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Sales online vs. raceways


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#1 FoothillSlots

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Posted 29 November 2017 - 09:09 PM

Sam suggested I post here regarding discounts to raceways. As I mentioned to him, I work out discounts for raceways over and above those shown on the website based on a conversation and assessment of their needs and purchases. Regarding the "marketing gumph," after being in marketing for over 30 years, it just comes out that way.
 
The brushes I am offering were developed based on field trials in co-operation with Ray Lee (no relation). Ray, who races a wide variety of classes, was kind enough to provide fairly detailed feedback on each iteration as formulation changes were made. Are they the best there are out there, no but I think they were improved over the course of the development. I am always interested in objective feedback that will help improve the products. After all, quality is a journey not a destination.
 
Also, there is no question in my mind that Koford is the gold standard but who would want to live (hopefully not even Mike) in a world with only Koford.
Doug Lee




#2 MSwiss

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Posted 29 November 2017 - 10:04 PM

Hi Doug,

 

How about a link to your website?


Mike Swiss
 
IRRA® Components Committee Chairman
Five-time USRA National Champion (two G7, one G27, two G7 Senior)
Two-time G7 World Champion (1988, 1990)
Eight-time G7 King track single lap world record holder
17B West Ogden AveWestmont, IL 60559, ( 708) 203-8003
mikeswiss86@hotmail.com (also my PayPal address) 
Note: Send all USPS packages and mail to: 5858 Chase Ave., Downers Grove, IL 60516
Make checks out to Chicagoland Woodworking, Inc.


#3 FoothillSlots

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Posted 29 November 2017 - 10:20 PM

Mike,

 

I would be happy to.

 

www.dmwproducts.com

 

Thanks,

 

Doug


Doug Lee

#4 MSwiss

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Posted 29 November 2017 - 10:22 PM

Sam suggested I post here regarding discounts to raceways. As I mentioned to him, I work out discounts for raceways over and above those shown on the website based on a conversation and assessment of their needs and purchases.

 
Over and above the ones shown on the website?
 
I only see one price and see an additional small discount, based on a minimum order.

 

All of that is apparently available to anyone.
 
As far as I can see, you make no mention of offering to sell raceways/inviting them to inquire.
 
Please correct me if I am wrong.


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Mike Swiss
 
IRRA® Components Committee Chairman
Five-time USRA National Champion (two G7, one G27, two G7 Senior)
Two-time G7 World Champion (1988, 1990)
Eight-time G7 King track single lap world record holder
17B West Ogden AveWestmont, IL 60559, ( 708) 203-8003
mikeswiss86@hotmail.com (also my PayPal address) 
Note: Send all USPS packages and mail to: 5858 Chase Ave., Downers Grove, IL 60516
Make checks out to Chicagoland Woodworking, Inc.


#5 MSwiss

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Posted 29 November 2017 - 10:53 PM

Doug,

 

Here's some text from your homepage:

 

At DMW Products we know how important it is to make your money stretch as much as possible during these tough economic times. Over the past 50 years of enjoying the slot car hobby we have also seen how expensive it has gotten. Our goal is to help make the hobby we have enjoyed for so long more affordable by offering good quality components at prices that are as competitive as possible. In short: better value!

 

Our hope is that the more affordable the hobby is the more attractive it will be to more people.

 

Nothing is said about the raceway and the how expensive the rent has gotten, or how your business model is going to help the most important component of commercial racing, the raceway.

 

You are selling cobalt magnets aimed at G27 light. Is anyone racing those those on their  50 ft., three-lane, basement track?

 

From your above "introduction," IMO your only function in the commercial slot racing eco-system is for you to make money.


Mike Swiss
 
IRRA® Components Committee Chairman
Five-time USRA National Champion (two G7, one G27, two G7 Senior)
Two-time G7 World Champion (1988, 1990)
Eight-time G7 King track single lap world record holder
17B West Ogden AveWestmont, IL 60559, ( 708) 203-8003
mikeswiss86@hotmail.com (also my PayPal address) 
Note: Send all USPS packages and mail to: 5858 Chase Ave., Downers Grove, IL 60516
Make checks out to Chicagoland Woodworking, Inc.


#6 Cheater

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Posted 29 November 2017 - 11:14 PM

Note: I have split this off-topic line of discussion out from the "Best Brushes" thread in another subforum, largely because so far it has been civil (and it needs to remain that way!).

 

I also think it is a discussion that needs to happen. Perhaps for once we can talk about this issue in an intelligent, adult-like manner, but I admit chances of that actually occurring are probably pretty slim.

 

From my perspective, Pandora has opened the box and it's impossible to get the toothpaste back in the tube. The internet ain't going away and every brick and mortar business is struggling to ameliorate the effect online sales is having on their business model.

 

There are some who claim that the commerical raceway model is a dinosaur that is dying, but the bottom line is if that were to occur, it would have a profound effect on 1/24 slot racing as it is practiced in the Americas.

 

Please don't post along the lines of "enjoy it while you can." I'd like to see some brainstorming about what can actually be done to meld the brick and mortar raceways and the online vendors into some form of symbiotic whole that can benefit (or preserve, if you wish) 1/24 slot racing as it has been practiced for the last nearly 60 years in this hemisphere.

Stay on that topic and posts won't be deleted and this thread won't be closed down.

 

Yes, this issue has been beat to death for years so if all you have to say is the same old negative same old, keep your cursor well clear of the post button.


