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Telescope stores that closed

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#51 skywolf856

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Posted 02 October 2021 - 03:13 PM

University Optics in Ann Arbor is one where I bought my 8" F7 Newt.

I remember way back when I was a kid, Polaris Telescope Shop down in Dearborn MI.

I was drooling over a Unitron in those days.


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#52 CHASLX200

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Posted 02 October 2021 - 03:22 PM

Another SF Bay Area store was Telescope World in Hayward. They fabricated and sold 12"+ photographic Newtonians on  massive equatorial mounts. They also sold used equipment but the business didn't last very long and they were soon history.

I remember them around 1981 in Sky and Tele with all the Newt OTA's you could buy.



#53 Senex Bibax

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Posted 03 October 2021 - 07:32 AM

Umm, I hear there's a sign on the door of their new location that says they are bankrupt.  Sad if true. I bought all the scopes I currently own there (including two ST80s). Tristan always provided excellent advice and service. 

Oh man I hope not. I was in there a few months ago and they seemed as busy as usual. Nothing about it on their website. If they close then the nearest store will be La Maison De L'Astronomie in Montreal.


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#54 yeldahtron

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Posted 03 October 2021 - 09:50 AM

Oh man I hope not. I was in there a few months ago and they seemed as busy as usual. Nothing about it on their website. If they close then the nearest store will be La Maison De L'Astronomie in Montreal.

If Focus is well-and-truly gone for good, we are fortunate to have La Maison De L'Astronomie (now renamed https://astronomyplus.com/ ) as a backup. I have never been to their bricks-and-mortar store, but I have only had good experiences dealing with them on-line.

 

Incidentally, I like your signature.


Edited by yeldahtron, 03 October 2021 - 09:55 AM.

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#55 RichA

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Posted 03 October 2021 - 05:25 PM

I used to do business with Efston Science in Toronto for years and years - bought many of my scopes from them. But they closed back in around 2012. I did some business with the place across the street but unfortunately that didn't work out for me.

 

So, I started doing business with Focus Scientific and I've been very happy! Their customer service is excellent and they make doing business remotely very easy.

Clear skies!

Rick

Nice ad. 



#56 RichA

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Posted 03 October 2021 - 05:28 PM

Growing up in Bugtussle, we didn't have any scope stores, nature stores, outdoor stores...  Does Service Merchandise count as a Scope Store?  There was 1 (One) family-owned Camera Store / Photo Developer down by I-20 that stocked a few; and, would mail-order others for you, but they tweren't cheap.  Best Bet:  The string of Pawn Shops along HWY 21 (the west border of Ft. McClellan) -- that's where I got my Nikon binoculars.  Or, as I've mentioned before, Family Yard Sales on the Post...

 

See how deprived I was?  If it hadn't been for Sears...

Most pawn shops that might have been ok for the odd telescope in Toronto have closed.  Why own a retail front when Ebay brings in a much larger purchaser base and generally (though not always) higher prices.  There are however antique stores that are still doing ok that sometimes have telescopes.



#57 APshooter

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Posted 03 October 2021 - 08:53 PM

I bought my Celestron Ultima 11 from Scope City in Studio City in 1997. That was the year comet Hyakutake was in the skies and a year before Hale Bopp. They went out of business a year or two later.
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#58 Senex Bibax

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Posted 04 October 2021 - 08:10 AM

If Focus is well-and-truly gone for good, we are fortunate to have La Maison De L'Astronomie (now renamed https://astronomyplus.com/ ) as a backup. I have never been to their bricks-and-mortar store, but I have only had good experiences dealing with them on-line.

 

Incidentally, I like your signature.

thanks! BTW isn't your avatar Alan Tracy (Thunderbird 3)?


Edited by Senex Bibax, 04 October 2021 - 08:10 AM.


#59 Senex Bibax

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Posted 04 October 2021 - 08:13 AM

Most pawn shops that might have been ok for the odd telescope in Toronto have closed.  Why own a retail front when Ebay brings in a much larger purchaser base and generally (though not always) higher prices.  There are however antique stores that are still doing ok that sometimes have telescopes.

Back in the 1970s most of the better pawn shops were on Church Street between Queen and Dundas. I particularly remember browsing in Richmond's Trading Post, but they were mainly into guitars (good ones too), not optics.



#60 Feidb

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Posted 04 October 2021 - 08:31 AM

I used to be a regular at Scope City in Las Vegas. Every other Friday it was a routine visit. Bought lots of stuff there including my current scope which I bought there in 2008. They closed up shop in January 2012. Really miss the place but am still in contact with the former manager, William. In fact, we almost went out observing this past weekend but it all fell apart. It was sure nice being able to go to a store that had real serious scopes and not the same old junk with the Hubble images on the box. I'd usually spend a good hour in there just hanging out. Many moons ago now...


