Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Hobby Shop Questions

This past Saturday, I slipped out of the normal bounds of wargaming pursuits and attended a model show (no, not that kind of model!). My friend Jeff pulled me down to the big city to Torcan, the local show of the IPMS Toronto and Peel Scale Modelers group. Held at the CNIB building, this was small show by even Ontario wargaming convention standards. Like our cons, it had its contingent of vendors, of which more in a moment. In the same hall were the model competition displays. I must admit to some simple awe when I saw some of the entries. I've scattered some pics of some of them here, taken with my Crackberry (so of dubious quality).

Besides the competition entries, what really struck me was a conversation I had with a couple of vendors. These were young guys (under thirty, I think, thus "young") that ran a small hobby shop in Toronto. They carry the usual suspects of GW, FoW, plastic models etc. In our conversation I mentioned The Hobby Kingdom in Burlington and was met by blank stares. I then mentioned another shop, newly opened on the Queensway near Islington. They had not heard of these shops (the second in the same city as their own) and this is where my confusion is rooted. Forgive me for some sort of misguided thoughts of relatively intelligent market awareness, but if I were to own a shop that catered to a very small niche market such as modeling or wargaming, I'd make it my business to know everything about every competition shop within at least 100 km. I'd want to know everything! Where are they? Who are the owners? What is their focus? What do they sell? What is their price structure and how does it compare to mine? How and where do they advertise? And I'd want to keep my information up-to-date. To give these young guys the benefit of the doubt, perhaps they hadn't had time to scope out the new shop on The Queensway. But The Hobby Kingdom has been open for business for several years. Sure its in a different city perhaps 40 km away and probably not a direct competition but much can be learned from watching other similar operations. And to make it even more confusing, they didn't seem the least bit interested in either of these shops as I talked about them. To each his own....

Of special note was this 1/6th scale Tiger (yes, that's GI Joe scale!) with scratch-built interior. Wow!

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