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Old 05-31-2007, 09:26 AM   #1
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Default Supporting your LHS

There has been a spirited debate in another thread (NTC5 on the way?) about the how to keep the hobby/sport alive. The conversation turned to LHS vs online retailers. I decided to post my comments to the entire forum to get feedback from the RCTech community. My comments are posted here:
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You guys made some good points about what is driving the RC market right now. I started with a T-Maxx and ran it like a fiend for a few years, even did a few club races. Then I saw an on-road race and was hooked.

Here is the problem as I see it, especially here in America. Finding a place to run an on-road car is difficult. There needs to be/should be at least one permanent on-road track in every major metro area in this country. Heck, look at all the skate/bike parks. How did they get built? The local community (skate shops, skaters, civic leaders, etc) got together and had them built.

That is where the LHS can be a big help. Unfortunately, most of them go for the quick buck, and now with the internet driving prices to a razor thin margin, they have to do what they feel is best to survive. And that means Truggy, Buggys and MTs. But it's a short term fix that will have grave long term effects for the sport.

Now as for RTR on-road cars (NTC3, CEN, 4Tec) the issue is the manufactures hype one thing...SPEED! So you get these crazy claims of near triple digit speed and people eat it up. So when the see a MTX-4R or 720 '07 sitting on a shelf without an engine or neon graphics, they go for the speed.

Want to revive the sports, here are my suggestions:

1. Have mags cover more of the on-road Regional and National races
2. Manufactures (CEN, HPI, AE, Traxxas) should make RTRs that are easily configurable to race-worthiness. Look at Team Magic's G4S RTR for an example.
3. More racing venue's locally. Even if the hobby shops have to ban together, in the end it will benefit them all if there is a track where at least monthly races are held (whether perm or a prepped parking lot)

and most importantly
4. WE RACERS/HOBBYIST NEED TO SUPPORT THE LHS BY BUYING FROM THEM! Yeah, I'm a little passionate about this one. I get sick to death of seeing threads "Where can I find cheapest price on XXX"? And the answers are always, try www.qwerty.com or whatever. Look, if you are about to spend $400 for a kit, saving $15 dollars should not be that big of a deal, when you consider all the help you can get from the people at the LHS if you buy the kit/RTR from them. And them people wonder why the LHS person looks at them cross-eyed when the come in wanting advice on how to set up the car they got on the 'net.

Sure, I could have gotten my Mugen for a little less on-line (hell, a lot less if you consider I had to drive 30 miles one-way in DC traffic to the LHS where I bought it and gas is running $3.29) but as someone who has run a business I know how difficult it is to compete. And also, I got to know the people at CWhit's and they are good folks. The internet companies have little or no overhead; no building to rent, few employees, no electric or water bills, etc. So the can operate on a razors margin and make it up in volume. Your LHS can't.

So the next time you want to get that 4mm chassis and it's online for $45 and the LHS has it for $55, suck it up and help the guy out. Hell, get to know them, build a report and they may get it to you for $50. But either way, you are helping the sport buy keeping the grass roots strong.

Last edited by va_connoisseur; 05-31-2007 at 09:28 AM. Reason: Updated the link
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Old 05-31-2007, 10:01 AM   #2
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This type of thread has been around forever...nothing new.

I like trying to support local shops.
Just remember...
Most online shops also have brick and mortar shops.

Not all brick and mortar shops carry "racing" type products or are even knowledgable with them. Therefore, if the shop has to order it and sell it back to me....why wouldn't I just order it myself if it saves me a few bucks.

However, like I said...this thread has been around forever...nothing new here.

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Old 05-31-2007, 10:10 AM   #3
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At the Hobbytown in IL where I work parttime at, we always get people saying, "Oh yea, It's cheaper at Towerhobbies, I'll get it there". What they don't know is that when they do order from Tower, they get charged shipping AND IL sales tax and it usually ends up a little more expensive ordering. When they buy from HT, Prices may still be up by a little bit but they dont get charged for shipping. Even if HT has to order it, the customer still doesnt get charged shipping.
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Old 05-31-2007, 10:38 AM   #4
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And in most cases, your LHS does the racing, so buy shopping at your LHS, you help keep racing around. If the LHS see's the planes selling more, they take space from the cars to help the other.


