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Discussion Starter #1
If this is too inflammatory, the moderator's can remove it, but I thought some might find it interesting to discuss what is happening on the OTHER side of the counter....


I had a fellow inquire last week about a part for a toy steam engine that was built in Germany (That he had bought elsewhere).  I called a couple suppliers (one long distance, one international to Canada) and managed to get him a price quote... MY cost would have been $94 plus about $7 shipping to get it to me...so I quoted him $115 on a part with a $129 suggested list.  Figured I'd about break even, and help the guy out. Guy sent me a response that he felt the price was to high, so I suggested a couple ways that he could fix the broken one he had.


Guy sent me a second note this morning that he had gotten it from a firm in England for 24 pounds (about $48) plus whatever they had charged him for airmail shipping.


Yes, it is the same item, and yes, he saved money... which I'm sure he's very happy about.

Unfortunately, my wholesale cost already includes those little (ahem) expenses like trans-oceanic shipping, customs fees (they often won't bother to collect on a single item, but when you bring in a thousand dollars at a time, they certainly stick their hands out!), and a bit of the wholesaler's overhead. And my sale price has to include shipping costs from the wholesaler, credit card fees, shipping materials, and occasionally a bit of MY overhead.... /DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/blush.gif


Sadly, it is considered petty, and in bad taste to point out that he might be helping to put a fellow American (or maybe three) out of business. So what does one say? All I'm really out is about a half hour of my time and the two phone calls..... I wished him a happy Easter. /DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/whistling.gif
 

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Sign of the times I am afraid,this side of the big pond as well.Up until two years ago I was working in car sales which I had done for thirty years or so and I lost count of the number of times 'customers',you know those people who are always right, would come in take up an hour or so and partake of an extended test drive then go home and buy the same model from a large bulk supplier some distance away!!
The end result of this sort of action is the loss of personal,local service and with it the advise that often comes free with it.
After 30 years I'd had enough and now do something completely different where I don,t have to deal with customers!
Regards
Bunny
 

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My local dealer had a similar complaint when our Canadian dollar was worth 65 cents American. People would come into his shop to look at the latest locomotive or car. They would hang around until another customer phoned or came in, and then leave to go home and order the item on-line from an American Discounter.
 
Now that the Canadian dollar is at par with the American dollar, he has problems with a discounter in another province because they don’t have to charge Provincial Sales Tax on orders from customers in Ontario. Our PST is currently 8 percent which puts him at a disadvantage on big ticket items.
 
When I went to buy my CN GP-40, my local dealer told to wait as there was going to be a sale on some Hobbycraft Canada (Aristo-Craft) items. The next week I bought it for $80 less. I could have saved more buying it of province, but for $20 I preferred to support my local dealer, especially after him treating me so well.
 

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Welcome to reality, people in our now declining economy, and hobby are always going to find the least expensive place to buy the same thing that they are looking for.  I know there are a FEW out there who still support locally, I try to, but in todays economy you almost have to save your dollars, and go with the least expensive place to buy the same thing of the same quality, if you dont  think so then you are probably not telling the truth to save grace, and not wanting to be found out by your fellow hobbyists, I see it here on posts and forums, all the time!  Makes good copy to "fit in" but if you are truthfull The "big boys" are going to carp up the "little guys", don't believe me? just go and look at your small town main streets they are disappearing as fast as the "you know who's"  are coming to town, and taking all they're business, just ask me i was one of the casualties of  "Wally Weird".  If i'm wrong ,and i don't think i am, then tell me how you can stay in business against the "big boys"  I would like to hear your suggestions!  Don't kid yourself and say good service either!  "Reality boys Reality".  The Regal  "My opinion and i'm sticking to it";)  It's lonely out there when you speak the "truth" no one wants to hear that,  they just want to hear what they want to hear in reality!  p.s. If you are going to save a couple of bucks then i can see buying locally, or dirving a little, but if your're talking in the neighborhood of the $10.00+ catagory I know what most people would do!  Under that amt. i can see being "Loyal, and shopping locally. When you get into the bigger dollar amts "loyalty, and support," goes under the train trestle". /DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/hehe.gif
 

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In our state, several years ago, long after the mandated "estimates" regulations on auto repair, they had to add in cost of taxes.

Seems some unscrupulous shops were quoting without tax, adding it later, and ending up costing the consumer more.

I recall several years ago, a new entry into one area of LS suplies, stole a firm order out from under me......I had communication with the on-site person doing the work, knew what this shop had quoted, figured he was thinking the "normal" dealer discount, and he offerred to pay the shipping.

The manufacturer and I had a good laugh.
To "steal" the sale, it ended up costing this dealer about $500 out of his pocket.

Don't worry about it.
Nothing you can do about it but figure the added shipping and insurance costs for him to get it here.

