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Hobby Shops v Internet Shopping

5845 Views 37 Replies 18 Participants Last post by  Lancashire Fusilier
I read an article on the demise of yet another hobby shop in the UK. Internet shopping was given as the cause, the shop being unable to compete with the discount internet shop. Now I've bought off the internet in the past but on the whole I would still prefer to buy through the local, 200klms away, hobby shop. Why when they charge more you ask! Well I get see the real model not a picture, I can feel the model to see what it weighs and I can see and hear the model run. Most important if the model stuffs up I can take it back and get it repaired or replaced, plus I get to meet with people of similar tastes be it British, American or Australian models and have a chat. I can pick up things like a packet of fishplates or a packet of trackpins without having to worry if my credit card is going to be comprimised.
So support your local hobby shop because many years ago if I hadn't gone to mine, The Model Shop, Prestwick, Adam Binning prop, long gone I expect, I would never have found out about railway clubs, flex track, scratch building and a whole host of other things that make the hobby so much fun.

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Could it be that to move with the times and broaden their prospective customer base shops are gradually moving to the internet as the means of supplementing a business? I deal with both forms of sales and know some shopowners eho sell online and probably shift more that way than through the door. I also know shops that don't have a website but are happy to sell by mail order too. There doesn't tend to be much difference in my experience between a shop selling at a good discount and an online seller doing the same. On the other hand if a shop wishes to sell at top whack retail price (or above in rare instances) then its their funeral. They may get customers who know no better and are starting out in the hobby but believe me price soon takes over from convenience.
Given the same or similar prices I would much prefer to deal directly with a shop on a face to face basis but that isn't possible here in Spain, for 4mm 00 gauge that is, so I say thank goodness for the internet.
Like you Ozzie, I much prefer to use the local (shop) but, being on a limited income, I'm afraid the wallet usually dictates where I buy. That's not to say that the internat always wins though. I'm always aware of postage costs because once these have been added there often isn't a lot to choose between the local and the internet and, as you say, in the shop you can see exactly what you're buying.
I tend to find that dealing with your local model shop is somewhat frustrating, they always seem to be last in the pecking order to getting the latest releases, there is no discount on the price, they never have what you want in stock and when they order something for you the wait is six to eight weeks, I say thank god for the likes of Hatton's , Rails, Kernow etc they really do a cracking job gromit
, (sorry been watching curse of the were rabbit for the 4th time today) and any problems are always dealt with quickly and professionally, like anything these day's you gotta keep with the time's or you get left behind
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The old local shop v mail order/supermarket/internet question.

Ultimately most of us will save a few pounds & buy where it is cheapest BUT this gives us a problem.

I like to go to my local shop, browse the shelves & buy the rail joiners, single bit of track, landscaping bits etc that we all need from time to time. I also like to go & see how much I saved buying that loco from an internet etc supplier. The trouble is that it is the sale of the bigger higher profit items like locos that effectively subsidises the stocking of the many low price & very low volume items that I still need. If we all stop buying the bigger bits then the shops will surely either close or stop selling the low volume bits & we will loose the nice local availability of the small items.

A well known High Street magazine/ CD/ book shop - is a good example. The sold lots of Radio Times, Womans Own, Autocar etc and stocked many titles that they did not sell so many of which were effectively supported by the big sellers. The supermarkets then came along and stocked only those titles that sold in large numbers and took a lot of the total volume. The shop then lost money selling magazines & responded by copying the supermarkets. They dropped many lower volume titles and concentrated on the same few that the supermarkets did. They have done the same with books, CD's etc. Whilst I am not in any way defending this well known High Street name I think that it does illustrate the problem.

Do I have an answer? No.

