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Telescope stores that closed

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#1 lunardave

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Posted 30 September 2021 - 02:13 PM

Greetings Earthlings!

 

I used to frequent a store here in Charlotte, NC called Science Hobbies.

 

They sold more than scopes.

 

Chemistry sets for instance. I went for the scopes and related accessories.

 

One day I went to their new location, door locked, store empty.

 

Never found out what happened but I think the couple that ran it retired.

 

They were quite a bit older than me.

 

This would have been around 1990.

 

 


Edited by lunardave, 30 September 2021 - 02:14 PM.

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#2 jsiska

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Posted 30 September 2021 - 03:27 PM

I use to have layovers in downtown San Francisco and often enjoyed walking to the Scope City store near the bay. Nice store, nice people. I occasionally purchased a few items there. The Scope City store in Las Vegas, was nice but didn't have any where as many scopes in the showroom as did the San Francisco store. Now the Scope City stores are all gone.


Edited by jsiska, 30 September 2021 - 03:29 PM.

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#3 Bonco2

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Posted 30 September 2021 - 03:53 PM

Stopped by Coulter in the 70's....Long gone. Same with Telecopics.

Glad I didn't stop by Cave's shop, I would have been disappointed. Why? Because in my mind there would be a huge display area and in the back would be a huge bay area where guys in white lab coats and lots of workers testing and putting dozens of telescopes together. Later I saw a picture of the store front. Looked about as big as a coffee shop. But hey in that small shop they produced some amazing products.

Bill


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#4 William Whitaker

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Posted 30 September 2021 - 04:06 PM

Greetings Earthlings!

 

I used to frequent a store here in Charlotte, NC called Science Hobbies.

 

They sold more than scopes.

 

Chemistry sets for instance. I went for the scopes and related accessories.

 

One day I went to their new location, door locked, store empty.

 

Never found out what happened but I think the couple that ran it retired.

 

They were quite a bit older than me.

 

This would have been around 1990.

HA! I remember Science Hobbies all too well! As a child I used to ride to Charlotte with my parents (usually Mom) to go shopping; this when retail was not so plentiful as it is now. Retail then was located mostly uptown along Tryon St. Charlottetown Mall was pretty much all that there was back then that wasn't uptown. It was before the big mall boom.

My first visit to Science Hobbies on Central Avenue was probably around 1966/67; I would have been around age 10. I was enthralled by and especially drawn to the telescopes. In fact, after much deliberation, my first telescope, an Edmund 4 1/4" Newtonian was purchased there. 

Sweet memories of a time gone by!

And as I recall, the owners were pretty up in years even then.


Edited by William Whitaker, 01 October 2021 - 11:43 AM.

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#5 mdowns

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Posted 30 September 2021 - 04:18 PM

More than 40 years ago while I lived in Indy,I could go to a camera store downtown(Roberts) that carried some celestron products.There also was a store in the Cincy area(across the river in Florence) I would drive to(maybe Earth/Sky center?) to get items.Within a few years from the mid eighties to the early nineties there were two camera chains in Indy(Hoosier Photo and Camera Hut) that carried extensive inventories of scopes and accessories.Between those two chains I had six locations around Indy where I could walk in and buy the goods.Got my first full set of meade RG eyepieces and many of my early celestron silvertops that way.It was always fun to stop in to see a new scope model or talk scope with a couple of folks who really knew what they were talking about.

 In the late nineties I moved down here to southern Florida and found a camera chain,Wolfe,that had several locations with scopes on hand.I bought two new meade and two new celestron scopes from Chuck Pisa in the Sarasota stores.There were always eyepieces(I bought a set of the vixen ler and boatloads of used eyepieces) on hand as well as astro photography setups.There's nothing like having access to a stocking b&m scope store.


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#6 CHASLX200

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Posted 30 September 2021 - 06:28 PM

I had Sun west space systems in St Pete and knew the owner.  Been gone for years.


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#7 Ben H

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Posted 30 September 2021 - 06:57 PM

Raleigh once had Big Bang Astro. They had a used 16" Meade Starfinder listed for $1000. When I got my first job, I saved and saved, and finally had the $1000, but they'd closed and the scope was sold. 


