Auld Lang Syne

As the new year quickly approaches, I’ve been reflecting back on the days now behind us. It seems like only a moment ago that we were ringing in 2010, full of hope for the new year and a fresh start. For some, the promise of new beginnings was fulfilled. For many others, 2010 is a year wrought with disappointments, job loss, and debt. But as a country, I think we’ve picked ourselves up off the floor, dusted ourselves off, and rolled up our sleeves. It’s time to get to work rebuilding our economy, piece by piece.

The year was an interesting one for the hobby industry as well. Arguably the biggest “story” of the year is probably the marked invasion of the hobby industry by Chinese “retailers”. It seems like, no matter whom in the industry you talk to, from manufacturers to retailers, to everyone in between, China is a big concern. But I’ve been over that already ad nauseum, so let’s talk about lighter topics.

It was a big year for Horizon Hobby. For us, it was the year that the Bind-N-Fly concept really took wing (pun intended). Between the E-flite/Blade helicopters, and the indoor/outdoor micro airplanes, Bind-N-Fly was a big hit for us this year. And because it’s a mechanic I can get behind, we’ll continue to do more with Bind-N-Fly in the coming year – it’s a line I’d like to increase as time goes on.

Another story, in my mind, is the fall of Great Planes as the dominant player in the hobby world. While they are still on top as far as sales and income, I think their time on top is quickly coming to an end. It’s been a two horse race for quite some time, but I think the race is about to become much closer, as Horizon puts out hit after hit. Great Planes is still in the lead, but it’s going to get too close to call in the new year.

While not really news, Traxxas’ domination of the R/C car industry is still remarkable, but not surprising. They are just so good at what they do, whether it’s customer service, engineering a new car, or sponsoring an entire racing series. Traxxas is a large company with a small business mentality, and it’s really the people that work there that make Traxxas a great company. And their R/C trucks aren’t too bad either. :)

And finally, I think 2010 is going to be known as the year electric power became cool. Electric cars have always outsold the nitro variety before, mainly due to price. But now, the comparison is so lopsided, it’s a wonder anyone is still making the nitro cars. We’ve pushed electric hard, and it’s paid off. And with all the fun, but a third of the hassle, it’s no wonder that electric cars and trucks have taken center stage in the last year. I expect to see that margin grow in 2011.

But New Year’s is all about new beginnings, and the pledge to be a better person going forward. And I can’t think of a better New Year’s resolution than look at your purchasing habits, and determine if you can better support local businesses. We can’t exist without you. To those that have frequented our shop, thank you! You have helped us build our business and brand, and you have truly forged us into what we are today.

And to those that would rather purchase your hobby wares online – what are we doing wrong? How can we better serve your needs, and earn your loyalty? While there are some things that, admittedly, we simply can’t do that the “e-tailers” can, if there is anything I can do to earn your business, I will try to accommodate the request.

Which brings me to my New Year’s resolution. I resolve to listen, better than I have, to you. Our patrons should be the ones who shape our business. You have been voting with your dollar, but I’d like you to vote with your voice as well. Tell us what we can do better. I can’t promise that we can meet every request, and we can’t be everything to everyone. But we can listen better, and we will - because we’re here to serve you, not the other way around.

Thank you all for your continued support. You have helped us have a great year. Here’s to another, even better, year ahead. If you have a comment or reaction to this article, or some feedback about our performance, please make a comment below. It can be anonymous, and any feedback will help us be a better hobby shop.

Happy New Year, everyone!