SE Michigan Model Train Show and Sale - November 27, 2022 in Saline

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SE Michigan Model Train Show and Sale - November 27, 2022 in Saline

Unread post by fmilhaupt »

This Sunday, November 27, Rails on Wheels is holding its annual Southeast Michigan Model Train Show and Sale at the Washtenaw Farm Council Grounds, between Ann Arbor and Saline, from 10am to 3pm.

The show features over 100 sales tables offering model trains and railroadiana, as well as several operating layouts in several of the facilities' buildings. Food is available on site.

The Farm Council Grounds are at 5055 Ann Arbor-Saline Road, 4.5 miles southwest of I-94 exit #175/Ann Arbor-Saline Road.

Admission is $5.00 per person for ages 12 and older. Children under 12 are admitted free when accompanied by a paid adult. "Early-Bird" admission is available for $10.00 per person, beginning at 8:00am. Parking is free.

More information, including a map to the show and details on selling at the show, can be found at http://www.railsonwheels.com
-Fritz Milhaupt

railroads2000
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Re: SE Michigan Model Train Show and Sale - November 27, 2022 in Saline

Unread post by railroads2000 »

Not worth the effort. I remember when this show was spread out through 3 buildings, now it's down to two and lots of empty tables. Same old vendors pushing the same old tried items from last year and years past, that no one wants. This show and the upcoming Ann Arbor Show in Saline are all we got. I remember the AA show back when it was at Pioneer High School, it was huge, on three levels; the main floor halls, the second floor halls, and the gym room. This show was packed, but the problem was the halls were two narrow when you had vendor tables and individuals who like to stop and chat instead of moving along, so the show moved to Saline. Now this show is down to the gym room and cafe area, it's starting to wain as well. I remember the Dearborn Show at the Civic Center back in the 90's and the Warren Show at the Community College, both are gone. There are really no good shows around town or any hobbies shops worth going to. P&D hobbies is gone, Joe's Hobbies is gone, the really good Rider's hobbies that were in Ann Arbor, Madison Heights, Lansing, etc., gone. There were a few hobby shops in Royal Oak along Woodward Ave, that I use to go to, all gone! I envy those that live in the greater Chicago area, St Louis and Kansas City areas that have the really large shows, along with modeler meet shows. This is why I have to buy from Lombard's, Engine House Service's, Midwest Models, and Model Train Market. The late 80's and the 90's were great when it came to train shows and hobby shops, I manage to go to at least 3 to 4 shows each year and I had hobby shops in Wyandotte, Taylor, Dearborn, Monroe, Farmington, Roseville, Madison Heights, Ann Arbor, Redford, Royal Oak, Plymouth, Utica, Livonia and Shelby Twp. Now those hobby shops that area around cater to model builders-cars, ships & plans, and radio control model; what train items they carry are basic and for the beginner and they don't carry railroad magazines either. I miss the good ole days.

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Re: SE Michigan Model Train Show and Sale - November 27, 2022 in Saline

Unread post by Ypsi »

railroads2000 wrote:
Sun Nov 27, 2022 2:35 pm
Not worth the effort. I remember when this show was spread out through 3 buildings, now it's down to two and lots of empty tables. Same old vendors pushing the same old tried items from last year and years past, that no one wants.
I will say the main thing that saved it for me was finally finding an Ann Arbor Railroad OMI caboose for a deal (The main reason I do a last pass because this wasn't out my first pass of the table). Otherwise I was in and out in before 11. I found that that of the HO tables that were there, there were "decent" things but nothing really stood out. The size of the show was what stood out to me, as it was not good at all this year. I do not blame the Rails on wheels group for the size issues, as there is only so much you can do to get people to come sell their stuff. It seems like we are getting to a point where there are WAY more buyers than sellers in the last 10 years, and it is causing the train shows to have less decent deals to pick up. As a "young adult" in the hobby, I know I have really no reason to sell lots of "things" for a "deal" at a show, and if I do get rid of something it is normally only one thing at a time, so to eBay it normally goes. Pricing actually seemed decent on most tables this year, and I did not really have the thought of "same old tired items from years past", but I basically ignore anything larger than HO other than a glance, so that may be the case for larger scales or the non-model things.
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sandpatch1
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Re: SE Michigan Model Train Show and Sale - November 27, 2022 in Saline

