Wizard Models

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bobwallison
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Wizard Models

Postby bobwallison » Wed Aug 14, 2019 4:35 pm

Has anyone else seen the notice on Wizard's news page to the effect that they will not be attending any more shows after Railex 2020? :(

Maybe it's been there a while, but I have only just noticed it. Best take more care than usual with my shopping list next April.

Regards,
Bob

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Noel
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Re: Wizard Models

Postby Noel » Wed Aug 14, 2019 5:20 pm

The same notice was on his stand at Wells. He's going online only...
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Noel

dal-t
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Re: Wizard Models

Postby dal-t » Wed Aug 14, 2019 5:55 pm

Well, I hope he makes a go of it, but there won't be many on-line orders from me. I was about to purchase a couple of ground signals and an odd bit and bob earlier this week, until I discovered that the postage was going to be more than twice the value of the goods. It's a fixed sum, so OK if you're buying kits (or even big signals - I do have a 7mm Distant that needs replacing ...) but 12 euros postage for an A5 jiffy bag is a bit steep!
David L-T

garethashenden
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Re: Wizard Models

Postby garethashenden » Wed Aug 14, 2019 6:04 pm

dal-t wrote:Well, I hope he makes a go of it, but there won't be many on-line orders from me. I was about to purchase a couple of ground signals and an odd bit and bob earlier this week, until I discovered that the postage was going to be more than twice the value of the goods. It's a fixed sum, so OK if you're buying kits (or even big signals - I do have a 7mm Distant that needs replacing ...) but 12 euros postage for an A5 jiffy bag is a bit steep!


It isn't a fixed sum, 12 euros is the MAXIMUM postage. Actual postage is calculated after the order is placed and you're charged accordingly.

dal-t
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Re: Wizard Models

Postby dal-t » Wed Aug 14, 2019 6:15 pm

Not on my computer - it was quite clear it was going to charge me the full wack, and I very nearly pressed 'Go' on the pay button. I appreciate postage costs have to cover packaging, and from the UK there are Royal Mail's inflated profits to subsidise, but I do get a bit steamed up with people who see overseas sales as an opportunity to extract the Michael. Fortunately, a certain well-known auction site provided equivalent goods at less than half the postage (even though they are also coming from the UK).
David L-T

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David B
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Re: Wizard Models

Postby David B » Wed Aug 14, 2019 8:48 pm

I am very sorry to hear about Wizard Models' decision not to attend future shows. If more traders were to go solely on-line and abandon exhibitions, it would be detrimental in the long term to both the trade and hobby. Being able to see items, purchase from several traders on the same day, asking and having questions answered, getting advice and finding out about new products are all very good reasons for attending shows. Not paying the accumulated p&p is a further incentive and keeps more money we modellers spend within the hobby.

If fewer traders attend exhibitions, the incentive for modellers to go will also decline, less will be bought because we are not able to see or be as well informed about what we buy, costs to the modeller will go up with the p&p and less money will go to the traders. How many of us are not sure about something and decide to buy (or do something else) after discussion with the trader and fellow modellers? How many times do we buy something we didn't know about before we went to the show? How often does our attendance at a show depend on whether particular traders are or are not going to be there? How many of you have made impulse buys at shows? Traders going solely on-line can only become a downward spiral for the hobby.

Societies and show organisers would be advised to give this scenario some thought before it becomes a reality. What circumstances might cause traders to decide to leave shows and go only on-line? What can Societies and show organisers do to mitigate those circumstances and encourage traders to keep attending? What could traders do for exhibitions to help make them more attractive to modellers? Exhibitions are not all about the layouts.

Then there is the social side, getting to know and build relationships with trader and meeting fellow modellers. We modellers depend on traders and they on us.

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Re6/6
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Re: Wizard Models

Postby Re6/6 » Thu Aug 15, 2019 5:49 am

David B wrote: What circumstances might cause traders to decide to leave shows and go only on-line?


