Squadron is Gone - But now it's back!

Looked forward to getting their newsletter/catalog. Loved scouring over it and highlighting all the models and accessories I wanted. Hope they are just ‘closed for renovations’ but they did seem to be on a steady decline the past couple years.

C.

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If you Google them, the information box on the right states “Permanently Closed”. People who ordered on their 70% off sale after the initial weekend are having their credit cards refunded. There’s nothing left. They are gone for good.

Well, I don’t rejoice the demise of any hobby related business, but I’m not surprised at this. I have a couple of friends who worked managing a chain corporate hobby shop for a number of years (with prior experience working in and running other hobby shops). I can recall some years back discussions with them about how the management at Squadron was evolving with people in the top positions who had little to no background in retail hobby business and even less experience or care about the scale modeling side of that.

So, despite Squadron’s long standing in the scale modeling community, there were some indications even 6-8 years ago that they were in a downward business spiral with professional profit vultures taking it over and sucking it dry. Management had passed into the hands of people who had no interest or genuine care or concern for scale modeling or the scale modeling community. Their attitude was that Squadron was just another retailer that happened to sell toys, and that retail was retail no matter the products being sold or the customer base. So, they ignored the needs and wants of their customer base to put maximizing profits ahead of satisfying those customer demands while sustaining their market share.

Rather than accept slightly smaller profits in order to retain their status and standing as one of the “go to” providers of the latest and best products at the lowest price points, the corporate management took a short-sighted view of the business. They took all they could out of it with a strategy to drop it like a hot potato once the profits dried up. So, the end is no surprise. Market share continued to diminish because Squadron wouldn’t compete by keeping their own prices as low as possible, and they stopped offering the latest and most sought after products.

Squadron’s management team didn’t care about their core business competency and sustaining the company. It was all just a temporary arrangement to them. Good only so long as they were making money, and time to move on to something else as soon as it wasn’t.

Well, that day has finally arrived…

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I liked them because they were local for me. I’ve gone there a few times to pick up my order rather than pay shipping.

@SdAufKla, you’ve hit it on the nose! Just another sad tale in the world of scale modeling. At least for now Sprue Bros and Kitlinx are both owned and run by modelers. I’m sure there are more. Hopefully they all will be in business for a long time. Ironically the Squadron FB page is still up with no indication other than their last post being 1/7 that they are gone.

Cheers,
C.

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So I was just up at the local hobby store and they told me they are closed. An opinion was thrown out that it might be for sale. It is within 10 miles of me.

Wow! That’s an end of an era for me! Back in the late 80s and early 90, I was so looking forward to getting their supplemental catalog in the mail. Once they had an “Open House” after a local model show in Plano Texas, we all got to visit their warehouse with a shopping cart and load up! It was like going on a pilgrimage to a holly place for me! This must have been 25+ years ago!

Sad to hear about Squadron closing. When I got back into the hobby, a modeling friend of mine referred me to them and I have been a loyal customer of theirs since 1990. Very sad about what happened to them. :frowning:

Ah,they have been dead to me for quite awhile,been about 4 years since I used them,too many other good sources.

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This is an interesting (if somewhat longwinded) opinion piece from someone who has some first-hand knowledge and observations of the circumstances behind the closing of Squadron:

JefV’s Corner:: FaceBook:: Videos:: Editorial about the Demise of Squadron

Pretty much what I said above, I think. Corporate profit vultures assumed control and treated the business like its retail foundation didn’t rely on satisfying the specialized needs and wants of its existing customer base. They tried to turn Squadron into something it wasn’t, and threw out their loyal customers and hard-earned reputation while squeezing every penny from it that they could.

Honestly I think some of the other online retailers like Sprue Brothers just were doing things better. I just had a quick look at Squadrons Better Business Bureau page and it was a mess with complaints from 2020. Mostly about people not getting items and things being on back-order. That’s just not going to keep people coming back. And when people stop buying from you that’s a problem. When they start telling their friends on social media… bigger problem.

I honestly thought it was pretty odd through all our best years that they never really were all that keen on advertising with us, even though we reached out to them for 10 years or so. They just seemed to have a rather lackadaisical approach to online marketing. I think for them they never really came out of the ‘mail order’ era.

:crab::crab::crab: Squadron is gone :crab::crab::crab:

Years back, an online modeler emailed me asking, “Have you noticed that all the Squadron stock is the same month after month and that their sales are of the same products?”

Yup, I’ve noticed that for years…even their monthly catalog displays the same items repeatedly.

