The decline in the number of model railroaders?

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#61
Frank, I should of also mentioned that I live a bit more than one hour drive and more if it's winter. I live in Canada, so I have to add the exchange rate, the custom fees, the taxes and their markup. To give you an idea add about 43% on average to the cost of let say Modeltrainstuff

EX: Bowser Cartier Locomotive from Modeltraistuff = $367 CDN with all the extra cost and from a hobby shop in Ontario = $515 CDN and same store online = $412 CDN
The $100 I save will get me 3 freights.

Here's another EX: Atlas flextrack, Modeltrainstuff was about $4.68 vs. $6.21 a difference of $1.53. I needed about 400, therefore a saving of $600 CDN. I did buy them from Modeltrainstuff.

I do buy some stuff from brick and mortar sometimes, like last month I bought the CMX track cleaner because I couldn't find it anywhere and it was to my knowledge a good price.


Y3a, I plan on what I need to do and what I need, therefore I can wait, I rarely need something today. All my Arduino, led stuff comes from China and it takes about 45-60 days, no rush I can wait. But today, people want things today and done today.
 
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#62
Twenty years ago, one of my "neighbors" threatened me with "Child Services", because I expected my son(s) to assist their mother with chores they could handle. Ultimately, as they grew up, I was criticized because they had to cut the lawn, shovel snow etc. I was also a villain because I taught them how to maintain the cars, and other homeowner skills. Has nothing to do with smart phones, computers or games. It's about being helpless, and in constant need of services, as opposed to being self reliant.

Model railroading has fallen into the same category, with the preponderance of equipment sold being ready to run, and vendors offering pre built layouts, even the unskilled can have a layout, as big and as detailed as one can afford. There is really nothing wrong with that. While I enjoy building kits, I no longer enjoy painting, so I mostly buy RTR.

Local Hobby stores, (and other small business), are their own worst enemy. It's the down side of being your own boss. Since e-commerce, they cannot force you to shop at their establishment under their terms or at their price. Also, because of the limits of the distribution network, and local retailer's capital, many of the more interesting products were/ are not available in the LHS, but can be obtained on line, either from the major dealers, or from specialty shops. With the internet in play, it's the buyer who is in control.

Model railroading, is a recreational activity, not an art form, so it has to compete with other recreational activities. Many of the other recreational activities are also expensive. I like hockey, but I really cannot afford my favorite lower bowl seats at the Rock, more than a couple of games a year. A couple of RTR DCC diesels for my layout, and a TV package are a better alternative.

The reality is that there is a base of interest in this hobby, that will continue as long as there are railroads. The market caters to this base, whether they are modelers, operators or collectors. LHS's are /were not an indicator of the health of the hobby, but more so, an indicator of the health of a now obsolete group of retailers, who cannot/will not compete with more efficient competitors.
 
#64
Thanks for posting Ken.
Yes it was long but I did listen to it completely while working on my layout.
They've said exactly what I've been saying.
To all the pessimistic people, take the time to listen to the podcast.
 

NP2626

Active Member
#65
Mark, as for blaming myself for hobby stores closing, absolutely not. I will not spend $100 more on a locomotive to encourage a brick and mortar store, I will buy what ever I need at the best price I can find. I know of two brick and mortar hobby shop that also sell on the internet and are doing very well. Yes they do have 2 set of prices and I will encourage the internet side of their business. If the other brick and mortar shop who are closing are not on the internet, that's their problem, they needed to adapt.

When it comes to money, it's all about the life style you want to live. In my line of work, if someone says I don't have any money, most of the time I find some by arranging their finances, then it's up to them to decide what they want to do. I also do lots of volunteer work helping people manage their finance and yes even welfare people, so I do have a very good knowledge about peoples money.

You really didn't understand what I was saying! I was not blaming YOU for hobby shops failing and yes, when they have failed the hobby shop's proprietor is as much to blame, as anyone.

I think; however for the most part, we have become people who do much of our shopping online; so, some model railroaders spend very little of their hard earned hobby money by walking into a hobby shop anymore. I, for one, am one of those people. For the past 40 years I have lived where the closest hobby shop is over 100 miles away and then, it is not a very good hobby shop, at that! I guess if the hobby is truly declining, then eventually online; or, brick and mortar, it won't matter! Only time will tell.
 
