NEWS AND UPDATES
20 Years In Review
Back in 2003 I decided to create Blue
Ridge Hobbies since I could not find a viable discount model train store in
Greenville, SC area. So I created the website first with over a year of
development to give the model railroad community another
option to purchase model railroad supplies.
The original plan was to open our first retail store in the Greenridge
Shopping Center on Woodruff Rd. The lease was negotiated
but the owners wanted a percentage of the revenue on top of the monthly
rent! That was not acceptable so I began the search for a
new location. I ruled out several location and settled on our first retail
on Pleasantburg Dr.
This location was a success both on the retail side and with the website the
was already operating for the last year.
Within two years I moved the retail store across the street
and tripled the retail space because the first retail store was not large
enough. This location was more visible and also was a
great successful. This was in 2008 and we all know what happened
then, the "Great Recession".
However with a staff of 5 people sales continued to grow despite the economy
until 2012 when we could not find enough product
to stock our retail store.
At the beginning we from a database of some 130,000 products to list on the
website of which some 90,000 items were available
to potentially stock in our retail store. Between the closure of factories
in China and the tight economy, only about 70,000 items where
available by 2012. So it was decided to reduce the store size to fro,
5,000sf to 2,400sf and move back across the street. In addition the
Miniature World of Trains project came into existence in 2010 so the plan
was to move the retail store into MWOT when it opened.
MWOT opened in 2013 but there was not enough space for a retail store so I
continued with the smaller store with limited morning hours
as I had to manage the MWOT venue in the afternoons. This was done since
retail store sales went down as internet sales went up. At the same
time product availability continued to dwindle now to about 60,000 items in
2015 when the MWOT Beta test closed when the lease ended.
From 2015 until 2019 BRH continued to operate on a limited retail store
schedule since most of the local customers mainly ordered
online and then I shipped to them. By 2019 the staff of 5 was now just
Then 2020 and Covid for 2 years. No one came to the store at all but
internet sales are still strong at this time. At this time only about 30,000
are available to sell on a daily basis out of a database of around 125,000
Back orders and advance reservations are taking a very very long time of get
fulfilled. In some cases taken up to 7 years from order to fulfillment.
That is way to long.
During Covid I restricted access to the retail store. Some customers could
not understand that and did not read the information on the website
which lead to bad online reviews.
So here I am today with 130,000 items in the database with only about 25,000
available each day to sell. Prices are up and sales are down.
Last July 2023 I closed the retail store on Pleasantburg but have continued
selling online by going to new order processing and shipping location that
does not allow customer access.
Also, the state of the hobby and the overall world economy and threats of
war are not helping sales.
Last September I turned 65 and I have numerous travel dates coming up as I head
to full retirement.
So the website will not taking new orders after April 16th. The
reason for this is that I have several long trips out of
the USA planned
and I will not be able to service orders since I will be gone long periods.
I had to do this once before when I was out of the country for three weeks
in 2018. This time there will not be the availability to work orders for
about 120 days. So no new orders.
For those of you with open back orders and advance reservations, they will
be filled as long as the manufacturers and wholesalers
send me the product. If the orders are ready to be shipped, they will be
held at the manufacturers and wholesalers until I return and
can receive the orders to ship to you.
After 20 years it is time to take a break.
Sorry for the inconvenience.
What's Wrong With The World
Let me rant for a bit.
Since 2001 the world
change and most recently it has become
more and more of a mess in my opinion.
Let me address some of my personal experiences with lack
of customer service since summer 2022.
Fedex corporate customer service still has not returned
my calls and emails
regarding the lack of functionality for Fedex Ship
Manager since August 2022.
In addition, I have been fighting with the accounts payable department
over a mis-posting of a payment from April 2022. In fact
Fedex owes BR money. Thought I finally had this resolved
in January 2023 but again their reps have still got it
Also, delays in shipments from the Milwaukee Warehouse.
For example, the Friday morning order was processed by
the warehouse and I received tracking information
Saturday morning. However there had not been any
tracking up dates until today despite the receiving of
one of the boxes on Sunday (still no tracking update on
that one). So the other box ship have arrived Monday but
did not. Late I received tracking info that the other
Friday box did not leave Milwaukee until Monday. It
should arrive Wednesday. Maybe?!?!
I have a trip to Copenhagen coming this summer and
I wanted to get some information from the Marriott Hotel
there. I emailed and emailed for over 4 weeks before I
finally got a response. Now it has need an additional 3
weeks for them to respond again to their response.