I suspect that it's a matter of costs David. I believe that traders have to pay for attending shows plus their accommodation and travel. Unless something changes I reckon more will follow. Unfortunately it's a sign of the times.
John

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Paul Townsend
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Re: Wizard Models

Postby Paul Townsend » Thu Aug 15, 2019 6:57 am

I agree with David B's points.

I have experience as the Sales front of 4mm stuff for the Broad Gauge Society. I mostly sell by mail order but have attended up to 3 shows a year with stock. Compared to Wizards average of one every 3 weeks this is miniscule!

However, I note that the boost in sales, both at the show and later by mail is substantial for BGS.

Some of our traders do even more shows than Wizard.
Time was when there were far fewer shows so I fear the hobby is a victim of its own success.

I suggest that Wizard and others struggling should continue to attend shows but far fewer so as to lessen the overhead in workload, costs, time, energy. An occasional public appearance is essential IMHO.

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David B
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Re: Wizard Models

Postby David B » Thu Aug 15, 2019 7:34 am

Paul Townsend wrote: An occasional public appearance is essential IMHO.


A very good point. Not to be seen can mean soon to be forgotten.

Monty
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Re: Wizard Models

Postby Monty » Thu Aug 15, 2019 9:29 am

Yes a shame & I agree with David but this is the way things are going with the internet options. Look at the businesses closing down in the high street!With regard to Wizard I always got the impression that he would rather have been somewhere else but it was always useful to view what he had. I guess he is not selling enough to warrant attendance at a show after his expenses & he has assumed enough sales online to leave the show scene. I also like to view before I buy & sometimes discuss the options so I shall miss that if traders disappear. Take a chance online I suppose! There were not too many traders @ Railwells really so maybe the trend has started. A great pity.

Monty
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Re: Wizard Models

Postby Monty » Thu Aug 15, 2019 9:29 am

Yes a shame & I agree with David but this is the way things are going with the internet options. Look at the businesses closing down in the high street!With regard to Wizard I always got the impression that he would rather have been somewhere else but it was always useful to view what he had. I guess he is not selling enough to warrant attendance at a show after his expenses & he has assumed enough sales online to leave the show scene. I also like to view before I buy & sometimes discuss the options so I shall miss that if traders disappear. Take a chance online I suppose! There were not too many traders @ Railwells really so maybe the trend has started. A great pity.

Major Clanger
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Re: Wizard Models

Postby Major Clanger » Thu Aug 15, 2019 9:56 am

Two issues here:

Overseas P&P - this is all explained under the Delivery Charges section of the T&C page on the website. Because of the way the site and my card agent work, I can't see any other way of doing it at present. Weight could be introduced as a variable, but not all the products have been weighed yet, and Royal Mail's charges also depend on dimensions as well as weight. If you want it sent cheaper, then add a note to say you'd like standard air mail (or even the mail boat) rather than tracked and signed, but if it then goes missing... And before someone suggests couriers - I waste enough of my time waiting in for deliveries already, and I'm not prepared to add collections to it too.

Giving up shows - not a case of not making enough money at them, but that after 22 years I've had enough, and would like to get out at a time of my choosing rather than it being determined by (for example) my health. The time saved will be spent on improving the website, developing new products, and hopefully some modelling. It will also vastly simplify the business - we get at least two rooms of the house back! I will also be able to expand the range with other manufacturers' products, as it will no longer all have to fit in the van and trailer or on the show stand.

