Blue Ridge Hobbies, a local hobby retailer, is celebrating ten years of selling model railroading and hobby-related items to the world from its Greenville brick-and-mortar retail store.
Blue Ridge Hobbies started as an online business back in 2005 offering deeply discounted hobby items for two years. Then in 2007 they opened their first retail store. This location was just a small 1,200 sq. ft. storefront on N. Pleasantburg Dr across from the Home Depot. While 98% of the business was coming from internet orders, the crush of customers both in store and online forced BRH to move across the street and expand to a 5,000 sq. ft. store with a much larger shipping departed and 6 employees.
From 2009 until 2012 they remained at this location and expanded the retail stores offerings to include RC, helicopters, planes, boats, slot cars and plastic model kits and greatly expanding the selection of model railroading products in HO, N and O scales at the new location.
As we all know, the economy took a big hit soon thereafter. However, Blue Ridge Hobbies sales both online and at the brick-and-mortar location remained strong. Sales remained strong until 2012 when the model railroad industry in general suffered some major set backs with their ability to get products produced and shipped to their dealers and consumers.
So, with the lack of product availability, it was decided to shrink the store size in 2012. Blue Ridge Hobbies decided to move back across the into two storefronts with 2,400 sq. ft. in total retail and shipping space. However, product availability still had not recovered. Sales continued to dwindle as there was not enough products to sell despite customer demand. Backorders and advance reservation became the new normal.
When Blue Ridge Hobbies started online there where approximately 130,000 items offered via our website of which about 90,000 where available for sale each day online. At that time orders where filled and shipped to customers world wide with 2 to 3 business days. Today, they still offer about the same number of products but there are on about 45,000 items available to sell effectively cutting sales potential in have.
Sales hit rock bottom in 2015. Their local competition closed along with others nationally and internationally. Currently, Blue Ridge Hobbies is the only model train store in South Carolina and the only brick and mortar model train from just north of Charlotte to Atlanta. There are no similar stores from Virginia to Tennessee. They are the only one that deeply discounts so customers continue to come to us for their model railroading needs.
Some have started that the model railroad hobby is dying, yet everyday new customers are seen in their store coming from around the world. Plus, the hobby can be computerized now and run by Blue Tooth or just the old school transformer! The age group for the hobby is 6 to 90 years old and our customers reflect that.
Blue Ridge Hobbies is celebrating its 10th year operating the retail location, now back to 1,200 sq. ft. They now only feature HO Scale in the store with some O Scale Lionel products. But online for the last 12.5 years they have offered all scales of model railroading at deeply discounted prices. Their small location competes with larger online and retail operations in New York, Baltimore and other stores around the world. However, they offer the lowest overall pricing for all of the customers needs.
Their current retail store now has a very lean number of products offerings in HO and some O scale. The store front offers what we call the ‘bread and milk’ of the hobby. The retail store is more like a convenience store now.
Most local customers now just order online and pick up at the store. In fact, they have customers from around the USA and the world that once or twice a year travel through Greenville, SC. They order all year long online and then pick up their orders on their next visit. This week alone, they had customers from Australia and Belgium picking orders in the store!
Please visit www.blueridgehobbies.com for additional information and to start a wonderful new hobby.