Monday, July 31, 2017

Another hobby store closing down here in Melbourne

It seems 2017 is a bad year for hobby shops here in Melbourne. On Friday I got an email from Metro Hobbies telling customers that they are closing down their city store in Swanston Street.

It's due to a metro rail redevelopment in the CBD, and their building is being compulsorily acquired. Apparently they tried to find a replacement city location, but it was too expensive. They are not going out of business entirely, they are keeping their suburban Box Hill store open, but as this is 31km from where I live it's not exactly helpful to me.

This may be the last time I head up these steps...

Behind this uninspiring (and slightly out of focus) door lies a world of Good Stuff.

I was hoping to pick up a bargain, as the city shop has all model kits reduced by 30% until the close up in September. Sadly, I didn't find anything I wanted to buy.  If I'm being honest, this is more of a comment on the size of my "to be built" stash I already have, and is less of a comment on the range stocked by Metro Hobbies!  I really do have enough kits to last me a decade of sustained building at the snail's pace I build at...

Yeah, I can't really state that they don't have much in stock.

An ongoing trend

When I first moved to Melbourne in 2006, I was pleasantly astounded by how many model shops were in business here compared to Sydney. my home town. In Sydney there is one hobby retailer, HobbyCo. It is what you would expect from a monopoly - lack of competition means expensive prices and less choice. Sadly, I think this is the direction we're headed in Melbourne now.

Just a couple of months ago Hobby HQ in Thomastown closed up for good.

In the last couple of years, we have lost Hobby Place in Lonsdale Street (the owner was grumpy and unpleasant to deal with, but a double-shopfront of modelling goodness was inside!)

We also lost a great hobby shop in Little Bourke Street, Showcase Models Australia. It concentrated on military models, and prices and range were amazing, but the owner suddenly died in around 2015-16 and his widow was forced to close up shop.

Back in about 2008 a model shop in Moonee Ponds also closed due to the death of the owner.

There is a definite pattern here...

Leaving aside hobby shops which specialise in radio control, this really only leaves three players in town by my reckoning:

  • Hearns Hobbies in the city
  • Battlefield Hobbies in Yaraville
  • Metro Hobbies in Box Hill.

Tough times for the hobby, and sadly between the ongoing colossus that is the internet, and the average age of hobby shop owners, I can't see this getting any better.

If you know of any places I've overlooked, please do let me know.



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