Founded by the late Vincent Amato in 1940,
the Amatos stores in Middletown (shown) and
New Britain CT are now owned by his children,
Diane Gervais and Steve Amato.
The Danbury Hobby Center is a typical, small town hobby shop, with a good selection of the basics: rockets, plastic kits, and RC models and supplies.
How healthy is your local
Russell Holly wrote a compelling short essay for Geek.com approximately four years ago, which I recently came across. He discusses how important his local hobby shop was (yes, “was”) to his leisure pursuits, and consequently how
rattled he was at its unexpected demise. When Russell went looking for another
nearby brick-and-mortar shop, he was surprised to find that every other hobby retailer
within 50 miles of his house had also closed.
He tracked down the owner of one of the closed stores to find out what had
happened, and received an answer that, unfortunately, wasn’t terribly surprising.
Quite simply, Internet discounters had siphoned off many of the larger transactions
upon which our local stores depended.
You can read Russell’s essay at the link listed in “Sources” the next time you are
online. It shouldn’t take you long because it contains only about half as many words
as this column. Russell counts RC as just one of his many hobbies, yet I think you will
find that his comments still strike home.
Unfortunately, running a small hobby
shop today is an extremely challenging
proposition. Rising overhead, increased
competition, and ever-shrinking margins
define your day. Against that background
of doom and gloom, I have a couple
of stories about two stores here in
Connecticut that prove that the sun
occasionally does still shine.
First, let me say that I feel blessed that
there are several hobby shops relatively
close to where I live. The closest is less
than 4 miles from my house; the local
Hobby Town USA franchise is roughly 12
miles away; and two more independent
hobby shops that are 22 and 24 miles
away. I try to stop in at all of these local
shops as much as I can from time to
time, and it appears many others are
doing the same, because the stores are all
still open for now.
It is the closest store that sparks my
first anecdote. Danbury Hobby Center
has passed through a few owners during
its 70-some years of existence, and I
imagine that, much like Russell’s local
shop, it has long been a social focal point
for its loyal customers.
The combination of an owner
approaching retirement and the
economic downturn that occurred a few
years ago appeared to be its death knell,
and it looked as though the end was
near. The owner even began a protracted
going-out-of-business sale and our local
newspaper came out and ran a story
about its closure amid changing times.
97 Model Aviation JANUARY 2016 www.ModelAviation.com
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