Andrew Hartshorne
Wizard Models Limited

Dave Franks
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Re: Wizard Models

Postby Dave Franks » Thu Aug 15, 2019 10:21 am

It's a sign of the times I'm afraid. Even when Lanarkshire Models started in 1999 it was sometimes seen as an advertising exercise to attend some shows as the profit margin was slim and by profit I mean the wages for doing the hours.... I sold that side of the business around 2007 and took a contract working for Glasgow museums for two years then started up the manufacturing side once more and started the casting business. For some shows now it would just not be worth the effort to attend as not so many people are doing things for themselves. Yes the cost of attending has gone up :- fuel cost, hotel cost, and the cost of the stand at the shows, it all mounts up and for me I would need to sell an awful lot of buffers to make a living so the internet shop is the answer, everyone from all over the country can buy from the website and I can sit at home in me pants and do the orders ready to post at the end of the day.... (please don't picture this too hard).
General shows have become too expensive for the small trader and I have been asked by exhibition managers why the small traders don't go to shows and the above is what I tell them . I have suggested that the small trader 'village' that Warley tried a few years ago with a 2mtr table at a minimal cost may be the answer but of course the second hand junk traders wouldn't like that would they and we all know the mark up they take on that stuff. I still visit shows as a punter but some have been crossed of the list as the decent traders aren't there any more and I've got enough junk of my own thanks.
Society shows are different as a higher percentage of visitors are modellers so there is a better chance of a sale plus of course the stand rent is kept at a more reasonable rate to attract and keep the small traders and we are all very grateful for that.

Dave Franks

http://www.lanarkshiremodels.com

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David B
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Re: Wizard Models

Postby David B » Thu Aug 15, 2019 11:59 am

It may be a 'sign of the times' and cost is a very important factor. This is why I said earlier that I feel it would be advisable for Societies and show organisers to give this some serious thought, to talk to the trade and see how they might work together to ensure continued attendance of traders at shows. It may well mean traders going to fewer shows, but if those shows were spread geographically, well advertised and supported by modellers, it would be a positive move for the hobby. I don't feel referring to it being a 'sign of the times' and doing nothing is going to help.

The alternative, I fear, is decline all round.

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Le Corbusier
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Re: Wizard Models

Postby Le Corbusier » Thu Aug 15, 2019 4:37 pm

David B wrote:It may be a 'sign of the times' and cost is a very important factor. This is why I said earlier that I feel it would be advisable for Societies and show organisers to give this some serious thought, to talk to the trade and see how they might work together to ensure continued attendance of traders at shows. It may well mean traders going to fewer shows, but if those shows were spread geographically, well advertised and supported by modellers, it would be a positive move for the hobby. I don't feel referring to it being a 'sign of the times' and doing nothing is going to help.

The alternative, I fear, is decline all round.


As far as the Scalefour shows are concerned, I wonder if small traders might be regarded in a similar light to demonstrators ... in many ways they fill a similar niche. If the reality is that costs are barely covered then where is the incentive? To punters like myself their presence is definitely one of the draws ... not simply for the opportunity to buy, but also both to see and handle what is available and also to talk .... most have considerable knowledge and expertise to impart. Maybe not workable .... but just a thought :thumb
Tim Lee

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Noel
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Re: Wizard Models

Postby Noel » Thu Aug 15, 2019 5:44 pm

The Society, I believe, does not make a lot of money from Scaleforum [and has made an occasional loss, I seem to remember], so its room for manoeuver may be rather limited.
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Noel

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Flymo748
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Re: Wizard Models

Postby Flymo748 » Thu Aug 15, 2019 6:38 pm

Le Corbusier wrote: As far as the Scalefour shows are concerned, I wonder if small traders might be regarded in a similar light to demonstrators ... in many ways they fill a similar niche. If the reality is that costs are barely covered then where is the incentive? To punters like myself their presence is definitely one of the draws ... not simply for the opportunity to buy, but also both to see and handle what is available and also to talk .... most have considerable knowledge and expertise to impart. Maybe not workable .... but just a thought :thumb


Responding on behalf of the Committee, I can say that for a few years now we have had a "Small Traders Rate" for space at Scaleforum.

This is precisely to enable the "purveyors of unusual bits and bobs" to be able to attend, meet customers both past and potential, and advertise their wares. Which often may not have the high profile of some of our more established suppliers.

