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Local Independent LEGO Shops - An Ominous New Trend?

The_Mad_VulcanThe_Mad_Vulcan SeattleMember Posts: 161
Lately, I've noticed quite a few small businesses popping up in my area which specialize in LEGO bricks. Some of these are run by AFOLs but I have noticed a growing trend of what seems to be prospectors looking to cash in on the raging market and it concerns me, but maybe it shouldn't. I was curious to see if anyone else had similar experiences and misgiving.

I spend a decent amount of cash on Bicklink and occasionally even eBay buying used LEGO bricks and sets both for myself and my daughter. Local shops appeal to me since you can see what you are buying, browse, and also hopefully interact with other fans of LEGO. But often I am met with antagonism or condescension when I go into these local brick shops and it confuses me. Shouldn't I be their target consumer base? Should this not be one of the few stores in which I am the most welcome?

At first, I was thinking that maybe I don't come across as your regular AFOL and I was being pidgin holed as something else, an outsider. The antagonism is one that I often encountered in Baseball card shops or comic book stores before. But I am starting to think that is not what is going on.

Two specific factors make me think that the stores are being started and run by people who aren't actually fans of LEGO at all, but rather are just looking to cash in on the popularity of the brand.

Firstly, I have noted that there are many minifigures for sale in the display cases, a great source of income certainly, and I know from experience that they price these using Bricklink. Classic Space figures command high prices in the case -> $12 - $14 usually and that is comparable to Bricklink prices... for the best examples of those figures. But those seen in the cases often have the Classic Space Logo heavily worn, or almost gone. And some have the wrong helmet or no air tanks. the wrong head, etc. And yet, they are still listed at these high prices.

The other instance was recent. I was browsing the store and the person running it at the time decided to move a shelf. The shelf was fully loaded and he started pushing it from one end. I noted that a few of the big price sealed sets fell off the far side and I called out for him to stop telling him that some of the boxes had fallen down between that shelf and the next, and he rolled his eyes at me and assured me that he didn't need my help. Then he continued to push the shelf, crushing the boxes that had fallen. Sealed/overpriced sets. 

Has anyone else experienced this? Are these shops popping up everywhere or just by me?

Comments

  • PaperballparkPaperballpark UKMember Posts: 2,755
    It sounds to me like such shops set up by people just trying to cash in are unlikely to last long - AFoLs won't pay high prices for crushed boxes/rubbish figs, and kids/parents aren't likely to pay high prices anyway.

    To my mind, to make a success of a small independent LEGO store, you need someone who knows what they're talking about. Good customer service is essential in small stores, and if you don't have that, people won't go back.

    Wait a year or two, and the ones you're complaining about will have changed or gone out of business.
    catwranglerAyliffeMasterBeefychuckpKingAlanI
  • davee123davee123 USAMember Posts: 791
    Wait a year or two, and the ones you're complaining about will have changed or gone out of business.
    I would mostly agree, depending on how they make their money.  It boggles my mind that you could actually consistently run a store that only sold LEGO collector's items and current LEGO products, especially with the wealth of online competition in BrickLink, eBay, etc.

    But I do think there's value in an in-person LEGO experience, like LEGO-themed parties and activities.  That's always seemed like a potentially viable business model (and obviously there are a bunch of these out there).  So if they're making money this way, I think they're less vulnerable if they have non-AFOL staff.

    The other thing I've always been curious about is re-selling with a retail discount.  IE, buy sets from LEGO, offer them on shelves, and if they don't sell, then break them apart and sell them on BrickLink.  LEGO won't sell to a retailer unless they have a storefront (or, at least, that certainly used to be true, I assume it still is), but could a retailer then grind up MISB sets into parts to sell and still be in the clear with LEGO?