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#61 bierbelly

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Posted 04 October 2021 - 03:34 PM

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!

I went there once. Not the easiest place to find. Cool stuff though.



#62 yeldahtron

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Posted 05 October 2021 - 01:41 PM

thanks! BTW isn't your avatar Alan Tracy (Thunderbird 3)?

Close. Joe 90. But who knows with the Andersons.  Might be Alan's head.


Edited by yeldahtron, 05 October 2021 - 01:42 PM.


#63 strdst

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Posted 06 October 2021 - 02:50 PM

Does anyone remember a telescope shop in (or very near?) Monterey Park, CA?  My dad got my C90 there, and it's where I bought my C8 a few years later. I only went 2 or 3 times (it was far from where I lived) but I remember being completely entranced by the place. This all happened in the early 1980s, and I don't know how long the place was around before or after that.

This is a page from my 1966 observing notebook. For Christmas 1965 my parents bought me a Tasco 11-te from Optech Precision Instruments to upgrade my 60 X 700 Tasco. The image quality was terrible. We returned the scope and the shop owner said he'd send it back to Florida for repair or replacement. While my mom was working out the details I remember standing beside a 3" Unitron on display trying to telepathically inform my mom this was the telescope I truly desired. The $80 Tasco was already breaking the Christmas budget that year so I didn't say anything out loud as I really was grateful that I was going to have a telescope at all. Apparently I wasn't very good at telepathy (or my mom knew how to tune me out). The scope went away and a month later it was returned, still optically just awful. We returned it for a second time and the owner suggested he could replace the secondary and see if that made a difference. Once again I was transfixed gazing upon the Unitron as he spoke. There was some concern that if he glued on a new secondary it might void the guarantee. I saw an opening for the possibility for an upgrade! And then the moment arrived when it was suggested perhaps there was something else on display that interested me. DUH...where were my telepathic thoughts going anyway? 

 

We left the shop with a 3"refractor! The shop owner made us a deal on... an Edmund. He discounted down from $130 as it had one very bowed tripod leg. He even threw in a used wood case to keep it in. The upgrade was with my understanding that this would be my combined Christmas gift with my upcoming 14th birthday. I was thrilled but recall giving one last furtive glance at the Unitron as we walked out the door.

 

About 6 months later I purchased an 8 X 50 finder and rings to fit and the owner drilled and mounted them on the Edmund. I tried to avert my vision away from the  Unitron display while he worked. Not long after that the shop closed or moved. 

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#64 Bonco2

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Posted 06 October 2021 - 03:28 PM

During that time frame Unitron was the thing to own, but most of us couldn't touch them due to cost. Maybe that's why I have two of them now.

Bill 


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#65 Feidb

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Posted 07 October 2021 - 08:27 AM

The last time I saw a Unitron was the 4-inch version with all the bells and whistles, bristling with like ten finders or something and 50 eyepieces. Okay, I'm exaggerating, but it seemed to cost as much as a house. It was in a camera store in downtown Madrid, Spain back in the mid to late 80's. That's as close as I ever got to a Unitron, at least a classic one. It even had some kind of wind-up clock drive on it, if I recall correctly. I went in there and looked at it a few times but never bought anything else the guy was selling (eyepieces) because the prices were so high and they were all .965 sizes. Keep in mind this was the mid to late 80's which was deep into the beginnings of the Dobson age and when wide-field eyepieces were starting to make a dent. 1 1/4-inch EPs were or should have been dominant. Then again, this was Europe and I'd been isolated from the You Ess And A for almost a decade, so all I had were catalogs to order from and nothing else to put my hands on first. I had a few decent Plossle and Erfle EPs but nothing with more than a 65 degree field. I digress. The Unitron was all in .965, even for a 4-inch refractor, again, best I can recall. Go figure.


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#66 steve t

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Posted 07 October 2021 - 09:38 AM

Back in the late 1970's I recall a telescope store, in North Little Rock, Arkansas, called "The Astronomical Unit" (or something like that). Once and a while I would stop in to pick up the latest issue of Sky and Telescope. Seemed like they always had a great stock of telescopes, eyepieces, and camera equipment.


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#67 bremms

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Posted 07 October 2021 - 11:45 AM

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.

I went there a few times with a friend. Bought a TeleVue EP and some other odds and ends there. I did mostly ATM stuff, so never bought scopes.


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#68 CBM1970

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Posted 10 October 2021 - 07:05 AM

Strdst, thank you for posting the information about the Monterey Park store, and for your great personal story as well. I love hearing about everyone's early days in this hobby.

 

With the name of the store, I was able to find a bit more information on Google. Apparently there is an observatory in Monterey Park, and the owner of the store (Bill Levin) built the tube and mount for a 7.5 inch achromat that used to live at that observatory. It is "now" for sale on Astromart. (I've put the word "now" in quotes, because I don't have an astromart account and I can't tell if the ad is current, or ten years old).

