The Hobby Shop

October 5, 2023   ·   0 Comments

By Keith Schell

As a kid, I always figured I got a fair and decent allowance from Dad every week. Some lucky kids I knew got a lot more, and some unlucky kids I knew got a lot less. And I usually blew what I got every week on hockey cards or comic books. That was all I ever really wanted, and that was all I could ever really afford. 

But occasionally, the stars would align, and I would be flush with money, especially after my birthday when I might get a couple of dollars each from both sets of Grandparents in a birthday card. For a kid back then, that was a lot of money (I’m guessing that a two-dollar bill back then might be the equivalent of a ten-dollar bill nowadays). 

Loaded down with birthday money and wanting to live the high life of the big spender, I wanted to buy something that was fun and neat and usually totally out of reach for me. So I paid a visit to what I thought was the coolest little shop on the main street of our small town. 

And that shop was THE HOBBY SHOP! 

As I entered the shop, I could hear the ‘Ding-a-ling’ of the little brass bell over top of the door that signalled the entrance of a customer into the shop. After I greeted the owner, I would wander around the store and began to happily lose myself in the world of plastic scale models, watercolour paint sets, drawing pads, and other assorted hobby items, examining all the items on the shelves and trying to figure out what I wanted to buy and what I could afford with the money I had. 

And what a great shop it was! It was a small shop, almost a hole-in-the-wall, and the model shelves were stocked with the coolest plastic models based on the popular vehicles and images of the day. Submarines, tanks, battleships and other military weapons and vehicles, Apollo lunar landing craft and assorted fictional spaceships, dragsters, passenger and racing cars, hippie-oriented customized van wagons, and other assorted sixties and seventies far-out custom vehicles! Other funky vehicles from beloved TV programs of the day were displayed for sale as well, like the Adam West Batmobile, the Monkees’ car, the Munsters’ family coach, the Rat Patrol jeeps and the entire set of the Thunderbirds rescue ships!  

Up on the highest shelves out of the reach of young kids were the models that were far too expensive and far too complicated for a kid like me: large castles, sailing schooners, the human body, and so forth. Things that didn’t really hold my interest in the first place. I was mostly interested in the current and trendy models of the time as seen on TV.    

Mostly, what I wanted to buy was determined by how much I had to spend. Sometimes, when I made a purchase, I had to factor in the cost of a tube of modelling glue as well. (Thank goodness they eventually invented snap-together models that needed no glue whatsoever! Anything back then that could save a buck was a major break for a little kid like me!) 

When I finally made my purchasing decision, I brought my purchase up to the counter to pay for it. But that day, as I counted out my pocket money, I realized I was facing disaster: I discovered to my horror I was three cents short! 

Sheepishly, I had to tell the owner of the shop I was a little bit short and couldn’t buy my model that week. After asking me how much I was short by, he just smiled and said to me, “Don’t worry about it” and let me buy the model anyway. He was such a good guy, a few pennies here and there never bothered him very much. I’ve never forgotten his little act of generosity and always made sure after that to have enough money to be able to pay for what I wanted when I went in. And I still think of the owner fondly to this day.     

When I got home and went to glue my model together on the kitchen table, Mom always made me put down newspaper before I started. That was usually a smart move because young kids and modelling glue do not always work well together, and more often than not, more things ended up being glued together than just the model, if you know what I mean. I was never a particularly good gluer. 

No matter how softly I squeezed that darn tube of modelling glue, I always somehow managed to squeeze out more glue than I wanted. And sometimes, I even glued my fingers together, or the model ended up being stuck to the newspaper on the table! Fortunately, the glue took a bit of time to set up, so I usually had enough time to pry everything apart before it got stuck together permanently. 

When I finished gluing my model together, I would wipe off the excess glue with a Kleenex and compare it to how it looked with the picture on the box. It was usually pretty close. There was usually a sheet of decals included in the box to dip in water and apply to the model afterwards. They always seemed to end up going on crooked, so sometimes I used them, and sometimes I didn’t. Once finished, I would then put my model on display in my room someplace so I could enjoy looking at it whenever I wanted.  

Nowadays, both owner and shop are long gone, both relegated to the happy memories of an era gone by. Their place in our town has been taken mostly by hobby departments of larger size and selection in big box department stores and e-retailers with niche websites online.

But today’s retailers will never replace the happy times of my life spent after school in the coolest little shop on our main street: 

The Hobby Shop!

Readers Comments (0)

Please note: Comment moderation is enabled and may delay your comment. There is no need to resubmit your comment.