How Will the Pandemic Impact the Model Railroad World?

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Bruette

Well-Known Member
dave 1905 asked me an interesting question in another thread. (click here if you are curious) It got me thinking (good questions always do) one thing lead to another and I wondered "how will the pandemic impact the model railroad world?"

In my case, all my free time has given me a chance to play with my trains and spend more time with my train buddies on the forum. It also caused me to spend more money on my trains than I would have if I had been as busy as I was before all this.

Crisis cause all kinds of problems, but it can also create opportunity.

I'm interested in what others think.
 

Jhon d weaver

New Member
Speaking for my self, it has given me the time to put in some good hours on various parts of the lay out. the down side is the the freedom to simply walk in to my local brick and mortar store has, understandably been curtailed. that said, i havent really noticed much of an impact here in Salt Lake city area mrr community.
 

Selector

Well-Known Member
I have been spending a lot more time thinking about the layout, what needs to be done (I'm about 50% complete, still have a yard to construct, place some structures, build key industries, and refine the scenery), and running trains.

I tend to do 90% of my spending on any one layout between 6 weeks before, and 6 months after, starting construction. I'm done the bulk of my rolling stock, kits, and locomotives purchasing now that I'm 15 years into the hobby.

On another forum, shortly after the Big Bust in 2008, people were asking themselves this question, most assuming the good times had ground to a full and noisy halt. Not so, said one veteran member who had worked for a few years in a hobby shop. He said that when times get tough, people look for familiarity, nostalgia, and comfort. That means BIG hobby and pastime spending. When the lockdown happened here in British Columbia, now eight weeks ago, it wasn't just toilet paper. It was appliances, electronics, Wii, X-Box, toys, games, even....eeyupp!...cars. Motorcycles that were going to have to wait for a few months, maybe another year or two, snatched right out of the showrooms.
 

Patrick

GNRR Mechanic always fixing stuff
Like Selector, I spend a lot of time thinking about my layout. I have a bunch of kits to assemble, some older structures I want to take apart to re-purpose and track that still needs to be finished. For me, it isn't about the economy per se, but family time as the wife sits home by herself all day currently due to her job being shut down (that's supposed to change this next week). So I spend additional time with her until then. I do know that this has slowed down the estate sales where I've found much of my stuff.
 

Greg@mnrr

Section Hand
I've been in the house except for one trip to the cabin and a couple of MD office visits since March March 15th or so. The virus is impacting my credit cards with on line purchases and keeping the model railroading supply chain intact.

I've really only talked to one person from a distance of 10 foot social contact in the entire time since March 15th. Contact with Medical people was brief and was not social. I just may get on the phone and call some old friends that I haven't spoken to in years. It's funny how you lose contact with people as everyone goes their own way.

Greg
 

bob

Administrator
Staff member
You guys are gonna have to be real careful on this one. After our last little kerfuffle we're back to "Anything even remotely political will be shot on sight!"

So far, so good, but tread carefully.
 

bob

Administrator
Staff member
My guess? This is the last straw for many local hobby shops.

Along with running this forum, I run the model railroad links website called https://modelrailroaddata.com/

Recently, it was time for me to update the hobby shop listings. As per my usual habit, I grabbed the latest Model Railroader Magazine and turned to the Hobby Shop Directory in the back. I scan it to see if I've missed any shops. Imagine my surprise when I noticed the listings were now down to less than two pages. Granted, those ads are expensive, so it's not a list of every hobby shop in the country. But it's all of the major ones, and that number is shrinking every day. This mess will thin the herd even more, as I suspect many of them don't have large cash reserves.
 
I live in between 2 stores that have survived since at least the 50's, so I hope they continue on...it has been wierd to not be able to just pop up to the store and kill some time

but, it has also been good b/c I have done a lot of purging to make space for a set up area....
 

Patrick

GNRR Mechanic always fixing stuff
My guess? This is the last straw for many local hobby shops.
I think your correct on this Bob. At one time there were 4 train hobby shops in Wichita and as late as 10 years ago there were 2. Today, we only have the little bit of stuff supplied by Hobby Lobby and Hobby Town. The local Hobby Town will order anything you want, but its train selection is small. Closest one would be Topeka, KS or Oklahoma City, OK.
 

flyboy2610

Loveably weird
It's funny how you lose contact with people as everyone goes their own way.

Greg
"As time went on we saw less and less of Teddy and Vern until eventually they just became two more faces in the halls. It happens sometimes. Friends come in and out of your life like busboys in a restaurant. " Stand by Me"
Sometimes I find myself thinking about the guys who were my friends when I was a kid and wonder what happened to them. Some of them I know what happened to them, some I don't.
"I sit beside the fire and think of all that I have seen..." Bilbo Baggins
I have had time to work on the layout, working on some house projects now.
 

flyboy2610

Loveably weird
My guess? This is the last straw for many local hobby shops.

