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Draw a crowd with events

Promote special activities and use staff expertise to set your store apart from the competition and make it a destination
By Charlene Oldham
Published: January 14, 2015
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In 1986, when Niagara Hobby & Craft Mart opened its doors in Cheektowaga, N.Y., there wasn’t a Michaels or a Hobby Lobby around. Amazon was a rain forest, not a retailer.
More than 25 years later, independently owned hobby stores have competition from every direction as they struggle to adapt to changing consumer tastes that gravitate more toward electronic games than electric train sets. Still, Niagara remains a landmark in suburban Buffalo with a restored 1949 red caboose permanently parked in its lot – augmented by Santa, an elf and real reindeer every weekend during the holiday season – and draws customers with a year-round calendar of free events, including slot-car races, Thomas the Tank Engine play days for the kids and miniature tabletop gaming.
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