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astronomy stores going out of buisness?

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#51 maknewtnut

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Posted 18 January 2013 - 09:32 AM

Gus touched upon an important point in his reference to Walmart. Touch and feel is important to many, but often relates only to sales. What about service?

Over the course of years, I found I was dead wrong in my perception of how important this issue is to many. You can find many threads where folks state they received a product with an issue, and having it replaced was then referred to as 'great service'. Add a year, call that same retailer and ask a simple question to 'tech support', and it's painfully obvious most don't give a damn about service (or know anything about the product their company sells).

#52 Paul G

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Posted 18 January 2013 - 09:48 AM

Gus touched upon an important point in his reference to Walmart. Touch and feel is important to many, but often relates only to sales. What about service?

Over the course of years, I found I was dead wrong in my perception of how important this issue is to many. You can find many threads where folks state they received a product with an issue, and having it replaced was then referred to as 'great service'. Add a year, call that same retailer and ask a simple question to 'tech support', and it's painfully obvious most don't give a damn about service (or know anything about the product their company sells).


:) That's why I buy from Company 7, they take care of any problems I may encounter. They have facilitated repairs for me that would not have gone as smoothly without their intervention. I don't mind paying a little more to know that I won't be ignored if I run into any issues.

#53 George Methvin

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Posted 18 January 2013 - 10:33 AM

Times changes and nothing can change that. I live a 5 hour drive to Astronomics and with the price of gas and my time its is just not cost efficent. So the intertnet the only way I can buy my Astro stuff. You folks are lucky to live close to a astro shop most of us are not that lucky.

#54 csrlice12

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Posted 18 January 2013 - 10:41 AM

I truely believe we, as a global civilization, are coming around back to "buy local" where we can. This is not just happening here in the US, but all over the world. The internet has opened up the world and made it smaller...but only for actual, material things....for those things like customer service or custom designed items...local is the way to go. I believe that in the near future, while corporations will still exist, smaller, locally owned businesses will make a comeback. Yes, many of them, like now, will be getting their inventory from corporations; but there will also be many new, small, astronomy businesses that will start up. We've seen a few of them here in these forums...and I've bought from some of them...sometimes you DO have to look at the past to see the future.........

#55 Greyhaven

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Posted 18 January 2013 - 10:43 AM

In Maine as far as I can determine no store carries any equipment for astronomy, except insect repellent and cold weather gear. When I purchased my old nexstar 5i I had to travel to New Hampshire to find a dealer, and he carried minimum stock and the trained clerks were always off that day,their main business was in camera supplies, so of course that was their focus. That was where I bought my first real scope Nexstar 5i, I didn't receive any real help from the staff they seemed pleased that they have the item in stock and would not have to repack a display model for me.They went out of the astronomy sales a few years later. I guess that experience just made it so much easier for me to switch to ordering what I want on line. I feel as though I naturally tend to buy from smaller dealers, but don't deal over the phone with them, simple web transactions, and find the items are always as advertised and my buddies here @ CN help me choose correctly.I trust your judgement a lot more than a clerk behind the counter that doesn't seem to know at least as much as I do about my purchase needs. Astronomy is a small market, we've got small dealers that host our site and the only way we can keep our supply chain going is buy online shopping we owe it to support the small to midsized dealers that depend on us.
Thanks for listening and as always
Be Well
Grey

#56 Jay_Bird

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Posted 18 January 2013 - 11:27 AM

Another to remember well - Roger Tuthill, 'your astronomical friend' as I recall, known for customer service and innovative accessories for Celestron SCTs back in the day.

I don't buy much, but I've decided to think more about where or what I buy, and about indirect effects like support for local schools vs. internet savings. An internet store that supports outreach, the hobby in general, science education or IDA, and gives good 'personal' internet/e-mail/phone service and advice is the second best thing to brick and mortar.

I'm more acutely aware of these thoughts based on recent events: I bought several times over about 5 years from our B&M astronomy store, a couple visits same cost as family movie night, another purchase was more like family weekend vacation.

