11 YEARS AS YOUR HOME TOWN HOBBY STORE ONLINE!
Well, it's been 11 years since we started Blue Ridge Hobbies online
and the retail store in 2007.
The ride, to say the least, has been a very bumpy one. But we are
still here and we have survived all the turmoil in the model
railroading hobby that started back in 2011.
We have gone from a small internet business to starting our first
brick and mortar store in 2007 with just 1200sf. In 2009 we where
having such great success that we moved across the street into a
5,000sf store doing almost $1,000,000 worth of business each year
despite the challenges with the economy. In 2009 I personally helped
start the Mini World of Trains project with the hopes of moving BRH
into the museum. But it was a struggle to find financial support for
MWOT and a long term building for the project. Despite everyone's
Then in 2011 the hobby took big hits with two factory closings and
the manufacturers could not produce enough product consistently to
keep our store shelves full and to complete orders for the online
side of the business.
With 5 employees and others volunteering it all looked good. But, we
could not stock the shelves of the big store. So it was decided to
move back across the street in 2012 into two space totaling 2,400sf.
1,200sf of just BRH retail and 500sf for shipping. The other 700sf
was used by the Mini World of Trains for storage of donations and
other items until a location was found.
This worked for about a year, then as the product availability
continued to get worse the Mini World of Trains moved out from the
shared space on North Pleasantburg to a downtown location. This
location was not big enough for BRH so BRH moved all retail
operations into the former MWOT 700sf space.
So from 2013 until today we still have not been able to get what we
need for overall product stock for the brick and mortar retail
store. We started in 2005 with about 140,000 items in the database
with about 90,000 available to sell. Today we have about 142,000
items with about 50,000 to sell each day. Which means about 90,000
items are still not available to sell! But we are holding our own!!
For example, we are getting more and more new customers online as
other hobby stores and online retailers close. Our new customer base
is up 51% year to year, returning customers are up 110% and average
number of products sold per transaction is up 21%. So the online
side is doing good.
We have been doing price comparisons for some of the 140,000 items
in our database and we beat the pricing from some of the big online
model train websites. If you purchase from BRH, your overall order
cost will be less with BRH.
Overall visitor traffic to the retail store is down. Over time, most
local customer just began to order online and picked up at the
store. The early days of being the local "convenience hobby store"
to pick up the bread and milk of the hobby at this time are gone.
However, there is light at the end of the tunnel!
We will continue to offer the wide array of products online
excluding only Horizon Hobby items (Athearn, Roundhouse and
McHenry). We are down a staff myself and one volunteer at this time
in the retail store.
Thanks to John Holmstrand for helping out all these years. Thanks
for sticking with me John!
So what is up now at BRH.
We have no plans on closing ether the retail store or website. We
will continue to offer the best prices and customer service we can.
Within the last week we have uploaded 20,000 new images to the
product database. We are offering new Deal of the Day, WOW What A
Deal and Deal of the Week sales plus the Walthers Weekly and monthly
sales and will continue to do so. We have spent the last year
without doing back orders or advance reservations as you are all
aware. As of this past week, we are now allowing back orders and
advance reservations, but with a 20% deposit. See the store policy
page for more info on that. We have to do it this way so that we do
not get stuck with merchandise that, when it comes in, we are not
stuck with. This was happening more and more as customers where not
honoring there commitment to buy the product for one reason or
another. Last year we had just had enough of that. But, with a new
advance order program, we will again do this and it will be a win
win for all.
We will start restocking the retail store with new "bread and milk"
items after we do inventory in the next 30 days. Product packaging
has been changing and we will need to restock based on what is
currently selling on a consistent basis. All other items will
have to be ordered in with a average two day turn around time.
We will only sell HO in store with some HO and O scale train sets
coming in for Christmas. Store hours will change and we will add
Saturday mornings back into the mix in the 4th quarter. We will have
a grand reopening soon! Most likely in October.
Also, we will have a new frequent buyer / membership program
coming up soon. It is called the Track Crew. Members of the
Track Crew get:
No Minimum Order Amount
Additional 2% Savings off our alreay low prices on all
in stock items
No Deposit Required On Advance Reservations
Backorders Allowed for orders no currently in stock
FREE 2017 Walthers HO or N/Z Scale Reference Book (15.98
FREE Shipping Insurance on all USPS shipped orders
Sneak Peek emails (the latest new product news and
Walthers Monthly Sale Flyer available online by the 2oth
of each month
Membership is valid for one year from your date of
signup or renewal
To learn more about the Track Crew Membership
So, the future looks good and we will do our best to continue to
offer the best prices and availability we can.
