Hi, I’m Robbie the owner of Radio Control Headquarters (RCHQ). If you have a minute and you enjoy this hobby, I’d like to tell you a quick story.
I got started in this hobby when my nephews talked me into buying a pair of Nitro Stampede monster trucks. We took them home, read the directions, carefully broke them in, and then tuned ’em up. I knew I was hooked the first time I smelled the nitro, squeezed the trigger, and watch that little sucker wheelie all the way up my driveway until the tires fell off (okay, maybe we didn’t read all the directions … what’s tire glue?).
We stuck the wheels back on and played all weekend, that is, until a friend hit a rock with one of the trucks and it would no longer move. Unsure of what to do and convinced my new monster-truck was ruined, I loaded it up and took it back to the store where I purchased it hoping to get some help. Luckily, the guy who sold it to me was there and he cheerfully explained that the engine had simply moved forward and wasn’t touching the spur gear anymore. “Oh, I see,” I said completely clueless, but he promptly showed me how to fix it. And he remembered my name. At the very moment – he had a loyal customer.
Over the next couple of years I purchased more than a dozen RC vehicles and all my accessories from that same store. I spent thousands of dollars. At the time, I was in the tech industry, so of course I knew money could be saved buying online, but I stayed loyal. It was always worth it to buy from them because they were there every time I needed help. Plus, it was a fun place to hangout; I went by often to chat with the knowledgeable staff and with the people who shared similar interest. I enjoyed watching the racing; you can learn more in a day of hanging out in the pits, than a year of trying to figure it out on your own.
Nowadays I have my own hobby store and racetrack and have carried those lessons from the early days into my business.
- This is a Hobby, we sell rather complex little machines – not video games or disposable toys. Hobbyist will always need help repairing, upgrading, tuning, and personalizing their cars. RCHQ employs some of the best pros in the business. These guys have tuned, repaired and serviced literally thousands of cars, boats, planes choppers, buggies, trucks, quads and just about any other RC you can think of.
It’s safe to say our little store does more for the RC Community in an average day than the big internet stores will do in their entire existence … but the internet stores are killing us. Hobby stores close at an alarming rate: I have personally witnessed dozens of them close in a very short amount of time
We even have to compete against our own manufacturer’s and distributor’s websites as they continue to drive down prices while competing against each other, and don’t get me started on all the ridiculously cheap stuff coming out of China … sigh … what a mess.
- We all need to save money anyway we can, but our prices are very competitive, online merchants cannot even come close to the value-added services we provide, and no matter how hard they try – they cannot make it fun! So where will people go for help when the LHS is gone, or at best, forced to no longer specialize and become general stores catering to a wide variety of retail high margin, low support products? What will happen to the places we go to hangout with our friends and fellow enthusiast are gone?
There’s an old saying that goes something like this, no one ever retires or gets rich from owning a hobby store. A few brick-and-mortar stores have proven this to be the exception, but for the most part it is accurate. The only ones getting rich and retiring these days are the big internet dealers. The same guys who do not know who you are and probably don’t really care either. To them it’s all low margin and huge volume, and it takes a whole lot of customers to keep that business model going. Yeah, I know, it’s called Globalization, I should stop my whining, and get with the times; we are getting our e-store going, but many still won’t shop with us because they have to pay sales taxes. Sorry, I digress, but just because it’s happening doesn’t make it right.
Finally, RCHQ has a policy of trying not to mix our business with your pleasure; I hope you will forgive me this breach. What I’m really trying to say is nothing can replace the soul of a real hobby store. I love this hobby and the people in it and wouldn’t trade my experiences over the last decade for anything. We’ll keep battling the giants (even the ones that feed us), working our butts off to earn your business, fighting the good fight, and providing a service as long as we can. All we can hope for is that you think about us, and the others like us, before you click the add to cart button of one of the mega-sites again.
The people are the heart and soul of the hobby and the Local Hobby Stores are the heart and soul of the hobby industry. We need each other.
We’ll do our best to remember your name. Thanks for visiting our humble website, God Bless,