Unread post by sandpatch1 »

Well, This one was a surprise. A lot of families, Good, and was surprised at the amount of buyers, real buyers not just guys telling you a story of why they cant buy. People were friendly, maybe happy to leave the family behind for a day. Layout were outstanding. And the operators more than willing to talk trains' ..
You can pine for the days of $2 BB but the stuff today is increadable. Maybe to detailed for operations. Will be back next year if the heart holds out,

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Re: SE Michigan Model Train Show and Sale - November 27, 2022 in Saline

Unread post by Garry K »

Unfortunately, our Rails on Wheels model train show was smaller this year, but that seems to reflect that model railroading seems to be slowly fading away. At least I had fun running my model trains at the show, plus I did get a teen-aged relative of my girlfriend to attend, and he also had fun running trains. I also bought a few things.

At one time, though, when I was backing a long train into the yard (also backing around a corner), I did cause a major derailment! It looked almost like a real derailment, except that my fake coal loads in the open hoppers did not spill out like real coal would have spilled. I think the problem might have been those three open hoppers near the front of the train were not quite as heavy as they should have been. They were 3.1, 3.0, and 2.9 ounces with the coal loads. NMRA weight calls for 3.6 ounce (each) for that length of car. C'est la vie! Those open hoppers pulled just fine going forward, but it seems they jumped a switch when being pushed backward. Naturally, I had my back to the front of the train as I was watching my train back over a couple of switches into the yard. I only became aware of the derailment when a few folks started yelling at me!

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Re: SE Michigan Model Train Show and Sale - November 27, 2022 in Saline

Unread post by fmilhaupt »

One of the things that has hurt train shows in general is that we've lost a lot of the guys who sell trains and related stuff as a regular business in the past several years.

G&G Hobbies out of Leslie used to buy quite a few tables at shows and was a good reliable source of new N scale. Closed and gone, now.

"Smilin' Steve" Scanes and the traveling part of his hobby shop used to buy a lot of space at area shows, but that is no more.

Funny Pages Hobbies in Owosso used to bring DCC stuff to the Rails on Wheels show. Funny Pages is closed and gone, now.

Then Dave's Books used to buy a lot of tables at local shows, but cut back drastically on the number of shows that he does, and the number of tables as well.

A complaint that I heard yesterday was about nobody being there selling DCC decoders. That's been a problem for years at Michigan shows, since we don't have any local dealers who have much of a focus on selling DCC, and haven't had a train show-oriented DCC dealer in the area since Don Mustunis' DCCM closed down after another guy bought it and then passed on, himself.

The glory days of the "basement bomber" dealers of new stuff are long past, with most distributors refusing to deal with would-be dealers who don't have a physical retail storefront.

I've looked at what it would take to get serious about selling at train shows on a regular basis- handling model railroad estate sales is still a viable business if you go into it realistically. Demand for used Lionel, which used to drive a lot of the estate sale business, has nose-dived and prices have cratered as a result which makes it harder to justify the effort to enter or even to stay in that business, though. I've been seeing a lot of really nice-looking Lionel go unsold at prices that would have been considered a steal just ten years ago. Likewise, a flood of good, usable, older brass scale locomotives has become available all at once and is driving prices in that part of the market down. Good for the purchaser, lousy for the seller.

The idea of selling DCC at train shows was another thing I looked at. The problem with that being the sheer amount of money I'd need to tie up in inventory to have a reasonable selection. I came to the conclusion that the money I'd have tied up in inventory would go a long way toward buying the stuff to build my own "lifetime model railroad".

The big killer for me was simply thinking of the number of weekends I'd have to spend sitting behind a table trying to sell stuff instead of spending time with my family, attending operating sessions or working on my own model projects. If I were a sales person or a "horse trader" by nature, I'd probably see it differently.
-Fritz Milhaupt

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Re: SE Michigan Model Train Show and Sale - November 27, 2022 in Saline

Unread post by GTW Dude »

fmilhaupt wrote:
Mon Nov 28, 2022 5:53 pm
Likewise, a flood of good, usable, older brass scale locomotives has become available all at once and is driving prices in that part of the market down. Good for the purchaser, lousy for the seller.
Another reason is plastic models are giving brass a run for it's money. Plastic has already taken over the diesel market with the superb attention to detail nowadays. Steam on the other hand, is often times dominated by brass in terms of accurate prototypical detail which is how it's resale value stays up.