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Certainly without a doubt, if buying a new locomotive the price including postage can not be beaten by the online retailers. Accessories however, is a different proposition - one or two pieces of rail prices, has little price difference between on-line and local model shop, that is until the postage of £3.50 to £5 is added to the total price - making the model shop a cheaper buy.
I had that very argument with the owner of Gee Dee models in Nottingham. I had patronized this shop for years and had no problems with them, admittedly I'd never purchased any high value items from them, mostly detail parts, paint and transfers, but I'd still spent a reasonable amount over the years. Anyway I was in there to get some more transfers and paints so while I was there I asked him how much I could get for a loco I'd picked up cheep which I thought I could sell on for a bit of a profit. now even though this was a limited edition he said he'd only treat it as a regular edition loco, I thought this was a bit unfair to which he went of on a rant that it's people like me who were responsible for the closing of all but his model shop in Nottingham. He didn't seem interested in the fact that I had actually travelled from my home town and paid to park in Nottingham for the sole purpose of patronizing his shop. I have since found alternative suppliers for all the Items I used to buy from him, even though it means I have to visit two model shops in opposite directions I'd rather spend my money with someone who appreciates it rather than someone who blames his customers for trying to make the most of their limited modeling budget.
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Hmm sounds like the "local shop" in the league of gentlemen to me.
As for a well known high street shop they wouldn't be the one who've bizarrely announced the splitting of their business into seperate magazine and book retailers would they? Started out in a stall at one of the Leeds stations if i'm not mistaken. Blooming pain in the butt anyway, always one youth serving and 5 pretending to stock the shelves they seem to spend all their time moving the display shelving through 90 degrees in my local one. Ooh thats another thing thats cheaper mail order or online than in the shops magazines by subscription.
I think mail order is kind of a different thing, Hatton's, Mainly Trains etc have shops and a mail order service. You can buy say Hornby's Windsor Lad A3 for 80GBP wether you walk in the shop or through mail order. The same applies to other places. Your only additional cost is either postage or the cost of fuel to get there. Either way the shop still does a good bussiness. No I'm talking about the internet shop that has no walk in shop, doesn't deal with the public except by phone, offers a huge discount and no back up service. I know these sort of places have been springing up in the US. We don't seem to have any yet in Oz but time will tell.

I live by mail order. In Australia I have seen some of the highest prices in the world for model rail items. It seems to vary by nationality though. British and American stuff seem to be about 50% higher than their respective countries while German seems to be 100%.

In one of my local hobby shops there is an item which I intended to buy, a Roco s3/6 which was Aus $900. I can buy this direct from Germany for the equivelant of Aus $500 adding on $50 for postage I am still saving $350 about 120 quid! You can't really ignore this.

I have the same dilemma as most other people who have commented here as I like to go to the Hobby shop, have a bit of a chat, get advise and browse the shelves. However you can't ignore the prices. I try to compromise by buying a mid price item every now and again as a good will gesture.

One issue we have in Australia is that due to the lower population there is a far smaller market for model rail items. Due to the smaller market there is also less room for stores such as Hattons or Rails as there is just not the demand. When the suppliers are buying smaller quantities they are paying higher prices for them. There is also a high import tax on anything from overseas due to protectionist policies by the government. So we are left with pretty high prices overall.

My favourite manufacturer is Trix and the Marklin/Trix dealer here, located in Brisbane, is charging twice what I can buy direct from Germany for! When we buy from Europe we don't have to pay the VAT which usually covers the postage.
With the big warehouse suppliers who have no store Ozzie was talking about, I have only dealt with one and I just bought items off him at the weekend. As they haven't yet been delivered I can't really comment on his service, but If you look at the way that shopping is going generally this does seem to be the way things are going. Warehouse high volume sales seem to dominate in which ever part of the market they start up in as no-one can compete with their prices.
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QUOTE (neil_s_wood @ 24 Apr 2006, 09:45) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>[snipped]
I In one of my local hobby shops there is an item which I intended to buy, a Roco s3/6 which was Aus $900. I can buy this direct from Germany for the equivelant of Aus $500 adding on $50 for postage I am still saving $350 about 120 quid! You can't really ignore this.

My favourite manufacturer is Trix and the Marklin/Trix dealer here, located in Brisbane, is charging twice what I can buy direct from Germany for! When we buy from Europe we don't have to pay the VAT which usually covers the postage.

Neil, seen the same loco in Hobby One in Brisbane. Lovely bit of gear but $900, I don't think so. I noticed in there they are selling P2k soundequipped USRA 2-8-8-2's for about $530. They also have the Roco non sound version in PRR for $895 so I guess they'll be keeping it for a while. Luckily I have a good bloke down south that discounts his stuff fairly well so instead of paying $210 for a Deltic in Brisbane I only paid $170 ea for the pair but he was or still is when I get down there my local hobbyshop.

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It is hard to justify the prices of the local dealer if things are a lot cheaper over seas. I want to suport the local dealer , but money is money.
I have actually seen one place in Ozz which does prices which match overseas. They operate out of Ebay using "buy it now sales" and are based in Western Australia. I got my White Knight off them for Aus $184 and they are doing the new LNER Coaches for $58 at the moment which would be hard to match even from the UK. They have a few other things too so it might be worth having a look at them. They are called Corgiclearancehouse and I found them good to deal with.
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With regard too internet shopping I was having a look at Lokshop just now , surley those prices can't be real.I have never seen Marklin at those prices.Any body had any dealings from Australia/New Zealand with europeon internet shops?How do they want payment?Reliable etc,Thanks,
QUOTE Any body had any dealings from Australia/New Zealand with europeon internet shops?How do they want payment?Reliable etc,Thanks,

Rowan, I have had a few dealings with a couple of German shops and have found them to be good and reliable. I have only had one problem where a wrong item was sent and it was replaced with the correct one and my return postage refunded. So in general I am very happy with the service provided. The only difficulty you may find is the language issue when dealing with them but they all have some employees with a good command of English. The only problem there is when the guy who deals with international orders may be on holiday and it may be a week before you get a reply to an email but in all honesty this is stuff I'm prepared to tolerate as the prices are so good. I think the main thing is don't make assumptions about things be clear about what you want, e.g do you want everything sent at once or as it becomes available.

