THE Cub Report – Speak With Your Wallet
Well hello there rc fanatics, industry peeps, first day noobs, and grumpy old timers, welcome to THE Cub Report. What is THE Cub Report? A lot of rambling I guess, but really it is about just whatever strikes my mood, which sometimes even means talking about the wonderful world of rc.
Okay, so you can’t miss our coverage of the 2016 HobbyTown USA Convention sprawled all over our front page. Sometimes I forget just how many noobs read BigSquidRC, so they are probably pretty clueless about that particular show. Here are some CliffsNotes I took down on 2016HTCon-
* It is a “trade only” hobby show that goes down in Lincoln Nebraska. The only people admitted are HobbyTown USA dealers, distributors, and manufacturers. Oh and, us media types.
* Lincoln is the home base for HobbyTown USA. They have hundreds of stores across the nation which specialize in selling various hobby items. Most of their stores sell surface, air and water rc products, alongside games, puzzles, etc.
* Did you know that you can find our free (yes, truly free) BigSquidRC Monthly print edition at most HobbyTown locations? Well, now ya do.
* The convention is held mostly inside a local hotel/expo center. Some manufacturers have a “booth” of sorts in hotel rooms, while others have their “booths” in conference areas, while other still have their booths in a large expo area.
* #retailersfirst was an emphasis at this year’s show. What does retailers first even mean? To boil it down, it means to support local brick and mortars, a theme that I have Always pushed.
* If you are lucky enough to get an invite, expect to be fed well, VERY well. The HobbyTown people make sure they treat their dealers extremely well, with plenty of well-above-average food and drink.
* This year, buses took attendees out in the burbs to take a look at the new HobbyTown USA national offices. The HT people are now in bigger confines, it looked like brand new buildings to me, and they have a lot more elbow room. In fact, their distribution/shipping area was enormous. Ok, so not the biggest I’ve seen in the industry, but still, huge.
* Firelands Group is a big part of the success of HobbyTown. Firelands is a company that develops surface/air/sea rc products just for HobbyTown USA dealers, giving them an “in-house” line of sorts. The Firelands products have come a LONG ways the last couple of years, sporting great margins for dealers and a solid value for consumers. We saw loads of new products from Firelands names like Helion and Ares at the show.
* I didn’t see the hot red Ferrari parked out in front of the convention this year. I guess if it is anything like mine, it was probably in the shop. “Sigh”
* Most of the attendees stay in the host hotel, unless it is really busy, then they stay in an “overflow” hotel about 2 blocks away. Needless to say the show was extremely busy this year and the BSRC Bash Crew stayed in the overflow. This worked out great for us because I could access 4 Poké Stops and 1 gym from my hotel window. 🙂
* Speaking of attendance, the HobbyTown show did fantastic this year. It might have been a bit soft on the dealer side, but was completely packed with manufacturers. Good for the HobbyTown crew, it is nice to see a show doing well.
* Normally HobbyTown gives a commemorative show t-shirt to attendees. If you’ve been there as many years as I have, you have quite a few. This year they switched it up a bit giving away laptop/shoulder bags with HobbyTown livery. Inside the bag was lots of goodies ranging from a cold water bottle and cookies, to a HT sport mug. Very, very nice.
* I don’t know if it was the excellent food, the cold drinks, or the weather (I know it wasn’t the weather, it was Insanely hot), but everyone seemed to be in a great mood at the HobbyTown convention. Like… people were always smiling and talking to complete strangers, just like the good old days. Heck, even I had a good time, something that is quite rare now days.
* How long does it take to walk the show? I don’t really walk a show, ever. But for those on our crew that did, it easily took 4 hours to take a look at everything, and that was not stopping to chat. I tend to hit a booth and talk for 2 hours, so it probably would have taken me a week to walk the whole thing.
* The show is held in downtown Lincoln, which isn’t like most cities, it is actually nice and clean. There might not be much parking there, but it sure is held in a good area, no need to worry about being robbed or getting your car stolen.
* With so many HobbyTown owners and employees walking around, I had a blast asking about the latest consumer trends. From what I was told, scale is hot and Traxxas products still dominate, which is about what I’ve heard from other dealers this summer.
So there ya go, I have just given you the rundown on a show that 99.9% of you can not attend. But I guess that is my “job”, so there ya go. In closing I will say that I met a whole lot of exceptional people. They were smart, funny, and extremely passionate about the hobby. Just for kicks, why not Google your nearest HobbyTown USA location and make a road trip with your buddies? If you like their place and what they keep in stock, show them your appreciation by busting out your wallet. Surely you or your buddies could use a new car/truck/boat/drone/airplane.
Until next week, go fast, turn left, and support your local hobby shops and bash areas when ya can.
YOUR Cub Reporter