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Last Friday I was near downtown Houston shopping with the wife so we stopped into Papa Bens Trains.

Talking to the clerk behind the counter he mentionned that Houston Roundhouse (along I-610 S near the Astrodome) had closed. The owner retired and moved to Colorado. Then he said the Trains & Planes store on Westheimer closed (bankruptcy). This store had little G-scale but did carry teddy bears for the wife. Then he said G & G Hobbies in Rice Villgae has serious problem with their roof (partial collapse). Finally Papa Bens trains will be moving shortly to as-yet unknown new location. but more seriously Allyn Pearlman (Ben's brother) has cancer and the shop may close for a bit while he is in treatment.

I guess when it rains it pours. But at least Mike's Trains up in Porter is still open, at least I think it is.
 

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Nashvegas TN has no real dealers anymore and we are now the 25th largest city in the US.

A change when I moved here from Columbus, OH where you had dealers all over the place.....
 

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I sense a bleak future for the stores, the online stores and the companies. With all the rising prices of everything here and overseas, besides people not having money to buy train items, the companies will not be able to develop new pieces. I would imagine that the new Bachman line will be the end of any new items from them for awhile. Some of these were developed earlier and may be produced, but doubt many new items will be designed by any company. Jerry
 

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This, unfortunately, is a story that we are going to hear again and again. The LHS is going by the wayside due to the fact that the internet and on-line and wholesale retailers can get the products to us both faster and cheaper than the old fashioned LHS with a storefront that has a considerable overhead to meet in order to stay in business! Large scale in particular is vulnerable to this! The amount of overhead needed is considerably more than say HO or N scale items! Sadly, I see this trend continuing. /DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/unsure.gif
 

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It is not just trains. Gift shops are also feeling the loss of customers due to rising costs and it is not just the fuel.

Foreign goods are costing more due to the weakening dollar, plus the shipping cost increases.

Sort of a double whammy.
 

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Posted By Jerry Barnes on 07/20/2008 2:18 PM
I would imagine that the new Bachman line will be the end of any new items from them for awhile. Some of these were developed earlier and may be produced, but doubt many new items will be designed by any company. Jerry




There was already some hushed talk about this being true, that the K and this years new items were it till 2012 at least. Given Marklin will also likely stay out of the US with the dollar (or as I call it, the Almost-a-peso) in the bloody toilet, I wouldnt be surprised at all to see some major changes in the hobby.

I'm planning on doing alot more scratchbuilding in the future using used drive mechansims bought off of Evilbay.
 

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We made our beds, now we must sleep in them.

The true consequences will probably not be felt for some time, but eventually folks will realize that we hobbyists have been our own worst enemy, and that once these places are gone, they are gone for good.
 

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Posted By Allan W. Miller on 07/22/2008 9:18 AM

We made our beds, now we must sleep in them. The true consequences will probably not be felt for some time, but eventually folks will realize that we hobbyists have been our own worst enemy, and that once these places are gone, they are gone for good.


I don't know how we are to blame ourselves for this. And this is hardly a new development. I have noted in the past that I have watched three Portland Oregon area LS stores go out of business within the space of a decade.  The bulk of us in the hobby have probably never had easy access to any of these store. I certainly have not. But I have purchased from all three of those stores and the one which still remains--Tammy's Hobbies--when I had the opportunity.  Few of these stores could ever realistically compete with these large on-line stores and their prices. No surprise that now there are less of them. The real problem is--will enough of us be able to afford new products from these on-line stores in the future.  If the product lines go stale due to lack of business activity, then the end is definitely in sight for this hobby. 
 

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Some of these stores are a victim of their own policies. Particularly the Roundhouse and Papa Bens when Ben Perlman was running it. The Roundhouse was well known for jacking up prices and telling you one thing and doing another. Promising to order a certain product then forgetting all about it.

My experience with Papa Ben's when I put some items there on consignment is I couldn't get the money after the item was sold. He would give out all kinds of excuses and offer to give you store credit. Needless to say I took the consignment items out of there and sent them to Caboose Hobbies in Denver where the act like professionals and send your check promptly. I ordered an Accucraft engine through Ben and gave him a deposit and agreed on the price. He never sent in the deposit so when the engine finally came it was a higher price as he failed to lock in the initial price.

These are just a few examples as to what is wrong with some of these one owner stores. G&G has always been the most reliable, friendly and neighborly train store in Houston. I am sorry to see they are having problems. Mikes is also a very good store.
 
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