Monday, August 11, 2008

Vendor Road Trip - Day 23, August 8, 2008

We are finally headed East for the long homeward leg. My first vendor stop was Edmo, a pilot supply wholesaler, and this was the first time on my trip that I basically got stood up. I had talked to my rep earlier in the week to remind him I was coming by today and all seem set. When I showed up I asked if he was around. No, I was told, he took the day off. Yikes, I was a bit taken aback by this. Nobody seemed to know what to do with me until one of the secretaries called another rep, Jeff. Jeff came out to say hi and asked me if I had the new catalog. I said no I didn’t, so he took me back to the warehouse, handed me a copy and then walked me back to the entrance with a “thanks for coming by” and left me to go back to his office. After three weeks of meeting with Vendors, each of which has taken the time to talk business, explain upcoming products, discuss how they can help me to grow, give me a tour of their facilities, introduce me to other employees that I talk with and more, it was really shocking to get such a cold shoulder here at Edmo. It did not leave me with the impression that they really care about their retailers and I’ll think twice before expanding the range of items I carry from them.

Vendor Road Trip - Day 21, August 6, 2008

Seattle Museum of Flight
I am staying with friends in Olympia, Washington and having great time. Jim is a Geoduck farmer in the Puget Sound and with his wife, Mary Carol, and 3 kids, they live with a house overlooking the bay. It actually feels like I’m on vacation at least for a couple of days. Of course, most of you are asking what Geoduck is. Here is a link to a video with all you would ever want to know about these odd clams.

Back to business though, I did get to visit the Seattle Museum of Flight today. I’d been hoping to have time to do a bunch of museums, but the vendor visits took all my time, until I had a couple of days downtime. This museum is really great, especially as it is spitting distance from the Boeing field runway. I just could have sat and watch the planes coming and going, but we did go in. We had Jim and MCs 8-year-old, Ian, with us and this museum has a lot of interactive simulators so he was thrilled. This museum has an extensive WWI area which is not common in aviation museums, plus it has a reproduction building of the original Boeing factory. There are several fighter cockpits to crawl into and even a 737 cabin. (My goal for some future day is to pick up a real airplane cockpit like what they have here to convert into a flight simulator.) This museum was well worth the visit, especially for the feeling that you are at a bustling airport. After we left the museum we sat outside to watch the planes. I got to see an unfinished 737 arrive after, perhaps, a test flight. The Blue Angels had also had a performance at Boeing Field last weekend and were just leaving today so we got to watch them depart.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

2008 Vendor Road Trip - Day 15, July 30

My second visit in California was to the Flying Mule. Yes, the Flying Mule is a retail competitor, but they are also the US distributor for the new and highly desirable Century Wings 1:72 diecast line. And, heck, they are just plane nice folks. Martin and Bill, the co-owners and I had lunch together and talked about new lines and planes, but also about life in general and found that we had a lot in common. This getting to know my business colleagues in person has been the most rewarding part of my trip.

The newest Century Wings model, another Jolly Rogers F-14 is arriving this week. Only 1000 of these were made. The Century Wings line has taken the modern military collector world by storm with amazing detail on the models. I have been amazed with the way the collectible model world has changed in the last 10 years. When I started this business 1:72 models were the realm of Corgi and Dragon models, but the addition of lines from Witty, IXO, Force of Valor, Hobby Master, and Century Wings has been great. This has really worked to the benefit of the collector with more new planes and liveries available then ever before. I can hardly wait to see what the next 10 years brings us.

My blog entries seem to be getting shorter the longer I am on the road. I think it’s because I beginning to get tired of the traveling. I’m in to week three and have put over 7000 miles behind me in the last two weeks, but 4000 more to go. Don’t get me wrong, this trip has been fantastic, but in terms of making business contacts, but in terms of seeing parts of this fabulous country that I have never seen before. But getting home sounds good, too. Anyway, I get to go to the Seattle Boeing Museum of Flight this coming week, which I’m looking forward to. On the way home I’ll be stopping to visit the Edmo Company, another pilot supply wholesaler, and then to the US Hobby Master distributor.