TOC
 

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There are local businesses, and there are local businesses. I'm a firm believer in supporting the little guy, but depending on where you live, it isn't a level playing field for either the small retailer, or the customer. Mostly, in the GTA (Toronto- western Lake Ontario), train shps are going out of LS, in part I suppose, because of the internet, but also partly because of distribution outlets and their armlock on product and pricing.
I buy a LOT through internet shopping, not because I won't support local shops, but because I can't afford to support local shops, at least with the big ticket items - they're too expensive. In Canada, that's not always their fault- it may be due to the policies of the distribution chain. But once I've bought the big ticket item, I need the support stuff, and that's when I head to the local shop. The $500 I spend on the internet for the loco, may well spur $1000 in local sales for paint, track, and other doo-dads. This is where many small shops don't understand the sales cycle. In Canada, Art Knapp in BC is a very competitive shop. There is a local shop here in the GTA specializing in LS, who is/will have difficulty. His prices are generally the same as Art Knapp plus the shipping cost. He can source the product the same places Knapp does, but he's counting on me to pay a higher price because of the shipping cost to order from out west. But I see that as fundamentally dishonest, so I don't shop there. Doesn't matter whether it is or it isn't - I'm not buying there, that is the bottom line. Since my time is at a premium, mail order works for me. Its easier for me to order something at 11 o'clock at night on the computer then it is for me to find a couple of hours in the day to drop in.

Filling your store with rack upon rack of high ticket low margin over-priced (competitively) product won't keep the bailiff from the door. Filling your store with all of the miscellaneous "small stuff", usually at higher margin, will. I will pay more for 3 pieces of track when I need it, rather than bring it over the border. Ie, I'll spend $40 locally rather then have to spend $200 on ebay - if I wind up going to the internet for the little stuff, you'll lose me as a customer.

What's different now, because of the internet, is I'm an educated customer - I know what the product costs EVERYWHERE. I know how its used (thanks MLS) - I probably even know more than the retailer about the product and its use, so where the local shop can help me is in the ways and means to enjoy my product.

For example, presently, I need small metric bolts - can't find any locally - lots of imperial sizes, right down to 1-72. No metric. In a country that adopted a metric standard. Most of the products the local hobby shop sells are assembled with metric hardware, made for a global market, made offshore. I will likely go outside of Canada to buy 12 metric bolts. There's a huge lost opportunity cost to that.

Some years ago, I worked with a friend of mine in his specialist R/C aircraft hobby and mail order shop. His walls were FILLED with ALL of the trivia needed to keep R/C planes flying. He had a good selection of kits and a basic stock of radios and engines, but the business was in hardware. We used an original TRS-80 model I to maintain the inventory and it did a superlative job. We bought enough of the big ticket stuff from the domestic distributors to keep them quiet, but bought most of that stock from the US, imported and freighted it in ourselves, at much reduced cost. In Canada, the distributors would copyright the product names to prevent you from using the product names in advertising unless you bought it from them- even though they frequently didn't carry the inventory themselves, and you couldn't sell it at their margins anyway.

Running a small retail business hasn't been like the "old days" since, well, "the old days". Nowadays, if you don't plan to hold your customer beyond the point where he becomes knowledgeable about his hobby, then you will perpetually looking for answers to the question: how do I get them back?"

Mik, you're out mostly a bit of time and a couple of phone calls, but the goodwill invested will likely keep the customer coming in. The goodwill will bring him back, its your job to have something to sell him when he gets there :)
 

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Discussion Starter #8
First, let me state, I am not against shopping around to save money. I sometimes do it as well. I quoted my best price, someone else beat it.... perhaps a bit annoyed that they can sell it retail for much less than my wholesale cost...but life goes on. There's a guy from Europe that's basically dumping the German made engines on evil-Bay for about 15% less than my wholesale as well...nothing I can do about that either.

The comment that got me a bit was in his second message when he said to me "somebody is trying to make too big of a profit on this".... It sure wasn't me, If I had claimed all the deductions that the law allows, I would have shown a $3K LOSS last year. The question now is, "If (more like when) I go under will anybody even care?".... Maybe when something goes wrong and they can't find someone to answer their questions or help them fix it...but even then I kind of doubt it. People have been conditioned to think it is normal to just chuck it out and go buy another.

Once I'm gone some other sucker will probably come along and pay the table fees to go to shows where people can see and touch the stuff before buying it off somebody else online, and explain their options so they can make an informed purchase when they call the discount house.....
 

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I have a rather unique quandry, I'm planning on buying a K next month when the tax rebates hit. Caboose has just about the best price anywhere, around $700. However. Denver's sales tax is almost 9%. Meaning, an additional $56 added to the price for - nothing. I can mail order it, pay the freight, and still come out ahead, and I'm not helping support a city with excessive taxation. (Most Colorado cities don't charge sales tax on groceries - well, actually, you pay the tax, and then have to apply for a "rebate" of the tax!!!). I'd rather pay an honest businessman for shipping than pay Denver (where I don't live - can you say "taxation without representation?").

Robert
 

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Depends on where you mail-order from. I've noticed local and state sales tax charges showing up more and more from mail-order houses. My understanding is that some states now mandate it be collected. Don't know the exact ins and outs of the deal, but I went to order some stuff from Ridge Road Station a few months ago, and they were going to charge me Colorado sales tax on top of shipping. Their price was nominally equal to Caboose, so I figured if I were going to have to pay the taxes anyway, I'd just pick it up on my way into work and save the shipping. Besides, I don't have an aversion to paying sales tax--I just wish they'd use it to plow my flippin' street in the winter!

Later,

K
 
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