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#8 Eric P

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Posted 30 September 2021 - 07:02 PM

In the Philly metro I remember Edmund Scientific and Jack’s Camera as the main stores.
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#9 Creedence

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Posted 30 September 2021 - 07:16 PM

The old Astronomy magazines I have show a Sarasota Telescope and Camera store.  That would have been pretty cool; its now a SCUBA dive shop- which is actually remarkable because that too is a hobby.  It seems hobby-related retailers were the first victims in the Great Retail Apocalypse that's unfolding before us.  As much as I'd prefer it to be an astro store, I'll take a dive shop.


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#10 CHASLX200

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Posted 30 September 2021 - 07:29 PM

The old Astronomy magazines I have show a Sarasota Telescope and Camera store.  That would have been pretty cool; its now a SCUBA dive shop- which is actually remarkable because that too is a hobby.  It seems hobby-related retailers were the first victims in the Great Retail Apocalypse that's unfolding before us.  As much as I'd prefer it to be an astro store, I'll take a dive shop.

Maybe Wolf cam?  They were around in the late 90's.  I drove down there and got a 12" LX200 in 1999.


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#11 ccwemyss

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Posted 30 September 2021 - 07:38 PM

The shop I worked at in the early 80's, Northwest Telescope and Binocular, was in the Raleigh Hills suburb of Portland. As I recall, we were on Scholls Ferry Road. It was a modest shop, maybe 20' x 30' in the showroom, with display cases on one side and telescopes out in the middle. One wall was decorated with that giant mural of the earthrise over the moon, and the one of Saturn was on another wall. 

 

The owner, Marshall, was quite the character, but always treated customers well. We sold Celestron, Pentax, and JSO telescopes while I was there, along with Nikon, Fujinon, Pentax, Zeiss, Swarovski, and Steiner binoculars. Marshall knew someone who had connections in Japan, who got us the JSO scopes. And he was one of the first to import Steiner military binoculars, especially the ones with the built in compass and rangefinder.

 

He figured that he could make a killing by advertising them in Soldier of Fortune magazine, and started doing mail-order. But we also had some strange folks in camo walk in and buy them with cash. I remember one was a bit jumpy about our insistence that we inspect them before he could take them (we always inspected the binoculars, especially after getting a pair from Pentax that had a big, black reject mark on one objective). He was clearly torn between wanting to slip out unnoticed and admiring our dedication to ensuring that his pair was fully functional.

 

We also had some funny customers around the holidays. I remember a guy coming in and telling us that his wife was out shopping and probably coming to see us. She didn't know he was out of the house, and could we quickly help him pick out a scope, which we did. Sure enough, about 15 minutes after he left, she walked in, and we convinced her (with much questioning about her husband's interests and never letting on that he'd been there) that the scope he wanted would be the best choice for him. A couple of weeks later she came by to thank us, because her husband was so pleased with what we had advised her to buy. He also came in a while later for some accessories, and thanked us for making her feel like such a success. 

 

I left the shop around '84, and I think he kept it going until about 1990. But even before then he said he was getting killed by the mail order business from the big New York camera stores, and the gray market. He couldn't compete on price via mail order for the binoculars, and the telescope market crashed after Halley (and the drop in quality from Celestron). OMSI had also started carrying Celestron in their museum shop, along with a couple of local camera stores. He moved to Phoenix and went back into the commercial laundry business (which is what he did in Detroit, before moving to Oregon). 

 

I just looked on Google street view, and I think the building is still there. If it's the one I think it is, it was most recently a deli, but now for lease. It brought back memories of the days when I would arrive early and unlock those doors, turn on the lights, and hang the open sign. 

 

Chip W. 

 

Screen Shot 2021-09-30 at 8.36.31 PM.png


Edited by ccwemyss, 30 September 2021 - 07:40 PM.

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#12 Terra Nova

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Posted 30 September 2021 - 08:20 PM

More than 40 years ago while I lived in Indy,I could go to a camera store downtown(Roberts) that carried some celestron products.There also was a store in the Cincy area(across the river in Florence) I would drive to(maybe Earth/Sky center?) to get items.Within a few years from the mid eighties to the early nineties there were two camera chains in Indy(Hoosier Photo and Camera Hut) that carried extensive inventories of scopes and accessories.Between those two chains I had six locations around Indy where I could walk in and buy the goods.Got my first full set of meade RG eyepieces and many of my early celestron silvertops that way.It was always fun to stop in to see a new scope model or talk scope with a couple of folks who really knew what they were talking about.

