Happy trails, Hoquat Hobbies

Today’s post brought an announcement from New Jersey-based S scale specialty store, Hoquat Hobbies:

“Having returned from the Spring Spree in Dayton, it is time for a major announcement. I expect to close up shop for good and retire from the business at the end of 2015. I am busily doing inventory on all our stuff to make sure of exactly what is hiding on the shelves here. Once we finish, we will post inventory lists on the web site.”

Hobby shop closings are, unfortunately, frequent these days. S scale specialty shop closings are rare – but only because S scale speciality shops themselves are rare. And Hoquat has been serving the S scale community since 1977.

I did not buy much from Hoquat Hobbies – as a CNR prototype modeller, my needs are largely met through the purchase of basic materials and tools, rather than ready-to-run equipment. But I did pick up a few things from this store from time to time and always appreciated the excellent service.

I know the S scale community will miss Hoquat, but I’m sure everybody in that community wishes the folks at Hoquat all the best in their retirement.

7 thoughts on “Happy trails, Hoquat Hobbies

    • Hi Skip:
      Actually, I think the web was good for Hoquat. It must’ve made things easier, given that the store specialized in S scale. I imagine that before the web, Hoquat survived by publishing and mailing out newsletters. A niche store would have to have relied on mail order.
      In fact, as a specialty store it likely survived better than general hobby shops. Those that only offered the Walthers catalogue would have been forced to compete primarily on price – something that’s tough to do when one can order directly from Walthers or the manufacturers that used to rely on Walthers to distribute their product.
      Given that Hoquat has been in business since 1977 – 38 years – I’m not surprised that the owner is retiring. Good for him!

      • Not being in S Scale I haven`t bought much from Hoquat Hoobies, but he seemed to have a fairly good stock of S Scale figures, and as someone who paints humanoids in most scales I liked being able to order from them right off the web.

  1. Weaver closing the end of June impacts O scale and painters. This one hits S. Maybe I need to rethink model railroading as my retirement hobby!

    • Hi Bill:
      If you’re like 90% of the modellers I know, you have enough stuff already.
      I know that if I hadn’t committed all of the available layout room to S, I could build a second layout in HO – and a third in Proto:48.
      The hobby has been through a real peak in terms of readily available product. And if much of that disappears, the hobby will be much smaller both in terms of the number of participants and the size of the layouts they build. But it’s easier to share information these days, and old techniques like casting and scractch-building are being taken to new levels of accomplishment – often using basic materials like styrene, wood and paint. So I don’t think a rethink of the hobby as a whole is needed – although it may require a different approach than it did 10 years ago.

  2. I don’t disagree BUT when sources of unique items go away it limits future choices. While I have a lot of stuff in multiple scales, after 40 years in narrow gauge I was seriously considering SG then looked at space available and S came up.

    Being at the far end of nowhere when it comes to the supply chain the internet is about my only source BUT the ability to touch and see stuff in person plays a big role in ultimate choices.

    I seriously doubt that I will give up model RRING but will have to begin acquiring more “maybe I will need that someday” stuff while reducing my train budget as a retiree.

    • Hi Bill:

      I’d argue that when sources go away, it compels us to scratch-build.

      I’m actually much happier working in 1:64 than I was in HO because there is so little available commercially. I’m not tempted (and I tempt pretty easily).

      Modelling a specific prototype helps. For example, I have scratch-built almost every structure on my layout so far, with more to come. In the process, I’ve forced myself to improve my scratch-building skills. Still – I have a couple of kits on the layout, for houses. They may stay, or they may go – I’m happy with them for now and they’re good place holders until I finish other buildings, like the feed mill and station in Port Rowan, that are more important to telling the story of my prototype. But when those buildings are done and I’m looking for projects, I might just research some era-appropriate houses in St. Williams and Port Rowan and replace the kits with scratch-built efforts.

      The big advantage is, when I look at my layout it doesn’t look like everybody else’s. Nobody can come to my layout and play Building Bingo (e.g. “Walthers grain elevator, DPM freight house, Revell Bakery”…)

      The same goes for freight cars. There are some cars that I’d love to have on this layout, that simply are not available – and probably never will be. That’s going to force me to learn to scratch build some standard gauge equipment. I’ve scratch-built Maine two-foot freight cars in the past, so I have some of the basics – but standard gauge cars are more complex. I’m looking forward to that challenge – although I’m happy to keep myself busy with other things in the meantime.


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