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What was your first model store like?


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What I'm talking about is the store you went to when you were a kid. The one that first got you into modeling. For some of us it was a real hobby shop. For others, it was the local 5 and Dime (Remember those?) or some other retailer. I'll start off.

 

The closest store that sold models was, believe it or not, a pet store called, what else, Petland. They had a whole wall of kits floor to ceiling in the front of the store. I can't imagine why other than the owner must have been a builder. I was just a kid, so I'd oogle all those colorful boxes with that great box art, buy my 69 cent model and was on my way. They even had a loyalty card long before it became the in thing. Buy $10 worth of models and you got $1 free and you could get a lot of models for under a dollar in the 50's.

 

In the next town was Tiny Tots, a general toy and kids furniture store. In the back was a whole department of models and, best of all, they had a whole row of display cases with built models in them as "examples". I could spend hours there just looking at all those completed models done so much better than anything I could do. If staring at a completed Revell F-94 didn't make you want to cough up the requisite 96 cents, I don't know what would.

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Oddly, the first time my dad bought a model (I was with him) was at Eckards Drug store, circa 1965-66. It was the 1/40 Revell Skyraider, and "we" decided on it because of all the the neat working features it had. The ironic part was just down the way in the same shopping center strip was a REAL hobby shop! I can't recall its name (this was on 49th St. in St. Pete, in the mid 60s, for any of you Pelican guys who might know), but I do recall dad buying his Floquil paints there.

 

I did most of my shopping as a kid at Woolworths, Sears, and a "general store" in St. Augustine called "The Bargain House" a block or two from my grandmother's house. Honest-to god hobby shops were far and few between, or unreachable on my bike. But, I do recall a small one that opened near the house @1971. It was the first place we saw models on display with airbrushed camo (what's an "airbrush"?); as well as the very first imported Hasagawa aircraft models.

 

Another truly significant event was when I found model magazines and discovered hobby shops you could mail order from! I remember Archers, Brookhurst, and Squadron Shop being the ones I used most, especially for things like vacuform kits and "Liqui-plate" metalic paints in the late 70s.

 

When I moved to Columbus in '79 and found Street Hobbies on the west side, I thought I'd died and gone to heaven! :smiley4:

 

Been spoiled ever since then between Columbus and Jacksonville; though the number of shops has certainly dwindled and the ones left aren't of the same caliber as in the "old days".

 

GIL :smiley16:

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My first model store was in the basement at Montgomery Wards. They were the only major chain store in town other than Penny's. Through the front door and down the stairs, the wall on the left side. Not huge but I was happy with what I had. Small farm town in Nebraska, you don't get a lot of choices.

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Five and Dimes here. Woolworth and a local one called Bast's, both in Fox Lake, IL. My first actual hobby shop, the one that actually had hobby in the name, was Frank's Barber and Hobbies in Crystal Lake, IL. Venture in Wheeling, IL was the greatest I have ever known.

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A small mom & pop sporting goods shop. The models were behind the door when it was opened, so I had to get out of the way when anyone came in.

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Hagenbring's Department Store in Arlington Heights, IL, had a toy department down in the basement space, and they had a great Revell salesman who kept them stocked with new box scale kits in the '50s. I remember desperately trying to raise the 98 cents plus 3 cents sales tax to buy the new Revell Boeing B-52A Stratofortress because I loved the box art. I could also buy 10 cent bottles of Pactra paints in the small square bottles there--red, yellow, blue, white, black, and silver (all gloss, they worked, too). This store was on my way home from junior high school, so it was easy to detour into their door. This store held me captive until I went away to college.

 

Half a block away was a Ben Franklin 5&10 that had some model kits, but never up to what Hagenbring's had.

 

Ed

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The store selling models in my little home town was called Pizer's Five and Dime. They were also the only place selling candy, which made it the "go-to" store whenever we got money as a small kid. When I got a little older and started building models, they had the basics, but nothing more. The selection was probably limited to a dozen or so kits (mostly cars), Testor's enamels (no spray paints), and orange tube glue. Everything was in one little 3 foot section of shelving along the far left wall. There was a small Woolworth's in a town about 20 miles away, but the only place with a real hobby shop was a city nearly 40 miles away. When I was growing up, 40 miles might as well be what 200 miles is today!

