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I'd love to give some props but I don't have a decent LHS--and I live in Chicago! Nearest shop is fair at best. Barely have any evergreen or plastruct. Quote: "Nobody is scratch building anymore." They should check out this site!

Kit selection is weak. Paint rack is mostly empty.

Chicago is such an underserved market for hobby stuff.

If anyone can recommend a good shop in the Chicagoland area, I'd love to read it!
 

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Esther's Hobby Shop in Millvale Pa (near Pittsburgh) is owned an operated by Bob Mehler. Esther, who was Bob's mother originally opened the store in 1938 as a coffee and sandwich shop that also sold toys. Today, some 78 years later, its a full service hobby shop and Bob is one of the most friendly and helpful shop owners I've met. He's been in this business most of his life.

This store is a recent find for me. I was looking for the Monarch Nosferatu and couldn't find it locally so I emailed Monarch for help. They said that they distribute through Hobbytyme who listed Bob's store and I called him up. I asked him if he had it and he said no but he was happy to order it and had it in just two days. You just can't find service like that anymore. He loves what he does and it really shows.

I should also mention that he regularly discounts everything in his shop (even my special order) by 20%

As Bob says "In Pittsburgh there used to be 28 hobby shops and now there are only 4". As far as I'm concerned there is only one and that one is Esther's. Bob will have my business as long as he's around.

A news article about the store (complete with some snippets of Bob's wisdom) can be found here:

http://www.yournorthhills.com/northhillsnews/article/not-just-hobby-70-esthers-now-millvale-institution

His website is here:
http://www.esthershobby.com/

And he is located here:

Esther's Hobby Shop
219 North Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15209
(412) 821-2415

Regards,
MattL
 

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As I started listing the hobby stores in St. Louis, I realized just how many we have, and each with a particular field of expertise. St. Louis really is a great hobby city.

In the Greater St. Louis area:

HobbyTownUSA
13875 Manchester Rd
Ballwin, MO 63011
(636) 394-0177


Excellent kit selection, excellent ground R/C selection and service, good on trains and entry-level electric flight. Good general hobby selection, lots of tools, supplies, materials, science kits, games, and a top seller of metal detectors. Great rocket selection, and I work there so it better be your first stop when you go looking for a hobby shop.

Mark Twain Hobby Center
2793 West Clay
St. Charles MO 63301
(636) 946-2816


Another great store, excellent selection of kits, R/C and trains. Excellent book and magazine selection. Some rare and out-of-production kits to be found. Strong expertise on R/C ground vehicles.

Checkered Flag Hobby Country
4491 Lemay Ferry Rd
St Louis, MO 63129
(314) 892-5353


Not as well stocked as they used to be, limited kit selection, but real nice people to talk to. Some Girl Scouts supplies, some general craft supplies like styrofoam balls and wood shapes, canvas boards and paints.

CRM Hobbies
5101 Eichelberger
St. Louis, MO 63109
(314) 832-4840


The EXPERTS on all that is plastic and resin. Model Kit Mecca. No R/C or other mechanized hobbies. Lots of rare, out-of-production, limited, and garage kits.

Hobby Station
301 South Kirkwood Road
Kirkwood, MO 63122
(314) 822 1927


THE model train EXPERTS. Fair selection of kits, very limited R/C. Close to the Kirkwood Museum of Transportation with an actual Big Boy locomotive on display. Great store, great people, and lots of good shopping and dining along Kirkwood Ave. There's an excellent game and comic store within walking distance.

Schaeffer's Hobby
11659 Gravois Road
St. Louis, MO 63126
(314) 729-7077


The largest hobby store in St. Louis, also a great craft store. The authority on R/C flight of all scales and types. They offer craft classes, too! Good overall hobby and craft store.
Just had to comment on this one - St. Louis is a greathobbyshop town. If you can't find what you are looking for in this town it probably doesn't exsist anymore. Plus you can reach any of them in about 30 min of driving!
Steve
 

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My local hobby shop, Hub Hobby in Metairie, LA, has suddenly started stocking a larger variety of science fiction kits. Only one or two of each kit, but this is more SF stuff than I've seen there ever. It includes most of the recent space ship releases as well as a bunch of monster kits and even Iron Man, Spidey, & the Green Goblin. A good trend that I suspect I may have had at least a small part in starting... :)
 

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South Seattle

Skyway Model Shop
12615 Renton Avenue S
Seattle, WA

A really excellent, old-school model shop with models of all kinds piled high including out-of-production stuff. Good selection of horror/sci-fi kits (my fave), paints, books, magazines. About 90% of the shop is military and planes but he has all the good figure stuff, too--Sinbad, Creature, Frank, etc. Got me and my son started modeling--the proprietor Emil is one of the nicest guys and incredibly helpful. Always a group of model nuts hanging out and talking about the latest stuff.
 

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There is one in Daytona beach that I go to it's Race and hobby shop 2525 W. International speedway Daytona beach Fl. about one block west of the Daytona race track.
 

