Sunday, October 18, 2015

Are hobby shops doing enough?

I recently wrote about the demise of hobby shops and wondered if that’s really a bad thing. We talk a lot about the challenges that hobby shops face in light of the availability of models on the internet, but I’ve always wondered if shop owners have done enough to drive sales. Many seem content to just sit and wait for people to come into their stores. They’re not encouraging customers, particularly existing customers.

A couple of months ago my fiancée and I had dinner at a nearby restaurant, and after the meal they gave us this envelope.

As you can see, it offers two rewards. At the very least it promises three dollars off your next order. It also entices you with the possibility of a bigger reward, but you won’t know what it is until you give the sealed envelope to you waiter upon your next visit. It could be an additional $5 or $10, or even $500. It’s an intriguing opportunity and it’s hard not to want to go back for another dinner.

I wonder why hobby shop owners don’t do something similar. Call me crazy, but if I were an owner I’d be doing everything I can to get my customers to buy my products, and a big part of that effort would be directed at my existing customers.

I’d periodically have flash sales and alert customers via email. Imagine, “25 percent off all plastic kits on Saturday from 10-noon."

I’d offer a rewards program for frequent buyers. For example, get a $10 coupon for every $200 you spend.

I’d offer a birthday discount, like 20 percent off order on your birthday.

I’d give a reward for volume purchases. For example, spend $250 and get $20 off your next purchase of $100 or more.

You get the idea. I realize there’s be a cost to programs like this, but I have to believe that $25,000 in revenue, for example, with a rewards program is better than $15,000 without one.

P.S. If you’re wondering what we ultimately got in that pretty red envelope, well, it’s a funny story. I didn’t realize there was an expiration date, so we didn’t get to use it. Turns out it was good for $50!


  1. Bummer you missed the $50...I agree that all businesses should look at this sort of program, it just makes you want to go back.

  2. I was just talking to someone about this the other day.
    With the internet being so prevalent these days a way to buy, hobby shops (and other small businesses) need to step it up. My one local shop focuses mainly on R/C products, but also stocks a decent selection of plastic models. There supply section leaves much to be desired though and when asked about ordering stuff (kits for instance) their attitude is that it is just too much hassle. I had one of the chaps tell me that I would be better off ordering from the internet!
    It is kind of a bummer, because I am a staunch advocate of supporting local business, but more and more I am forced to order online.

    1. If I were a shop owner, I'd buy from anywhere for my customers!

  3. $50! Damn I'd be kicking myself...LOL Unfortunately I doubt this idea would work as most of the guys I know have all become 'convenience modellers' and like me do 95% of their shopping on-line regardless on any incentives - the on-line shops I frequent do this already. Why? Because it's easy, you can see what stock is available and in most cases it's also cheaper than any shop, even when you take the courier/postage fees into consideration. Call me lazy but I prefer to do my shopping from computer desk instead of having to go to a shop.