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How were your holiday sales, and were there any hot-selling items?

In January, we asked hobby retailers how their holiday sales were and if there were any hot-selling products. To read more, check out the March 2013 issue of Model Retailer.
Published: February 14, 2013
Michael Magee, Hub City Hobby, Hattiesburg, Miss., said:
“We saw increases in both traffic and sales dollars throughout the holidays, and the seasonal upswing started earlier than the last several years, allowing us to manage our inventory better. Electric trucks did very well again this year, especially entry-level trucks from ECX and Traxxas. We sold a good number of HO and O train sets this Christmas, a category that has been way down since the recession started in 2008. Board games and miniature games, such as Fantasy Flight's new Star Wars X-Wing Miniatures Game also did quite well.”

Roger Ellenburg, HobbyTown USA, Little Rock, Ark., replied:
“Sales were slightly lower than 2011. We relocated our store at the end of September and attribute that to the decrease.”

Bill Longcor, Feels Like Home LLC, Newton, N.J., responded:
“After a rather flat year, our holiday sales were excellent! In turn, that produced a total dollar increase for the year. Credit goes to a new local merchants association that really promoted 'shop local'. Working together, we really got the word out and promoted the downtown shopping experience. There were no hot-selling items this season. I am happy to say that sales were fairly spread out across all items. That gives me a far more secure feeling than having a hot or fad item making up major sales.”

Bob Mazza, HobbyTown USA, Oshkosh, Wis., had this to say:
“Late sale offerings from the major distributors helped boost sales where more and more sales are being lost to department store and Internet 'garbage' hobby items. Horizon stepped up with coupons on some very popular R/C items, and Hobbico had an awesome deal on the TXR line with free Anylinks, allowing us to open the door for future sales with the Anylink ability to be used with older radios and new planes.”

James Otten, PopPop's Trains, Hobbies and More, Eminence, Mo., said:
“The holidays were very slow. Gift certificates were our only savior.”

Jeff Kieser, HobbyTown USA, La Vista, Neb., replied:
“The best-selling items this year were R/C helicopters from E-flite.”

Jake Rose, Jake's Performance Hobbies, Rohnert Park, Calif, said:
“The holiday season started off slowly, but then picked up and ran strong. We're ahead of last year, even though the big-ticket items did not move as well. All categories in our shop moved well; one thing did not lead the season (which is good, in my opinion). Beginner helicopter sales always surprise us; electric cars and trucks did well; airplanes were good; and even rocket sales were great. And, just as important, post-holiday sales numbers have been strong. We're looking forward to a great 2013!”

Jerry Anderson, Jass Collectibles, Red Deer, Alta., responded:
“November and December were the best two months for sales in the four years I've been open. No single product stood out as a sales leader, although new product lines I've brought in sold as well as others I've always carried.”

Frank Cannata, Mode-11 Hobbies, New York City, New York, said:
“Sales were up 15 percent. R/C helicopters were the most popular.”

Roy Ballard, Loose Caboose Hobbies, Napa, Calif., said:
“Our sales were very good considering we all survived the Presidential election, 'fiscal cliff' and Mayan apocalypse! People were out and buying. I have heard the West Coast did well overall. Hot-setting items: Legos; low-end Lionel sets (not $400-$1, 200 sets); Tamiya, Revell, AMT, Moebius, Monarch model kits; yo yos; silly putty; paint-by-number sets; beading kits; Thumler's Rock Tumblers; microscopes; games; puzzles; R/C Mini Alligator Airboat; Micro Fokker Dr. 1; Albatross; F-86 Sabre; Super Cub; Scout CX; Blade CX; Cub DSM; Estes model rockets; and of course, paint, glue, wood and plastic. Lesson? Diversify or die.”

Sean Cormier, Evolution Hobbies and Raceway, Casco, Maine, replied: 
“I haven't gone over all the figures at this time, but I think I am down a little from last holiday season. One big concern for some people was the 'fiscal cliff'. Not knowing what was going to happen may have made some people cut back on holiday spending. Also, the economy in my area is still moving slow. My hot sellers this year were the ARMA R/C line of trucks and buggies. Great Planes dropped the price on the entire line, which helped sales a lot. The next hot seller was the Heli-Max 1SQ quadcopter. This item was priced right for customers looking for a new flying challenge. It flies great out of the box compared to other brands that came out in December. Also, it can be flown inside or outside.”

Paul Scopetski, The Spare Time Shop, Marlborough, Mass, said:
“It seemed to be escalated at times, however, our holiday sales season was even with 2011, up a mere .05 percent. Bright spots were rockets, trains, HO slot cars, 1:25 car kits, puzzles and electric R/C helicopters. We saw an increase in customers with lists and requests for items that we do not carry: doll houses (not at Michael's/AC Moore), chess, backgammon, cribbage, 1:32 slot sets.”
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