    Anyway, the realist in me says that if they're making any significant portion of their money from selling effectively "collector's items" like the classic space figures or old MISB sets, they're probably doomed to fail-- all the more so if they don't know the market.  But if that's just some income on the side, then they might be able to chug along for quite a while, I'd think.
    he rolled his eyes at me and assured me that he didn't need my help. Then he continued to push the shelf, crushing the boxes that had fallen.
    The other thing to consider is that it's possible he wasn't the owner (although he could be, I obviously don't know!).  I know someone locally who owns a LEGO business, and he has to find people to employ since he doesn't want to work 7-days a week straight!  And I'm not sure he's ever actually been able to land a true AFOL as an employee.

    DaveE
    catwrangler
  • PapaBearPapaBear East CoastMember Posts: 168
    I guess it depends on how much money the store owners want to waste before going out of business.  I see stores like TRU with overpriced LEGO and other toys open and close all the time.  Every time I go to my local mall, it's like a totally different mall the the time before.

    This issue isn't isolated to LEGO.  I went into a new candy store in the mall.  It was huge and everything was overpriced!  I got some caramel creams just to be nice and immediately found some for half the price on my phone while walking to my car.

    Colleges don't graduate people with experience companies need, which makes them turn to other ventures like selling LEGO.  While they probably have built some sets, they most likely aren't huge fans.  The amount of hours people work is declining, and work ethic is declining with it.  Automation makes life easier as well as reduces usefulness of humans.

    Just hope these people don't get or start getting loans or incentives from government to open up their "business".
  • datsunrobbiedatsunrobbie West Haven , CTMember Posts: 915
    Locally we have just one comic/collectibles shop that has started stocking some LEGO products. I've only stopped by the store a few times. Most of their stock was sets that were recently sold at heavy discounts locally, like the Angry Birds sets that Target blew out at 70% off, marked back up to MSRP. They had a bunch of CMFs for sale at MSRP right after Toys R Us ran their 2/$5 sale. They have one table full of used parts set up for bulk buying, and I did find a few parts that made it worth rummaging through, but they cannot compete with the local thrift stores.
  • LyichirLyichir United StatesMember Posts: 396
    Ominous? To be honest, I'd be quite happy to see more independent Lego stores. Generally the only opportunities I have to get aftermarket Lego in person are at conventions or at yard sales. Of course, not all stores or their staff would be created equal, but more diversity in the marketplace would still be nice compared to "big box" stores like Walmart, Target, or Toys R Us being the only options for buying Lego locally.

    Your points about things potentially being overpriced is still a legitimate concern, but it might be important to consider the added overhead costs a permanent retail location would have compared to an online seller working from home, as well as the convenience factor of being able to walk into a store and buy what you want instead of having to pay, or wait, for shipping.
  • Madkins007Madkins007 NebraskaMember Posts: 12
    In any hobbyist field, there are the 'vultures' that look to make money from the trend. Most of these people know that the hot trends are short-lived and are quick to hop on the bandwagons. In my area, I watched the baseball card stores morph into beanies, then hot wheels, etc.

    I also know that there are some flea markets around that feature a ton of Lego, and it is just what the OP said. A relative got me a skeleton fig they thought I would like. It was based on one of the Ninjango characters, but had a wrong foot and arm. She bought it off a big table with rows and rows of figs.

    If I had the capital, I would LOVE to open a Lego and similar stuff store. I have these visions of buying and selling used bricks, selling new sets, having pits of parts that people can play with (and buy their creations for a fair price, doing minifig customization, and so on. 
    KingAlanIRogerKirk
  • The_Mad_VulcanThe_Mad_Vulcan SeattleMember Posts: 161
    It sounds to me like such shops set up by people just trying to cash in are unlikely to last long - AFoLs won't pay high prices for crushed boxes/rubbish figs, and kids/parents aren't likely to pay high prices anyway.
    You're exactly right. If I don't give them business and most other AFOLs follow suit, they won't be there very long.

    davee123 said:

    The other thing to consider is that it's possible he wasn't the owner (although he could be, I obviously don't know!).  I know someone locally who owns a LEGO business, and he has to find people to employ since he doesn't want to work 7-days a week straight!  And I'm not sure he's ever actually been able to land a true AFOL as an employee.
    I considered that too, though the guy did tell me he was (one of the) owners. But even still, that wouldn't explain the display case figs. Just the instance of the boxes.