Also, in 2024 I am planning a trip to Australia and I
was trying to find out information as of last month,
about Covid requirements. The very rude Australia rep at
the embassy in NYC could not answer my question and
abruptly gave me a web URL to get my answer. That URL in
fact, does not have the answer to my question and I knew
that before contacting the embassy. That rep just would
not listen and try to find the answer or give me a
number in the USA for me to contact!
If I was not paying attention Rapido Trains would not
have filled several orders placed in late 2020 and early
2021 with them directly on different. When I saw that
the product was available via Walthers I contacted them
directly about this. They advised they did not have the
orders. I forwarded them the emails and their email
confirmations when this was discovered. Luckily the
product was still available and I just received the
shipment late Monday and I am working through the
shipment to get you your items.
Local UPS Store was closed for over a week with no
explanation given via their store specific page or on
the store door?
USPS and WALTHERS:
A month ago I had a customer that needed to have his
very large order shipped overnight because the Walthers
warehouse did not get the order shipped on the same as
they normally (over the last 18 years) have done. So the
shipment to the customer had to go via Express Mail
Friday morning for a Saturday delivery. The customer was
leaving for Europe late Saturday. The local USPS
did not release the two large Express Mail Overnight
boxes from the local terminal until Sunday! Two days
late. This did not help the customer at all. I took over
a week to get the boxes back and a full $400 refund for
Tony's Train Exchange in
Vermont is ripping off not only me personally , but all
customers. They are over charging for shipping, at least
in my case. They are charging Priority Mail prices for
First Class mail in a box. In fact the same labels
ordered could have been shipped in a first class letter
envelope and that cost. They just do not care. I
contacted them via email and via call before the
transaction was processed and had the discussing about
shipping with Eric. I reached the package today and
contact them via email regarding to cost and over charge
for shipping. All Eric wanted to do is call me a troll
and used via foul language to berate me and then BRH as
Customer Service a paramount issue for me. I have tried
over the years to offer the best customer service I can
over the years. But my customer service relies on the
customer service I receive when trying to service your
orders in a timely and polite and inexpensive manner.
Today is the 20th Anniversary for the BRH
Thanks to all of my customers for all the support.
Special thanks to some of my customers that have been
with me since
day one: Tim Reed, Pat Moore and Jim Cevasco to
name a few of the top of my head!
Thanks to the past retail store and
shipping department team:
Lou Pascoe, Jon Judd, John Holmstrand, Cliff Gammonds,
Mike Jensen, John Topping, Annette Ruby and Ed
who helped make BRH a success.
Well now I am a one man show again but
I keep plugging along to keep filling your
orders at the best possible prices as long as I can!
Onward down the tracks!
Over the last two weeks
there have been some major outbound from the
Milwaukee Warehouse to BRH shipping issues.
It is now taking an additional day from the warehouse to
process the orders from BRH.
The reason given last week was their employees being out
sick and this week I am told it is due to high volume.
This has never occurred since BRH started some 20 years
ago. All orders have been processed and shipped the same
day outside of the Christmas Holidays.
So what is going on?
Not sure to be honest. What used to take three days now
is taking up to 7 days for BRH to receive orders from
the Milwaukee warehouse. Also there have been some
issues at the Easton warehouse.
Recently the Easton warehouse updated their website with
incomplete and untested software. The new ordering
process has a shopping cart and search that is not
function properly causing delays in order processing as
Between the warehouse issues and the shipper (UPS /
Fedex) issues we can not offer the excellent turn around
times that we have offered in the past.
So again I find myself apologizing for our slow service
caused by entities we have no control over.
Sorry for the delays.
Lack Of Updates
Sorry for the lack of updates and news in January. Just
a bit to busy with personal and business business most
of the month.
Also, there was not much happening in the model
Miniature World of Trains™
Since July, many of you have been donating to the MWOT™
project via you online BRH orders and the project thanks
you for those donations.
Since July the project had not processed those donations
via the MWOT™ bank
as the project announced late last year. The plan was to
process them at the beginning of January which did not
Please be aware that the processing of these donations
will occur this weekend. In some cases many of you made
several donations during this time. The normal donation
is $5.00. However, if you have made several BRH orders
with donations on each order, you may see a charge from
the Miniature World of Trains™
more then $5.00. Some will have $10, $15, $20 or
more in one credit card processing transaction.
Miniature World of Trains™
Requests for more information about the Miniature World
of Trains™ project
are being processed as well. Request for additional
donation information and volunteering will be answered
as time permits over the next 30 days.
THANKS FOR THE SUPPORT!