The two I have purchased from are Modellbahn Kramm who have been my regular supplier for the last three years. I can thoroughly recommend them.
They communicate well.
The other one is Modellbahn Hildesheim which I used to buy the Trix Profi club special set last year. There prices aren't as good as Modellbahn Kramm but they are a good second option.

With Lokshop, I haven't actually used them yet but use them as a reference as they have all the catalogues posted. From what I can see they are saying the prices posted still have to get the VAT deducted(16%) which would take a good chunk off but they add on 3 or 4% for overseas sales. These seem to be the lowest prices I have seen from a German supplier if that is all correct.
I intended to give them a whirl this year as they have the new ESU Ecos control system listed at the lowest price so I will know better then.

One other thing you need to know is that the German post system has a basic charge of 21.85 Euros (Aus$33) and the a price by the Kg on top of this so it is best to get a whole load of stuff sent at the same time.

Another general tip to anyone who does mail order. Don't use UPS!
If you have any option about delivery don't use them. They may appear quick but it doesn't work like that in practise. You will get a letter about a week later from the post office saying you have to pay a Customs tax of between 15-50% of the value of the item in order for them to release your parcel. This rate is determined purely by the mood of the Customs officer on that day. This has never happened to me with any other delivery option. Only UPS. They seem to insist that Customs impose some kind of import tax on you. You are given an option to challenge this amount but at the end of the day you just want your parcel released so I give in and pay it. Be warned.
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Thanks Neil,very informative.If I can pick your brain again in regard to payment.What is the most economical form of payment out of Australia?Thanks!
I'm just starting out with >>>>>>everthing I guess.Looking for clues on the best way of doing things. Ozzie21,canI ask who ya good bloke down south is,if ya don't mind?Prices sound good. "ava beut day......
Rowan, I just use my credit card. You can use the cart shopping method on their website but I sometimes I email them first to see what they have in stock. You can order in advance for new items too.

The exchange rate of the Ozzie$ to the Euro is about .6 Euro to Aus$1 so you can calculate what it will approximately come out as. I think you can do stuff like Bank transfer but I just go with the credit card option as it's by far the easiest for both parties. I try not to complicate it too much as there is more likely to be a misunderstanding.

I see you're into Marklin and as your in Brisbane I can guess where you might have been buying your stuff. You'll find prices direct from Germany half of what Nathans is charging. Having got used to German prices my jaw drops when I have a look at the prices on his website.

If you want to know anything else give us a shout.
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Good on ya Neil,thanks mate.What is the charge,that the blood suckers charge for a foriegn currency transaction on a credit card ?Flat rate or percentage. Now I'm not pinning you down but roughly ya got;minus VAT,then +3to4%(what is that for,please), then 21.85 euro,for deutche post + a bit per kilo.What about insurance.Appreciate your time!
Poor old Nathans Trains.Marklin haven't been able to supply the poor guy with the 2006 catalouge yet, which is not helping me much. I haven't bought anything yet as I am interneting to get the good oil on life, the universe, and Marklin.

Oops,forgot one. What is the go with import duty,is there any.
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The exchange rate is down to each individual bank so it may vary. We're with Westpac and from what I can make out from my bills and the website there doesn't seem to be a charge for the transaction they just charge you whatever their exchange rate is. You will prbably have to ask your bank direct if you want something specific. It is more likely to be a precentage though. I know with bank transfers they tend to be flat rates.

QUOTE then +3to4%(what is that for,please

This is something unique to Lokshop and doesn't apply to any other shop. Lokshop can invoice you in advance if you want to see the bill first. For full details follow this link Lokshop and go to sales details where they go into detail. Apparently it's duty but they do say that they give you back 3% if you do bank transfer, so it may be worth looking into. I haven't dealt with Lokshop before but they do look pretty good.

The place I deal (Modellbahn Kramm) with has set prices and only add postage which has usually come to 33Euros or there abouts.

QUOTE What about insurance

Lokshop say shipping is at the risk of the buyer. However Modellbahn Kramm say all parcels are insured for Euro500 about $900.

With import duty I have only had to pay this when a dealer has been dumb enough to post by UPS. I have never had to pay this on any parcel from Germany. The way I see it is even if you do you're still saving money.

QUOTE Poor old Nathans Trains

Yeah he's a nice bloke, but those prices are high. You can access the Marklin yearbook on the Lokshop website though.
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