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Aristo-Craft/Polk’s to close doors at year’s end

By Nick Bullock
Published: October 1, 2013
Aristo-Craft Trains
After nearly 80 years in business, Aristo-Craft Trains/Polk’s Hobby will soon cease operations.

The toy train and G- and O-gauge model railroad manufacturer announced its impending closure in an Oct. 1 press release. Aristo-Craft, based in Irvington, N.J., will close its doors effective Dec. 31, according to the release.

“Since 1935, we have provided service and innovation to the hobby industry,” said the Polk family, owners of Aristo-Craft, in the release. “In this latest downturn, we cut back staff to the minimum required to survive. Then the government battle over the debt ceiling drove the consumer market down even further.”

The company will be running a closeout sale to move any remaining supplies before Dec. 31, Lewis Polk said.

Aristo-Craft had been growing steadily, according to the release, until 2008. Like many hobby manufacturers, Aristo-Craft fell on hard times when the recession hit. The company managed to stay afloat but fell into “debt that was unsustainable.”

“We have put several million dollars into product development over recent years, but the need for customers to cut back on non-essentials has caused this investment to be lacking in returns,” the family said in the release.

The higher cost and space requirements of large-scale trains had also depressed Aristo-Craft’s market share, according to the release. This problem was exacerbated by the company’s losses in the radio-controlled airplane industry. “Our airplane R/C portion of our business was lost when our patented frequency changer was lost to the 2.4-GHz portion of the marketplace, with no frequency compounds needed any longer,” the Polk family said.

Model Retailer’s sister publication, Model Railroader, reported that Lewis Polk said the Aristo-Craft Trains forum will be “in service as long as possible.”

The family thanked its loyal customers as well as the numerous employees that kept Aristo-Craft relevant since 1935.

“Our apologies for not being able to keep this almost 80-year-old business going,” the Polk family said. “It’s a heartbreaker for us all.”

For more information, hobby dealers may contact Aristo-Craft at (973) 351-9800 or visit www.aristocraft.com.
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