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Most of the models I got growing up were from relatives. I can remember going into Kmart and drooling over how much my allowance and gift money would be able to buy me. My father took me into my first Model Shop. All I can remember was that there was nothing but models and Railroad items everywhere. I had just had my birthday and had about $50 in my pocket. I do not remember the store name other than it was somewhere in Boston. We had taken my Aunt in for some tests and we had about two hours to spend. I got about 6 models and I will never forget my Dad's comment that we would probably never go back as he believed it was a front for something. There was a least a 1/4 of dust on the models that were on the tops of the stacks. I remember him getting a 1/32 Radien and he ran his finger across the top of the box to show me.

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My first kits came from a drug store, and then I found Hobby Town at the corner of Watt & Whitney in Sacramento. 1/72 Airfix kits for 50¢ each. My dollar a week allowance went far. A wall of models, railroad and slot car stuff at the counter. It was bicycle distance, or a good stretch of the legs.

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Over 60 years ago, I went to the local five & dime store in Constantine to find lots of Aurora kits. Later, I got into flying models and stopped building plastic models for a while. After I got married and moved to Detroit, I got back into plastic. I found the most fantastic plastic model hobby shop that I had ever seen - Wings. He had imported kits from England, Germany and Japan!! Shortly after, Jerry Campbell started Squadron Shop on John R. I passed by there 2 or 3 times a week on my way home from work and my collection soared.

 

Now, my only LHS is Hobby Town. I must say that the people there are great. They will get anything for me that their distributors have - and fast. Since they also have all the paints etc to keep my hobby going, I use them whenever I can.

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This is mid-50's onward -- Mitchell's Department Store in the Fairfax Shopping Center, north of Wilmington, DE. We also had an Eckards at the other end with a smaller selection. Mitchell's (much) later became one of the biggest brass loco stockists on the east coast.

 

The real hobby shop was down-town, a trip I could make by bus for a quarter. Vandever's Hobby Shop - had everything and like Clare, my interests shifted mostly to flying models for a while although Vandevers had Airfix kits in bags hanging on a rack so I worked my way through them.

 

A magazine store also in town, carried all the hobby magazines and I got my Aeromodeller, Model Airplane News, RAF FR, Air Pictorial, and others there.

 

And there was the public library and a small used bookstore -- all within maybe a 3x5 block area and as I went to the YMCA every Saturday, I could pretty much burn up a whole day in those places. Beats online hands down, take me back ....

Edited by JohnRatzenberger
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For those from the Toledo, Ohio area, it was Hobby Center. A local chain that had all one could ever want in a hobby store. Hobby Center went out around 1988, but what was neat was the annual warehouse sale. Models galore for a few dollars, classic kits could be gotten that cost a mint now on EBAy. I use to save my lunch money all week and when school let out on Fridays, ride my bike to the Miricle Mile shopping center, and grab something for $3.00. What a great time.

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First store I remember having models was a department store in my home town. A little while later I found a true hobbyshop that really got me into modeling.

Eric

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Used to ride my bike to a store called Bargain Port. They had a good selection of kits, paint and supplies. I remember riding home with a Revell 1/32 F-4 Phantom in one arm and steering the bike with the other.

We had two good hobby stores in town that I would go to with my Dad on Saturdays. That was where the real modeling bug kicked in. Full lines of Testors and Pactra paint, squadron signal books, walls full of kits...heaven

 

Ken

Edited by kpatterson
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The earliest kits I remember were birthday/Christmas presents (around 1965) - first kits included a nameless 1/72 biplane (it was green), dinosaurs, a Batman figure, a Batmobile and the Revell Mercury-Gemini capsule double kit. When I moved up to spending my own money, my home town had two 5-and-10s, a Woolworth and a McCrory's, and both provided a steady stream of car kits. I wasn't allowed to bike into "town", so I would have to wait until Dad needed something at the hardware store and tag along.

