Lancaster model shop to shut after 28 years trading

A Lancaster business that started out as a hobby is closing down after 28 years trading.

Wednesday, 29th March 2017, 9:41 am
Updated Saturday, 8th April 2017, 10:26 pm
Matt Stelmach, Andy Boon, Hannah Boon and Andrew Boon
Matt Stelmach, Andy Boon, Hannah Boon and Andrew Boon

Andrew Boon, owner of Model and Hobby World in Owen Road, said his business had become a “victim of the internet” and the digital age, but that he was going into retirement on a high.

Andrew, 54, said he would miss the “banter” with customers, some of whom had been coming in for decades.

Andrew opened the shop with his wife Karen in 1989.

He was previously a senior manager at Asda in Colne doing 70-80 hours per week, and the couple, who live in Bolton-le-Sands, decided to run a business together instead.

He said: “We couldn’t decide whether to open a newsagents, a pet shop or a model shop. But we agreed to the model shop and sold all off our belongings and decided to make a venture of it.

“It was initially a hobby as I’d been doing radio controlled modelling since I was about 16.

“When we started everything came as a kit that you had to build yourself.

“Everything had to be built from a box of bits.

“But now, no-one really has any understanding of the mechanics. The youngsters just don’t seem interested in it anymore, and the older customers that we’ve known for donkey’s years are sadly dying off.”

The shop, which extended into the adjoining building in 2010, sells drones, model planes, cars, boats, helicopters and accessories, but Andrew said the business was struggling to compete with big online retailers.

He said: “It’s definitely become a victim of the internet.

“We get people who come in, take a photo of the barcode then go and buy it online for a lower price. We all like a bargain myself included, but it’s just not sustainable for the business.

“We’ve seen three generations of family coming in, but not anymore. Things have become digital, and there’s pretty much an app for everything now, but the world wasn’t built with a phone!”

Andrew said customers travelled from as far away as Leeds and Carlisle on a regular basis.

He added: “I’m going to miss the customers.

“We’ve had a lot of rapport, we’ve had a lot of banter, both ways round, and it’s nice to rip streaks off eachother!

“I just want to say a big thank you to all our long term customers.”

He added: “I’m looking forward to not having to watch the clock and the calendar.

“I’m very fortunate to be young and to be saying thank you very much and bowing out while the going is still good.”

The couple, who have three children and two grand-children, are due to close the business in mid-April and are currently having a closing down sale.

Andrew said there had been some interest in the business, but nothing had come of it so far.

It’s been coming for a while. We’ve been open for 28 years. We’ve had some interested parties, but it didn’t come to anything.

Everything is in your pocket these days. The world wasn’t built with a phone. Kids recognise mobile phone technology but when it comes to building something physical that’s all gone.

The only people with any real interest in it now are the older generations.

We sell a wide spread of products,

We’re carrying around 15,000 line items. We’ve had, and still have, customers in from as far away as Leeds and Carlisle, and that’s daily.

We’ve seen people from all over the world.

Three staff altogether.

It’s a sad thing for a lot of people that come in. We’ve had letters off people, and people have been bringing in chocolates and wine.

You don’t realise the impact you’ve had on people until you close.

We’ll be having a look into breeding labradores, we have horses.

The couple have three children, Andy, Adam and Gemma, and two grandchildren.

Looking to close mid-April.