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Gregory Wells

Never forget that first place goes to the racer with the MOST laps, not the racer with the FASTEST lap


#7 Cheater

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Posted 29 November 2017 - 11:32 PM

And as a bit of an aside, I'm pretty sure I know how most raceway owners feel about 1/24 slot car products being sold on the internet. And I'm betting it aligns fairly closely with what people who run forums like Slotblog feel about the fact that people these days more often use a smartphone, Facebook, and ad-blockers to access the internet. The ad-revenue model that has up to this point in time largely fueled the growth of the internet is getting very, very creaky and as the old saying goes, there's not very many free lunches.

 

If you don't recognize that the internet is rapidly changing virtually every traditional retail and wholesale landscape in the world, you should really start paying more attention IMHO.


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Gregory Wells

Never forget that first place goes to the racer with the MOST laps, not the racer with the FASTEST lap


#8 FoothillSlots

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Posted 30 November 2017 - 12:20 AM

I have to say that this is quite an introduction to this rookie blogger. It is like a hornet's nest. Sam, did you set me up?

 

Mike, believe it or not, I do truly love the hobby and I do see the dilemma that is presented by internet vs. brick and mortar. Whereas I do offer raceways additional discounts vs. anyone else out there, it is not clear on the website. I can work on that. 

 

I do recognize that the overall health of the sport/hobby is dependent on a healthy network of raceways to use the parts that are manufactured by anyone. That being said, regardless of how much advantage I am currently extending to the tracks, I see the need to work at finding ways to improve the differential provided to the raceways.

 

If anyone has any suggestions, I would be open to ideas. I only ask, please be gentle!!


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Doug Lee

#9 Cheater

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Posted 30 November 2017 - 01:25 AM

Doug,

 

You're rather new here and you should not take this personally. You just pushed a hot button.

 

I'm shortly headed for a ride between cool sheets, but before that here's my viewpoint.

 

The online vs. raceway sales is just the latest iteration of the simplistic sort of 'blame games' that have permeated the 1/24 commerical raceway hobby since the late '60s.

When the hobby 'crashed' the first time, the blame was placed on slot car kits and parts being sold in department store, hardware stores, drug stores, via mail order (can you say 'Auto World'), etc., i.e. places that didn't have tracks.

 

In the dark ages that followed, it was common to hear that slot car tracks in facilties that also had bars and billiard tables ('pool halls') was a big problem.

 

The next narrrative about a decade down the road was that wing car racing killed the raceway industry, as it was so extreme, difficult, and expensive it drove non-wing racers into other leisure-time activities.

Now many feel the rise of online sales by non-raceways is a significant factor in the strongly downward trajectory in the number of operating raceways that has been observed over the last few years.

IMO, such simplistic viewpoints are short-sighted, reactionary, and are largely unsupported by the facts and numbers. Don't think I've ever seen the "blame game' approach help any situation anywhere, slots or not.

 

And recently when a major slot car manufacturer began an initiative to share a portion of his non-raceway revenue with raceways, it received an inadequate level of support from the very people it was designed to help.

I don't have the answers, but I am fully convinced that a simplistic, blame-focused approach will achieve nothing. A new mindset needs to happen and as the problem is complex, that mindset cannot be simplistic. Does anyone honestly think if a law was passed prohibiting the sale of 1/24 slot cars and parts by retailers who weren't commercial raceways that it would make any significant impact? I don't.

 

I'm sure I hear a pillow calling my name now...


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Gregory Wells

Never forget that first place goes to the racer with the MOST laps, not the racer with the FASTEST lap


#10 havlicek

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Posted 30 November 2017 - 07:05 AM

Personally, I don't see how the genie can be forced back into the bottle. The best we can hope for is that racers will try and balance economics against doing the "right thing" for the hobby. Large and historically-significant brick and mortar retailers like Sears, Macy's, JC Penneys, Radio Shack and a boatload of others have been trying to figure all this out, and even having online outlets hasn't really done all that much. Commercial raceways aren't exactly analogous to those however, because if you buy a bottle of perfume at Macy's or a wrench at Sears... you don't want to come back to the store to use them with your friends. Having a place to come back to, so you can race against and socialize with your buddies on a large commercial track is key to the hobby, and is what separates commercial raceways from regular brick and mortar retailers.  The raceways do need to be supported, not as "charity"... but as "cherished" places for all they uniquely offer.

I don't race, and actually it would be difficult where I live to even consider doing that. I only build things, but I buy from a variety of places... eBay, PCH, Professor Motor, private sellers who happen to have what I use and have bought things from DMW several times, too. A lot of the things I use are difficult to come by, almost none of them are bagged and on the shelf at the raceway, so for me none of this is really an option. 

 

However, I do believe it's really important for the commercial tracks/retailers to be supported enough to remain viable. Track owners work hard and ought to make a decent living... I doubt there are any who are exactly getting rich. The answer to all this?... I haven't a clue, but slot car supplies aren't sold on a huge margin in the first place. If spending "a little more" by purchasing at the track is all that's involved, that seems like a no-brainer. Even more so, if it's "less convenient" to purchase at the track than doing the "point and click," a little "inconvenience" seems like an easy choice for racers to make. E-retailers shouldn't be (in my view) slammed, and people who, for whatever reason, buy from them shouldn't feel the need to do so in secret.

It's all, at least on virtual paper, simple. If people want commercial raceways to succeed, they need to support them whenever they can.  It's actually no different from SlotBlog, if we want it to be here, we need to do what we can towards that end as well.


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#11 Samiam

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Posted 30 November 2017 - 07:57 AM

I have to say that this is quite an introduction to this rookie blogger. It is like a hornet's nest. Sam, did you set me up?

