Hobby Store Questions

Today, I had time to ponder a question. What do you want your hobby store to be?

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Do you want to find it in your shopping mall, in a dark corner of a subway concourse, in a suburban strip mall, or tucked away in an industrial section of town. I can find hobby shops in all of these places in the metropolitan Toronto area.  Prices seem to be cheaper in the industrial area, but less convenient to get to, and somewhat dark.

Do you want it to cover the full diversity of hobbies, or do you want it specialized? I prefer the specialized stores, even though they tend to be somewhat overwhelming in nature.  I think I just prefer the directness of the advice rather than the some general knowledge.

What made me ponder this question. Today I went to a hobby store that I hadn’t been to in many years.  They have moved shop from a bigger location or they shrunk from two stores to one.  I am not sure and I don’t want to speculate.  They have a lot of stuff crammed into the one store and it got me thinking.

They had trains (HO and N) model kits (gundam, cars, military) RC (boats, planes, and cars in multiple scales). and rocket kits.  Of course they had paint, glue, tools, fuel, spare parts, balsa wood, and even a few jigsaw puzzles.  Really, a lot of stuff…just nothing I was looking for today except some paint.

It was still fun to wander around the aisles and ponder what I could do next…if I didn’t have so many projects and hobbies to do next.

 

A Question of Money

I was listening to a radio programme yesterday on the CBC Radio.  A man who was a huge collector or something (I am not quite clear what it was because I picked up the programme as it was finishing) was talking about his spending contract with his wife.  He had written a contract that specified how much he could spend a month on his hobby.

The hosts took him fairly seriously and the guest didn’t take himself too seriously.  He also explained that he often broke the budget for “special sales/events” that fell outside of the contract.

It got me thinking about how I spend money on hobbies.  I don’t really have a budget.  I control my spending the old fashioned way….fear that I won’t be able to eat if I spend too much.

Then I started thinking about my hobbies and which ones cost the most money, which ones cost more money than I expected.  Cycling has been the least expensive.  Once I bought the bike, except for some clothes and some nutritional supplements, there isn’t a huge ongoing cost.  Of course, going on cycling trips, which I have done, costs money.  Of course, I think of these as vacations, totally unrelated to my club cycling.

I balked at stamp collecting because it seemed like something that my start off small, but grow to something huge if left unchecked.  You might start off collecting one country and used stamps and then up trying to collect the world in mint stamps.  Deluxe books for stamps cost a small fortune, not to mention inventory software and travel to stamp shows.

I suppose coins are much the same.  The book to house the almost one hundred years of the Canadian penny is probably worth more than the pennies themselves.

Hockey cards seem to have so many sets and special cards that you’d be through your budget in no time.

I suppose all collections start like that.  They start small, but they grow.  Suddenly you are spending more money on storing the collection and reading about the collection than actually collecting.

How do you set a budget for whatever your hobby is?  Is it a monthly amount or a yearly amount?

 

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.