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#66
I live in Northern Nevada in this area I know of about 100 guys and gals that are model railroaders anywhere from Z up to G. The club I belong to has an HO scale layout, N scale layout and 2ft gauge. We have approx 22 paid members of which 7-9 are active. Our dues are $36.00 a years. The 2ft gauge RR is in a park and we generate most of our revenue with that. (The club house is in the same park) Our building is owned by the park and maintained by the park. As rent we give them 10% of our ticket sales. Why can't we get more people... when I ask my friends why they won't join they say "it's to far to drive". It's only about 30min drive all hwy from where the bulk of the modelers live. So why they won't join, I have no idea. I just came back from Seattle WA and there is an N scale club that has stopped taking members because they have to many. They only way you can get into it is when someone dies. I spoke with several other groups in and around Seattle and there are at least 9 different clubs in the area and they all are getting new members. Maybe its regional. Anyway enjoy
 
#67
I live in Northern Nevada in this area I know of about 100 guys and gals that are model railroaders anywhere from Z up to G. The club I belong to has an HO scale layout, N scale layout and 2ft gauge. We have approx 22 paid members of which 7-9 are active. Our dues are $36.00 a years. The 2ft gauge RR is in a park and we generate most of our revenue with that. (The club house is in the same park) Our building is owned by the park and maintained by the park. As rent we give them 10% of our ticket sales. Why can't we get more people... when I ask my friends why they won't join they say "it's to far to drive". It's only about 30min drive all hwy from where the bulk of the modelers live. So why they won't join, I have no idea. I just came back from Seattle WA and there is an N scale club that has stopped taking members because they have to many. They only way you can get into it is when someone dies. I spoke with several other groups in and around Seattle and there are at least 9 different clubs in the area and they all are getting new members. Maybe its regional. Anyway enjoy
There's probably some degree of regionalism there. I live in Seattle and we're a crafty city. Lots of houses were built by the owners. We've got at least 3 different train centered shows within a reasonable drive from the city. Plus, we've got one of those ride on train clubs about an hour a way. And a ton of people that engage in tabletop gaming, so that's an easy source of converts, especially the ones that had been modeling for their games.

We've also got a few makerspaces where people can rent the equipment to do things like 3D print without necessarily having to own the tools. Plus, we've got at least 2 proper train shops within a reasonable drive.

Plus, it gets rather miserable to be outside during most winters, leaving plenty of time for such matters.

It'll be interesting to see how long it lasts though. Thanks to Amazon and gentrification the typical Seattlites are being pushed out and the people coming in have more money, but aren't necessarily in to the same sorts of activities that we were.
 

NP2626

Active Member
#68
WJIL26, I think your assessment is right on!

I seem to be incapable of understanding why people would want someone else to build a layout for them; or, the popularity of prebuilt everything. Having been a tool and die maker and designer, I need an activity that supports the creative part of who I am. To simply own a layout that all I have to do is turn on the power and run trains, even if I used Train Order and Time Table operations, lacks the depth of involvement that I need. People will say: "I just don't have the skills to build that", well, neither did I when I started, you build up the skills over time, it is a fun process. What seems to be lacking in the USA today is the ability to see that "Failure" is an important part of life and one of the things that teaches us to be better.

My kids are out of school 20 years now. One sells cars and the other is a foreman of a heating/cooling and duct work installation crew. Both are successful at their jobs. When I see how well they are doing, I wonder how they picked up the knowledge to do so? I guess my wife and I actually did have some influence on them and that is an amazing realization for us!!

I am of the opinion that I don't know if the hobby is: holding it's own, shrinking; or, growing. In essence since it is out of my control, all I can do is enjoy myself as long as I can!
 
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#69
I am of the opinion that I don't know if the hobby is: holding it's own, shrinking; or, growing. In essence since it is out of my control, all I can do is enjoy myself as long as I can!
Mark: Great comment. As long as We are having fun, we are enjoying our hobby. It's not our duty to support it. BTW, last I looked, I have three Rubber Maid containers full of unfinished railcar kits. Enough to keep me occupied for a while, eh?
 