 

Doug,
 
As you can tell, this topic is a classic one here. I just wanted you to let racers and track owners know you will sell to raceways. This gives tracks the opportunity to make some profit on the stuff racers want from you. I have bought from you but only after waiting months without results for my local raceway to order what I wanted.

 

I also feel you are in no way similar to the former eBay seller, Ken-OH! He was selling product that, by their own policy, distributors were only supposed to sell to active commercial raceways. Everybody here knows my thoughts on him. And I take some credit for his going offline.


Sam Levitch
 
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#12 Eddie Fleming

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Posted 30 November 2017 - 08:56 AM

I was very surprised at how short lived Tim's direct sales profit sharing idea was. Was cutting off the distributors the downfall of the idea?

 

Is there a model for the commercial raceway that can survive without birthday parties?


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#13 Cheater

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Posted 30 November 2017 - 09:18 AM

Track owners work hard and ought to make a decent living... I doubt there are any who are exactly getting rich. 

 

While I have no real numbers, I believe that, considering the US commercial raceway industry, the number of raceways furnishing a decent living for their owners from on-site slot car related revenue is less than the fingers on one hand. A somewhat larger number is likely at the break-even level. Without external sales and/or associated business (such as the sale/service of other materials, slot or not), the majority of raceways lose money and when the owner(s) tire of plowing money in (or run out of money to be abe to do that), they go away.

 

I was very surprised at how short lived Tim's direct sales profit sharing idea was. Was cutting off the distributors the downfall of the idea?

 

Is there a model for the commercial raceway that can survive without birthday parties?

 

Won't speak for JK, but I believe the key factor was the lack of support by the raceways. My understanding is that less than half of the raceways signed on to receive the financial benefits of his plan for a number of reasons and without a broad level of support from the raceway 'community,' it was felt not worth continuing.

As to your birthday party question, I'll say it again for the umpteenth time: the average commercial raceway that is at least at the break-even level generates no more than 20% of its revenue stream from organized racing activity (and it's more often around 15%). The exceptions to this are the raceways who don't do anything other than organized racing and they generally aren't around for very long.


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Gregory Wells

Never forget that first place goes to the racer with the MOST laps, not the racer with the FASTEST lap


#14 Eddie Fleming

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Posted 30 November 2017 - 09:44 AM

Greg,

 

On the JK question, I was told by a raceway owner that he did not like the idea because he then had to place orders with more places to get the products he wanted. If he could have continued to order as usual and only order from Jk when he had credit coming the idea may have been more accepted.

 

Water under the bridge at this point.

 

I understand that the numbers for racers alone do not support a raceway. I am asking if and how people are generating the revenue without birthday parties because many of us have a problem dealing with 10 to 20 screaming five-year olds.

 

I realize I am contributing nothing to the conversation you were trying to start. 


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#15 Cheater

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Posted 30 November 2017 - 11:04 AM

Eddie, but you are contributing to the discussion!

 

As to your first point, that raceway owner's complaint it is certainly understandable. What I would ask him is whether he was finding that a single distributor was able to supply all his needs consistently or if he had to deal with multiple dists? And was he aware that more and more slot car manufacturers (in all scales) were bypassing the dists via direct sales, eBay, Facebook, etc? His point is certainly valid but would the benefit of decreased product cost really be inferior to the extra 'cost' in ordering time? Obviously, he felt that was the case in his situation.

 

As to birthday parties and their impact on the other patrons in a raceway, similar situations seem to occur between the 'serious' racers and the casual renters/players, the flexi racing crowd and the Eurosport/wing car guys, the vintage/collector group and the modern racers, and maybe other customer class 'pairs': most everyone wants the track(s) to themselves. These sorts of conflicts seem to be a central reason raceway owners have struggled to leverage the various types of customers they (potentially) have to generate optimal revenue from each category.

 

One thought I have is that it ought to be possible to 'stratify' track availability, like a lot of swimming pools do, you know... adult swim time, family time, kids-only time, lesson-only time, exercise/laps-only time, etc., in order to separate the various conflicting groups of customers. Sure, traditionally when a raceway is open, customers can put any kind of car on the track, but is that really etched in stone?

If the parties are held on a separate track, you should consider the approach my ex adopted when we actually slept in the same room: ear plugs! LOL...


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Gregory Wells

Never forget that first place goes to the racer with the MOST laps, not the racer with the FASTEST lap


#16 MSwiss

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Posted 30 November 2017 - 11:49 AM

I am asking if and how people are generating the revenue without birthday parties because many of us have a problem dealing with 10 to 20 screaming five-year olds

 

Sure, traditionally when a raceway is open, customers can put any kind of car on the track, but is that really etched in stone?

 
Luckily my racers understand without casual rentals and birthday parties, I'm eventually out of business, and they are very good about adjusting/adapting to the situation.
 
And I limit walk-ins to access to certain tracks, at certain times, all the time.
 
As far as birthday parties and screaming five-year olds, while that happens, it is certainly the worst case scenario.
 
There are also parties with polite, well behaved nine-year olds, some that have entertaining senses of humor.
 
They are also cases of pluses for the racers, where they are the recipient of free marshaling from the kids, leftover pizza and birthday cake, and upper middle-class attractive moms walking around.
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Mike Swiss
 
IRRA® Components Committee Chairman
Five-time USRA National Champion (two G7, one G27, two G7 Senior)
Two-time G7 World Champion (1988, 1990)
Eight-time G7 King track single lap world record holder
17B West Ogden AveWestmont, IL 60559, ( 708) 203-8003
mikeswiss86@hotmail.com (also my PayPal address) 
Note: Send all USPS packages and mail to: 5858 Chase Ave., Downers Grove, IL 60516
Make checks out to Chicagoland Woodworking, Inc.


