LA is a great city, but it's been suffering from a lack of good hobby stores for years. Found me a new one and I'm really excited about it! But what about where you live?
When I was a kid, or even in college, there were still a number of decent stores around. There were plenty of hobby shops of various specialties, several mom and pop game stores, and the chain stores of Wizards of the Coast and Game Keeper were still prevalent. There was even a big GW store at the Glendale Galleria, not that I was in to it then but it did fascinate me walking by. That kind of all went to pot in the early-mid 2000s when store after store closed down, unable to stay above water with a tanking economy. The few that survived downsized considerably.
In recent years, I've turned mostly to the internet for my hobby supplies. I don't think there are any game stores close to LAX anymore. At best you might get 10ft at the back of a struggling comic book store. Two of my former favorite hobby shops: The Whistle Stop in Pasadena (of Big Bang Theory fame), and Allied Model Trains in Culver City are both OK, but have both downsized to tiny shadows of their former glory. Even then they were (obviously) mostly dedicated to trains. Sure, there's the chains- Hobby People for RC stuff and rockets, Michaels (crap for what we do) and Hobby Lobby (far away, and homophobic pricks). This week with news that our closest GW store in San Pedro is closing next month, I found myself looking sadly at a future of a cold hobby, devoid of human interaction and expertise.
That changed with a lucky coincidence. I was trolling ebay for some Tamiya clear paint (I had thus far been unable to find any brick and mortar stores that carried any meaningful supply of Tamiya at all) and placed an order. When it arrived, I was excited to find it came from Burbank House of Hobbies- probably 10 miles from where I grew up. It's been there since 1952 and I never knew it existed!
|If this doesn't impress you, I'm jealous of where you live|
I looked through their catalog online and was floored. It's like Deet's favorite things all in one store! They stock the full Vallejo line including game and air (nobody carries Vallejo here). They've got Mig. Tamiya. AK. All these fancy things I've been wanting to try. I was in trouble.
|*sniff* It's so beautiful!|
Now this isn't particularly close to me- 25mi and easily an hour drive through traffic. I managed to convince the GF we needed to do some things on that side of town this weekend and made the pilgrimage. It was glorious! I managed to keep myself together and only spend $50. Here's my haul. Got some reviews to do soon.
But that brings me to the original intent of the post: what the heck do people do for hobby stuff now? In a city the size of LA, I've found precisely one store that stocks the stuff I want. Where do you buy supplies? Where do you learn new techniques? Is it really only the internet now? And where do you go to get a game in? I've got Trip's house, and...
I know the vast majority of our readers probably aren't from LA, so this is more of a general question on the state of the hobby. Are good little gaming and hobby stores still alive out there where you live? Here's hoping.