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What business advice would you give to a new hobby-store owner?

In February, we asked hobby retailers what advice they would give to a new hobby-store owner. To read more, check out the April 2013 issue of Model Retailer.
Published: March 19, 2013
Mike Niedzalkoski, Niedzalkoski's Train Shop, Jeannette, Pa., said:
“Be ready to deal with extended delays in obtaining product.

Martin Hobbs, Brooker Tracker R/C, Newbury Park, Calif., said:
“Don't bow down to customers who want you to match Internet prices. Explain to them why it is best to support your local hobby shops.”

John Nagle, RC Hobby Center, Dayton, Ohio, responded:
“To start, carry what you know.”

Donald Johnson, Don's Hobby Shop, Bothell, Wash., said:

“Train cars suck for operating a retail shop in. Choose your target market carefully.”

Roy Ballard, Loose Caboose Hobbies, Napa, Calif., said:
“Focus on the basics. Paint and glue are examples. Just because you like a product doesn't mean it's going to sell. Just because you don't like it doesn't mean it won't. Keep an eye on your margins. They are getting narrower all the time. If a manufacturer/distributor is afraid to raise the retail price but cuts your margin, you may have to raise the price yourself. If you are the only store within 40 miles that carries paint, parts, etc., don't sell it at Internet prices. Work with your sales reps. Most of them want you to succeed. As for the sales reps who only want sales, you will figure out who they are when product they recommend hangs around too long. Which reminds me, if product stays around too long, get rid of it, even it if hurts! Use that money to get something that sells. Smile and talk to the people that come through the door. This is a people business. If you are in it as a hobby for yourself and see customers as a nuisance, you're in the wrong business. Ask questions of manufacturers, distributors, customers and other hobby shops. This is a very, very friendly industry willing to share information. Use them (I mean that in a good way).”
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