    Locally we have just one comic/collectibles shop that has started stocking some LEGO products. I've only stopped by the store a few times. Most of their stock was sets that were recently sold at heavy discounts locally, like the Angry Birds sets that Target blew out at 70% off, marked back up to MSRP. They had a bunch of CMFs for sale at MSRP right after Toys R Us ran their 2/$5 sale. They have one table full of used parts set up for bulk buying, and I did find a few parts that made it worth rummaging through, but they cannot compete with the local thrift stores.
    I'd be curious to see if the Thrift Store option doesn't eventually lose out to these stores. I have collected Records, starting in the early 90's, and it was once the case that everyone thought they were worthless, out of date. You could get great copies from Thrift Stores and Garage Sales for almost nothing. But eventually people realized the value of what they had. When a store will pay you for the items, its easier than selling it yourself and better than giving it away.

    All it takes is a few news articles explaining to people the value of the items, which LEGO has had, and people start to catch on. But in a way, this would be a good thing for such stores to act as an intermediary, buying up childhood collections, organizing out sets, and reselling at or near value to collectors.

    Lyichir said:
    Ominous? To be honest, I'd be quite happy to see more independent Lego stores. Generally the only opportunities I have to get aftermarket Lego in person are at conventions or at yard sales. Of course, not all stores or their staff would be created equal, but more diversity in the marketplace would still be nice compared to "big box" stores like Walmart, Target, or Toys R Us being the only options for buying Lego locally.

    Thing is, we already have that store and it has been doing amazingly well. The owner is a fan of LEGO and has a corresponding Bricklink Store. His store is popular with Kids and adults alike and it has been expanding.

    These new stores seem to be trying to replicate his success, without the know how. At this point, I have a store that sells used LEGO in my town and one in each of the cities North, East, West, and South of me. But they are not all created equal. 
  • SumoLegoSumoLego New YorkMember Posts: 7,931
    As an aside, there are extremely technical requirements for being a LEGO retail vendor.  As of a few years ago, you have to demonstrate that LEGO is not your primary revenue source (under 20%) for a period of years, there are pricing restraints and protection for larger retailers, and there are certain minimum volume requirements.

    LEGO doesn't focus on the grass-roots retailers, as they do not want them potentially undercutting TRU, Target, Wal-Mart, etc...

    Also why LEGO doesn't normally end up at outlets or discount stores.
  • dougtsdougts Oregon, USAMember Posts: 4,097
    These shops are NOT interested in catering to AFOLs in general.  That user group generally knows the lowest/true prices of mini figures and sets. These shops are catering to the general public of parents who take their kids in there to buy some bulk pieces, loose minifigs, or small/medium sets. People that have no idea there are other marketplaces offering the same stuff for half the price. 
    CCCLostInTranslationYodalicious
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 15,081
    dougts said:
    These shops are NOT interested in catering to AFOLs in general.  That user group generally knows the lowest/true prices of mini figures and sets. These shops are catering to the general public of parents who take their kids in there to buy some bulk pieces, loose minifigs, or small/medium sets. People that have no idea there are other marketplaces offering the same stuff for half the price. 
    This. We have one in our town, although it is run by AFOLs. Even so, the prices they charge a plainly ridiculous. I remember once they did an "exhibition" at a local cinema. It was crap. I think three old store display cases with glued SW models, then a competition to build a SW polybag the quickest (at £1 a go) to win a cheap set at the end of the day. Then of course they had their retail section, tons of Chima stuff bought at clearance, current SW sets at almost double RRP, SW figures at 2-3x BL prices, polybags for £4.99 that were freebies just a couple of weeks before with the Daily Mail.
    SumoLegoYodalicioussnowhitieMynatt
  • SumoLegoSumoLego New YorkMember Posts: 7,931
    ^ All a result of them not being able to get product at wholesale.
    FollowsClosely
  • HanzoHanzo VAMember Posts: 360
    Until they start forcing me at gunpoint to buy their overpriced wares I have no issue with mom and pop stores opening and don't really care what their prices are.  A free market will take care of any problems.
    SumoLegoJohnyk668OnebricktoomanyM_BossMasterBeefychuckpmadforLEGO
  • SumoLegoSumoLego New YorkMember Posts: 7,931
    Hanzo said:
    Until they start forcing me at gunpoint to buy their overpriced wares I have no issue with mom and pop stores opening and don't really care what their prices are.  A free market will take care of any problems.
    Hmmm... pro-Wal-Mart, or sarcasm.  I can't tell.
  • HanzoHanzo VAMember Posts: 360
    SumoLego said:
    Hanzo said:
    Until they start forcing me at gunpoint to buy their overpriced wares I have no issue with mom and pop stores opening and don't really care what their prices are.  A free market will take care of any problems.
    Hmmm... pro-Wal-Mart, or sarcasm.  I can't tell.
    I am indifferent to the "evil empire" that is Walmart.  If it wasn't them it would be someone else.  Take Amazon for instance, they are doing just as much if not more damage to brick and mortar competition as Walmart is and I rarely hear them hated on. 

