When I was a lad living in Spokane, Washington I visited a wonderful dark old hobby shop in the center of town. I purchased an Aurora model of a Viking long ship there and added it to my collection. This was 1959 – Aurora and I were working off the Kirk Douglas/Tony Curtis motion picture that had come out the previous year. It was a basic model, and as crude as they come, but it had a striped sail and a dragon at one end and that made it for me.
Reel forward to 1963 – we were visiting Spokane at Christmas time to see relatives still living there. I was given $ 20 as a Christmas present by my parents and told to go spend it at the hobby shop just as I pleased. From a motel located near the central business district I beetled off down-town to find the shop…but I spent the entire day looking for it. I looked in the place where it should have been but nothing was there save a clothing store. I was disturbed beyond measure at what I conceived as failure of memory. In the end my parents took me out to one of the northern suburbs to a newer hobby store and I got my $ 20 worth of plastic kits…but to this day I still have sad dreams of that search and the frustration of not finding what I “knew” to be there.
The truth never occurred to me – the shop had closed down and moved away. Trade in the central business area did not support the price of the lease and business took over.
The same has just occurred with two hobby shops here in Perth and I think a third is due for closure at Christmas. One has shifted two doors up in a suburban street and has become a sad parody of itself – the other has gone to an industrial unit in an industrial suburb and seems to have been re-established. I visited it today and bought three models to encourage them and enliven my collection. It was a bargain session – they still honoured their 20% moving sale prices.
I cannot tell whether either of them will be the premier shop of the metro area ever again or whether that title will go to another store – I just know that the hobby scene needs to be serviced locally and these retailers need our support. If you buy modelling bits, buy now.