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Nine Inexpensive Techniques for Increasing Model Sales
By Mark N. Lardas
April 1, 2003

Times are tense for model retailers. The average store cannot usually compete on price and Internet sales make it hard to compete on convenience. That leaves service—the little extras that draw traffic into your store—as one of the few draws left to traditional hobby businesses. These simple and inexpensive techniques will help your store maximize its potential for face-to-face interaction.

1. Specialize. Having trouble attracting neighborhood customers? Give modelers a reason to travel to your store. Become the local expert in some aspect of modeling. Whether your niche is spacecraft or sailing ships, the word will spread among the hobby circuit that a model shop is working to serve the needs of the model community.

2. Sponsor Modeling Clinics. Many potential customers may never have built a model before. By offering both beginning and advanced techniques classes, you can help overcome a hobbyist’s fears and frustrations and get them building—and buying!

3. Hold Model-Making Contests. Too many P-51 models? Trying to encourage sales of steam engines or RC cars? Give customers a month to build a model and award a prize for the best one, or have an RC race in your parking lot. Regular competitions can increase traffic and spur sales.

4. Display Customers’ Models. Make space for your customers' handiwork in your display window and cases. It lets others know their work can make a difference by encouraging them to try out a featured model themselves.

5. Host a Model Club. Getting modelers together spurs them to build more models and bring new blood into modeling. An active modeling club gives hobbyists a social outlet for their craft.

6. Encourage Special Orders. Sometimes modelers want a special model or accessories to go with a current project. Make it easy for them to get what they need through your shop. Even if it is cheaper by mail, many people prefer a face-to-face transaction.

7. Provide Modeling Advice. If hobbyists can come to your shop and get their questions answered, they are more likely to start a project--and go on to the next one.

8. Foster Young Modelers: Today's youth is also today's customer. Kids have a disposable income, but are seldom exposed to model-making today. Find ways to bring them into your store by selling kits aimed at their interests.

9. Put up a Bulletin Board: Sacrifice some wall space for modelers to post announcements. That will bring others in to look at the board and your shelves. Consider allowing modelers to advertise their old or unwanted models there. Guess where they will buy new kits with the money they get?

Writer's Bio:
When Mark Lardas says something isn't rocket science, he knows. His career spans both space and e-commerce. His down-to-earth interests include models and writing. He combines both of these in articles for modeling magazines and as Boy's Life's Hobby Master.

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