    People point to wages, but the average for a Walmart and Amazon employee is the about the same.


    SumoLegoOnebricktoomanyM_BossBumblepantsmadforLEGO
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 15,081
    Hanzo said:
    I am indifferent to the "evil empire" that is Walmart.  If it wasn't them it would be someone else.  Take Amazon for instance, they are doing just as much if not more damage to brick and mortar competition as Walmart is and I rarely hear them hated on. 

    That is just free market forces doing their thing ...

    PS. Amazon gets quite a bit of hate in the UK and Europe for the incredibly low amount of tax it pays. Sales £19.5 billion, tax £15m.

    But people still use them as they are cheap, what with not paying much tax and all that!
    SumoLegoomniumOnebricktoomanyM_Boss
  • AleyditaAleydita BelgiumMember Posts: 567
    The UK government is complicit in the low tax thing. Many MPs and most cabinet ministers have off-shore companies and investment funds using the same rules to pay no tax on high gains. Only the EU is attempting to curtail tax avoidance and the British try and stop them at every step. Number of UK nationals prosecuted for evading tax in Swiss banks following major whistleblowing... 1. Compared to 1,000s across Europe. Number of UK nationals prosecuted for evading tax revealed in the 'Panama Papers' scandal... 0.
    omniumcatwranglersnowhitie
  • PaperballparkPaperballpark UKMember Posts: 2,755
    What people forget is that large companies are simply small companies which were successful...
    dougtsM_BossSprinkleOtterchuckpYodalicious
  • dougtsdougts Oregon, USAMember Posts: 4,097
    edited September 11
    here's the thing.  If I'm buying a box of cereal, box of lego, or box of rocks, I want the lowest price.  It's the exact same thing no matter where I buy it or who i buy it from. I'm not asking the store for some expertise or super secret knowledge to help me base my decision. I know exactly what I want.  I want the cheapest price so I can make my hard-earned money stretch as far as possible.  if Walmart or Amazon or Joe's local mom and pop has the best price, they get my sale.  I pay *plenty* of money in local, state, and federal tax dollars, and I'm not going to feel bad about keeping as much of the rest of my money in my pocket as I can.
    Paperballparkalexwilchuckpgmonkey76YodalicioussnowhitieLEGO_Dad77BlueTaco
  • PaperballparkPaperballpark UKMember Posts: 2,755
    edited September 11
    I've long been of the opinion that in this internet age, there are only two sustainable ways of being a bricks-and-mortar retailer - pile-'em-high and sell-'em-cheap, or specialise in a niche market and offer the kind of expertise, knowledge, and customer service that you can't get online.