Support your LHS.
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Old 05-31-2007, 10:58 AM   #5
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To try to sum up this debate: in some places, the LHS is top-notch and very helpful/informative and in some places, the LHS is all about the Benjamins and is not worth spit. I live in Dallas, TX and can tell you that there are a couple of hobby shops that I will never step foot in again because of the way I was treated. However, there are others in the Dallas area that are very helpful/courteous/informative and I frequent all the time. Personally, I buy very little, if anything, online and support the LHSs I frequent. Some in the hobby will buy from online shops and no where else. That is their right and their business. If you do go this route, just remember that the LHS has overhead/salaries/insurance to pay and that is why there prices are a bit higher than the online store. And, I would rather talk to and see a bright smiling face that communicate through a phone receiver or a keyboard bandit from the online store. Just my $0.02.
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Old 05-31-2007, 11:44 AM   #6
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I too try to support my local shops as much as possible as well. I definately like to support the smaller independent shops around the metro phx, az and scottsdale, az areas, as most of them are very helpful and have extremely competitive prices to boot. There is a small chain of stores in this area however that i would not set foot in because of the horror stories ive heard from reguarding them from other r/c'ers such as myself in this area. The only time I will ever buy something online or off ebay for example; is if I cant get what im looking for either by looking at several places, or seeing if any of the shops can even order what i am looking for. Although sometimes I buy online because the places such as a-main for example do have what I am looking for and their prices are extremely competive with everyone else around locally as well....jm .02 here is all...
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Old 05-31-2007, 11:57 AM   #7
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You really have 2 different subjects. With LHS vs Online subject, I buy my kits wherever they are cheapest. I know that the LHS I go to most doesn't really care where I get the kit. They want to sell me parts, tires and fuel. They make as much money selling me the hop up chassis as a kit. And I keep them pretty happy with my driving

The offroad/onroad, race/bash subject, the manufacturers will follow the dollar every time. RC has a definate rise and fall in areas of interest. Right now the trend is hot in the offroad nitro arena. The best thing we can do is to bring a new friend along to the races and try to help the new guys. That may mean steering them away from on road if that is where they are more interested in.
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Old 05-31-2007, 12:48 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by va_connoisseur
) 4. WE RACERS/HOBBYIST NEED TO SUPPORT THE LHS BY BUYING FROM THEM! Yeah, I'm a little passionate about this one. I get sick to death of seeing threads "Where can I find cheapest price on XXX"? And the answers are always, try www.qwerty.com or whatever. Look, if you are about to spend $400 for a kit, saving $15 dollars should not be that big of a deal, when you consider all the help you can get from the people at the LHS if you buy the kit/RTR from them. And them people wonder why the LHS person looks at them cross-eyed when the come in wanting advice on how to set up the car they got on the 'net.
-who doesn't shop for price? did you pay 25% more for your full size car or did you shop around? not everyone has money flowing out of every orifice and needs to save where they can.

-some guys at my track have told me they race "on a budget" so you don't expect them to shop for the best price possible?

-most hobby stores today are akin to toy stores and the goof ball behind the counter knows WAY LESS than most racers that come in for parts, fuel, etc.

-i can't buy locally the parts i need because NO shops stock Serpent parts. why would i drive for an hour to get to a "local" hobby shop and spend 8 dollars in gas when i can order online out of state and get EVERTHING i need for 5.50 in shipping and screw Uncle Sam out of a few bucks by not paying sales tax?..and the guy i order from (half way across the country) gets me my parts IN 2 DAYS!!!.......try getting your LHS to do that....

-as is the case nowadays in most stores, no one there knows anything about what they're selling, it's up to the consumer to be informed on their purchases.
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Old 05-31-2007, 02:05 PM   #9
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First, I would never discourage anyone from supporting their LHS. If that's something you want to do, then more power to you.

I initially bought all my startup gear from my LHS. At the time, I didn't realize how much more I was paying compared to online prices. I was excited, the guys behind the counter were very informative and they got about $800 of my business (not including the kit).

Then I found out how much cheaper prices are online - even with shipping - and even more so if I get my stuff from Japan. I still buy things from the LHS when I need a few items for an upcoming race weekend or when it wouldn't make sense based on the shipping costs. They definitely get my business when it comes to flammables. I'll also buy things on impluse or when I just don't want to wait for it - even if I know I'm paying a premium price.

It may be hard for some to believe, but I am on a budget. I have a family to support and that is where most of my money goes. It would be way too expensive for me to race twice a month, if I bought all my supplies from the LHS. In addition, they don't carry every single part, always have something in stock or carry some of the things that I would like to try.

It's a global economy. People shop around for the best prices. It may be detrimental to the LHS when people shop online, but that's just the way it is. Hobby shop owner knows this and the ones that want to stay in business have to rethink their business strategy. It's no different than any other business these days - computers, home electronics, bookstores, etc. ; they all have their online counterparts.

I once worked for someone (non-R/C) that didn't see the Internet coming, didn't see how the market dynamics of the industry were changing and that his customer's needs for his good and services were changing. He ended up closing his business.

