Model shops – use them or lose them!

Ian Lamb talks about model shops during his childhood and why we should still make the most of them now.

Roger Bradgate, president of Uckfield MRC, drew attention through the Letters page of Hornby Magazine recently to the loss of The Hobbybox shop in Uckfield, apparently seen off by the internet. Club members now have a round trip of 40-50 miles (much worse in Scotland) to access the nearest model shop.

To celebrate its 70th anniversary, a limited edition RT-type bus in Edinburgh Corporation Livery was commissioned by Harburn Hobbies.

The last Hobbybox owner was continually faced with potential customers telling him that they could get items much cheaper on the internet or through the ‘big boys’, with prices lower than trade prices available to him. A criticism of a major manufacturer was that there were not enough models to go round, and preference was given to larger orders.

Childhood window-shopping anywhere in Britain in the early 50s. Robert Opie Collection

If the local shops cease to exist, where do you go for that sudden purchase or small items not available online? Lose your local shop and you lose the convenience of seeing the article before purchase, exploring the shelves and making impulse buys, there’s also no helpful advice or repairs.

The whole model railway world loses another shop window advertising a wonderful hobby to the world at large.

I helped out in a model shop in Nairn a few years ago where all the above comments rang true. I’ve also known shops in Aberdeen, Elgin and Inverness that have closed within the last few years and I think that maybe it is time for modellers everywhere to ‘gang together’ to save those that are left. Let RMM know why you still use your local shop, and if not, why you don’t.

For the full article, see the May edition of Modelling – available now!

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