    The third way of doing retail - trying to be all things to all people (see Woolworths, WHSmith, BHS, etc.) is doomed. I suspect WHSmith only survives because it has cornered the market and found a niche at railway stations and airports.
    catwranglerKingAlanIsnowhitieMr_Cross
  • dougtsdougts Oregon, USAMember Posts: 4,097
    I've long been of the opinion that in this internet age, there are only two sustainable ways of being a bricks-and-mortar retailer - pile-'em-high and sell-'em-cheap, or specialise in a niche market and offer the kind of expertise, knowledge, and customer service that you can't get online.

    yep. small independent stores who are still trying to live selling commodity consumers goods like it is 1980 get no sympathy from me.  They've had at least 10-20 years to adapt to the new world.  Differentiate yourselves. Offer uniques goods and/or services that people want and need and can't buy online or in a mega retailer like Walmart
  • daewoodaewoo TexasMember Posts: 30

    There are a few independent stores near me and I prefer the one owned and run by an AFOL and his family.  He does commissions which are usually very cool builds and he offers classes on building techniques.  We always converse when I visit the store and I can tell that he wants his Customers to have a good experience.  The prices are BL, so no surprise, but his bulk setup is good and they run specials every once and a while.

    There is another one that is a bit closer but the prices are ridiculous.  They want $12 for a used green 32x32 baseplate!  I can buy brand new just a few miles away at the Lego store for $4 less than that.  I've spoken with and observed the owner, and while he is a super friendly guy and works to promote the other businesses near him (hoping that they will do the same for him), he's in it for the money.  He also works like crazy to push the franchise angle (he owns two).  If I were to open a Lego store, it would certainly NOT be a franchise.

  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 1,943
    edited September 13
    Although this is apples and oranges.... by 1961 there were 11,000 independent LEGO retailers in Europe, before the advent of overseas LEGO sales.
  • KingAlanIKingAlanI Rochester, NYMember Posts: 1,417
    some of the stuff in this thread reminds me of Wizards of the Coast/Hasbro restricting who can buy Magic the Gathering wholesale. You have to have a physical store rather than being online only; the major Web retailers also have a big store somewhere. The idea is that activities like tournaments at retail stores stimulate the market. So it might be better overall even if there's some loss. And they don't have their own retail operation like TLG does.
  • dougtsdougts Oregon, USAMember Posts: 4,097
    daewoo said:


    There is another one that is a bit closer but the prices are ridiculous.  They want $12 for a used green 32x32 baseplate!  I can buy brand new just a few miles away at the Lego store for $4 less than that.  I've spoken with and observed the owner, and while he is a super friendly guy and works to promote the other businesses near him (hoping that they will do the same for him), he's in it for the money.  He also works like crazy to push the franchise angle (he owns two).  If I were to open a Lego store, it would certainly NOT be a franchise.

    yeah, the franchise thing cracks me up.  There is NOTHING proprietary about the business model. Why on Earth would I pay a huge franchising fee, plus ongoing residuals, just so I can have a name that almost none of my potential customers even know anyway?  insane.  
    SprinkleOtterKingAlanI
  • davee123davee123 USAMember Posts: 791
    dougts said:
    thing cracks me up.  There is NOTHING proprietary about the business model.
    I was curious about that, actually-- I don't know how secretive they are about their practices, but what does buying into the franchise actually gain you?  From what I can tell it gets you:

    * A name that's slightly more recognizeable
    * A spot on their website
    * Graphics to use in store (I assume you still have to pay for them to be printed, etc)
    * Training Program & strategies for re-selling

    In theory, they could have things like merchandiser deals with LEGO or other vendors like BrickArms, etc, where you get a negotiated price/volume that's better than if you were on your own.  But I see no indication of that?

    Further, it'd be neat if they did things like having a "master" inventory (or some sort of centralized one) that hooked into a POS system that they provided.  That could allow for neat things like buying things from other franchise locations, and having them shipped to you for customers.  But that seems unlikely from the looks of things.