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Re: SE Michigan Model Train Show and Sale - November 27, 2022 in Saline

Unread post by TommyG »

I have to agree with most of the replies on this thread. It sure does seem like there are a lot more buyers than sellers these days. I don't know how many of you all went to the show in Lansing a few weeks ago but I can tell you, it was packed! You could barely move through the aisles at times. Of course, it's hard to tell how many people actually walked out with something. I know this sounds like Captain Obvious but I'll say it anyway: Ebay and other online sellers/retailers have really cut in to Train Shows and the local hobby shops that would also set up at some of these shows (my local shop, Empire Hobbies in Troy closed a few years ago). Before online sales got big, we had to "settle" for what we could find in person at shows or a local hobby shop. There is no need for someone to settle for anything anymore with everything you could ever want at your finger tips. But still, it is kind of fun to go to a show and come home with something I didn't know I wanted. Also, I don't think anybody has mentioned this but for at least the last five years (it is probably more but I really can't remember) there is another train show at SS Simon and Jude Church in Westland the exact same day as this show. I start the day at this show then head over to the SS Simon and Jude show on my way back home. I'm sure the trains I'm interested in are a lot different than most of you all; I collect postwar Lionel Trains, so I have to say the show in Westland was much better for me as that show was mostly Lionel and American Flyer. Anyway, all I can say is that whether I spend just $5 on admission or $500 on trains, it is still nice to get out and look at some train stuff and see other people enjoying the hobby as much as I do.

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Re: SE Michigan Model Train Show and Sale - November 27, 2022 in Saline

Unread post by aadti »

For me it's a case of being in West Michigan and having to drive as least an hour to get to any shows other than the one left in GR. I switched to N-Scale a few years ago, and found Facebook groups that have auctions on a regular basis. I'm the current Superintendent of my local NMRA Division and we have been looking for a venue in our area to hold a Show but I'm beginning to think why bother.
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Re: SE Michigan Model Train Show and Sale - November 27, 2022 in Saline

Unread post by fmilhaupt »

One of the things I enjoy about train shows is that I often find used things that I wouldn't on eBay- in my modeling niche (HO scale, 1940s-1950s PM and C&O), an awful lot of what I look for comes from guys getting out of the hobby who can't or won't do eBay. Or, more often lately, their buddies selling their estates who are also not inclined to do things online. That part of it tends to be pretty generational.

I'm not really seeing a younger crowd getting into selling at shows- at both the shows I went to last month (Lansing and Saline), I noticed less than a handful of tables being run by anyone under about 60, aside from some club-run tables. I'm pretty certain that, as TommyG said, eBay and Facebook groups play a big part in this,with younger hobbyists (who presumably have more patience for packing and shipping stuff than I do) using those instead. The whole "hobby life cycle" idea of when in people's lives they can or are willing to be involved in the hobby figures into this.

Again, I think that a lot of it is generational- I was reaching a point where my career was becoming stable enough that I had money to spend on the hobby during the early 1990s, when there was a train show within 75 miles of home pretty much every weekend from September into April. There were no online options competing for hobby dollars. You had guys like Ray Nikolai staging train shows for every usher's club and cheerleading squad that had an all-purpose room and some tables available, so shows were plentiful and were social events in the hobby.

A lot of the people I see selling at shows are still holdovers from those days. That was one of the things that struck me when Art Zombor passed a couple of months ago and I realized how many years I'd seen him sitting behind tables at shows. And of course, all those years, we were both getting older.

If I'm lucky, I'll have about 30 more good years left in the hobby. During that time, I expect to see all but very few train shows, as we have known them, fade away. I'm hopeful that we'll see some new and different ideas for promoting the hobby "in the flesh" emerge.
-Fritz Milhaupt

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