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I miss American Eagle in Tacoma :(
I can't tell you how much I regret not going to the various modelling classes they'd have from time to time, I still can't use an airbrush as anything but a glorified paint can to save my life.
Tib
 

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Ralph's Hobbie's in St. Pete is like a gold mine. Dusty filled to the brim. But oh what. Thats a true guy who understands models
 

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Does anyone remember Kiddie City. Or when Toys Are US actually carried models. We need to keep this hobbie alive. It keeps me alive
 

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Hub Hobby on Airline Highway in Metairie, LA. They have recently started carrying a much larger selection of sci-fi kits and I'd like to think I had a little bit to do with that! :)
 

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I live in Vancouver, Washington which has seen the decline of all of our local hobby shops which aren't a chain. I usually cross the bridge into Portland, OR and shop at one of the LHS there. My favorite is:

Bridgetown Hobbies
3350 Northeast Sandy Boulevard
Portland, OR 97232
(503) 234-1881

For those of us in Vancouver, the only options left for us are:

Hobbytown USA
8720 Northeast Centerpointe Drive
Vancouver, WA 98665
(360) 823-0904

It's a great store, but I sure miss supporting the locally owned businesses.
 

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Ralph's Hobbie's in St. Pete is like a gold mine. Dusty filled to the brim. But oh what. Thats a true guy who understands models
I visited Ralph's just before Xmas in 2009 while our son from Austin was interviewing in St. Pete. We live in Merritt Island on the opposite side of the state but I was raised in Tarpon Springs. Ralph's is small but for the plastic modeler he is good. He had just gotten in some things that weren't even available online as yet. I picked up some supplies while I was there. If you ever head towards Tarpon up US19, stop in at the House of Hobbies just south of Klosterman Road, which is only about a mile from where I grew up. (It is definitely a whole lot different these days than during the 60s.) It is run by a guy named Bob. His original store was on Alt 19 on the south end of Clearwater and I went there whenever I could get my mom to take me on our shopping trips to Clearwater. He had a store in NPR for a while in the mid-70s as well but I guess 5 or so years ago he consolidated and moved the Tarpon location. I always pop in there when I make a trip to the Tarpon area. He has a large selection of plastic models as well. When he was in his final Clearwater location I was almost afraid of going in there was so much stuff, and gobs of plastic, in tight aisles stacked to the ceiling. I figured if that place ever started on fire it would a disaster and very difficult place to escape from.

Bob K.
 

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Does anyone remember Kiddie City. Or when Toys Are US actually carried models. We need to keep this hobbie alive. It keeps me alive
Are you living in St. Petersburg? When I really got seriously back into plastic modeling (I never gave it up completely but didn't do much for my middle aged years, mostly model rockets) I remember picking up the Aurora Frightening Four Pack at Toys 'r Us. I was very surprised seeing it there and it kick started my serious return to plastic modeling. I believe they still carry a few things, about like Michael's, but I don't even waste my time looking because there will be few and likely they would only be car models. The place that was a real let-down was Hobby Lobby. They should be called Dafty Crafty and take the hobby word out completely. They did have one aisle of stuff but in the overall store it was less than 5%. The unfortunate fact these days is almost no kids build models and the guys that grew up doing it and still love it are getting old. I tried to interest my sons and a nephew but video games, facebook, and other things are all they desire. They want to be entertained and feel entitled to it. No time or patience for doing things for themselves.

Bob K.
 

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To anyone in the Washington DC area, Piper Hobby in Chantilly, VA holds monthly get-togethers at the shop every second tuesday of the month. I've never been to an ipms club meeting but I haven't heard such great things. This club is relaxed, low key and free (you even get free pizza out of it). It's simply a place for local plastic kit builders to meet up and hang out with other plastic kit builders. There apparently is even a couple sci-fi heavy builders that attend so it isn't just cars and armor.

I plan to attend next month and check it out but thought I'd give a heads up to any local guys in case they weren't aware.
 

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Hobbytown USA in Brandon, FL. More oriented towards R/C enthusiasts, but has a good selection of models and model supplies. Model car section is very weak though.
Great selection of Woodland Scenics stuff for dioramas.
Hobbytown USA
2464 West Brandon Boulevard
Brandon, Florida 33511
(813) 655-6366


There's also a Michael's right around the corner. Very convenient.
 

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The hobby shop I went to whenever my parents could be talked into it during our shopping trips to Clearwater, FL back in the 60s was the House of Hobbies run by a guy who lived 25 miles north of it named Bob. I would always try to get in the place on those trips and saved my lawn mowing money for those trips. In the 70s he opened a second store near where he lived in New Port Richey and we had our rocket club meetings at that place. He is still in Pinellas County but closed the NPR store and moved his location to Tarpon Springs only a little over a mile from where I was raised. I certainly wish he had been there when I was growing up. I still pop in when I am in the area and it is on US19 just south of Klosterman road on the west side of the highway. He must be pushing 70 now but still runs it himself with his wife and daughter. It isn't as well stocked as it was in those long ago days but is fun to visit. In fact my 40 year HS reunion is this weekend in Tarpon and if I get over there soon enough on Friday afternoon I will stop in for old times sake.

Bob K.
 
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