 

At the end of every summer, we would make a special trip to the "city" of Greensburg (PA) - population about 20,000! - to buy new school clothes at a discount department store called GeeBees, next door to an actual hobby shop (I think the name was Peterman's Hobby - a name that just popped into my head after 50 years). I would grimly endure trying on an endless stream of pants and shirts to earn 15 minutes shopping for models; I think I got the AMT Star Trek Enterprise kit there around 1969.

 

Don

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While there were several stores , even grocery stores, that sold models in our suburb - 50s into 60s - the first hobby shop I remember was on Main Street, not that big, but packed with a pretty even mix of flying models, trains, and plastic kits, and supplies to build/run/fly them. I really lusted after some of the brass locomotives, and left my nose print on that case more than once. After reviewing my finances I'd walk out with a more modest ship or plane, or maybe a Guillows plane to try to defy gravity.

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Britts a local department store in Springfield, Vermont. It had one of those lunch counters and 10¢ pay toilets. Had one of those orange drink machines, always wanted to get a drink, but we weren't rich enough to eat out. First model I remember buying there was the Aurora Prehistoric Scenes Saber Toothed Tiger. I also have memories of a Lindberg twin engined Messerschmidt kit that I had started building but was missing parts. We returned it and the salesman opened another kit and it was missing some parts too. I think he took parts out of the second kit to complete my kit. Strange what you will remember.

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...I would grimly endure trying on an endless stream of pants and shirts to earn 15 minutes shopping for models...

 

What would you endure today for that same 15 minute shopping for models?

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The local hobby shop here in the 1970s was Pete's Modelcraft,. But I got most of my kits from Woolworth's, as their buyer seemed to have a better idea of what we kids wanted. The main shopping center in my area had Pete's, Woolworth's, JC Penny, Sears, and Longs Drugs, of which all carried models! I was like a little bee, trying to hit all the stores before my dad told me it was time to go. Heady days. Now the shopping malls don't even have toy stores;

 

We had a Thrifty Drugs and Kress variety store in my neighborhood (i.e. within bicycle range) which also sold models. There was a seedy liquor store that sold "sports forecast sheets" and porno mags that also sold kits. I bought the Monogram Cylon Raider there, and remember seeing the Revell 1/32 Beaufighter. Loved that box art with the flaming inverted He-111. There was even a market that had a small selection of kits. I bought a 1/72 Hasegawa MiG-17 Fresco from there. Back in the day, you could get kits almost anywhere!

 

On an unrelated tangent, I remember while admiring the Beaufighter box art thinking it would have been so cool to have a 1/32 He-111, but it could NEVER happen. Things do change.

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When I was a kid in Shalimar, Florida; there were no hobby shops that I knew of here or in nearby Fort Walton Beach. Instead, I'd go out and mow lawns or wash cars for $3.00. Then I'd get on my bike and ride down to the local 7-11 at the intersection of Fourth And Eighth streets in Shalimar. There I'd buy a bagged Airfix kit, some paints and glue, some candy and then ride home and sit in the garage for the rest of the day building my model and eating my candy.

 

Later when we moved to Minnesota, I got some kits from Children's Palace when I worked there. After a few years, I moved back to Fort Walton Beach where I found an actual Hobby Shop that I frequented a lot. Once I moved out to Southern California several years later; I found myself in Hobby Shop Heaven. I also was introduced to IPMS out here. The rest, as they say; is history....

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When I was a kid in Shalimar, Florida; there were no hobby shops that I knew of here or in nearby Fort Walton Beach. Instead, I'd go out and mow lawns or wash cars for $3.00. Then I'd get on my bike and ride down to the local 7-11 at the intersection of Fourth And Eighth streets in Shalimar. There I'd buy a bagged Airfix kit, some paints and glue, some candy and then ride home and sit in the garage for the rest of the day building my model and eating my candy.

 

That's the best memory I've heard yet.

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Two more "hobby shop" stories....

