The age of the local hobby store, at least the mom-and-pop variety, has taken another hit with the announced closing of Franciscan Hobbies in San Francisco.
I personally live in the Bay Area, but outside of San Francisco, and I’ve never shopped at Franciscan Hobbies myself. But, I know for many, this is sad news, and after nearly 70 years in business, the family-owned shop has announced that they will close the doors at the end of January. Here are links to the story and to their announcement on Facebook:
Hobby shops have been closing down for decades. Growing up, I remember losing three favorite hobby shops and two more as an adult seeing them go out of business, so this is nothing new. It’s a difficult business that requires the owners to tie up a lot of cash in inventory and increasingly having to compete with big stores, the Internet, and changing demographics. For ship modelers, this doesn’t have a tremendous impact since few hobby shops carry ship models, magazines or useful fittings – ship modeling has always been somewhat of a niche hobby. Still, they were places that I remember spending many hours browsing and drooling over, but more so in my younger days.
Today, people can browse and drool over stuff at home on the Internet. Not quite the same feeling as when we were kids, riding our bikes to the hobby shop to pick out a neat model tank or rocket that we’d been saving up for. But, anyway, there are still some hobby dealers around. They just aren’t as common as they once were, and they have to cater to new audiences willing and able to spend money on RC cars and planes and such. But that seems more like a “big kids” toy store than the old fashioned hobby shop.
I’ll have to make a pilgrimage to one of the remaining hobby shops in the area and give them some business and maybe I can help them stay around just a little longer.