Monday, December 1, 2014

Me and Squadron's Black Friday sale

Another Squadron Black Friday sale has come and gone, but the echo of complaints will echo well into the week. I thought it might be useful to take a step back, take a deep cleansing breath, and consider the place that Squadron's annual sale has acquired within the hobby and to share my thoughts about their sale, which I did not take advantage of this year.

After reading several discussions on the forums this weekend, I came to a big realization: we're spoiled. Simple as that. We expect epic sales. We expect to buy a lot of models with very little money.

It began several years ago with Squadron's first Black Friday sale. If I recall correctly, they offered 50 percent off if you spent $300...with free shipping. Friends, a sale doesn't get much better than that. That said, if the wholesale value is generally 40 percent of retail, I honestly don't know how Squadron made money that year, particularly when you factor in the cost of mailing what, for most of us, were large parcels.

Over the following years Squadron has progressively increased the minimum order to enjoy the maximum discount while decreasing the discount. It's easy to see why so many modelers have had strong reactions. They've come to feel entitled to deep discounts, but the truth is, Squadron is running a business and seeking to make money, so they have the right to offer promotions that they believe will drive sales and maximize profits. It's a bummer that we don't enjoy half-off pricing, but that's life. Accept it or continue to work yourself into a collective frenzy.

As I said up-front, I didn't order from Squadron this weekend. I could have. I had a list of models that exceeded the $500 threshold, due in part to three 1/32 scale jets (which coincidentally were out of stock during last year's sale), but I decided not to pull the trigger. As enticing as the sale was (even one that's less than 50 percent), I had to a personal sanity check and realized:

  • I have more models than I can build in my lifetime. Never mind how many, but I pretty much have everything that I "need," more than enough to make me happy. Most of what I could have bought this weekend would've been impulse purchases made for no other reason than to take advantage of a good sale.
  • I really don't need to start building 1/32 models. I'm a 1/72 scale guy who's intrigued by large-scale models, but after reading a post from Jon of The Combat Workshop -- about how much time his current 1/32 F-16 building is consuming compared to his usual 1/48 scale kits -- I realized that the Trumpeter 1/32 F-105 in my stash will satisfy my need to explore a large scale project when the time comes.
  • I have lots of stuff in my eBay watch list awaiting purchase. Sixty items to be precise, and most of it is aftermarket for models that I already own. I should probably buy those before bringing new projects into the stash.

This is the first time that I didn't take advantage of Squadron's sale, and guess what? I'm alive and well. I don't regret not purchasing anything. I'm not angry at Squadron because a few models that I wanted were out of stock. I remembered that I don't have to buy. I can choose to spend my money in productive ways, in ways that advance my enjoyment of the hobby, and not in response to an enticing offer. I think that makes me a smart consumer.


  1. Great points there and i agree i think we all do impulse buys when the price is just too good to say no to. You certainly showed great discipline....But yes it is true you did survive and you still have money in your pocket.....

    1. Thanks for the pat on the back. At my core I'm a weak man. LOL

  2. You are right, Squadron is running a business and they should be out to increase their profits. The problem this year, as I see it, is that they might well damage their business with this year's sale and especially the spend $100 the Sunday before and get in early. With so many items out of stock last year I am sure a number of people spent that $100 at regular Squadron prices assuming they'd be able to pick stuff up that they really wanted at 50% off. Yes, I know, one shouldn't assume, but I'm sure some did. Then, when the sale was announced, I imagine some folks did what I did and ran some math. $500 at 35%=$325 $325+$100=$425 $425 of $500= 15% off. Still, not a bad deal... until you consider Squadron prices are about 25% higher than Scale Hobbyist. (No connection other than as a customer.) That means, this hypothetical shopper is being asked to spend $425 for the right to pay 10% more than they could get the same items for elsewhere. That is why I think this year's sales could backfire on them.

    1. Very good points. Early bird access is good only if you're sure there's inventory of interest to you and that inventory is likely to be scooped up by others. That's why I passed on the pre-sale $100 deal; I didn't see the value of getting into the Black Friday sale earlier than everyone else.

      As always, caveat emptor!

    2. I have to agree as well, me and my friends did some shopping on black Friday but with so many items out of stock it was a case of "not what I want but what it's available that I might like".