Then for another year's bigger-ticket purchase I shopped around to save 10% on-line... I figured I'd go back to local store soon enough to check the used gear, books, or the microscope I'd been eyeing there. The local club newsletter told of the store's closing before I went back...

I don't think I put them under pesonally but a larger application of my attitude did. Too much price point shopping gets you only commodity items to choose from and a 'commodity' level of service, or at least helps close your local store.

The guys at the store were alright, it was a good asset for the local hobby community, and I'd bumped into the sales staff several times when I drove the family out to a local dark sky site, the store crew was observing with customers and going a few steps further than in-store set-up for teaching scope use & observing skills.

We've lost the astronomy store, a Sportsman's warehouse location that had a good binocular section, and several camera/birding stores in Nevada over the last decade.

#57 Binojunky

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Posted 18 January 2013 - 01:48 PM

In my local area (Barrie-Toronto,Canada) Astro-Mechanics, Efstonscience and Perceptor have all closed their doors, all of these companies had been in the astro business for a lot of years, Perceptor,s name was assumed by another store in another area, Efstonscience has gone mail order only and no longer deals in astro gear, just other stuff,Astro-mechanics shut its doors very abruptly leaving several unhappy customers out of pocket with money plonked down but gear never ordered,I mainly buy on line now from a reputable company either in Canada or the US,DA.

#58 Thomas Karpf

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Posted 18 January 2013 - 02:11 PM

If I was to ever go into a store such as Astronomics, I'd have to bring a change of underwear with me.


Astronomics would be a nine hour drive from Louisiana. I would HOPE you would bring a change of underwear for an over-night trip. ;)

#59 starrancher

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Posted 18 January 2013 - 02:39 PM

If I was to ever go into a store such as Astronomics, I'd have to bring a change of underwear with me.


Astronomics would be a nine hour drive from Louisiana. I would HOPE you would bring a change of underwear for an over-night trip. ;)


I thought I read somewhere that they provide complimentary disposables for those that have problems controling themselves .
:lol: :lol: :lol:
In the interest of misinformation being distributed , I was just joking . I believe you need to bring your own . :grin:

#60 rmollise

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Posted 18 January 2013 - 03:03 PM

Rod I thought about you the Last week, I pick up a bottle of rebel yell 80 proof burbon. Very very smooth, move over JD. LOL


JD? Feh! :lol:

#61 csrlice12

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Posted 18 January 2013 - 03:18 PM

...the lens in this scope is made from recycled Rebel Yell bottles, everything is blurry, makes you stumbles around. The proper placement of this scope is critical. Proper placement of this scope requires removing the cap and placing the capped end to the mouth, turing the base of the lens towards the sky, and swallowing until the lens is clear.......According to Uncle Rod, multiple lenses are a must at every viewing opportunity.......

#62 Pauls72

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Posted 18 January 2013 - 03:21 PM

My some what local store (20/20 Telescope) was over an hours drive away. I bought a most of my equipment from Chris as did others that I know. He's been gone for a couple of years, so it doesn't leave me much choice. There is no one in the Chicago area that I know of with a B&M store.

Because I travel a lot for work, I have gotten to visit a number of B&M stores across the country and I have purchased something from most of them. I've also gone to a number of star parties where there where some vendors, but even those are getting to be fewer.

#63 Paul G

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Posted 18 January 2013 - 06:23 PM

Times changes and nothing can change that. I live a 5 hour drive to Astronomics and with the price of gas and my time its is just not cost efficent.


That's where we differ. If I lived five hours from Astronomics I'd gladly make the drive. Cost efficiency isn't as important to me as supporting a b+m dealer. Different strokes.

#64 starrancher

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Posted 18 January 2013 - 06:50 PM

Times changes and nothing can change that. I live a 5 hour drive to Astronomics and with the price of gas and my time its is just not cost efficent.


That's where we differ. If I lived five hours from Astronomics I'd gladly make the drive. Cost efficiency isn't as important to me as supporting a b+m dealer. Different strokes.