 

When I moved out on my own in '76 I was living in a rented room (in a old ladies house), working for MacDonald's, and strapped for cash, needless to say. Between rent, dating, gas, saving for school (etc.), buying models was a luxury I could seldom afford. However, at the local toy store that passed for a hobby shop there was a 1/24 Bandai P-51D Mustang, and I wanted it! Problem was, it was $25, and THAT was a hunk of money in '76, especially for a model. Still, I actually saved my pennies for about 6mos and finally was able to get it! It got built, but was broken years later in one of my many moves.

 

About the same time, I went home to my parents house in Jacksonville for a visit. Dad hauled me over to Art's Hobby shop in Jax beach, which was a mainstay here in Jax until Art passed away. Anyway, dad let me shop for a while and then I had to make a decision: there was a Nichimo 1/24 Cessna 172 (cost $50 then, and the last one I saw a few years ago went for $200!), or I could choose the 6-7 Otaki and Monogram kits I'd picked up. Hmm.....I opted for "quantity" and went home with 6-7 models to build instead of the 1 expensive model. I've often wondered whether I chose wisely or not....

 

Which reminds me....I really need to thank my dad for the gift of a lifetime- this hobby he passed on to me! :smiley20:

 

GIL :smiley16:

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My first model came from the local K-Mart--a Revell 1/32 F4F.

 

The first true Hobby Shop I went to was Universal Hobbies in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, on Highway 441 just South of Broward Boulevard. I don't recall ever buying a kit from that store when I was a wee lad, but I'm certain some of my birthday presents came from there. I did buy from them later in life--I found my first issue of "Scale Modeler" there in 1978 or 1979. My brother and I also were goaded my Dad to build a "real model"--he was a stick-and-tissue guy as a boy confined to bed with Rheumatic Fever, he saw plastic kits as "cheating". So, I built the 3/4" scale Guillow's Spitfire. My brother built an RC boat. And, just like Dad said, it "built character"...we soon discovered that Hot Stuff really did make a good liquid suture...

 

We also had a Lionel Playworld, and I would buy kits in there when I could afford them--it was the heyday of the MPC "Profile Series" of kits, and the AMT Big Rigs were just released, and there was always something to catch one's eye. I can still picture that Lindberg USS Ticonderoga in my mind's eye...

 

There was also the mall--Woolco, McCrory's, and Walgreens all carried model kits.

 

Mostly, though, my brother and I stuck mainly to K-Mart, Eckerd Drugs, and SupeRx drugs. The drug stores were particular favorites during the summers, since they were close and we could ride our bikes there, and the models were cheap.

 

I discovered Warrick Custom Hobbies in 1980 or 1981, and boy, I had hit the Big Time. They actually stocked Pactra paint (the Authentic International Colors, not that glossy stuff), a full line of tools, finsihing products I had only read about, and hard-to-get imported kits. I went away to college shortly thereafter, but I would visit when I was home. And when I graduated, I became a regular, so much so that I was offered part-time employment there. I'd spend a few hours working on a Sunday and basically get my modeling supplies at little to no cost to me. Where is the drawback to that?

 

And for the mothers out there, a word of advice--don't let your babies grow up to work in hobby shops for store credit... :)

 

Ralph

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Lessee...

 

1 - Young's Store: A tiny General Store at Young's Garage, Pittsburg, NH; mid-60's precursor of todays 7-11, had a small, but frequently updated selection of Revell & Monogram kits.

2 - Polk's Hobbies: On a rare visit to downtown NY with Dad (an old-school RC buff), we visited this hobby department store (sic!) Could barely comprehend the place. The only other thing like it I've ever seen was San Antonio Hobbies in Mountain View, CA, c1987.

3 - Flightline Model Hobby Shop in Lancaster, PA: The classic, hole-in-the wall model shop, run by a couple of Vietnam vets (Bob, Dennis & Larry), c1973. Floor-to-ceiling everything for scale models; from 50-cent bagged kits to cosmic Pocher cars, all of the current books & mags and a display case featuring stunning builds by the local talent. Still using my Badger-200 from there. An addiction is born...

Edited by VonL
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