    I guess it seems like a useful thing to pay for to get your foot in the door, but beyond the hurdles with startup, I'm not sure if there would be much ongoing value, unless there's more that's provided that I don't know about.

    DaveE
  • dougtsdougts Oregon, USAMember Posts: 4,097
    there is NO chance they have a deal with LEGO.  even the startup stuff isn't worth paying for. If you are planning on going into business, and you understand the new/used/bulk LEGO retail market at all, there isn't enough value there to make the upfront cost even close to worth it.
    pharmjodKerre
  • davee123davee123 USAMember Posts: 791
    dougts said:
    there is NO chance they have a deal with LEGO.
    Yeah, that seemed unlikely to me, too.  They do have almost 40 locations, so the volume could be sufficient.  But I assume that unless things are handled centrally, LEGO probably wouldn't bother, since they'd have to ship things out to individual retailers rather than a main distribution point (which I assume B&M don't have).

    Things like BrickArms, BrickForge, etc. ... Maybe?  I guess I dunno.  If part of the franchise deal were to maintain a specific stock in these items, then maybe they might get a better deal on them, but I didn't get the impression that there were any specific requirements with regards to products.

    Anyway, I was curious what the terms of the franchise deal were, since (as you point out) from the description on the website, it seems like it's not really worth much.  That was my impression as well, but I certainly haven't seen all the info.

    DaveE
  • SumoLegoSumoLego New YorkMember Posts: 7,931
    LEGO sells wholesale to toy retailers, not LEGO retailers.  LEGO already has a retail channel that does pretty well.
    pharmjodgmonkey76stluxmadforLEGOMr_CrossKerre
  • pharmjodpharmjod 1,170 miles to Wall Drug, USAMember Posts: 2,227
    edited September 13
    Yeah, the company of which you speak has no direct purchasing from LEGO. You pretty much have to hustle and buy online and from local stores on clearance to keep a steady inventory of new sets in the shelves.

    Also, my one experience with a local franchise of said chain were two guys with no interest in LEGO outside of financial gain. In other words, definitely not AFOLs.
    Pitfall69
  • Pitfall69Pitfall69 3,743 miles to Legoboy's houseMember Posts: 10,309
    I have said it before; I will always pay a premium for a good experience and service. If these stores offer a bad shopping experience, then I will no longer frequent these places. 

    As a side; I can also see how having a Lego business can really sour an AFOL over time. 
    SumoLegoYodaliciousAndormadforLEGOMr_Cross
  • SumoLegoSumoLego New YorkMember Posts: 7,931
    Pitfall69 said:
    Are there many other reasons to open a business other than financial gain? 
    Money laundering, definitely.  Haven't you seen 'Ozark'?  There's a reason why we have a LEGO laundromat...

    I know I purchase LEGO as a front for the second largest drug cartel in Mexico.
    Toc13omnium
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 15,081
    Pitfall69 said:
    I do laugh when people say "they are only in it for the money". Are there many other reasons to open a business other than financial gain?
    When I hear that, I usually assume the bit missing is ... and don't really care about the product. In that they will buy anything if they think they can sell it for profit, without really knowing what it is, what it does or anything else about it. Whereas someone that cares about the product  they are selling will tend to be more knowledgeable and may be able to offer better customer service.

    But, as has already been mentioned, when buying a LEGO set most AFOLs don't really need customer service or advice. They know what they want and what price to pay. So the difference between "in it for the money" sellers and die hard AFOL sellers is not that great. They are both in business to make money.
    pharmjoddougtsMr_Cross
  • daewoodaewoo TexasMember Posts: 30
    Pitfall69 said:
    I do laugh when people say "they are only in it for the money". Are there many other reasons to open a business other than financial gain? A tax shelter perhaps? Rent, utilities and employees have to be paid. Sure, the B@M independent Lego stores are generally more expensive than Bricklink, but these online "retailers have little to no overhead. I don't really care if the owners or employees are AFOL's as long as they know their product. I see a few advantages to purchasing Lego from a B@M store: You get the see and inspect the product you are purchasing, you get to have the product in hand immediately and usually, paying sales tax is cheaper than paying shipping charges.

