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Thoughts on an airplane.

Editor's Note from Model Retailer July 2010.

By Hal Miller
Published: June 10, 2010
It’s always good to get out of the office. Not that I don’t enjoy what I do on a daily basis, but getting out to a show and talking to dealers and manufacturers face to face is a lot more fun (and informative) than doing it by phone and e-mail.

Plus, there’s nothing like a couple of hours on an airplane to do some thinking. My latest trip, to the NRHSA Table Top Expo in Las Vegas, yielded a few thoughts and observations, including:

Business is picking up: nobody said it is going gangbusters, but most dealers I talked to at the show said their sales are up at least a little through the first part of this year, with some reporting significant gains. Some manufacturers are saying their business has improved too.

Despite the challenges of the economy over the last couple of years, there’s still genuine optimism. Maybe it’s because we’re in an industry that ultimately sells fun, and heaven knows the world could use a little bit more of that right now.

The hobby industry is still getting together and supporting shows: there are a lot of business sectors that have seen massive declines in attendance to their trade shows, if the events haven’t gone away altogether. Not so with us.

Maybe we’re just creatures of habit, but I think the hobby business is still a place where relationships between product producers, distributors and dealers are still valued and important.

This show was good, and I have a feeling iHobby Expo will be just as strong as last year. If you haven’t made plans yet to attend, what are you waiting for?

There are people out there that we’re still not reaching that think hobbies are cool: while the NRHSA show was going on, the massive hardware trade show was going on next door in the Las Vegas Convention Center. I talked to numerous visitors to that show over a few days and told them what I was doing. Uniformly, they all thought the hobby show sounded like more fun than the hardware show, with several of them relating stories about how they used to build aircraft or tanks or have a model railroad as a kid. One was a mom who said her kids are big fans of radio-control cars and wanted to come to the hobby show to check out the latest and greatest vehicles.

Some of them actually visited the NRHSA show. I don’t think they could have been anything but excited about what they saw.

Exposure is always good, especially when it reaches those who aren’t already converted. Anyway, all things considered, it appears the hobby industry is doing all right. Keep pushing fun and letting everyone know about it. Customers will keep coming.
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