I'll comment a little more on the economics of shows in response to a separate post.

Cheers
Paul Willis
Deputy Chairman
Beware of Trains - occasional modelling in progress!
www.5522models.co.uk

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Flymo748
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Re: Wizard Models

Postby Flymo748 » Thu Aug 15, 2019 8:36 pm

David B wrote:It may be a 'sign of the times' and cost is a very important factor. This is why I said earlier that I feel it would be advisable for Societies and show organisers to give this some serious thought, to talk to the trade and see how they might work together to ensure continued attendance of traders at shows. It may well mean traders going to fewer shows, but if those shows were spread geographically, well advertised and supported by modellers, it would be a positive move for the hobby. I don't feel referring to it being a 'sign of the times' and doing nothing is going to help.

The alternative, I fear, is decline all round.


As a Committee response, the one thing that we are strongly against is decline! However there are demographic and other external trends that mean it may inevitably have to be a managed decline, and perhaps a transition to a different type of exhibition.

Firstly, the Committee has been aware of fewer traders attending our (and other) shows for a couple of years now. This is not an overnight happening. The number of confirmed traders for Scalefour 2019 is three fewer (or less, if you prefer) that Scaleforum 2018. And I'm sure that 2018 was down on 2017, although I don't have the precise numbers to hand. The causes for fewer traders are generally one of three:

1 - Retirement from the business of hauling a transit van full of stock every weekend for most of the year - Andrew has my full sympathy in doing what he has indicated he will do.

2 - Demands on time - look at the commercial success of Modelu, which consequently means that Alan has no time to attend as many shows as he did when he started out. I can think of at least one other person that I suspect is in the same happy position with their business.

3 - Mergers and acquisitions - such as Parkside now being part the Eileen's stand, whereas previously they were at our shows in their own right. We are appreciative that the ranges such as these have not disappeared entirely.

All of this means an effect on the bottom line of shows. We (or rather Terry and Chris...) do some sophisticated modelling of possible outcomes for Scaleforum each year, as does James for Scalefour North. For Scaleforum 2019, the combination of fewer traders, and other traders taking smaller space means that were are predicting stand rent income down of almost 25%. That makes a significant difference to the size of the predicted deficit.

Now the ways to control or mitigate this are ones that are regularly discussed behind the scenes. Higher admission charges (compare what you pay for Scaleforum to a seat at a Premier League football match, or even a Saturday night at the cinema) is one route. Downsizing the show is another possibility for the future, or changing its format, so it becomes more like an AGM event, or even the original Scaleforums at City University (previously referred to here in passing, I think). But the Committee is aware of these alternatives, and will decide at the correct point which way to go.

As for "sign of the times", I'm afraid that it is. The numbers of new traders are not replacing the numbers no longer trading at shows. And the internet *is* more convenient for the majority of things. Maybe not glues and flux, but if I do know what I want (like another Ratio kit), then of course it's easier to click and buy.

The other element is the economic return for traders. We're pleased that the traders that attend our shows generally report high takings over the weekends. That encourages them to come back. But when attendance numbers keep dropping because more and more people are reluctant to travel distances to attend shows (although as someone has just emailed the Committee to say that they are coming 10,500 miles to attend Scaleforum 2019 because a particular layout is there, you do wonder about those who say they have difficulty finding and driving to Aylesbury), then it does become uneconomic for traders to travel, pay stand rent, and so on, for just a handful of sales.

That drop in attendance is another long term trend that will not reverse. So sooner or later, the financial model of shows, where pretty much universally the stand rents carry the bulk of the costs, and the ticket sales are the icing on the cake (have you enquired as to the costs of renting a trade stand at Warley, even with ticket sales of that scale?) for the organiser. Hence perhaps a future redesign of the Scaleforum model. But I'm not going to start that discussion here and now. It's one for the Scaleforum organiser, and the Committee.