    I don't begrudge the owner, but it's just different in his store vs the other (my preferred).  It boils down to one owner exudes a lifetime love of Lego and the other spends a lot of time talking up the franchise opportunity.  I use both stores to fill my needs when I'm looking to build, but if my preferred location didn't withhold rarer elements from their bulk table, I would only use their store.  As it is, they do withhold and so I go to the other stores and I've found elements in their bulk tables that sell for a lot of money on BL. 

  • ImABrickManNowImABrickManNow BrickyMcBrickMember Posts: 262
    There's a store in the Mall of America that sells custom Lego military Vehicles and minifigures. They also sell Brickarms but all the actual sets are 100% Lego bricks. that's the only non toy or Lego brand store I've seen that sells Lego.
  • myscrnnmmyscrnnm Seattle, WAMember Posts: 15
    As with most business ventures, by the time the general public becomes aware of the trend, the time to cash in has passed. If anyone is in this game and not a real fan of LEGO, they won't last. The two local independent LEGO shops I frequent in Western Washington are owned by people who have played with LEGO their entire lives and still collect for themselves. 

    Sure, from a business standpoint, you don't need to like your product, you just need to understand it and its consumer demographic. But for small businesses, customer relations is far more important, as you don't necessarily have the reputation of the brand to fall back on as a large retailer would. I like to get my vintage LEGO sets and specific pieces from the stores I go to because the people running the store can guarantee the quality of the products, and are willing to help me find the pieces I need.

    In the end, the consumer will win no matter what the outcome is. If I find that these shops take a turn for the worse, I can always get better deals on the Internet, or just collect current sets.
  • paulmisonpaulmison Member Posts: 31
    Upthread someone mentioned "LEGO-themed parties" and I'm pretty sure this nets far more revenue than the likes of $500 10188 Death Stars that're on the shelves more as a display than with an expectation of actually being sold.
    JonathanChau
  • MattDawsonMattDawson Solihull, UKMember Posts: 1,016
    There's a store in the Mall of America that sells custom Lego military Vehicles and minifigures. They also sell Brickarms but all the actual sets are 100% Lego bricks. that's the only non toy or Lego brand store I've seen that sells Lego.
    That will be Brickmania, and it's only 1 of their two physical stores! 
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 15,081
    ^^^ Even "real" fans of Lego (whoever they are) will struggle to make such a business last. In fact, they may be more blinkered than non-fans who might sell other brands alongside Lego.
    KingAlanI
  • NicksBricksNicksBricks United StatesMember Posts: 150
    daewoo said:

    There are a few independent stores near me and I prefer the one owned and run by an AFOL and his family.  He does commissions which are usually very cool builds and he offers classes on building techniques.  We always converse when I visit the store and I can tell that he wants his Customers to have a good experience.  The prices are BL, so no surprise, but his bulk setup is good and they run specials every once and a while.

    There is another one that is a bit closer but the prices are ridiculous.  They want $12 for a used green 32x32 baseplate!  I can buy brand new just a few miles away at the Lego store for $4 less than that.  I've spoken with and observed the owner, and while he is a super friendly guy and works to promote the other businesses near him (hoping that they will do the same for him), he's in it for the money.  He also works like crazy to push the franchise angle (he owns two).  If I were to open a Lego store, it would certainly NOT be a franchise.

    I’m pretty sure I know exactly which stores you are talking about, assuming you are in the DFW area.
  • KingAlanIKingAlanI Rochester, NYMember Posts: 1,417
    CCC said:
    ^^^ Even "real" fans of Lego (whoever they are) will struggle to make such a business last. In fact, they may be more blinkered than non-fans who might sell other brands alongside Lego.
    Sometimes people good at a product or service aren't good at the business of it ... like a great cook might not be a great restaurant owner. Also, there's synergy between wanting to keep and sell some of the product, but it can be hard to keep it separate enough.
    dmcc0
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 15,081
    Indeed, when running even something as small as a BL store it is important to know what is mine, and what is the store's.