Five hours is a long drive . It gets old after awhile . I know . I've done it so much that I really dread doing it anymore . I didn't bother me in the beginning , but after fifty times or so , it's not fun anymore .
If I knew I was going to make a major purchase , (new scope) and was assured what I wanted was good in stock , I'd do it . Other than that , I think I'd have it delivered . Oculars , filters and other small stuff , where's UPS eh ?

PS ... Don't get me wrong , I love to browse at the b&m . And wish there were more out there . When still in So. Cal. , OPT was about an hour and a half from me . Scope city Costa Mesa was about an hour without traffic . (the lovely 91) . That said , I might see OPT once a year . Scope city , I visited once ever .
If indeed there would have been a retailer within twenty or thirty minutes , they'd probably get sick and tired of seeing me all the time .
It's a small niche . Too bad the popularity isn't larger in this niche as no doubt things would be different . But with a sluggish economy , a lot of non necessity purchases have slowed and closures of many b&m businesses are seemingly more the norm anymore .
One can get a smokin deal on a new pickup truck right about now if you hold out a few weeks . That salesman will drop the price by thousands if you know how to play the game . Same deal on recreational vehicles if any sort .
Food , water and the utility bills are sorely less likely to be discounted .
:tonofbricks:

#65 Hilmi

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 05:17 AM

Every time time I travel to any country I research the astronomy equipment stores, I have yet to find one. Last time I was in Malaysia, I took a 2 hour taxi drive to find it was a a fishing equipment store with a single display case for astronomical equipment. I purchased a barlow and a 14% ND moon filter.

I get good service online, I get advice from OPT on what equipment to buy and when I have problems they have proposed to me solutions, they have not always managed to resolve my problems, but in general I get to communicate with individual staff members by email and sometimes we chit chat and compare notes on equipment we use for imaging. That's far more than the "service" of the B&M store that sold me my first scope and didn't even know which way you looked through a Newtonian scope. I hear the same great things being said about Astronomics.

At least online you get so many different choices from different manufacturers in one place. An actual walk in store normally can't afford to keep that much inventory!

#66 Tim D

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 10:12 AM

OPT has really great deals- during the elections they had no sales tax, if you purchased anything during the month of Dec you received OPT Cash to use at a later time, I even believe they were doing free shipping on items. Yes, I live close by- but still they have GREAT service and a lot to choose from, Just wait for the sales or call them about their buyers discount points- Which I have used in the past for some great deals.
Tim

#67 piaras

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 11:24 AM

In my local area (Barrie-Toronto,Canada) Astro-Mechanics, Efstonscience and Perceptor have all closed their doors, all of these companies had been in the astro business for a lot of years,


I have driven up to Perceptor from Niagara Falls area several times over the years. Did so just to be able to look at the equipment that I was interested in, used usually. I also used their mail order side as well. The first owners, a mom and pop, had gotten into the trade as THEY were unhappy with what was available. Very nice couple that sold due to health. The next owners took over in a time that disposable income fell to very low levels. To live they held outside jobs and could not run the store full time. There was not much left when the assets were purchased by KWTelescope.

Efstonscience I did visit, but the prices were very large city prices not my small town sized. I bought a 2.5" reflector mirror there for my Gilbert scope back in the last 70s. Other than that, some science stuff but no Astro stuff.

Currently I have been dealing with KWTelescope since Brady started as a web store only, I drive up there a couple times a year, either on the way to/from the observatory or just to the store and back. Both Brady and Brian are active users of their products. Lots of advise, tips etc. I will continue to to support this two hour away local store as long as they are there. I hope for a good long time.
Pierre

#68 JimMo

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 12:49 PM

There is a nice B&M store in Sutton's Bay, Michigan called Enerdyn Science. I believe the owner was a science professor at a local college or university, although I don't know which one. Large inventory of astronomy gear on display, more than you'd ever imagine in a small tourist town. I suppose he sells high end gear to the well to do folks who rent or own those large beach houses on the Lake Michigan shore. Whenever I'm up there I make it a point to stop in to see whats new. Here is his website as they do internet sales, too.

