live past five episodes.

For the hobbyist, what usually happens follows two patterns.  In pattern one, the hobbyist waits to buy something.  Maybe they don’t have the money (usually my case) or they are hoping to score a better deal somewhere down the line, or they just put some other item ahead of it in the queue.  Regardless, when they finally decide to make the purchase, it’s gone.  Lone gone.  They scour the internet and every hobby shop they can find, but to no avail.

The other pattern is that the hobbyist uses something religiously.  They come to depend on it, perhaps even take its availability for granted.  Then one day, it is gone.  The manufacturer has discontinued it.  There were probably warning signs.  There might have been announcement in the various magazines that cater to the hobby.  Perhaps someone had remarked on it in an internet bulletin board.  Had they taken the news to heart they would probably have known about it and stocked up.

Recently, the paint that I have been using for my model train buildings has been discontinued.  What does that mean?  It means that I will have to use something else.  I really shouldn’t worry because there are lots of paint manufacturers out there.  Any day now, that same company will probably announce a replacement.  Even if it doesn’t, the hobby store will have to find a new supplier, because paint is an integral part of the hobby store.

The uncertainty is frustrating.  When will it happen?  When will it be resolved.  I am not a great enough painter that I have such a detailed understanding of paint or the different characteristics of paint.  I buy what they tell me is good at the hobby shop or they talk about in the magazines.  It’s just a minor annoyance.  However, there are hobbyists who have mastered the characteristics of a particular paint brand and are probably going to be frustrated.  They are going to flood the hobby chat rooms and bulletin boards, announcing Armageddon.    I will quietly sympathize, and hope that my paint supply doesn’t run out soon.

New Nanoblocks Now (Please)

 

It has been several months since a new nanoblocks kit has come my way.  Come on world, what are you waiting for?  I want new kits and I want them now.  NOW!  I don’t want to have to wait until some holiday (Christmas is 9 months away), or special occasion.

I can see by using the magical internet that Japan has a whole bunch of new and interesting nanoblock kits, but I have none.  There is really no way for me to categorize that as fair.  No way at all.

Too much in life requires my patience.  I have to wait in lines.  I have to wait for the next movie from Marvel.  I have to wait for my coffee to brew.  I have to wait for the defrost in the car to win the battle against the Great White North’s great white winters.  I have done enough waiting.  Give me nanoblocks or give me……some other hobby to occupy my time (if you thought I was going to say death, you were wrong)

I am waiting world.  Don’t expect me to have much patience.