So the other day, Mike, the owner of the superlative Galaxy Hobby store, posted on Facebook that he was losing his lease and was shutting down the store by the end of June.
I was there a couple nights ago for the monthly meeting of the Galaxy Hobby Sci-Fi Club, of which I am currently Ringleader, and the store was looking pretty darned empty. Prices were crazy low, and even some of the display cases had “SOLD” signs on them.
It’s hard to say where locals can go for model supplies now; there’s a Hobby Lobby nearby, but they don’t have a lot in the way of paint and glue, and have no sheet styrene or styrene strip or brass tube or epoxy putty whatsoever. Skyway Model Shop, an excellent store that looks like your uncle’s cluttered basement, is still open, but that’s thirty minutes away. And there are a couple HobbyTowns in the area.
And certainly Hobby Lobby wouldn’t support a club the way Mike has. He provided a meeting room every month, keeping the store open late for us, and held two model contests (including the sci-fi specific Sci-Fan contest) every year, providing store gift certificates for prizes. True, he charged admission for the show, but I’m pretty sure that didn’t cover the cost of prizes.
At the club meeting, I called him over, and expressed our thanks for all he had done. He then got a standing ovation that just went on and on. A touching moment.
So, as Ringleader, it falls on me to decide where the club is going. First, I arbitrarily renamed the club the Galaxy Exiles. And then I got online and found some local library meeting rooms we can meet in. Can’t reserve a library meeting for months on end, only two months ahead; so there’ll be some months where we miss the deadline and have to scramble to find somewhere to meet. But we’ll cope; the club will go on.
But Sci-Fan, the annual contest, is dead, I’m afraid. To hold a contest, you need money (for prizes and perhaps to rent a hall), and the current structure of the club isn’t suited to handling money: No dues, no formal structure (Hell, I wasn’t even elected; Mike tagged me for the Ringleader position when the previous one moved away).
But there are other things we can do to keep the flame alive. Seattle IPMS holds a big contest every spring; we can inundate the (few) sci-fi categories with entries, and I think I’ll sponsor a couple sci-fi oriented special awards. Right offhand, I’m thinking “Best Big Walkie Thingie” and “Best Cheerful Fantasy Figure”.
I feel your pain. Out local Pat Catan’s is closing, and there’s no other craft store within a half-hour driving radius. And even if there were a Michael’s (who bought out Catan’s) around, they’re absolutely terrible, and seem to be dedicated to doing evil for evil’s sake (example: Catan’s was involved in a nonprofit effort for volunteers to knit, crochet, and otherwise craft warm clothing for the homeless. It cost the store hardly anything, and generated a lot of goodwill. When Michael’s took over, they not only put a stop to it, but decreed that all of the existing work was to be thrown away.)
The local hobby shop in my area went under a couple years ago, now I have no convenient way to send multicolored cardboard tubes with balsa/plastic fins and nose cones into the sky using smaller cardboard tubes packed with black powder…
Octo is a custom built rocket, consisting of 2.5 Estes Big Bertha body tubes, eight Big Bertha fins, a baffle mounted midship, to eliminate the need for recovery wadding, and a standard Big Bertha nose cone and parachute, she was built to be as slow and draggy as possible to give a more accurate slower liftoff, and her performance is nearly perfect on a C6-3 motor.
I also have an Estes V2 in research pattern paint, and a Maxi Alpha 3 that needs its maiden launch.
I’m glad you’re keeping on Rocketeer! If the library doesn’t work out, there may be a comics/game store in the area that would work. There’s a figure component in certain games, which might align nicely.
I’ve been a modeler (nowhere near Rocketeer’s level!) since I was about 7 or 8, and still enjoy it, but my hands just don’t seem to want to cooperate anymore. I can’t get the teeny-tiny fiddlybits to cooperate anymore, and my hand with a brush ain’t what it used to be.
Still, we have several awesome hobby stores in the St. Louis, my favorite being Mark Twain Hobby Center, in St. Charles. Models, R/C Cars and Airplanes, Model Railroad in several gauges, I love to just go there and hang out a bit. It’s cramped, but brightly lit, and not a single cubic cm of wasted shelf space.
I’m particularly glad to see so many kids there, taking up the various hobbies that keep the place open!
Sorry to hear about your loss, Rocketeer. For a modeler of your caliber, it must be particularly painful.