#17 Justin A. Porter

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Posted 30 November 2017 - 11:50 AM

Speaking from "behind the counter"...

 

I can say fairly unequivocally that the "online sale" boogieman is an easy scapegoat for the real problem. The real problem is that all shops in the 1/24 commercial racing scene are competing for too few sales to too few customers

 

Take, for instance, the humble comic book shop. Here we have another "olden times" product that's nearly anachronistic particularly when its publishers make the exact same product available for digital download (via subscription service no less) on the day of publishing. Surely, surely they must be suffering the pinch. 

 

Not in the least. The "brands" with which they are well-stocked and well-versed are at a point of incredible visibility. After decades where the general public knew three, possibly four superheroes well now even the D-List characters are multi-billion dollar entities. 

 

The shops just have to let the public know, "Hey! That stuff you like? We have it. Come see us!" 

 

To bring this back to slot car racing, we have no such visibility. Our most common comment when speaking to new, potential customers is "I had no idea they still did that." Every news report frames the mere existence of a local slot car track as some form of quaint throwback. "Slot cars are back!" is the refrain that attempts to draw from an ever-dwindling pool of nostalgia rather than selling the hobby on its strengths. 

 

Retrograde and lackluster advertising will never reach the number of customers needed to bring the industry as a whole to the point where the pie is big enough that shop owners aren't viewing every. single. sale. that isn't in their register with bitter resentment regardless of where the sale was made.


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#18 Eddie Fleming

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Posted 30 November 2017 - 11:54 AM

Good valid points, Greg.

 

With regard to the birthday parties, I had in mind that some raceway operators can deal with that better than others, not the kids' effect on the racers.

 

Someone looking at opening a raceway may say I don't want to deal with kids parties all the time.


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#19 Cheater

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Posted 30 November 2017 - 11:59 AM

May say? I would hazard a guess that the vast majority of raceway owners dislike birthday parts at a very high level, based on statements of them many have made to me.


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Gregory Wells

Never forget that first place goes to the racer with the MOST laps, not the racer with the FASTEST lap


#20 Rick Moore

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Posted 30 November 2017 - 12:16 PM

Seems to be civil enough (except for all us old geezers not being able to stand all those screaming kids... LOL...), so if no one minds I’ll throw in $0.02…

 

Mr Havlicek’s observations and comments above are broad in consideration and pretty accurate. And as for the elusive answer, or answers, I too “haven’t a clue.”

 

The amount of time and energy raceway owners put in to keep their doors open is massive, to say the least. Unfortunately, without an online sales presence they automatically lose any revenue that might be generated in this regard. Even that is not a guarantee. And just what they need, more work, for only the possibility of some level of increased revenue consuming more of their time.

 

So, let’s float an idea concerning one facet of this discussion that may or may not be possible. My own knowledge in the matter is extremely limited, so I will defer to any with greater experience in this area.

 

Would it be possible to create a web service with a common webpage home link that would allow raceways to join, and be able to somehow list their inventory (or available to order items) for online purchase? Would a collective effort like this be better financially for the raceways? Who would take on the initial set-up, and maintenance of the web site, and how would they be compensated?

 

The idea of having a “one-stop” on-line “store” for multiple raceways could offer some benefits. It would offer greater convenience of online shopping for hobbyists and racers while increasing their likelihood of purchasing from local raceways (where there are “local” raceways, not everyone being so lucky…), especially if offered the “shipping” or “store pick-up” option. Also, it could hopefully be simpler and cheaper than every raceway owner having to expend time, effort, and money to create stand-alone websites for their online sales.

 

As I said, just a thought, with possibly more problems than it might be worth.

 

Any other ideas?

 

Rick / CMF3


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#21 Cheater

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Posted 30 November 2017 - 12:22 PM

To bring this back to slot car racing, we have no such visibility. Our most common comment when speaking to new, potential customers is "I had no idea they still did that." Every news report frames the mere existence of a local slot car track as some form of quaint throwback. "Slot cars are back!" is the refrain that attempts to draw from an ever-dwindling pool of nostalgia rather than selling the hobby on its strengths.


I also believe this is a critical element. And in the past, the universal rejoinder to this point is that "there's no money anywhere in the industry to advertise and promote at a level that will bring results."

And I feel that is another easy "boogieman" to blame. Since the birth of the internet, the ability to place a message or offer in front of the world of 'eyeballs' has become much, much, much more cost effective. Which is why advertisers are abandoning traditional ad venues, like print, TV, etc., for the online arena at a game-changing level.

But, Rubberboy Roy selling his slot car tires on eBay, Facebook, or his website has little or no effect on the visibility of the hobby/pasttime where his products are used. There's virtually no one, as Justin said, "selling the hobby on its strengths." And as cheaply as that can be done online these days, the question that has to be asked is: why the hell not?


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Gregory Wells

Never forget that first place goes to the racer with the MOST laps, not the racer with the FASTEST lap


#22 Justin A. Porter

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Posted 30 November 2017 - 12:32 PM

Would it be possible to create a web service with a common webpage home link that would allow raceways to join, and be able to somehow list their inventory (or available to order items) for on-line purchase? Would a collective effort like this be better financially for the raceways? Who would take on the initial set-up, and maintenance of the web site, and how would they be compensated?

 
The raw truth of the matter is that such a service already exists: Amazon. 
 