 

I couldn't find much else for information, but it is great to get a bit of history on the place and the owner. I remember my visits there pretty vividly.

 


Edited by CBM1970, 10 October 2021 - 07:07 AM.

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#69 BarabinoSr

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Posted 10 October 2021 - 05:19 PM

Hello Everyone! I  remember a place that used to be in the French Quarter in New Orleans called Nash Roberts Instruments that was located at 520 Royal Street. Nash at the time was a famous TV Meteorologist for a local Television station during the time who was known for his great knowledge of hurricanes and his famous charts; he used a black marker on a chalkboard to track storms .  The store sold antiques and some meteorlogical instruments.He also sold  Tasco telescopes including the 7TE-5, 11TE-5 and    6TE ,and some .965 accessories. As a matter of fact I bought my very first Tasco from him- a 6TE-5 refractor in October of '71. The store was sold to his brother Ep and he relocated it to Metairie LA. a suburb of New Orleans. It closed some years afterward.. I had developed a good relationship with Ep and worked in the store briefly . Nash and Ep both passed away some time ago, and the store is gone!  Gary. 


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#70 Etrsi_645

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Posted 10 October 2021 - 05:32 PM

A store in Aurora IL around 1985 called Cosmic Connections or Cosmic Pursuits?  A very small store front... I bought my Halley's comet T=shirt there.


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#71 Terra Nova

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Posted 12 October 2021 - 04:48 PM

Strdst, thank you for posting the information about the Monterey Park store, and for your great personal story as well. I love hearing about everyone's early days in this hobby.

 

With the name of the store, I was able to find a bit more information on Google. Apparently there is an observatory in Monterey Park, and the owner of the store (Bill Levin) built the tube and mount for a 7.5 inch achromat that used to live at that observatory. It is "now" for sale on Astromart. (I've put the word "now" in quotes, because I don't have an astromart account and I can't tell if the ad is current, or ten years old).

 

I couldn't find much else for information, but it is great to get a bit of history on the place and the owner. I remember my visits there pretty vividly.

Interesting. I justmfound this in Wikipedia:

”Monterey Park is home to the Garvey Ranch Observatory, located in Garvey Ranch Park, which is operated by the Los Angeles Astronomical Society (LAAS). It adjoins a historical museum, a classroom, and a workshop. The observatory houses an 8-inch (200 mm) refractor, a telescope making workshop, and a library containing over 1000 books. The grounds are open to the public for free astronomical observation on Wednesday evenings from 7:30PM – 10:00PM, hosted by LAAS members.”


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#72 strdst

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Posted 13 October 2021 - 12:16 AM

Good remembering CBM1970 and good sleuthing Terra. Yes Bill Levin was the man. So long ago...Yikes! Happy to know he may have left a legacy for present and future gazers into the night sky. Something to strive for. 


Edited by strdst, 13 October 2021 - 12:17 AM.

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#73 vkhastro1

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Posted 13 October 2021 - 04:50 AM

If Focus is well-and-truly gone for good, we are fortunate to have La Maison De L'Astronomie (now renamed https://astronomyplus.com/ ) as a backup. I have never been to their bricks-and-mortar store, but I have only had good experiences dealing with them on-line.

 

 

Focus Scientific is definitely out of business - bankrupt - a definite bummer.

Their website is still online (not sure why).

Both local and toll telephone lines are out of service.

Their banner on top of the Canadian used astronomy site Astrobuysell.com has been removed.

 

It was a great brick and mortar store with excellent service.

First visited in 1980 through until last month.

Bought my first “real” telescope there - a orange tubed Celestron C8 in 1981.

Always a great selection of new and used scopes and accessories.

 

My favourite Focus Scientific memory:

I owned a nice Dobsonian custom built by a master Ottawa Centre telescope maker named Max Stuart back in the late 80’s. He had a great mirror of unknown origin with matching secondary - 10” f/5.35.

He approached me and asked if he could build me a Dob. I asked him what he needed with respect to parts - “just a focuser”. I provided a 2” Tectron rack and pinion version. 
I asked how much? 
His answer - it will be a nice surprise!

He built a beautiful truss tube Dob (Mahogany plywood) that provided really nice views.

 

Fast forward about 10 years, I traded the scope in toward an 80mm ED bird scope (never really got into that sport) at Focus. The owner Kent Goranson wanted my Dob to be his personal travelling scope.

 

Fast forward another 15 years or so.

Checking the used equipment on Focus’s website my old 10” Dob was for sale and an “amazing price”.

I immediately called Tristan (store manager) at the store to get more info.

Is it sold ?

No.

Was the asking price correct ?

Yes.

Why ?

The scope is a mess. Kent never used it. Sat in the back of the store all those years. Everything is extremely dirty - the works - optics, rocker box etc. Kent wants it out of here.

