NEWS AND UPDATES
2018 is off to a good start. As of this
update we are back on trip with the holiday time period shipping.
Deliveries are back on track but still arriving late in the morning
which drives shipments to you and extra half a day. This delay is
beyond our control!
This weekend the World's Greatest Hobby Show will
be in Charlotte. I will be attending the show in morning and early
afternoon on Saturday only. BRH will not have a table this year but
I will be walking around the show wearing my Blue Ridge Hobbies navy
blue shirt with the BRH logo on the back. If you see me, please say
Now for the updates for BRH during 2018.
Shipping rates are going up during the third week of January 2018
per announcements from the USPS and Fedex. As always, shipping is a
pass through cost item as we are the only online hobby store that
charges you actual shipping and does price comparisons on the
shipping to ensure you get the lowest cost shipping on you r order.
Price increases are expected across the board from all manufacturers
in April 2018. This occurs every year so, like shipping rate, this
is no surprise. Get you orders in ASAP to avoid any of these price
Product availability is still a big issue. Currently we are down
about 5,000 products that we can sell you on a daily basis from just
45 days ago. That has an deep effect on the product we have to sell
to you and our bottom line.
Speaking of the bottom line, the accounting department is pressing
for me to raise prices across the board. As of this email, we will
not be doing that but the pressure is mounting! So the only way to
keep prices down is to have more purchases from the online side of
the business. Internet sales represent 98% of our sales. The retail
store only produces about 2% of total income but takes up to 40% of
my time. This has been the same sales
split since we started BRH almost 13 years ago. So, the lack of retail
store hours does not really effect our sales per say. A lot of our
local customers over the years now just order online and pick up at
the store. So again we need to the internet sales to double, but
product availability plays a lot into this. Time will tell!
Two weeks ago I was supposed to do inventory at
the store but that did not occur. Unfortunately the day before I had
to euthanize one of 2 remaining dogs who was fighting bone cancer
for a year. It was a hard Christmas and New Years for me, so I did
not get the inventory. My wife and I had 4 dogs at one point and we
have lost 3 of them to cancer. Our last dog is Colorado, sister to
Dakota who just passed two weeks ago. Colorado was diagnosed with
lung cancer in August 2016 and is a trooper! She is having trouble
with hear sight and hearing along with the cancer but is in good
spirits considering. She is hanging in there but we do not think she
will be with us much longer.
So, I am planning on doing inventory at the store staring Friday
January 19. This should take a couple of days.
Watch the holiday schedule for more info on that.
As a one man operation with the help on John for a
couple of hours on Wednesdays, I do my best to get your online
orders processed in a timely manner outside of the holidays.
However, this past holiday season was a great challenge for me as
the only person at the retail store, on the phone and answering
emails. We get many, many questions about the hobby and we want to
help, but a lot of the people who inquire never purchase a thing from
BRH for one reason or another. In fact recently I helped dig out a
part number for an old LGB transformer for them, which took about 5
minutes of my very valuable time the week before Christmas, to
replace there non functional transformer at a good BRH price. There
was only one available at the warehouse. This customer called his
wife and she advised him that they will buy something via E-Bay!
This happens a lot. One of the reasons we do not stock a lot in the
store in the hope you may by it! I have thousands of dollar worth of
that type of merchandise throughout our store the no one wants to
buy! So, we have a new policy for the lookie lou's that are out
This will not effect 99% of our customers, but any new, walking
call or email customer that we do not know will be effected by this
Blue Ridge Hobbies strives to offer excellent customer
service. But, unfortunately potential customers have
been taking advantage of helpful and friendly service.
Some questions asked of our staff are very easy and
quick to answer, but as we continue to strive to offer
helpful information to our phone, email and in store customers,
We have found that customers basically are wanting us to
do research for them so that they can purchase somewhere
else. Unfortunately we have had many customers in store,
via phone and via email take advantage of our good
nature in trying to help the model railroading community.
We can no longer afford to take this time to offer
'free' research and advice.
Since Blue Ridge Hobbies is an internet business with
98% of its sales coming from online orders, taking time
to answer questions has been taking its toll on
processing orders for our 'paying' customers. We can no
longer offer 'free' advice or spend long periods of time
with non revenue generating customers.
Need help with
your model railroading? We will answer quick and easy
questions as time allows. More involved questions will
require a fee to answer and may require calls to the
manufacturers of technical support if we do not know the
We have found that most questions posed to us have the
answer readily available if the customer would just take
the time to do some research on their own. We can no
longer do this for free. Either the customer should buy
(minimum order fee may apply see store policy page for more
As of 12/26/17 help with diagnosing model railroad
problems with product including but not limited to
locomotive, rolling stock, power supply or other model
railroading equipment questions will have a minimum
$5.00 cash or $6.00 credit card fee charged in advance
of the advice.
All other help will be charged at $25.00 per 15 minute
block of time, paid up front.
If you purchase product from us then we will credit any
question/help fees to your order for same day questions
Small online orders also have been a problem.
While we want to process all orders, small orders take a lot of
effort for little return. We want to service all of our customers
but we do have cost's that occur with each of your orders.
The biggest draw on any profit for a small order is the credit card
fees. With each order the credit card companies charge a transaction
fee per order plus they get a percentage of each sale. So over the
years we have had to implement fees. Up until 12/26/17 we had a
$3.00 fee for any order under $25.00. As of the day after Christmas
we have had to increase the threshold to $50.00. So orders
from $0 to $49.99 will have the $3.00 fee. Please keep this in mind
when you order.
Also, Minimum Order Quantity has become an issue again. Each
products description has a minimum order quantity noted. This means
that the wholesaler or manufacturer require us to purchase a minimum
quantity and will not "break the case". So, if a product requires a
minimum of 12 to be ordered and you order two, we will change the
order to 12 per the minimum order requirements. No exceptions. The
reason, stop be he retail store sometime to see some of the "case
breaks" we did for customers of the old 5,000sf retail store which
closed in 2012. We still have this product in inventory!
So, I want all to continue to order your detail parts and paints,
but keep in mind the quantities needed to avoid the fee's.
Also, keep in mind what you order. For example just this week we had
yet another customer order a Micro Engineering 6 pack of track and a
Walthers building. Unfortunately, a order like this has to ship in
two separate boxes requiring two separate shipping charges since we
do not have a 38" long box that is wide or tall enough to ship the
I will do our best to package as efficiently and most cost
effectively as I can for you all to keep your shipping costs down.
We will ship first class when we can to save you all money! Remember
shipping costs are a pass through cost for us. We do not mark up
Most orders ship via USPS using postal supplies which helps our
bottom line. But first class items in padded envelopes cost
We recycle as much in bound packaging the John and I can get. From
newspaper, to packing peanuts to air bags. So, outside of the normal
brown boxes we get from the manufacturers and wholesalers, you my
see us recycle boxes from Chewy.com, Amazon, Big Island Hawaiian
Cookies, Christmas Lights and many others. By doing this this keeps
the products you purchase at the lowest prices available.