Amazon, for the most part, is an aggregation site. They have nothing to do with the items that you purchase through their site, but rather act as a portal by which to find these items from specialized vendors. Granted, becoming an Amazon affiliate means co-operating with their shipping expectations, payment processing, and keeping a hyper-accurate online inventory for potential customers but it is an avenue. 
 
Strangely enough, as of this moment when I search "slot car" through Amazon, I find no 1/24 representation, but a ton of HO and 1/32 representation. Now, to my mind, this tells me that when modern housewives hear from their husbands, "I want to get our kid a slot car like I used to have for Christmas" and go to the biggest online sales site to find one, they don't find any path to our portion of the hobby.
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#23 Cheater

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Posted 30 November 2017 - 12:34 PM

Would it be possible to create a web service with a common webpage home link that would allow raceways to join, and be able to somehow list their inventory (or available to order items) for online purchase? Would a collective effort like this be better financially for the raceways? Who would take on the initial set-up, and maintenance of the web site, and how would they be compensated?


Rick, thanks for chiming in.

In the past, Parma (and Slick 7 I think) participated in the Shopatron system which incorporated some of the concepts you mention. Someone seeing the products listed on the manufacturer's website could purchase via the embedded Shopatron app, and their order would be sent to the raceway nearest the customer's location for fulfillment if at all possible, and fulfilled directly by the manufacturer if that wasn't possible for whatever reason (I think; not 100% sure about this part). Shopatron was purchased by another company a while ago and as far as I know, no one in the slot industry is using the new scheme, if there even is one.

I think creating a higher level of demand (for example through more visibility, as Justin said) would take much higher priority over the nuts and bolts of product distribution, but that's just me.


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Never forget that first place goes to the racer with the MOST laps, not the racer with the FASTEST lap


#24 Eddie Fleming

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Posted 30 November 2017 - 12:37 PM

Luckily my racers understand without casual rentals and birthday parties, I'm eventually out of business, and they are very good about adjusting/adapting to the situation.
 
And I limit walk-ins to access to certain tracks, at certain times, all the time.
 
As far as birthday parties and screaming five-year olds, while that happens, it is certainly the worst case scenario.
 
There are also parties with polite, well behaved nine-year olds, some that have entertaining senses of humor.
 
They are also cases of pluses for the racers, where they are the recipient of free marshaling from the kids, leftover pizza and birthday cake, and upper middle-class attractive moms walking around.


I think most racers are as you describe. and yes, the attractive moms do not hurt, not saying I had noticed any.
 
The problem is that we need more raceways. For that to happen someone needs to be able to say I can do that and it stands a chance of making a profit. Or at least it will support itself and I can do it because I love the hobby.
 
Can we make that happen is the question.
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#25 Cheater

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Posted 30 November 2017 - 12:45 PM

Amazon, for the most part, is an aggregation site. They have nothing to do with the items that you purchase through their site, but rather act as a portal by which to find these items from specialized vendors.


Just a question about this.

I know I have seen stuff I've bought on Amazon noted as coming from anther party, but at times it seems it will be shipped by Amazon themselves. And there's plenty of info on the web about Amazon's huge warehouses where they inventory and ship.

Is Amazon not a dual-level system, where they do have lots of stuff they sell direct? I acknowledge you did say "for the most part."


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Never forget that first place goes to the racer with the MOST laps, not the racer with the FASTEST lap


#26 Justin A. Porter

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Posted 30 November 2017 - 12:54 PM

That would be the second portion of their business where they act as a fulfillment center for manufacturers and brands. 
 
Effectively "I design widget x and manufacture it overseas whereupon containers arrive at a port and pallets are distributed to Amazon for warehousing and digital distribution."
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#27 Rick Moore

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Posted 30 November 2017 - 01:00 PM

Greg, you’ll get no argument from me regarding the importance of “visibility” of the hobby, especially with the internet being such a massive broadcast platform for advertising and general promotion.

 

So, let’s offer some ideas about how this other facet for consideration could be accomplished. Let’s consider the collective approach again.

 

Would it be possible to set-up an online “organized association” (somehow I have trouble using the word “organized” when it comes to slot cars, but that might just be from looking at my work bench…) that manufacturers, raceways, clubs, and racing organizations could join that would generally promote the hobby through online advertising, while specifically listing/linking the members and their products/services? Again, who would take on initial set-up and maintenance, and how would they be compensated? What would be the fee for membership (annual might be reasonable for assessment)? How would it be set-up to give a greater online visibility to the hobby, and promote all facets (scale, class, etc.) of slot cars?

 

Yes? No? Maybe? Any other ideas?

 

Rick / CMF3



#28 Shooter7mustang

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Posted 30 November 2017 - 01:40 PM

My "two cents" and it may not be worth that.

 

Correct me if I'm wrong. Mid-America Raceway has a "brick & mortar" space with racing. Roger built an online business that is obviously thriving. I buy a lot of parts online because we don't have an operating track close, however I only try to purchase from on-line sellers that actually run a race place. These guys put in the time and effort to set-up an online shop to supplement their revenue. Chicagoland, Hudson Valley, Tom Thumb Hobbies, Mid-America, and PCH are all places I buy from. Matt Sheldon is opening a new track in my neck of the woods and when he does, I will be buying the majority of my parts from him primarily so that I have a place to race and also because Matt knows what his racers will need and buy and I'm sure he will stock accordingly.

 

My personal opinion is that buying from the aforementioned sellers and your local track is the start of the solution. And for all of the track owners that do not offer online sales maybe its time to think about moving into the technology age. 