Along with running this forum, I run the model railroad links website called https://modelrailroaddata.com/

Recently, it was time for me to update the hobby shop listings. As per my usual habit, I grabbed the latest Model Railroader Magazine and turned to the Hobby Shop Directory in the back. I scan it to see if I've missed any shops. Imagine my surprise when I noticed the listings were now down to less than two pages. Granted, those ads are expensive, so it's not a list of every hobby shop in the country. But it's all of the major ones, and that number is shrinking every day. This mess will thin the herd even more, as I suspect many of them don't have large cash reserves.
You missed one, Bob.

It's the one I got to. I have been trying to "economically stimulate" his business as much as I can during this time. Randy is a super guy! I know he won't mind if you list him, but you can call him and check.
 

bob

Administrator
Staff member
I think your correct on this Bob. At one time there were 4 train hobby shops in Wichita and as late as 10 years ago there were 2. Today, we only have the little bit of stuff supplied by Hobby Lobby and Hobby Town. The local Hobby Town will order anything you want, but its train selection is small. Closest one would be Topeka, KS or Oklahoma City, OK.
There are a lot of "Hobby Lobby" shops still around, but as you mention, the train selection is small, if they have any at all, and generally geared to to the "Buying a train set for the Christmas tree" crowd, at least in the few I've been to. So I don't count those as serious hobby shops for model railroaders.
 

bob

Administrator
Staff member
You missed one, Bob.

It's the one I got to. I have been trying to "economically stimulate" his business as much as I can during this time. Randy is a super guy! I know he won't mind if you list him, but you can call him and check.
Thanks, I'll add him. I don't call anyone and check, this already takes too much time. Besides, they'd either figure I was a scammer or trying to sell them something. The site is simply a directory, sort of a microscopic version of Google. There is no fee for listings and the information on the listing is pulled from the website.
 

Iron Horseman

Well-Known Member
At one time there were 4 train hobby shops in Wichita
So the Engine House finally bit the dust huh? I've not been by the Boulevard Plaza since 2012 when it had moved from the big building with a theater to the little store across the street in the plaza proper.

Were you counting the one that felt like it was in the people's house on north Broadway? I only went there once.

But I never understood how any of them have been staying in business in the past two decades anyway Pandemic or not. Big old Denver is basically down to 1, but most of their business is on-line. The store front is kind of a gimmick I think. Kansas City had 5, I think last time I was there.
 

Bruette

Well-Known Member
I can't think of a single Hobby shop geared to model railroaders in the Baltimore metro area.

Most everybody I deal with is online and out of state.

Since Ted Klein retired MB Klein does not stock much Lionel any more and they closed the retail store. When I learned of MTH's release of a new Canton RR locomotive (Local Baltimore short line) I was shocked to not see a listing for it at MB Klein. I found it in Indiana at Mr. Muffin's Trains, Train World also had it but Mr. Muffin was cheaper.

Mr. Muffin's Trains? Seriously, is that the best name they could come up with? I signed up for their emails and they do have some good sales, but much of their sales "shtick" is as goofy as the name.

Since Ted Klein retired there is no more loyalty in my purchases, who ever has the best deal gets my order. Most of what I buy is Lionel, I don't need dealers to support me. Lionel has always had my back with the few problems I have had.

There has been a lot of pressure on brick and mortar train shops for many years. This latest challenge could be the end of even more shops.
 

Railrunner130

Well-Known Member
Unfortunately I think you are correct about losing more brick-and-mortar. My business, Conowingo Models will weather the storm. But it's an internet based business. I need train shows to get the word out though as advertising expenses can add up quickly and not be that effective.

I live between Baltimore and Wilmington, DE. Just Trains and Doug's TTH are both good shops in their own rite.

Just Trains is good for the O-gaugers, but not-so-much HO, which stinks because I can go on my way home from work. When the new Bachmann K4 Streamlined came out, I got Just Trains to order me one and match Trainworld's price.

Doug's is good for the more traditional items and HO. He's also got a TON of brass. I just don't get up there very often. While Doug's new shop is substantially larger and nicer than the old shop, it's not as convenient for me as the old shop was.

If I'm looking for something like wood (that I can't wait for) or DCC stuff, I usually go to Strasburg Train Shop on a day off.

Anyhow, back to topic. I really hope this turns positive instead of negative. If I had my millions made, I'd buy Forest Hill Hobbies, which is in an old train station. It's in Jarrettsville and is about 100 feet from the post office. It'd be great for internet sales. That way, you can have the best of both worlds- brick-and-mortar and internet sales.
 

santafewillie

Same Ol' Buzzard
I am not too sure how the pandemic will affect the model railroading world. The only change it has had on me is that I cannot visit the LHS. I am a hands-on kind of guy, and the only things that I ever purchased over the Internet are locomotives from ScaleTrains. I pretty much have everything that I need already, although I could use a few more building kits, especially laser-cut structures.
I do hope that all of the brick and mortar stores can weather this thing out.
 




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