Buy Local: An Editorial

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Old 08-29-2013, 07:30 AM
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Default Buy Local: An Editorial

Let me preface by saying that I'm just an average joe racer that got back into the hobby after a 2 year hiatus. I only started racing 3 years ago and my departure was for monetary reasons at home. I would have liked to start sooner buy my focus was elsewhere. I've made some mistakes with people that I hung with and have denounced them. I've made my apologies and life moves on.

That being said recently I've failed at the one thing that I should have done since day 1. I failed to completely support my local tracks. When I got started 3 years ago I spent a small fortune...at other providers. I opted for the quick fix instead of driving up to Omaha or visiting the store in Lincoln. Amain, Stormer, Tower Hobbies, all became my best friends when I spent countless amounts of money. I then took all my new toys and raced them at the one place where I should have bought them all: The Plex. The place I began to call home before I was pulled away.

Fast forward to the past month and I sadly have done it again. Instead of finding out if the Plex can do an order via Pay-Pal, I opted to line the pockets of A-Main again. I should have waited to buy all these items I needed. I should have saved my money, cleared enough credit, or simply asked Tim or Alex if they can do a pay pal order since that option was my quickest method, but I didn't. I may have spent about $400 at The Plex recently but I still gave Amain about $700.

No more. I'm buying everything from The Plex from now on. And if something I need is in stock at the Lincoln Stores, I will buy from there too.

I'm sure some of you who are still reading are wondering why I'm going on this long rant about my failures. It's this: http://www.redrc.net/2013/08/west-co...to-close-down/

West Coast RC. The home or Ryan Cavalieri. The home of the Reedy Off Road championship race for YEARS. Gone. Closed. Shutting down. Another victim of the times and lack of patronage. Now I've gone through the West Coast RC thread in the California section. While I may not have all the details, I noticed several common complaints: Money.

Complaints about entry fees, complaints about practice fees, complaints about the price for parts, etc., etc., etc. They forgot the one fundamental thing that let them race at such a nice facility. The one thing that seemed to slip their minds the moment they walked in; it's a business. Pure and simple, it's all a business. From the parts we buy to the race days we attend, it's all priced to keep things fair and to keep the doors open. We should not take that for granted.

Now I'm not point any fingers at anyone, PLEASE understand that. The support for this track from my limited amount of time is phenomenal and I hope it stays that way. However there's always the lure of better prices on something online. $10, $20, sure it all adds up but some companies have the bulk to support such discounts.

Bulk prices or not I think the Plex is very fair to us all. Combine that with the support of the staff and the world class track and pit areas, frankly we're spoiled. I want to keep it that way. I'm willing to spend the $20 a day or $200 a year for practice fees. $15 racing fees? Drop in the bucket as far as I'm concerned. Those fees pay for the building, the salary of the employees, the lights over our heads, and help pay for the ever so awesome building over the off road track. Not many off road tracks in the country can claim they have a roof and no more rain days.

I don't want the Plex to suffer the same fate of West Coast RC and countless other tracks. Lets keep things local, lets keep things open. This thread may fall on blind eyes but after I read that article I felt compelled to say something. I know I plan on spending my hard earned money locally so I can keep doing this awesome hobby.

Thank you for your time.

Tom.

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Old 08-29-2013, 08:17 AM
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Old 08-29-2013, 08:19 AM
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Old 08-29-2013, 08:29 AM
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Old 08-29-2013, 09:59 AM
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Old 08-29-2013, 11:17 AM
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This whole situation is really no different than what any Brick & Mortar retailer faces these days trying to compete against online retailers like Amazon and Newegg. In this case its the local hobby shop versus Amain. Product selection and ease of ordering/delivery are huge advantages for Amain. Price is not really an advantage because for the most part the Plex is very competitive when you factor in shipping and use tax (which I do pay).

I buy plenty from both the Plex and Amain, but overall its just plain easier and more convenient to order from Amain. When I'm at the Plex I'm there to race. I'm not really thinking about what I need in 2 weeks, and they might not even have everything I need. When I get home is when I think about that stuff, and at that point I'm an hour away from the Plex. The Plex can order you anything as well, but given the choice between selecting the exact product you're looking for from a nice catalog or trying to explain what you want to someone over the phone, which would you choose? And, if I've forgotten something until the last minute, I can overnight it from Amain and have it. Maybe the Plex can have stuff overnighted as well (I've never asked), but then I still have to drive there from Lincoln to pick it up.

If I were the owner of the Plex, I would seriously consider starting an online storefront, even if it was a small one at first that just focused on high volume items, in order to become a more competitive retailer. Looking 10 years down the road, the centralized location of Omaha would give the Plex a geographic advantage over Amain in terms of shipping speed to a majority of the country assuming Amain doesn't have other distribution centers by then.