Thanks for the support over the last 11 years!
FROM BLUE RIDGE HOBBIES
Model Railroading is a
great hobby. However over the last four years now going on five years, there has
been a lot of turmoil within the hobby. Some manufacturers can not seem to turn
the corner and catch up on the huge back log of products that where once
available all the time.
When we started Blue Ridge Hobbies back in 2005 we offered about 134,000
items in our database of which about 90,000 or so where available for sale.
is no longer the case.
Effective 04/01/15 -
Blue Ridge Hobbies will no longer list in the product database
items that are listed as the following:
Unknown Availability Date
To Be Announced (TBA)
The reason for this drastic move is the fact that, after five years, the
manufacturers of model railroad items still have not resolved much of the product back
order issues. This all is directly
related to two factory closings in China back in 2011 and 2012. We have
discussed this situation in emails and phone calls with customers in the past.
After five years we do not see any real big changes by the manufacturers to
resolve the back log of products not available.
Effective today, we will only
offer the products that are available to ship to you today once they are
received from our wholesalers.
Up until 03/31/15 our database reflected about 135,000 items of which 95,000 have
been not available. We have removed them from our database because of the
problems relating to the shortages and the type of customer service we are proud to offer
that we currently can not offer.
The issue at hand is that the back log of products that are not available
is unmanageable and has been for sometime. Some of our customers do not
understand why this is and are blaming Blue Ridge Hobbies for the shortages and
back orders which is as far from the truth as it can get. We can only sell what
we receive from the manufacturers and wholesalers.
It is very frustrating when you can not get the products we need to help
complete a task on your model railroad. I feel your pain having to wait years
for track, locomotives etc. to come in.
Recently, customers have complained to the Better Business Bureau about
Blue Ridge Hobbies and requested
refunds from their credit card companies for orders that we have been holding
for them, per their request, due to a back log of items orders that are still due to
them. In most cases these back ordered, advance reservations, special orders and
TBA items go back as far as five years or more! Prices have increased in general
within the hobby over the last five years and the manufacturers are not honoring
the original prices at the time of order. This is causing problems with our customer
base and is not our fault!
Another issue is that customers have not been keeping their credit card
information up to date with us for these back ordered, advance reservations,
special orders and TBA items. In some cases the customers have passed away,
their contact information is no longer valid or they just out right do not
return calls or emails.
What happens then, Blue Ridge Hobbies gets stuck with merchandise it has
no use for and items the will not sell. In a lot of the cases they are not returnable
to the manufacturer or wholesaler. We are currently selling off items that people
do not want via our Deal of the Day list, all at cost or lower. These items
still are not selling! That is over $30,000 worth of inventory!
We can no longer absorb these items into our inventory!
We want to keep prices low for all of you, but we can not do that with the
current manufacturing situation. Until that changes, we are only going to list
products that are available today from the wholesalers and manufacturers, so that we can fill
your order completely.
Now, for those of you that have made orders with back ordered, advance
reservations, special orders and TBA items prior to 6am on 04/01/15, these items
are still ordered and no changes have been made in these cases. Prices are still
subject to change as they always have been after 90 days per our store policy
page. You still will need to keep your credit card information update to date to
retain these orders
Many of you have pending orders that have not been fulfilled and are
sitting in our hold bins for order completion. In some cases these orders go
back as far as 2008! As time permits, older back orders will be checked first for
potential completion. If the credit card is up to date and usable, all back
orders in the hold bins will be sent to you. If the credit card on file will not
process you will be notified via email one time that we need new credit card
information to forward you your product ordered. If, after 30 days from that
email you do not respond, you will lose these items and they will be donated in your
name to the Miniature World of Trains which is a 501c3 Non Profit.
We can no longer continue to maintain the growing storage of product for
customers in our store. If you have ordered an item for store pickup, after 7
days if it is not picked it, we will ship it to you at your cost!
Effective today we will no longer offer SHIP AS ONE order as well. Each
order will be shipped the day the product arrives from the wholesalers and
The bottom line here is that we want to offer you the best product
availability and the quickest turnaround time. This change will allow us to
continue to do that.
Blue Ridge Hobbies is not going anywhere. We still plan on moving into the
Miniature World of Train by this time next year. We are still here to serve you
and will continue to do so the best we can as long as you the model railroad
to support Blue Ridge Hobbies.
We are looking forward to your order!
To order available products today just click on the logo
President and General Manager