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#29 Cheater

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Posted 30 November 2017 - 01:42 PM

Honestly, guys, I need to leave Slotblog alone for a few hours, as Proof 1 of the next Jaguar Journal has arrived and I need to go through it with the proverbial fine-tooth comb today.

 

Rick, I've been saying for years, to the point to there are a few who get irritated with me when I repeat it, that the 1/24 commercial hobby is where it is today because of an almost total lack of leadership, focus, and direction. 

 

What you propose is certainly doable, and you are correct in saying how to make it happen is the real issue.

 

There are three groups who should have a vested interest in promoting and supporting such an organization: the racers, the track owners, and the manufacturers.

 

As a rule, almost all racers are so price-sensitive that most elect to buy online when they're asked to pay just a little more at the track for the same product. IMO not much chance any significant number of them will pony up to financially support your proposed org.

 

As JK found, there doesn't even seem to be even a decent level of support for any new initiatives among the community of track owners in 1/24 slot racing in the US, even when they are the beneficiaries. Those who have been involved in this hobby long enough will recall how poorly the track owners supported the TOAA/TOA when all it asked for was $60 annual dues. Less than half of the raceways signed up back when there were probably four or five times as many commercial raceways as there are today.

 

And the slot car manufacturing community has a long history of animosity to each other. Can you think of any single instance of co-promotion among them within the 1/24 hobby in the last three or four decades? I can't. And we have so few healthy and profitable manufacturers in the 1/24 space right now, most being very small or cottage-industry operations.

If there was signficant 'buy-in' from all three groups, I do think it is emminently doable. But history says there's very little chance of that.


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Never forget that first place goes to the racer with the MOST laps, not the racer with the FASTEST lap


#30 Zippity

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Posted 30 November 2017 - 01:59 PM

The slot car business model as professed by Swiss, and a couple of others, may work well in some locations in the USA.

 

But what happens to those of us living overseas (i.e. outside the borders of the USA) or those who live hundreds of miles (many hours travel) from a commercial raceway?

 

Sadly, mail order is our only rescue.  :(

 

Maybe there is no real answer.



#31 Shooter7mustang

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Posted 30 November 2017 - 02:01 PM

So buy from raceways and not from sellers with no track.


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#32 MSwiss

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Posted 30 November 2017 - 02:12 PM

Or "raceways" that have a track as a skirt around the rules, and use it primarily as a shipping counter.

 

I recently made the difficult decision to quit selling a large volume customer, based on them currently operating primarily as a mail order business.


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#33 Cheater

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Posted 30 November 2017 - 02:29 PM

Zip,

 

The thread is really meant to focus on the situation in the Americas, North and South, as that's where the majority of the world's commercial raceways are located.

 

In fact, is there even one commercial, retail raceway in NZ?


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Never forget that first place goes to the racer with the MOST laps, not the racer with the FASTEST lap


#34 Rick Moore

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Posted 30 November 2017 - 02:29 PM

Greg... Yup.

 

One of the complaints I recall from the TOA era was the lack of a defined process for promotion, and a general lack of application, much less any other services to the slot car community. Being second-hand, it may or may not be a viable point…

 

And some might note sadly it is also indicative of the historically evident general lack of cooperation within the wide expanse of the slot car hobby. At times it appears as if there is general acceptance, apathy, or dismissive portents of doom that precludes any altruistic concerns for the future, much less growth, of the hobby.

 

I keep visualizing a street block with a bunch of grumpy old men sitting on their front porches all yelling, “Get off my lawn!”

 

Yep, that’s us. LOL

 

But like any other dysfunctional family, no matter how weird, we’re still family… okay, some really weird, but still…

 

I seriously doubt any person or group of people within the slot car hobby could create an all-encompassing slot car organization for promotion of the hobby.

 

So, how do we break the cycle? How do we go about convincing everyone, manufacturers, raceways, racers and hobbyists, it is in all our best interests? What would be the promotion model and how would it be best implemented/accomplished? Would it be better to have this “organization” actually handled under the auspices of some outside-the-hobby agency whose business is advertising and promotion?

 

Any other constructive ideas? Any ideas how it could be pulled off? Who’s up next? Not Greg, obviously, he thinks he can just take time off… slacker… LOL

 

Swing, batter, batter, batter…

 

Rick / CMF3



#35 Shooter7mustang

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Posted 30 November 2017 - 02:34 PM

I understand that perfectly, Mike, but of the tracks I listed I only know you, Jim, and Mike have legitimate raceways.


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#36 Zippity

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Posted 30 November 2017 - 03:17 PM

Greg,

 

I realise that, but what gets under my craw is the persistent chant/belief of "I am right, and you are wrong" - period!

 

Posters should remember that this is an International forum, and as such, comments directed at one particular audience, affect others.

 

I have previously asked, what other successful business model is based on the "slot car model"?



#37 Justin A. Porter

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Posted 30 November 2017 - 03:25 PM

I have previously asked, what other successful business model is based on the "slot car model"?

 

Now there's an interesting question because the "slot car raceway" business model is an absolute muddle. We're retailers, event coordinators, a sporting venue, and an amusement hall all in one. 

 

If you were to imagine each of those functions as part of a pie chart, you can then vary the slices of the pie based upon the raceway owner's predilections. For instance, my shop has foregone rentals and parties, taking out the "amusement" slice to focus more attention on selling parts (retail), organizing weekly racing (sporting venue) and hosting travelling series (event coordinator). 

 

Granted, Haven is also a full-line hobby shop, so "Retail" is the slice of the pie we're always most acutely aware of, but understanding the roles the business plays (and how often contradictory those roles are) helps add up to why a successful raceway is a rare beast. 