I hope that this gives you all some insights into the issues at play. The Committee remains committed to putting on the best possible shows for the Society's membership, and will cut our cloth to keep doing this in future.

Cheers
Paul Willis
Deputy Chairman
Beware of Trains - occasional modelling in progress!
www.5522models.co.uk

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Le Corbusier
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Re: Wizard Models

Postby Le Corbusier » Thu Aug 15, 2019 9:01 pm

Flymo748 wrote: And the internet *is* more convenient for the majority of things. Maybe not glues and flux, but if I do know what I want (like another Ratio kit), then of course it's easier to click and buy.


An in built problem :?

If you know what you want the simple click is great.

But how do you browse/touch/feel/understand etc etc.

First the decline and all but demise of the model shop.

If trade stands go the same way at shows, then unless another friendly modeller can show and tell, you have to await on the arrival of the post to see if you actually want or are satisfied with the goods :shock:

If that happens then perhaps the show will need to morph into something far more like a workshop :?:
Tim Lee

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Horsetan
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Re: Wizard Models

Postby Horsetan » Thu Aug 15, 2019 9:08 pm

Dave Franks wrote:....I can sit at home in me pants and do the orders ready to post at the end of the day.... (please don't picture this too hard).....


I wouldn't have used the word "hard" in that context.
That would be an ecumenical matter.

SteamAle
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Re: Wizard Models

Postby SteamAle » Thu Aug 15, 2019 10:08 pm

Andrew
I fully understand where you are coming from and as you say, better to get out when you 'want to' rather than 'have to'. Hope it works out for you.
As an exhibition manager for a provincial show (Workington) where 90% of those through the door are locals, talking to the traders is very important. I could fill the show with lots of stalls, especially those trying to sell rubbish (I've seen the same one stand for many years at a show and do wonder if he ever sells some of it!).

I'm chuffed to bits that Squires attend and recently Grosmont books. I have two 'local' model shops,C&M Models and Crafty Hobbies, Stephen's Carriages/Millholme Models, now CSP Models (me), local railway museum with surplus items and a variety of Societies who sell lots of different things between them. Wakefield moved their show date to same weekend as mine due to Warley 'ruling the roost' and it has actually had a small impact, even though it is on the other side of the country!

The number coming through the doors has started to show a slow decline, so income there is dropping. A couple of stands have dropped out and not been replaced because I want the traders that do attend to have sufficient takings to make them want to come back next year.
Visiting layout transport and accommodation costs are our biggest expense, after the venue, so I have to work to a shrinking budget to try and break even. It never ceases to amaze me what some people/clubs expenses are to bring their layout to a show. Eight operators, hire van for four days and three cars is unlikely to be invited due it costing two thirds of my budget. A layout that comes in a car with two operators probably will be, if it is not straight out of the box RTR.

I'm full this year but if the owner of an S4 layout would like to exhibit please let me know. Bob Hetherington brought Garrigill for its first outing, letting him make improvements for its outings to Scotrail and S4 events.

There are no easy answers but having spoken to traders who did not manage to cover their costs over a two day event it can be very depressing. One can only hope that people remember who and how to get in touch they will purchase at the 'click of a button', if they provide the service, at a later date!

Philip

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Flymo748
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Re: Wizard Models

Postby Flymo748 » Fri Aug 16, 2019 4:47 am

Le Corbusier wrote:
Flymo748 wrote: And the internet *is* more convenient for the majority of things. Maybe not glues and flux, but if I do know what I want (like another Ratio kit), then of course it's easier to click and buy.


If trade stands go the same way at shows, then unless another friendly modeller can show and tell, you have to await on the arrival of the post to see if you actually want or are satisfied with the goods :shock:

If that happens then perhaps the show will need to morph into something far more like a workshop :?:


That is a possibility, as I said in my explanation. Many times people have said that the primary reason for coming to a show is to meet friends and see people. It becomes more like a "convention".