    SumoLego
  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 1,943
    The title of this thread should be referring to Non-LEGO and resale shops... but there's not enough room... ;-)

    The very first LEGO Toy Stores were mostly all Independent stores.... but officially selling LEGO.  As I mentioned above by 1961 there were over 11,000 independent shops in continental Europe alone that sold LEGO... and not all of them were toy stores, or department stores.   But that's a whole long story.  In fact the last volume of my 9 volume LEGO printed collectors guide will be about LEGO retailers, their supporting merchandise (signs, lighting, stands, etc... all referring to LEGO displays and sales).   Also included will be retailer documentation (what's new in LEGO?)... and lots and lots of glued display models, from all decades.   But that's best discussed elsewhere... ;-)
    MAGNINOMINISUMBRA
  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 1,943

    My first LEGO purchases as a youngster... were at this store in Detroit... when Samsonite started selling LEGO in the USA in 1961.  The store was 90% bike related and 10% LEGO.... go figure?

    ryjayMAGNINOMINISUMBRAThe_Mad_Vulcanstlux
  • blogzillyblogzilly Columbus, OhioMember Posts: 597
    Istokg said:

    My first LEGO purchases as a youngster... were at this store in Detroit... when Samsonite started selling LEGO in the USA in 1961.  The store was 90% bike related and 10% LEGO.... go figure?

    I'm guessing that store is gone now right? Too bad.

    Maybe I was born in the wrong time. I freakin love stores like that. The small town I live in smack in the middle of Ohio has a Main Street that has buildings like this. Many unoccupied now. I used to dream of winning the lottery and opening a toy store in one of them. It would be for fun alone, I couldn't make money doing it...there is just no way for small shops to compete with Amazon.

    Check that...there are some exceptions certainly. But they have had some history, some luck, etc.

    Not sure what my point was...other than nostalgia. :)
    MAGNINOMINISUMBRA
  • MAGNINOMINISUMBRAMAGNINOMINISUMBRA Member Posts: 687
    ^ Being on the other side of the planet, I can't add to the 'small town nostalgia'.  I can't help feel that the original death knell for independent toy and hobby stores was the introduction of video games in the late 70's and early 80's.  A large part of the family entertainment budget got immediately directed elsewhere. The Walmart Effect was just the last nail in the coffin.
  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 1,943
    edited October 1
    Also, in small towns across Europe the LEGO store was often little more than a large room built onto the front of a 1 or 2 family house, with a large show window, and usually just a simple lighted LEGO sign.  Many of these were run by housewives who were in the house doing their daily chores, and when the buzzer rang at the store entrance, they would come down (or just thru a door) from the residence and take care of LEGO buyers needs... and then  go back upstairs to their household until the next shopper came along.

    It's these small mom and pop shops (in the truest sense of the words) that closed down as the owners grew old or passed away.  Europe has much different zoning laws than say the USA... and you could open up a shop in a neighborhood (although in Europe homes are much more densly packed than USA/Canada subdivisions or neighborhoods).  Thousands of these shops across Europe have closed down in the last 40 years.

    Here is an original 1960s LEGO retailer sign that was hung outside the front door (also in much of Europe a "front lawn" is virtually non-existent)... rught by the street.  This sign was attached to the front of a German house that had a LEGO sales room.



    Part of my LEGO Collectors Guide updates....
    SumoLegoThe_Mad_VulcankbenjesLittleLoriMAGNINOMINISUMBRAcatwrangler
  • blogzillyblogzilly Columbus, OhioMember Posts: 597
  • kbenjeskbenjes Member Posts: 59
    lstokg continues to be a pillar of the LEGO community. Thanks for the insight!
    bobabrickscatwrangler
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