 In the late nineties I moved down here to southern Florida and found a camera chain,Wolfe,that had several locations with scopes on hand.I bought two new meade and two new celestron scopes from Chuck Pisa in the Sarasota stores.There were always eyepieces(I bought a set of the vixen ler and boatloads of used eyepieces) on hand as well as astro photography setups.There's nothing like having access to a stocking b&m scope store.

There was a Wolfe Camera in Cincinnati in the ‘90s as well. IIRC it was on Montgomery Road up near Kenwood.


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#13 scopeboy42

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Posted 30 September 2021 - 09:07 PM

Raleigh once had Big Bang Astro. They had a used 16" Meade Starfinder listed for $1000. When I got my first job, I saved and saved, and finally had the $1000, but they'd closed and the scope was sold. 

I was only in Big Bang Astro one time. They had a Unitron 166 (4" refractor with equatorial mount on a pier) that was on display only and not for sale. That thing was really big for only 4".

 

Raleigh NC also had the Discovery Store at Crabtree Mall and Nature Company at Cary Towne Center (where I saw my first ETX-90 back in the 90's). Both are closed. They were great to see the Meade telescopes in person.

 

Southeastern Camera in Raleigh use to sell telescopes but you had to be escorted to a separate locked entrance to see them which was not very customer friendly. Now they sell only photography supplies. Last time I was in the telescope part they had a used Meade 7" ED refractor on LXD750 mount for $2500. They may not have been great to look THROUGH due to the collimation issues but they are very impressive to look AT. Last time I was in the store itself the owner told me they had moved all of their telescope gear to their coast location and would be opening an online store soon. Never heard or found anything more on that so I do not know what happened to all of their stock.

 

Science Safari is still open in Cary NC and is primarily a Celestron dealer only. Only have a few small items in stock but can order anything from Celestron you need. That place is jammed full of neat science toys which are fun to look at. Use to have a large iguana that lived sometimes in the bathroom. I once took my oldest daughter there when she was around 8. She had to use the bathroom and was startled to see the iguana in there. A 5' iguana is gigantic to an 8 year old girl. I was very proud of her that after some reassurance from the staff that it would not bother her she ended up using it. 


Edited by scopeboy42, 30 September 2021 - 09:14 PM.

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#14 grif 678

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Posted 30 September 2021 - 09:20 PM

There was a camera store on Lake Boone Trail in Raleigh about 20 years ago, they had Meade 6600 and 8800 reflectors, and several refractors, large binoculars, and I once saw a B&L 8000 in there. It has been long gone. Crabtree Mall had the Discovery Store, with the Meade line up, especially the ETX's, also gone now.

There will be many store closings in the future, not only telescope, for reasons that I am not allowed to say on CN.


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#15 Tenacious

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Posted 30 September 2021 - 09:27 PM

I remember Scope City in SF.  There was even a store in Ghirardelli selling telescopes - 1990s?  Ordering online is just not as fun.


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#16 kopite

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Posted 30 September 2021 - 09:59 PM

Orion closed their store in Cupertino, CA earlier this year. It was only 2 minutes from my house at that time ( I have recently moved) and I bought my first real telescope there 13 years ago, a SkyQuest XT8 which I still have and use to this day. Such a shame because I used to love going there and checking out the new scopes and accessories they had in stock. 
 

They still have their online store, so not a complete loss.


Edited by kopite, 30 September 2021 - 10:01 PM.

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#17 dgreyson

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Posted 30 September 2021 - 10:00 PM

I was never aware of any telescope dealers in Columbia SC. If you wanted a telescope you went to a department store like Sears Roebuck . If you wanted anything bigger, you went to Jackson Camera. Mostly Celestron and Meade. jacksoncamera_tn.jpg


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#18 Astrola72

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Posted 30 September 2021 - 10:08 PM

Here in MD, I used to love to visit Gary Hand at his "Hands On Optics" in Damascus. He was a great guy to chat with, very experienced amateur astronomer himself. He went to all the shows out here and brought back lots of stuff - most of which which he kept in a back room. I spent a lot of time in that room - never knew what you'd find. Bought my first gear from him when I restarted the hobby. I was quite happy with my Skywatchers (ED80 and ED120) until he brought back a Stellarvue SV80ST from NEAF. I had to have it. Anyway, Gary had to close his showroom and go all web, in 2015. I think he's still running the business online, but there's no fun in that.