#71
G'day , Wouldn't it be great to see more of this ..https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ggj6HTRPa3w&t=58s...
Kids actually do love model trains when they get a chance , not all kids of course but for the hobby to go further it needs MORE kids.
Perhaps by some of us introducing younger kids to what still is the world's greatest hobby , the seed might just get planted .
I work at a school and have now run a simple HO layout at our School Fair and for Book Week and both times the kids have come into the Library to 'play trains' .
One kid , Tom , has now bought his first set and hopefully one or two others as well. Guess what young Tom (he's 9y.o. now) talks to me about whenever he sees me.
Maybe schools could use model rail as a teaching tool. just think about it ..Maths , geometry , engineering , creative design skills /art work for scenery , carpentry , basic electronics and electrics , even some base mechanical skills. End of day if a few interested kids and teachers from some classes contributed , the school could build , run and maintain a model railway and 'discover' that model rail might be hands on fun. Who knows it might even encourage some kids into the 1:1 real rail world later on.
You need kids in the hobby for it to flourish..CRUCIAL for the long term viability I think ...Cheers Rod..
 
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#72
G'day all ..A prime example of how young people can get passionate about an 'old person's thing' is ....... Lawn Bowls and even cricket.
I get it that Bowls is not big in the USA and other places but it was seriously dwindling in stronghold countries . My country (Australia) was one of those countries .
About 12 -15 years ago some visionary in the national body of bowls decided the whole game needed a revamp because the overwhelming perception was similar to model rail.
Something for old retired people with money to buy expensive equipment to start out. They, ABC (Australian Bowls Council) changed their name to Bowls Australia , new modern logo , spoke to hundreds of clubs , modernised competitions , introduced coloured clothes (used to be strictly white only) coloured bowls too and targetted both kids and young adults with a thing called 'barefoot bowls' that enabled new players to go to their local club , take off their street shoes and get on the green in their socks to try the game and an ad campaign went like this ' Bowls is not an old person's game , it's a game that old people can keep playing " .. Ironically the national team is all young people and at the big money televised tournaments (also a new innovation) the cross section of the crowds are all ages , not just young or old.. It also makes sense that by more playing the spin off benefit to all is that competing manufacturers of equipment have to keep costs affordable. This has certainly happened in bowls in real terms compared to many other sports.. Cricket has re invented itself too and now that a fast form called T20 has come along packed out crowds to these games have seen crowds just full of young families coming to take part in an overall entertainment package with all sorts of things happening. Cricket Australia also has a wonderful school based cricket introduction programme called Milo Cricket that brings 6 year olds into the game. Many current stars began with Milo and then into the underage more formal cricket.
I wonder has the NMRA ever considered a more pro-active approach to our hobby by asking many model rail clubs to think about promoting the hobby even more than now.
The wheel CAN BE re-invented.
A little thing tat runs from time to time ..https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ourDzkH7f6c It works...Cheers Rod..
 
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#73
G'day .. still on the subject..It's called promotion and advertising , something maybe we could try harder somehow to do as a collective.
Back on cricket ..Cricket is a huge game around many parts of the world involving millions of people both men and women and kids..
Kids are taking up the game as previously mentioned in Australia from Milo cricket but also by their families taking them to the massively popular KFC Big Bash tournament that goes away fro the more traditional Test and ODI formats . this shortened version sees a whole game played in about 3 hours , chock a block with action , competitions , crowd involvement with the 'crowd catches' and such ..It's re invigorated the game but it sees young un's wanting to play and merchandise there for kids to buy and collect.
Cricket is all the better , now in three formats for many more to play.
With our hobby , no issues for formats , plenty of them but for marketing it could do with a boost , somehow..just to ensure it's long tern populatity.
C'mon guys any ideas !!!!...Here's last years KFC Big Bash Tournament promo from TV.. Fun to watch if you'd like to see what fast form cricket is all about.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U04Bgl3tBSU...Cheers Rod.
 

