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The small traders are definatly a mixed bag both in their products and in their fortunes.

The ones that seem to fold tend to do so not because of lack of interest in their product but more to do with the enthusiasm of the people who run it waning.

The trouble is that people think the hobby is the same hobby year after year. they dont milk their products enough. in some cases the products and packaging have not changed for decades. is it any wonder that people wont buy them?

But often what happens os that an old company will be purchased buy someone with the enthusiasm and devotion to update the products and repackage them and generally reinvigorate the brand.

For example the old 3mm GEM kits were off the market for many years but have recently been relaunched with decent chassis and REALLY good packaging. (i know some people dont like the bubble packaging and would rather have a box you can put your loco into but on the stand they look fantastic.)

The internet is a very good point for small traders. in my opinion a web site carries far more weight than a catalouge. ***BUT*** it has to be a GOOD website and kept up to date. the small traders that have shunned the web or complain that their website does not produce the results they want are the very same ones that have the worst web sites on the web. they tend to be unbelieveably drab, over complicated, or never updated.
How dificult really is it to produce a website with at least 1 picture of the product so people can actually see what they are getting?
Many of the small traders tend to have a huge range of products for sale and so a web site can become unweildy and difficult to use (this has been recognised by fox transfers and i look forward to their new site) or never updated, i know of 1 trader who still has a message posted as a "recent update" that was posted in april 2005!

Another poor one in my opinion is branchlines (i dont want a blog, i just want to find out what you sell!!) trying a different format is fine but it has lost the fundimental requirement of the site which is to advertise the range!

The subject of shows disapearing is another big issue. but i dont think it has anything to do with the traders. i still think many of them are too cheap. for a big show or a specialised show i dont think people would mind paying £15 to get into say warley or scaleforum.

Peter
 
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