Poll
Question: How far would you be will to travel for a "local" electronics hobbyist shop?
no more than 15 minutes - 3 (13%)
no more than 30 minutes - 8 (34.8%)
no more then 1 hour - 8 (34.8%)
no mour then 2 hours - 0 (0%)
no limit - 4 (17.4%)
Total Voters: 23

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Author Topic: How far would you be will to travel for a "local" electronics hobbyist shop?  (Read 2059 times)
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We all know that there are very few locally owned stores where one can obtain electronics components at a reasonable cost these days.  Radio Shack is in almost every town, but there prices are high and they have significanly cut back on the variety of components they carry in recent years.  It is however nice to have them around for emergencies.

My question is how far would you be will to travel to buy your components and gadgetry from a "locally owned" store rather than having to put together a order and wait for it to arrive in the mail? The prices would be a little more than a typical mail order prices but significantly less than Radio Shack's.

Also keep in mind that such a locally owned store would naturally be a place where you could meet other hobbyists
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It currently takes me about 30 minutes to get to my favorite local haunt (Apache Reclamation and Electronics here in Phoenix, Arizona USA); I've also been known, though, to travel much further and longer for electronics (once spent about 4 hours driving out and back to pick up an oscope off a guy on craigslist). Then there's the ton of trips I've made to Goodwill (no, seriously - its a great place for robot building junk).

 smiley
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Does it matter? If you have a desperate need, or there's a worthwhile sale, you make the drive.
Otherwise plan ahead and let your fingers do the walking.

I've driven around 4 towns to buy 2-3 potentiometers from several Radio Shacks.
No more. Plan ahead &  internet now. Shipping is cheaper than gas.
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If I need the thing within 12 hours, the store has it in stock, and it's currently a weekday or Saturday before 5PM, then I'll drive 15 minutes to buy it.

Or else, I can just get Digikey to overnight FedEx it for $8
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Does it matter? If you have a desperate need, or there's a worthwhile sale, you make the drive.
Otherwise plan ahead and let your fingers do the walking.

I've driven around 4 towns to buy 2-3 potentiometers from several Radio Shacks.
No more. Plan ahead &  internet now. Shipping is cheaper than gas.

Not fair! You're in Boston area and I am more than 1 hour drive to Minneapolis (sucks from my standpoint on hobby electronics) to go to my favorite surplus store. I can shop at a local radio shack if I am desperate. I order everything online if I can wait. Big catalogs like digikey no longer scares me. Sometimes I ask my wife to shop for me when she drives to the Cities for meetings.

Anyone in Minnesota suggest good stores for cheap parts, other than the Axman's surplus?

I'm ok with 30 minutes drive but not any further with my gas hog.
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I currently live in an area that is located about an hour from several metro areas including Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Akron.  Unfortunately I have yet to find a good electronics store in any of these cities.  I had the same problem when I lived in Knoxville, TN.  It certainly makes me appreciate the days when Skycraft was just down the road in Winter Park, FL.

I usually order most of my components from Digi-key.  Even when I choose the cheapest shipping option the parts usually arrive in a couple of days so I can't complain too much, but it sure would be nice to be able to go pick them out of the bin myself, especially on Saturdays.  I've tried to keep a pretty good stock of resistors/capacitors/connectors/etc on hand, but there is always those one or two things you don't have.
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I would be nice to know a few local people and what they stock up on and we can make exchanges instead of everyone stocking up on the same stuff. Specialize in a few thins you stock up and trade locally for other parts others stock up on, or maybe organize like a groupon thing, group purchase and distribute.

Like I have 1,000 tactile switches coming my way and already have 1,000 each 22pF and 100nF caps plus some quantity of other stuff. That's a lot of money sitting there just for my convenience.

BTW, I'm 2 hr drive from digikey.
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Here in DK what you describe in the US is almost "fairy land". In Copenhagen there is basically one shop left. The rest is out in the countryside (other end of the country, which given DKs size is less than 4 hours in car) where they operate out of their garage (call ahead to see if someone is home). It is therefore ipso facto webshopping. I haven't tried crossing the bridge to Sweden for electronics shopping, but I know of one shop (about 1 hours drive for me, but the bridge costs ~€25 to cross EACH WAY, so shipping and waiting is far far cheaper)
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Interesting question, are you planning to open a store?
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Interesting question, are you planning to open a store?

I have considered it for a while now, but haven't quite figured out how to make it viable yet. 

I really like the idea that liudr had about organizing a sort of local co-op to keep a stockpile of parts in the area and swap.  For the record, I would be happy to share with anyone in this area (Youngstown, OH).
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It's easier for me to mail order here in the Styx!
And I'm only 30km from Adelaide!
Since Dick Smith went downhill bigtime, Jaycar is on it's way there as well,
it's AZtronics for serious gear.

That's an hour bus ride each way AND I have to catch a cab to the damn bus!

So I buy stuff from LittleBird and ToysDownUnder.

Seriously though, waiting nearly a week for some LED's and resistors is frustrating!
 smiley
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I'll be happy with shipping but i'm living in the country where there is NO trend or NO system for good shipping, some companies are providing now but lot more expensive so i have to go around sometimes for more than 150 or 200 miles to buy just simple few things  smiley-sad  which i sometimes don't even find them  smiley-cry
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Saad Khalil

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I'll be happy with shipping but i'm living in the country where there is NO trend or NO system for good shipping, some companies are providing now but lot more expensive so I have to go around sometimes for more than 150 or 200 miles to buy just simple few things  which I sometimes don't even find then
OK. I wont complain anymore.
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At my university, the ECE department (or maybe the students) also keeps a healthy stockpile of parts for students needing parts quick and cheap. I haven't been in contact with them regarding getting parts or supplying parts yet. I may give it a try sometime.
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As for me, I am lucky, I live in Toronto, ( Canada's biggest city ---> yeh.. it ON the map )....I usely drive to the local store. I do a "run" or driving a big circle around the city to go to the following : Active Surplus, Active Components and Sayal Electronics. Sometime I go to A-1 Electronics and the other Sayal Electronics in Mississauga ( The town west of Toronto ) if I planning to go west. If I want to go downtown , I may take the TTC. ( Parking is expensive downtown ) I not to consern about the fuel cost, ( I drive a 2000 Ford Focus )

I prefer going to the store instead of on-line. No waiting for parts, you can see what they have, you can spot good deals, you can touch the goods and it sometimes give some insight by going to the store.
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