NP2626

Active Member
#74
We seem to be worried about the health of the hobby. I have listened to both sides of this coin and as the proverbial pessimist, I tend to agree that the hobby might be taking a header into oblivion! When, if it does, I expect that I will no longer be on this Earth. I hate to say this; but, why would I care. I'm in this hobby for my own enjoyment, if others can't see how much enjoyment it can provide, simply by observing how we enjoy it, then there really isn't much hope for the hobby. Yes, if people ask what I do for enjoyment, I do tell them about Model Railroading, so I promote it when I can.

The big question for me is: what is really happening with the hobby? Without hard information/data, one way or the other, we're really just speculating. I would doubt the NMRA to be a very good source for information. I believe membership is only around 15-20,000 in the NMRA. Membership in the NMRA is pretty expensive for what is provided.

I think having an opinion on the hobby's popularity/status, is simply that, an opinion!
 

Selector

Active Member
#75
Rail traffic will always enjoy an energy efficiency that trucking won't by virtue of economies of scale and physics. At least, that's the way it looks, and has looked since trucking took off just after the war. Shipping by water spanks rails and everything else. I would guess that, while both continue to enjoy that advantage, someone will be impressed by the various conveyances and will want to reproduce them in scale. Some of those will only want to paint them, to photograph them, and others to attempt to craft working models. Whichever is the 'easiest' at the time will enjoy the greatest participation, so cameras of various kinds will always do well. The hardest form of enjoyment comes from using materials to craft a greater whole...and that, I'm afraid, is left to the intrepid modeler. Some would argue that the painting and other depictions are more difficult, and maybe that is the case, but if so, it would mean that cadre would also be very tiny. How many of you know a pretty decent railroad artist/painter personally? I do. One. I think he must be dead by now.

Our hobby will not die. Until the very last person recalls the very last train, whether in paintings or by crafting a model, there will be at least one person who enjoys a rendering in scale.
 
#77
Interesting how our shifting demographic is beginning to have an effect on shopping.
Crandell: Ah, the poor over stressed millennials...Once they venture out of the protection of their parents world, they seem to fall apart. Or, is that what the media would have us believe.
Each generation, is different, and differs from the previous generations. It's been said, that millennials eschew cars, and other materialistic items, their parents craved, possibly because they live at home in far greater numbers than previous generations did. But, they are not yet at that age, where they begin to earn more than they need to consume necessities, so they cannot afford hobbies. While I was working, raising my family etc., I was able to buy stuff, but never had the time to build my dream model railroad. I had years, where I was so consumed with work, that, I didn't even follow the advances in the hobby. Now, I'm trying to catch up and enjoy my accumulated stuff while I'm able. The hobby is not in it's end stage, it's just evolving, just like the industry that inspires it.
 

NP2626

Active Member
#78
#79
If my experience yesterday was any indication, then the hobby is not declining. I attended a train show in the Dallas TX suburb of Plano that was jammed packed. This is my normal experience at these shows around here. Persons of all ages were in attendance. Older attendees were mainly perusing the dealer tables and headed out for the self-guided home and club layout tours; as the same layouts (maybe 18) were on exhibit at the show that have been there for over twenty years. Middle aged persons were also shopping and exploring the layouts, even though they are the same ones over and over, many are very well done. The younger crowd were mainly "looking". Probably half of the non-youth attendees had a bag of goodies that they had bought. There are really no bargains to be had at this show, since business at every dealer table is so brisk that they don't need to barter. All of the LHS's represented at the show are already discounters anyway, so I normally just go to their stores and browse in peace.
Not nearly as many participate in the layout tours thankfully, it might get very crowded if they did, but there were some very well informed younger (30-55 yo) persons at all of the layouts that I visited; although most were displayed by older modelers.
Paraphrasing what Joe (WLJI26) posted, many of us and them couldn't really afford our dream layouts until finances loosened up as we got older and children moved on. This is not new, as this is what I recall from the printed modeling media for many years. I kept up minimally for a few years while I had three kids in college at the same time (mid 90's - 2002), but it was a sparse layout at that time.
In summary, I do not observe any decline around this part of Texas.

Willie
 
#80
I have to say....I wasn't the only parent at the lhs yesterday with their little ones. I think it was the busiest I've seen in the past weeks. Then again the sun was out and there wasn't any snow. But it was a good sight to see so much interest in our hobby.

Justin
 



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