I take no interest in screen crime – and only marginally more in the detective novel stuff. There’s a warm spot in my heart for Kinky Friedman, Father Brown, and Hercule Poirot but that’s about it. However I have an intense interest in our local criminals who prey on shops.
I don’t work in a shop anymore – and we didn’t have much shop crime at any time – but I do visit our local hobby store. And their experience with criminals is affecting me.
They are in a nice new set of tilt-up premises along a major highway. They share the complex with a couple dozen good shops. But they seem to be the target for break and enter thieves. Ever since they opened – and that was just a little over a year ago – they have had 11 break-ins at the front of the premises. The thieves want the expensive radio control gear, drones, and other salable goods. Presumably there is a criminal trade in this for the holidays.
Now there is a new determination on the part of the management to resist this sort of thing. They’ve added steel mesh to the front glass window of the store and completely covered the inside with a wooden framework and panelling. It has unfortunately reduced the lighting to the in-store fixtures with no window light to supplement it.
And it has cost – I don’t know how much the previous breakings have netted the thieves or cost the owners – nor do I know the price of the alterations. But I know it all has to be paid for by someone – and that someone is the legitimate customer. We pay a premium price in the cost of goods because of others’ criminality.
Well, let us hope it stops and the economic pressure reduces. I support the shop and hope they will do so well now that the prices can be capped. It is too much to hope that the police will catch the would-be thieves, but perhaps the scum will target someone else now. Or finally achieve their fatal overdose.
I have been a customer of one particular business here in Perth since the day after I arrived in Australia in 1964. When we flew in we were taxied from the airport to a hotel and deposited to slough off our jet lag. As the parents sat there comatose trying to focus upon a pay television with the Tokyo Olympic Games on it, I lit out for a hobby shop.
I had seen it as we came past on the way to the hotel. As a kid I had a sure instinct for hobby shops and could spot them in any town we visited. It was a matter of some relief to find that the wilds of Perth were not so primitive that they could not afford one.
No kid assesses distance accurately – what I thought was four blocks turned out to be twenty-three, but I kept on walking. I was rewarded eventually with a house turned shop, several crammed rooms of kits, trains, planes, and toys, and a pleasant owner. I returned in the following weeks and bought a number of items, and took them off to our house in the hills. Later forays to Perth never actually got back to that location, but I discovered the four or five other hobby shops in the centre of the town that were accessible by railway.
Crikey – that’s over 50 years ago. The other shops have packed it in long ago – some to move to the suburbs and some to disappear forever. The original shop I visited moved to a railway suburb and kept there for 50 years…but I suspect it is now moribund. The location is perfect for them but their sales stock is depleted and their reputation dwindling away. They have been forced to become a tiny portion of their previous size and are fragmented.
Yet…They have a name that everyone remembers. Were they to relocate, restock, and promote themselves, I still think they could recover. Were they to combine with one of the other shops the whole town might benefit.
As for myself, however, I have a new shop a mile from my door on an easy road – with free parking out the front. I am a constant customer. Sentiment is one thing but practical life – even when it is a hobby – is another.
I suspect this might be the case for any number of other businesses in all forms of trade. People are spread out more in the Metro area – they are doomed to travel far longer distances to get the things they need from the disparate suppliers. Some have taken to the internet as a solution…but it isn’t. Others have just realised that a 30-mile round trip for a bottle of paint is just not practical.
I have bemoaned the price of good-quality modelling paints before here in this column, and extolled the virtue of using 1:1 scale paints from the hardware store as a substitute. This is valid and viable to a certain extent, but the range of spray cans in the local DIY or Bunnings is surprisingly limited. Oh, not if you want to paint wooden decks or bicycles or lawn furnture…perfect for that…but dismal if you want authenticity.
So we turn to the Humbrol, Tamiya, Pactra, Testors, or Mr Color racks at the hobby shop and more little glass jars. One day I am going to have my own weight in empty little glass jars…as opposed to having my weight in money. But after yesterday I think I am going to stop complaining – you see I finally looked at what I was actually doing with the airbrush.
Up until now I loaded up the medium cup of the brush with whatever thinned paint I was spraying and then did the classic sweep-and-trigger like I did in the Pactra spray can days. I got a good coverage eventually but a great deal of that medium cup went on either side of the work and out through the exhaust fan.
Today I screwed on the small cup – the one with the open top – and shot green for some truck wheels. No big deal, but the small size of the reservoir made me concentrate the spray more over what I was doing and there was minimal overspray. Consistency must have been good because the coats went on with no pooling or streaks. And the amount of paint used was very much less – so economical that the higher per ml cost of the hobby product was no burden.
The joy of being able to go back to the big paint racks is wonderful. I can apportion the cheap greys, whites, and greens for building sides and these can be Bunnings supplies, but I can feel better about spending a bit more on the tiny bits.
Note: Full marks to the people in Hobbytech for their advice re. thinners and paint brands. There is a confusion of systems out there and I made a few bad choices off the rack – the counter staff realised that I was headed for trouble and gently steered me back to get the right combination. This sort of help is always appreciated.