We all need to do our part to support the Plex, and I'm more than happy to contribute to that. But, I'm not going to start buying everything from the Plex because it would just make my life more difficult.
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Old 08-29-2013, 11:53 AM
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Yes, there is a convenience factor to consider especially if time is a problem. However my thinking is if you don't need it overnight and the plex doesn't have it, just buy it from them and pick it up when you're in Omaha. Like my next buggy, I'll get it from the Plex.
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Old 08-29-2013, 12:03 PM
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The main thing I want everyone to do is ask.

If you see something way cheaper somewhere, ask us before you buy it online. Sometimes there's a reason we don't know about or weren't alerted to. Sometimes we just miss putting a sale price on it.

If we're a little more expensive on some things its not because we're trying to rip you off, it's because we need to make a margin that's profitable to keep the doors open.

If we don't have something, maybe it's new and we don't know about it. Maybe it's something we've never thought to order. Whatever it is just ask us about it.
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Old 08-29-2013, 12:47 PM
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Originally Posted by FroBoy View Post
The main thing I want everyone to do is ask.

If you see something way cheaper somewhere, ask us before you buy it online. Sometimes there's a reason we don't know about or weren't alerted to. Sometimes we just miss putting a sale price on it.

If we're a little more expensive on some things its not because we're trying to rip you off, it's because we need to make a margin that's profitable to keep the doors open.

If we don't have something, maybe it's new and we don't know about it. Maybe it's something we've never thought to order. Whatever it is just ask us about it.
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Old 08-29-2013, 01:53 PM
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Just an observation from 25 years of racing.....When I was growing up my Dad bought everything from one hobbyshop, then we supported Superior Hobbies and it became one of the best hobbyshops, if I needed something I KNEW it was there, new parts, he had them sometimes before I even knew they existed.

To me this makes running a main stream car cheapier, instead of basically buying 2 kits, you buy a car and a few parts and have that confidence that the hobbyshop will always have what you need, to me that is worth paying a premium. Now as I have been for the last serveral years, I have been running the "up and coming" rides, trying to get interest.

I'm not sure if the plex has these or if it is even possible, but I know GENSACE batteries are hot, and given batteries come from 1 maybe 2 factories, they are popular because they are cheap and run well, most hobbyshops I've been to really have not been able to compete with the price of GENSACE and Turnigy batteries, now I don't mind paying even a bit more for supporting a local hobbyshop but I have seen a big gap in the price of hobbypartz.com and the LHS. This is tough because you can argue the quality...etc. and I fully understand that, so I have ordered my batteries...online, I bought a balance charger that is way nicer than my $100 charger I bought at the hobbystore....for $38.00 bucks, yup, $38.00. It is hard to look away from that, maybe the PLEX is different as I don't live there, and the store flat out awesome. But the deal is say you want to save some money and buy these things online, now you buy this and that to make shipping free...etc, right there the hobbyshop just lost. I'm not critizising, just pointing out the gap.
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Old 08-30-2013, 02:29 PM
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Yep it is a tough new world. I rarely order stuff at my hobby shops. If they have it in stock then great, I get it there. But if it isn't in stock then a common theme is you try to order from the hobby shop, then is is backordered, so you can't get it from them anyway. One of numerous online hobby shops has it, not really any cheaper, just you know they have it and can get it to you in a couple of days. With the prices of gas you have to figure that in also. A special trip to a hobby shop in a big city can cost you 10-15 bucks. So if you can race at a track and buy what you can from them that is great, the rest is up to them to try to be a good/intelligent business and try to keep the things that sell in stock. All the while not stocking things that will never sell. A well maintained business doesn't 100% lose out on stuff that doesn't sell either, so it isn't the end of the world if something is brought in and doesn't sell. Dump it, write it off and move on.
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Old 08-30-2013, 05:37 PM
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I try to buy everything from the Plex that i can, with the exception of my Baja 5b parts i buy them from O'neil brothers racing. so far this year i have bought 5 kits from the Plex.
The way i look at it is customer service. You can't call Tower or the other internet only retailers for setup advice or what not. Plus what really bugs me with Tower/Great Planes Dist/Hobbico is they are undercutting their dealer networks which to me is very bad business plan. I have no problems spending what ends up on average is 2-3% more at the plex then buying online. Atleast if i need help down the road I know Tim and Alex are there to help me out. To me that is worth the extra 2-3%.

The only thing i buy half the time online is batteries. I really like SPC batteries so I buy alot of my lipo's from them. But i have went and picked up my fair share of lipos from there as well.
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Old 09-03-2013, 08:41 PM
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Its not just about what you buy, but be sure to send anyone with an interest in RC there. Word of mouth is big. I have sent three different out of town friends to Hobbyplex. People come to Omaha to see the attractions. To anyone with an interest in racing, flying, rockets, trains, etc - they need to visit the Plex right?

Everyone that I sent there spent at least $200 - on the first visit. If not for the word of mouth promotion, that is $600 the Plex would not have seen. Keep this in mind. Someone has a birthday coming up, mention to their family that they would LOVE something from the Plex. It really can make a difference!
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