Just my 2 cents...
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Old 05-31-2007, 02:39 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rmdhawaii
It may be hard for some to believe, but I am on a budget.
Rainer's on a budget??? I don't believe it.
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Old 05-31-2007, 03:27 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Taylorm
-who doesn't shop for price? did you pay 25% more for your full size car or did you shop around? not everyone has money flowing out of every orifice and needs to save where they can.
For the record, the example I used was “if you are about to spend $400 for a kit, saving $15 dollars should not be that big of a deal”. For the mathematically challenged, $400 presents as a ~3.5% savings over $415. Throw in the local sales tax (using VA rate of 5.5%) and the grand total is $437.82. So that $400 price tag represents a ~8.9% savings. Your 25% example would mean an eTailer is offering the $437.82 package for $328.37. And my full sized car is a necessity, my RC cars are a hobby (i.e. - luxury). For the full sized ride, I shop around and bought from a local business, for the hobby, I shopped around but still decided it was better to help the local business. But that’s just me. If $38 is going to break me, I need to get another hobby.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Taylorm
-some guys at my track have told me they race "on a budget" so you don't expect them to shop for the best price possible?
Racing on a budget? Before I decided to go with Team Khaos, my name was going to be W.I.C.A Racing (What I Can Afford). I started with a budget then, I shopped around, and then I did this magical thing called SAVE so that I could get what I wanted. And even though I could have whipped out the plastic and got it immediately online and saved that 10-12%, I took my time, saved and got to know the guys at the LHS and bought from them. So when I walk in there and ask, “X is not working, what do you think the issue is?” they tend to give me an answer and suggestions. Because they appreciate the fact I did business with them.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Taylorm
-most hobby stores today are akin to toy stores and the goof ball behind the counter knows WAY LESS than most racers that come in for parts, fuel, etc.
And this problem is specific to brick and mortar stores?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Taylorm
-i can't buy locally the parts i need because NO shops stock Serpent parts. why would i drive for an hour to get to a "local" hobby shop and spend 8 dollars in gas when i can order online out of state and get EVERTHING i need for 5.50 in shipping and screw Uncle Sam out of a few bucks by not paying sales tax?..and the guy i order from (half way across the country) gets me my parts IN 2 DAYS!!!.......try getting your LHS to do that....
Then if there are no LHS, then this issue does not relate to you. But if you race somewhere close...awww, what's the use?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Taylorm
-as is the case nowadays in most stores, no one there knows anything about what they're selling, it's up to the consumer to be informed on their purchases.
Indeed the consumer should always be informed, whether buying a Mugen or Mercedes or whatever. With you on this I completely agree.
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Old 05-31-2007, 03:38 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rmdhawaii
First, I would never discourage anyone from supporting their LHS. If that's something you want to do, then more power to you.

I initially bought all my startup gear from my LHS. At the time, I didn't realize how much more I was paying compared to online prices. I was excited, the guys behind the counter were very informative and they got about $800 of my business (not including the kit).

Then I found out how much cheaper prices are online - even with shipping - and even more so if I get my stuff from Japan. I still buy things from the LHS when I need a few items for an upcoming race weekend or when it wouldn't make sense based on the shipping costs. They definitely get my business when it comes to flammables. I'll also buy things on impluse or when I just don't want to wait for it - even if I know I'm paying a premium price.

It may be hard for some to believe, but I am on a budget. I have a family to support and that is where most of my money goes. It would be way too expensive for me to race twice a month, if I bought all my supplies from the LHS. In addition, they don't carry every single part, always have something in stock or carry some of the things that I would like to try.

It's a global economy. People shop around for the best prices. It may be detrimental to the LHS when people shop online, but that's just the way it is. Hobby shop owner knows this and the ones that want to stay in business have to rethink their business strategy. It's no different than any other business these days - computers, home electronics, bookstores, etc. ; they all have their online counterparts.

I once worked for someone (non-R/C) that didn't see the Internet coming, didn't see how the market dynamics of the industry were changing and that his customer's needs for his good and services were changing. He ended up closing his business.

Just my 2 cents...

I agree with what you are saying and may be my initial post was unclear. I am not saying, every single purchase, must be made at a LHS. My point is that, to encourage growth of the sport, we as racers and particiapnts, must support the LHS as the act as ambassadors to bring new blood into the field. If there is a local track, WE should support it as much as WE can. A LHS, that you have a good report with, support it as much as you can. Because in the long run it's the local guys, grassroots, that will grow the sport.

adding my 2 cents to yours

As for the other stuff about the internet effecting business, there are some interesting economic studies that show the eTailers are being initial good for the consumer (cheaper prices) but hurting in the long run, as the local, small business go under and the eTailer prices go up accordingly. It's called the Wal-Mart effect. But that's another topic for another forum. Just stirring the puddin'
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Old 05-31-2007, 03:48 PM   #13
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IF AMAIN OR CAROLINA'S RC were my LHS id never buy online again

id be hanging around the joint like a fly id be there so much their customers would think i work there or something
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Old 05-31-2007, 04:10 PM   #14
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last time i added up my new kit/engine/electrics i got online i ended up saving $500 now that makes your 10-12% look like RRP

I get all my parts from PROSHOP-FUTABA they offer 10-20% off all Mugen parts and every time i do make an order i buy bulk so i only pay for shipping once but that's with every order i ever make i buy so much little crap that i might not need but get it just in case so i dont have to pay for shipping a second time
as you can see in my sig you can tell im a tight ass but more money in my pocket means i can make bigger orders
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Old 05-31-2007, 09:07 PM   #15
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I'm all for supporting the LHS but like most others I won't be raked over the coals. Some hobby shops are unrealistic with their prices.

Don't be afraid to ask your LHS to match an online price. I'm never too shy to ask and just about every time they will at least come close.

They still make the sale and I still get a good price. Everyone's happy.
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