And we have tried to cater for the practical side this year by making a theme of trackbuilding workshops. We're even laying in extra stocks of Exactoscale track components for the Stores, in case there is a "rush".

So evolution will happen, as it has done in the past. We just don't know exactly when and how.

Cheers
Paul WIllis
Deputy Chairman
Beware of Trains - occasional modelling in progress!
www.5522models.co.uk

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Paul Townsend
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Re: Wizard Models

Postby Paul Townsend » Fri Aug 16, 2019 6:28 am

SteamAle wrote:Visiting layout transport and accommodation costs are our biggest expense, after the venue, so I have to work to a shrinking budget to try and break even. It never ceases to amaze me what some people/clubs expenses are to bring their layout to a show. Eight operators, hire van for four days and three cars is unlikely to be invited due it costing two thirds of my budget. A layout that comes in a car with two operators probably will be, if it is not straight out of the box RTR.

I'm full this year but if the owner of an S4 layout would like to exhibit please let me know. Bob Hetherington brought Garrigill for its first outing, letting him make improvements for its outings to Scotrail and S4 events.

Philip


This part of your post attracted my attention and I make this comment:
Being close to the Lake District makes the idea of exhibiting at your show attractive as I would reduce the expenses claim on the basis that the journey would allow for a consecutive walking holiday.

However I am not offering to come because of your show date in November when said holiday would be a no-no.

My point is that many shows near National Parks could attract layouts at lower cost using this idea but the Organiser would need to choose dates to make it attractive.

Logistics would require a place to store the layout locally while said holiday happened and second operator may require a train fare home.

Clearly these complications may rule it out but I commend the idea to Organisers to think about.

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PeteT
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Re: Wizard Models

Postby PeteT » Fri Aug 16, 2019 7:18 am

There are a few points being raised here, which I'm in no place to answer but hopefully these ramblings are a useful input to the discussion:
1. Specialist traders could cut down to just the timescale shows - but how do people aspire to the finescale end without picking up a couple of bits & pieces to try at a normal show? Online forums are good at showing that normal people can achieve great things - but isn't the full answer.
Also still doing some shows doesn't help Andrew claim rooms back in the house, & also as said with a stall of that size at some point age/health etc is going to bring a need to stop whether it is 1 weekend per year or 52.
2. Could the traders morph into a demo? Ie only bring 1 of everything. Don't actively sell, but show their wares & stimulate online orders (or possibly have a system to take orders at the time, but it would need to be slick so they didnt get lost, or end up with people sat in ordering queues for half the day). The other problem here is the cost model - online ordering can include a 'where did you hear about us' box, which would allow people to link the exhibition which generated their specific interest for that order - but would the traders then donate a cut to that show? Also for punters - are we happy paying for show entrance, and then P&P for subsequent online orders?

There is also the positive aspect for punters Andrew mentions, of allowing more time for product development (which quite a few ranges, especially all those involving driving wheels) have been berated for in recent years - but there are only so many hours in the day to allow this alongside current order fulfillment & show attendance.

One of the things I like about shows is the cross fertilisation of ideas - whether that be discussions between traders or traders & the public (or indeed public & public) so we do need this to continue even if the concept of a show morphs into something slightly different.

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David B
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Re: Wizard Models

Postby David B » Fri Aug 16, 2019 7:33 am

Thank you,Paul, for the detailed 'Committee response' a few posts above. It is very welcome and helps us, the members, not only to understand the complexities but to follow what the Committee is thinking, discussing and doing. In turn, we should be able to make better informed comments and suggestions.

Getting this sort of information was the intention of my proposal at the Huddersfield AGM to have the deliberations at Committee meetings made available to us, the members. There is, quite rightly, no sensitive material here; it puts everything in context and keeps us much better informed. I hope we might see more 'Committee responses' on other topics as and when they arise.


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