#69 microstar

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 02:55 PM

The Internet has changed things in a big way. First, you now have a continent-wide audience for your used equipment ads (think Astromart and Canada-wide Astro Buy-Sell) where you can not only sell things but put up wanted ads for obscure things (and often find them). It's no longer going to the B&M store and posting an ad on the bulletin board or setting up a consignment sale. Second, their other selling attribute, customer service, is taken over by Internet groups such as this one. Have a problem? No need to go to the B&M store to get help, just post your question and wait for responses. Third, what everyone else has noted, it costs money for a B&M storefront and staff competing against warehouse-only online store prices. Makes for a tough business model.
...Keith

#70 Starman1

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 03:56 PM

Overhead for a brick & mortar store is so high and the retail profit margins so low, I have no clue how any astronomy dealer can keep a storefront open these days.
I can only see it if the astronomy part of the business is only part of the business.
In a county with 12.6 million people, we have only one store left selling astronomy equipment, and it's divided into camera gear and astronomy products.
That tells you a little bit about the local demand, even here in SoCal, a "hotbed" of astronomy interest.

In on-line sales, however, you not only reach all the US astronomers but thousands of international customers as well. And the overhead is much less. With a larger customer base and a lower overhead, the small margins in the business can be OK. I still have hopes of eventually getting to "the black". :lol:

#71 JimMo

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 05:25 PM

Overhead for a brick & mortar store is so high and the retail profit margins so low, I have no clue how any astronomy dealer can keep a storefront open these days.
I can only see it if the astronomy part of the business is only part of the business.
In a county with 12.6 million people, we have only one store left selling astronomy equipment, and it's divided into camera gear and astronomy products.
That tells you a little bit about the local demand, even here in SoCal, a "hotbed" of astronomy interest.

In on-line sales, however, you not only reach all the US astronomers but thousands of international customers as well. And the overhead is much less. With a larger customer base and a lower overhead, the small margins in the business can be OK. I still have hopes of eventually getting to "the black". :lol:


Yes, the Enerdyn Science store I mentioned above sell all kinds of educational "toys" and the astronomy department is only part of the store. I know that when the tourists are out shopping in Sutton's Bay everyone is drawn in to the store by the windsocks, kites, and the educational stuff, but I'm sure many women with husband and kids in tow say, look honey, you've always talked about getting a telescope. And believe me, if you've got the money you can get a really nice complete set up from what he has in stock. He's the only B&M store I've seen that had a complete TV Gibraltar mount set up with a TV85 or 101 mounted on it.

#72 frebie

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 05:52 PM

He's not the only well-equipped B&M store. If you're ever in Oklahoma, stop by our shop. We have the NP127is set up on a walnut Gibraltar 5, an NP102 on an ash Gibraltar, a TV85 on an ash Panoramic, a TV76 on a TelePod, and a TV60 on a TelePod.

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#73 kbastro

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 10:38 PM

been to astronomics a few times and each time you bled me for a few grand,,,

so now I treat that area as a hazardous to my financial health zone!!!

:roflmao:

#74 George N

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 11:58 PM

Overhead for a brick & mortar store is so high and the retail profit margins so low, I have no clue how any astronomy dealer can keep a storefront open these days.
.....


High Point Scientific has a very nice and fairly large storefront, full of demo equipment, and you can get all of the items on their website over the counter. However, their in-store sales have gone down to the point that they cut way back on their store open hours.

Personally, over the past 7 to 10 years, I’ve bought 90% or more of my *new* astro gear at one place: NEAF; with the rest spread between star party vendors and off the web.

#75 stevew

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 12:56 AM

About 18 month ago I was sitting in traffic on my way to work, when I looked over and saw a Canadian Telescope brick and mortar store.
I just about snapped my neck.... :roflmao: I was so happy to see a telescope store so close to home.
I drive by there twice a day 5 days a week, and it would mean that I don't have to drive an hour each way to the down town telescope store.
Over the past 18 months I have spent about $1000 there on various eyepieces, and solar filters etc. However on my latest purchase of a small Alt Az mount their price was $65 more expensive even before taxes. I ended up buying it on line from the manufacture with free shipping.
I like to support local business, but the extra $65 would fill my gas tank or buy several bags of groceries.

Steve






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