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.

 

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Looking For My First 180

I took the plunge and bought new darts.

This was harder than it sounds. I don’t want to end up as one of those people who has multiple sets of darts and can’t choose which ones to use.  There is one guy at the club who I watched change which darts he was using more than four times in one night.  He seemed dissatisfied with all of them.  It made me think that the darts probably weren’t the problem.

I could have bought these darts through eBay or some other website (though not Amazon) but I chose to go to my local games store. This was fun as the owner is quite talkative and quite fun. I am a big believer in supporting local enterprises.

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It also gives me a chance to see what other things he has for sale. This usually includes video games, poker tables, pool tables, and of course interesting dart accessories. Did you know that they have a special dartboard with smaller beds to help you improve your aim?  Ever heard of dart golf?

I bought some different shafts and flights to compliment my darts and to make it easy to distinguish them from my previous set at a glance.

My trip to the shop was fun. Sadly, he sells very few pinball machines anymore.

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I wouldn’t mind having this on in the man cave

The Ironic Universe

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The universe is heavily into irony. At least that is what I am left to conclude after today’s shopping find.

Let’s step back a bit and get some historical perspective. I like video games, but I am not a huge gamer. I like simpler games. I like games I can complete. I am always looking for games from my childhood, or at least late teens. Things like Galaga, Scramble, Amidar, berzerk….stuff like that. Yes, I know, I can play them on am emulator (though I haven’t found Scramble or Moon Unit–if you know a site, please send me a link).

One game that I loved playing at the arcade (more often than not this tended to be the airport or other equally inconvenient and expensive places to play) was Gunblade. I enjoyed this game probably because I loved how the bullets hit everything when I missed the actual targets. The road got chewed up. The window shattered. Trucks blew up. It was all cool.

gunblade 3The only platform I could find the game for was the Wii. I didn’t have a Wii, but I actually thought about buying one, just for this game (which only lasts about 15 minutes–so I have been told). I finally was given a the system by someone who didn’t need it, and I went to Amazon and purchased the game. I think it cost me around 20 bucks to get this game. I was okay with the price because I never found it in the stores, and I never saw it in a discount bin.

Today, while at the grocery store, I came across a bin of games. Wouldn’t you know it, there it was in a two pack for 20 bucks. Since, I wasn’t really into the other game, it didn’t frustrate me all that much. Of course that was until I saw that the games were 75% off the sticker price. Yes, that’s right. Five bucks!

gunblade4Thank you universe for your irony. I hope you enjoy your laugh.

For my part, I did pick up some other games for a that 5 dollar price, and one for even less. I should be happy for my bargain, but part of me doesn’t enjoy the universe laughing at me.

At the Bike Show

 
There is something about going to a bicycle show that really gets my heart pumping.  I go to walk through row up on row of bikes and stuff.  There were mountain bikes, road bikes, hybrid bikes and cross bikes.  There were tools, tires, clothes and helmets.  The best way to describe it would be to call it a toy store for adults.
The only thing that bothered me was the entry price.  I find it rather unfair that one has to pay to go shopping.  It is like having a daily admission price to Costco.  The price was 15 dollars, and I would rather have spent that money on something else.  However, I know there are a lot of costs in putting a show like that on (security, rentals etc) but they could have at least given us a break on the food.
I would have to say that cycling is rather popular.  There were so many people who were interested in cycling.  And most of them were also very friendly.
I didn’t go to the show to shop, but rather to find out about cycling vacations.  I am really interested in going on a cycling trip somewhere.  I collected quite a few route maps and found quite a few cycling destinations.  Now I just have to get in shape because some of the routes seem rather ambitious.
As for swag–I was hoping for more.  I came home with lots of trail and route maps, some back issues of magazines and even a tool catalogue.  However, I was expecting more.  I hoped for some socks, or a t-shirt, maybe a free water bottle… something.   I guess it isn’t a car show.

New Year…… New Plans

 
Today, it looks like I am going to the hobby store.  What kind of danger will I get myself into.  Hmmmm?

I really have to many hobbies, but I am sure there might be a bargain or two.  Will I be able to resist?

Lately, I have been strong, but I feel like I might weaken today.  Why?  I just have that itch to try a new model kit.  It might be an airplane, or it might be ship.  Really, it might be a dream 32 Highboy Roadster or a very detailed 67 Mustang Fastback.  I just don’t know.  If it were summertime, it might be a remote control helicopter or rocket kit.

I do know that they hobby store is a fun place to go.  I’ll be taking a friend, so perhaps he will be the voice of reason.  Or more likely, he’ll fuel the shopping trip.  My biggest goal is not to come back with any magazines.

Updates tomorrow.

Hobbies Lead to Tool Lust

Once again I find myself in a hobby conundrum.  The only good thing is that I recognize it, and might be able to escape this one.  However, I am not really sure.

I used to love riding my bicycle.  I rode all over the place.  This might have a lot to do with the fact that I didn’t have a car, but I am pretty sure that isn’t all of it.  I know I loved the feeling of speed and power.  I remember once thinking I could be in the Tour de France.  I was never that good, but every boy has to dream.

I have always owned a bike.  When I had a job as a teenager, I took my bike to work every day.  If I had the choice of bus or cycle, I always chose cycle.  When I lived in Japan I bought a bike on a whim and had to carry it home on a very packed subway and train.  This was the kind of thing I did.  I never second guessed decisions like that. 

Lately, I have been thinking about getting back on my bike before the dust in the garage consumes it completely.  It would certainly help with the fitness part of my diet.  Of course, being dusty, it is going to require a bit of maintenance, and that is where the dilemma comes from.  I could pay someone to do it for me, or I could do it myself.
I know that I would rather do it myself.  Yes, it is a mechanical job, but it doesn’t seem that hard.  So, I did what I always do.  I checked the internet and found lots of good resources and tools.  Do you see where I am going with this?

Regular readers of this blog (if there are any) know that I have tool equipment lust to a terribly high degree.  Sometimes, I love hobby tools more than the hobby itself.  I thought I was strange, but after reading other blogs and internet forums, I know I am not the only one.  Plus, I am one of those guys.  I think tools are cool.  I want them, and I want good ones.

My current lust features two things:  A bike stand for working on the bike, and a dedicated set of tools.  Of course, there are some really flashy ones out there, but I have settled on these two.  The fact that they come in sexy anodized blue is just a coincidence–or is it.  Perhaps, I really don’t need these things, but I scratched the itch, and I am now I am starting to obsess.

I probably have enough tools that I only need a few specialized ones to do any repair that I want.  I also don’t need sexy blue tools.  Plain ones will do.  As for the bike stand, while not necessary, it certainly would be handy.

The next deadly step is to go to a bike shop (rather than the internet) to see what they have.  I might succumb and regret it, but what else can I do.

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.