It is hard to believe itís again that time of the year. Unless a person has lived through it people simply canít understand the love/hate relationship a hobby dealer has with this season. Everyone gets excited about Christmas, maybe not like when we were kids, (Last year when Cindy asked what I wanted for Christmas I replied by asking if I could replace an older, long in the tooth, transmitter) but we still get excited. Every dealer, especially those who had a slow fall season, is looking forward to the money that moves through the cash register this time of the year. In many instances the profits reaped during the holiday season will get dealers through a long drawn out winter, when store traffic is, for most dealers, much lighter than the other three seasons.
Making money is the love part of the holiday equation. Unfortunately there is also the hate part that goes along. These are the continuous 14 hour days that begin an hour before the door is unlocked, so inventory can be checked, and orders placed, but donít end until an hour after the store is closed when the floor is swept and the shelves straightened for the next day. Sundays may entail a break of a couple of hours as many dealers will have reduced Sunday hours, but the long hours and strenuous schedule goes from Thanksgiving until the kids return to school after the first of the year. Six weeks after it began itís over. Dealers will take stock of what transpired and make mental notes for next season. As mentioned, unless a person has lived through it, they simply donít understand and it canít be explained.
As far as it goes for me, I have no idea what Cindy Claus will place under the tree this year. I really donít have any wants or desires, but Iím certain whatever I get to open itíll be great.
It was suggested by a good friend, who moved to this area a couple of years ago, that even though the club wasnít by any means the closest to our house, Sarasota RC Squadronófrom here on to be known as SRQówould be the club for me to join. The facilities, layout, and the diversity of the members and the types of aircraft flown are a good match for my personality.
SRQ is a large club, and even though about 40 percent of the club is seasonal, there are well over 200, actually much closer to 300 members. Almost immediately I bumped into three familiar faces, all three having been members of Chicagoland clubs and prior to relocating to this area, frequent visitors at Alís Hobby Shop.
One day while having a typical flying field chat session, and since hobby shops in this area are few and far between, I asked ďDaveĒ where he purchased his hobby supplies. Knowing that the three large Chicagoland stores, Alís, Stantonís and Venture had all closed, without the slightest hesitation Dave responded, ďI havenít made a hobby shop purchase in years. Iíll buy building supplies at the local home improvement center and kits at swap meets for bargain prices. If I need anything specialized Iíll order online and have it shipped to my doorstep.Ē
Although he knew I was hoping for a referral to the best store in southwest Florida and that I was disappointed in his answer, I canít say I can offer much of an argument to his logic. And that is the point; I couldnít argue his logic. When NRHSA was formed it was to unite independent dealers into a cohesive unit, the all for one, one for all philosophy, but even though the industry has undergone dramatic changes in the past few years, NRHSA has not changed its mission statement. Perhaps itís time to sit down and by once again working together, figure out how to get all the Daveís back into your stores.HM
Until next month,