I said - put in on hold, I will be in tomorrow.

Sure enough the scope was extremely neglected. Lifted off the mirror’s dust cover - at least 1/4” of dust on the primary. It was filthy.

My observing memories were engrained in my brain.

I had to “rescue” this scope and restore it to its past glory in honour of Max who sadly prematurely passed away quite a few years early. This project would be my testament to our friendship.

 

After a few hours cleanup and “new” first light - WOW - the optics were amazing !

 

The scope was fully upgraded - it is one if not my favourite scopes.

A new JMI 2” dual rate focuser, 2” TV Paracorr, Telrad, Stellarvue SV50 finderscope, custom shroud by Heather, dual counterweight balancing rods on the mirror box, upgraded Antares 1/30 2ndary mirror, new primary mirror coatings (Normand Fullum - primary tested at 1/16 wave) and a beautiful engraved gold coloured plaque dedicated to Max.


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#74 Senex Bibax

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Posted 13 October 2021 - 08:20 AM

Focus Scientific is definitely out of business - bankrupt - a definite bummer.

Their website is still online (not sure why).

Both local and toll telephone lines are out of service.

Their banner on top of the Canadian used astronomy site Astrobuysell.com has been removed.

 

It was a great brick and mortar store with excellent service.

First visited in 1980 through until last month.

Bought my first “real” telescope there - a orange tubed Celestron C8 in 1981.

Always a great selection of new and used scopes and accessories.

 

My favourite Focus Scientific memory:

I owned a nice Dobsonian custom built by a master Ottawa Centre telescope maker named Max Stuart back in the late 80’s. He had a great mirror of unknown origin with matching secondary - 10” f/5.35.

He approached me and asked if he could build me a Dob. I asked him what he needed with respect to parts - “just a focuser”. I provided a 2” Tectron rack and pinion version. 
I asked how much? 
His answer - it will be a nice surprise!

He built a beautiful truss tube Dob (Mahogany plywood) that provided really nice views.

 

Fast forward about 10 years, I traded the scope in toward an 80mm ED bird scope (never really got into that sport) at Focus. The owner Kent Goranson wanted my Dob to be his personal travelling scope.

 

Fast forward another 15 years or so.

Checking the used equipment on Focus’s website my old 10” Dob was for sale and an “amazing price”.

I immediately called Tristan (store manager) at the store to get more info.

Is it sold ?

No.

Was the asking price correct ?

Yes.

Why ?

The scope is a mess. Kent never used it. Sat in the back of the store all those years. Everything is extremely dirty - the works - optics, rocker box etc. Kent wants it out of here.

I said - put in on hold, I will be in tomorrow.

Sure enough the scope was extremely neglected. Lifted off the mirror’s dust cover - at least 1/4” of dust on the primary. It was filthy.

My observing memories were engrained in my brain.

I had to “rescue” this scope and restore it to its past glory in honour of Max who sadly prematurely passed away quite a few years early. This project would be my testament to our friendship.

 

After a few hours cleanup and “new” first light - WOW - the optics were amazing !

 

The scope was fully upgraded - it is one if not my favourite scopes.

A new JMI 2” dual rate focuser, 2” TV Paracorr, Telrad, Stellarvue SV50 finderscope, custom shroud by Heather, dual counterweight balancing rods on the mirror box, upgraded Antares 1/30 2ndary mirror, new primary mirror coatings (Normand Fullum - primary tested at 1/16 wave) and a beautiful engraved gold coloured plaque dedicated to Max.

Bummer! I guess it is online shopping or trips to Montreal to La Maison De L'Astronomie from now on.

 

Better keep our eyes open from bankruptcy liquidation proceedings..


Edited by Senex Bibax, 13 October 2021 - 08:22 AM.

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#75 yeldahtron

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Posted 13 October 2021 - 10:59 AM

Bummer! I guess it is online shopping or trips to Montreal to La Maison De L'Astronomie from now on.

 

Better keep our eyes open from bankruptcy liquidation proceedings..

The only Canadian stores I have routinely made purchases from were Focus Scientific, Ottawa (I'll miss the store manager, Tristan -- the engine behind their superior customer service) and La Maison De L'Astronomie, Montreal.  I did buy a barlow from Kahn Scope in Toronto in 2007, so I have no valid opinion on how they are to do business with today.

 

I know there must be Canadian stores worthy of our business. Buying from in-country stores, even though they source products from abroad, can often save money because there are no foreign-exchange and "brokerage" surprises and they can usually get better shipping rates than an individual purchaser.  And, of course, there's the value they add in terms of advice and service.

 

Does anyone have a rated list of Canadian stores that are still in business? (A simple rating, as in "recommended" vs "not recommended".)

 

I'll start:

 

1. La Maison De L'Astronomie (now called Astronomy Plus), Montreal:  Recommended.


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