Operator - Haven Raceway in Elyria, OH
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#38 jimht

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Posted 30 November 2017 - 04:14 PM

The model we need is the one that's been successful for the smaller scales: produce/provide a product the public will buy.

 

The stand-alone 1/24 commercial slot car raceway as it has developed is of little interest to the general public.

 

The cars are not toys that appeal to kids and the model car racing aspect has almost disappeared under the onslaught of tracks and equipment designed for speed.

 

I realize I'm off on the old negativity thing here but the truth is we're trying to sell something hardly anyone wants.

 

I do respect those who propose new ways to perhaps suck more blood out of the turnip, but it's still a turnip, eh?

 

These discussions always remind me of the scene in "The Matrix"... just as there's no spoon to bend, there's nothing in our current unrealistic business model that can be translated into viability in the real world.

 


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#39 MSwiss

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Posted 30 November 2017 - 04:31 PM

Yes, Jim, like we've talked about a half dozen times before.

 

The slow, decent-looking 1/24 car that retails for $30-$35, that people can race once or twice a month, or once or twice a year.


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#40 Cheater

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Posted 30 November 2017 - 04:46 PM

The stand-alone 1/24 commercial slot car raceway as it has developed is of little interest to the general public.


No argument at all, Jim. The 'bowling ball' slot car, eh?

But how many bowling balls would be sold if the overwhelming majority of the general public had never been inside or even seen a bowling alley and/or doesn't even know they exist, nor has any reason to have that activity on his list of potential leisure-time activities?

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Never forget that first place goes to the racer with the MOST laps, not the racer with the FASTEST lap


#41 John Streisguth

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Posted 30 November 2017 - 04:49 PM

If you look at the train hobby, it's the manufacturers that have gotten together to standardize things for the benefit of all. IMO, this would help slot racing a lot, as opposed to the constant proliferation of the "next best thing." 
 
Track owners seem to be a fiercely independent breed, and doubt they would agree on much for very long.  :crazy:
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#42 Cheater

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Posted 30 November 2017 - 04:53 PM

Not meaning to tar every raceway owner with the same brush, but I can't tell you how many times experienced slot car people have expressed to me their opinion that the biggest problem in the 1/24 slot car industry is the raceway owners. Again, their opinion, not mine.


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Gregory Wells

Never forget that first place goes to the racer with the MOST laps, not the racer with the FASTEST lap


#43 Pablo

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Posted 30 November 2017 - 05:05 PM

Whoa, let's not group them all as bad; I've met some excellent raceway owners.  :good:

 

And some others I won't mention.  :o


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#44 jimht

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Posted 30 November 2017 - 05:12 PM

Yoh, watch it, Greg... :laugh2:  What is an "experienced slot car people"? That's sounds like the do it my way crowd that hasn't been very helpful.

 

Slot car racers have opened raceways for racing, usually with good intentions and liking racing very much themselves... not so much their fault that they hung their hats on a group of customers that went off to play lawn darts or skydive. If they'd been told that was coming, they might have reconsidered.

 

Again, again and again, even with smarts and proper funding, the business model is flawed.

 

A bowling ball slot car is not a solution that will keep raceways in business... it's just something to sell that doesn't include a bendomatic chassis and a tissue paper body.

 

I'd really rather sell a kid multiple cheap toy cars than one tank.


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#45 Mattb

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Posted 30 November 2017 - 05:16 PM

Same old story... First off, brick and mortar sales will become dinosaurs, unfortunately. Look at the record number of store closings this year by big companies, not mom and pop stores. Does anybody think that is going to change. People can't drive a block, eat a meal of go to the head without a phone so they can be online. Sorry, but that is the future for more and more sales as time goes on. Slot stuff will be no different. Hoping for that  to change is futile. 

 

All manufacturers have one primary interest, that is to make income to live on today and it is not to further slot racing for the next 25 years. It is about making a living today. It's the same primary goal for raceway owners that are serious about their business. They want to make a good living today as their #1 goal. Everything else comes in second behind this. Furthering the hobby, and where to order, how much inventory to keep, it all comes second to making a living.   

 

We have a handful of slot track operators on this forum that run great businesses. My experience with the tracks I have been in is the operators are not great business men and do not run tracks like Porter and Swiss. I even had a guy tell me he didn't want some other slot racers and types of cars in his shop because it would require him take time from working on his cars to actually run his business and make more money!! He made it clear he didn't want anything to do with 1/32 RTR stuff, which is the biggest part of the hobby and probably the only real future.   

 

As long as we have this kind of free, capitalistic economy, things will shake out the way they will. Any kind of rules and regulations on sales will not keep tracks alive or further the hobby.    


Matt Bishop

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#46 Cheater

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Posted 30 November 2017 - 06:23 PM

To add to what Matt said, this showed up today in a nationally-syndicated consumer advocate's 'Daily Deals" email newsletter
 
"The new year could be another difficult one for traditional retailers. After closing more than 5,000 stores in 2017, we’re already getting word of closings for 2018. 2018 retail closings: What you need to know."
 
And now to disagree with Matt a little...
 

People can't drive a block, eat a meal, or go to the head without a phone, so they can be online.

 
I don't think this is 100% accurate across all generational segments, but it is certainly true for a signficant percentage of people less than a certain age point and yes, the percentage that act this way is only going to grow, absolutely. Me, I never take a phone to the throne unless I'm already on a call, can't easily hang up, and can't wait. Nor do I usually take my phone for a short trip to the C-store. If I'm doing yardwork (rare, I admit) the phone stays in the house. Sure, the cellphone zombies are taking over the world, but they haven't succeeded... yet.
 