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#19 marcyc

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Posted 30 September 2021 - 11:09 PM

Here in MD, I used to love to visit Gary Hand at his "Hands On Optics" in Damascus. He was a great guy to chat with, very experienced amateur astronomer himself.

I really miss HOO. Whenever my husband didn't know what to get me for my birthday, he would say to me "let's take a drive out to Damascus" so I could choose my own present from all the wonderful things in Gary's store. I was like a kid in a candy shop - can't think of a better way to spend my birthday afternoon!

Edited by marcyc, 01 October 2021 - 02:25 PM.

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#20 csrlice12

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Posted 30 September 2021 - 11:21 PM

I miss S&S Optika Denver.....bought a lot of stuff there....met a lot of people there too.


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#21 Kasmos

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Posted 01 October 2021 - 03:16 AM

Stopped by Coulter in the 70's....Long gone. Same with Telecopics.

Glad I didn't stop by Cave's shop, I would have been disappointed. Why? Because in my mind there would be a huge display area and in the back would be a huge bay area where guys in white lab coats and lots of workers testing and putting dozens of telescopes together. Later I saw a picture of the store front. Looked about as big as a coffee shop. But hey in that small shop they produced some amazing products.

Bill

Bill,

I went to college just up the road so I visited Cave about once a month for 3-4 years (1976-80) just to pick up Sky & Telescope. I loved just being around a place like that and you probably would have liked it too. It seems at one time they only had one of the little shops but later (when I was visiting) they had the two adjacent shops and the one with the entry had a showroom in the front that opened up to a larger one nextdoor. Out by the parking lot was an added building where you could see some of the mirror making machines and the workers thru the windows. When I ordered my mount they let me take tripod measurements from a 4" refractor in the show room. I don't know why I didn't think of taking photos of that scope and tripod or the shop? I still kick myself about it.


Edited by Kasmos, 01 October 2021 - 03:17 AM.

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#22 CeeKay

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Posted 01 October 2021 - 05:47 AM

Scope City in San Diego was the place that I bought my SPC8 in the late 80's - I remember the huge showroom and all the telescopes in it.

 

Closer to where I live now was Sean's Astronomy Shop (Battle Ground, WA)... it was in an old church! I remember it being full of Meade and Celestron stuff - he sold me a ASGT tripod to replace the SP for the C8.  He closed up shortly thereafter and started teaching in China.


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#23 CHASLX200

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Posted 01 October 2021 - 05:50 AM

More than 40 years ago while I lived in Indy,I could go to a camera store downtown(Roberts) that carried some celestron products.There also was a store in the Cincy area(across the river in Florence) I would drive to(maybe Earth/Sky center?) to get items.Within a few years from the mid eighties to the early nineties there were two camera chains in Indy(Hoosier Photo and Camera Hut) that carried extensive inventories of scopes and accessories.Between those two chains I had six locations around Indy where I could walk in and buy the goods.Got my first full set of meade RG eyepieces and many of my early celestron silvertops that way.It was always fun to stop in to see a new scope model or talk scope with a couple of folks who really knew what they were talking about.

 In the late nineties I moved down here to southern Florida and found a camera chain,Wolfe,that had several locations with scopes on hand.I bought two new meade and two new celestron scopes from Chuck Pisa in the Sarasota stores.There were always eyepieces(I bought a set of the vixen ler and boatloads of used eyepieces) on hand as well as astro photography setups.There's nothing like having access to a stocking b&m scope store.

Chuck bought my messed up Meade 7" ED after i got my money back from Hank.  That scope changed hands so many times.  I drove down there to buy a 12" LX200 from Chuck when i had my 1992 S10 in late 1999.


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#24 MDT

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Posted 01 October 2021 - 06:55 AM

I miss S&S Optika Denver.....bought a lot of stuff there....met a lot of people there too.

Also, "The Star Tracker" on Walnet Street in Boulder. 


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#25 Senex Bibax

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Posted 01 October 2021 - 07:38 AM

Focus Scientific here in Ottawa have moved around a few times in the past decade, but fortunately are still open. Just have to check the address every time before paying a visit.


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