All manufacturers have one primary interest, that is to make income to live on today and it is not to further [an industry, hobby, or leisure-time activity] for the next 25 years... They want to make a good living today as their #1 goal. Everything else comes in second behind this.


Again, I feel this is overly broad. There are a non-trivial (but not a majority) number of people today who don't have to worry any more about making a living (wish I was one of them). I don't think Bill Gates worries about that at all these days, for an extreme example. I know a lot of folks in other arenas who expend a significant part of their day-to-day activties in altruistic efforts to make the lives of subsequent generations better and more enjoyable, and in a non-trivial number of cases their activities involve a love of the hobbies and leisure-time activities that they have enjoyed during their lifetimes. In some cases, it involves trying to make sure industries, museums, insititutions, events, organizations, special-interests of manifold types, etc., etc., don't stumble, fall, and crash and burn. My life-experience so far has proved to me that not everyone is a card-carrying member of the only-me-me-me generation, although that attitude is way more common than it ought to be.

Look at investors in the stock market. Yes, the focus overwhelmingly is on short-term profits, but that is not exclusively the case. There are investors who embrace the long-term and very long-term perspectives.
 

As long as we have this kind of free[, capitalistic economy, things will shake out the way they will.


So human history and the direction society in its entirety ends up taking is essentially totally random, unaffected by the actions of individuals and groups of individuals? I believe there's a incredible amount of evidence to suggest that is not the case. I'm thinking Jefferson, Edison, Ford, FDR, MLK, and could go on for days, maybe weeks.

One last point, if everyone is a cellphone zombie these days, why are certain kinds of non-virtual leisure-time activities achieving stability and, in some cases, growth. How much windsurfing or disc golf did you see as a kid? How much rock-climbing? How much mountain-biking? Why are vinyl records making a comeback, when digital media and music downloads are so much easier and cheaper. Why has the racing genre of drifting grown so rapidly in recent years? Why is gardening as a hobby growing noticeably? How can the generic crafts genre support major retail empires like Hobby Lobby and Michael's? I don't believe these things occurred spontaneously and if you're claiming that's the case, we'll have to agree to disagree.


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Never forget that first place goes to the racer with the MOST laps, not the racer with the FASTEST lap


#47 JimF

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Posted 30 November 2017 - 06:34 PM

The slow, decent-looking 1/24 car that retails for $30-$35, that people can race once or twice a month, or once or twice a year.

 
While many would pooh-pooh, this concept I think it's the way to go. For one thing, if a car like that is the only thing on the track, the newbie doesn't know it's slow. In the same vein, they don't know that a 100' Kingleman or Orange is a "small" track. They don't know or care that a six-lane track is somehow wrong just because it doesn't have eight lanes or that it isn't a King track.
 
Not that I have any interest in opening a commercial raceway, but if I did, that's the type of format that I'd try to shoot for. Maybe a Kingleman or orange as a speedway then something even smaller for home track type cars. The footprint wouldn't need to be huge, overhead could be lower and you could build your own clientele without having to bother with the SCMs.
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Posted 30 November 2017 - 06:40 PM

So commercial slot racing is a 'Field of Dreams'? Just build it 'properly' and 'they' will come in sufficient numbers to stabilize and/or grow the commercial raceway industry?
 
Don't get me wrong, the BB slot car concept in its various iterations is a great idea with lots of merit.
 
But whatever impact it might achieve greatly depends on whether 500,000 or 100 million people become aware of it and learn just what enjoyment they can use it to experience. Preaching to the choir is typically not an impactful approach.

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Posted 30 November 2017 - 07:01 PM

Another angle to consider is the "why" of the purchases existing customers make. 
 
Effectively, the motive behind 1/24slot car purchases is either "I used it up" or "It makes me go faster." These are not invalid motivations, particularly given the unique position of 1/24 commercial slot car racing as primarily a leisure sport as opposed to a form of modeling as per its 1/32 homeset counterpart. 
 
But, these do put the available products into some very tight boxes. Effectively, if it doesn't "make me go faster" it's not something that has a sales angle, regardless of availability, packaging, price point(!), or aesthetic. 
 
With only one available sales pitch, and one that can be measurably true or false, there is a huge limitation on what kinds of products have sales potential at a raceway. 
 
As a comparison, I stock 1/35 armor kits by a host of manufacturers, many of whom have tooled up kits of the same subject matter. As an example, from my primary wholesaler I have the option of German King Tiger tanks from seven different manufacturers, with MSRPs ranging from $44.99 to $94.95, and oddly enough each one has individual merits that allows me to recommend it to suit different modelers based upon features they want and can do without. 
 
Allowing room for more subjective reasoning to drive purchases gives more sales opportunities. Our 1/32 brethren have this down to a tee with multiple highly-anticipated product releases mapped out and publicized through the year. What in 1/24 commercial slot cars was anticipated for sale this year? Was promoted as the big upcoming release? 
 
These are fundamental retail questions, and the answers don't reflect well on what we offer to the public.
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Posted 01 December 2017 - 12:19 AM

The only thing I buy from brick and mortar stores anymore is food. Groceries and meals. Everything else I mail order. And almost all online purchases are from eBay and Amazon. I hate that only two companies are getting the majority of my business, but I also hate going to a store. Really hate it. Always have. So my shopping habits are not going to change.
 
And I'm obviously not the only one. I'm sure there will always be brick and mortal stores, but they're never going to be what they once were.

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