When a hobby shop doesn’t bring in new stock and tries to sell the same old stock, it just gets old because there’s nothing to incite the buyer into spending money on kits he or she doesn’t want or need. Besides overhead costs, one has to keep the stock flowing and interesting, just like HLJ, HobbyEasy, LuckyModels, DerSockelShop, etc. A shop just can’t stock new paints and tools and expect to stay in business, not when modelers are Middle Age and have worked with PE, resin, aftermarket decals, and more complex and advanced kits besides the simple plastic kits. An online hobby shop should stock more advanced kits since modelers are getting older and more experienced.

I’m sorry to hear about Squadron’s demise. I bought a few paint sets from them when on sale, and one thing I’ve noticed is that their shipping is Flat Rate fees. Buy a few items and shipping is automatically $15USD. Buy a lot of items and shipping is $20USD. The inconsistency of the shipping rate is kind of what put me off to buying from Squadron as shipping should be dependent on package weight and dimensions…and then after a while the shipping fee should be Flat Rate. The shipping fee shouldn’t keep increasing with the number of items purchased unless the weight is dramatically increased.

If they’re renovation, then my mistake, but still, an online hobby shop shouldn’t be highlighting and selling the same items year after year after year.

Jef Verswyvel gives a pretty good blow-by-blow of Squadron’s downward spiral in his video.

I have a couple of really good local friends who have been involved in the hobby retail business for decades, and I clearly remember having discussions with them years ago where they had met some of Squadron’s new corporate managers. At that time their opinion was that the change in corporate ownership with “professional” managers taking over control of operations was the beginning of the end. This was after meeting some of the new Squadron folks at the NRHSA (National Retail Hobby Stores Association) trade show.

For a couple of years thereafter, after my friends came back each time from the national trade show, they would tell me how things were looking ever grimmer for Squadron. My friends’ impression was that the outside corporate venture capital investors were pushing more and more professional managers onto Squadron, managers who had no real knowledge, care or concern for the company’s long term survival.

Squadron was not only getting hard for individuals to do business with them on the direct-sales retail level, but, according to my friends, Squadron was just as bad, if not worse, on the wholesale side.

FWIW, I think the retail hobby industry is more like the retail high-fashion cloths industry than many other retail types. Customers are very specific and particular about what they want. They’re also driven by changes in tastes, and sales are sustained by the constant introduction of new products that fit within a very narrow range of interests.

A hobby retailer can’t stay in business or create new business with old customers by trying to sell products that do not satisfy those narrowly defined needs and wants. A retailer that specializes in model kits can’t just start stocking toys and games and expect his customer base to stick with him. Also, the model kit retailer needs to stay on top of the latest releases and forthcoming products, and he has to realize that any new product has a "shelf life, and that old, stale product can’t be sold at the same price point when it was first released.

Squadron broke all of those rules while also sucking out profit that should have been available to purchase and stock new kits to have them available while they were still “hot” items. A kit seller can’t make money selling the latest new releases at full retail prices months or years after those kits were released. The folks willing to buy them at full price have already bought those kits from someone else, and he or she will be canceling any back-orders. They also won’t be looking at you next time around. Same with retailers who are looking to buy wholesale. Their customers want those new kits right now, not six months from now.

The “old Squadron” understood this, and their large sales were used to keep their inventory fresh while rolling their capital back over into new purchases and sales. They understood it was better to sell an old kit at maybe just pennies over what they bought it for and reinvest that money rather than to hold onto those old kits while hoping to sell them for a large profit later while taking dividends out and drawing down their available operating capital. The “old Squadron” also understood that buying cheap products like toys, collectibles and games that their core customers didn’t want wouldn’t lead to any new sales or profits. Yet, the “new Squadron” drew down their operating capital until that was all they could stock while antagonizing their core customer base with slow and poor sales. It was a death spiral that fed on itself while the profit vultures sucked the company dry.

Oh well… So long Squadron, and thanks for all the fish.

Yes, a sad day indeed. When I was stationed in Germany in the early 70’s I’d get their catalog and was able to get a few things sent to me there. Upon leaving active duty, and taking a job with Ford in the Metro Detroit area, one of the first places I visited was their brick and mortar store on John R in Madison Heights. One of the things that I most appreciated were the Squadron/Signal publications which were generally very good sources of information and photographs of various subjects for modeling.

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OMG the same old f!@#$%^ing story. They just love managers at my job and keep hiring more and more and all they really do is piss off the people who actually do the work as they never hire more of ‘them’.

Sad.

So does this mean their publications are dead too? I have so many books - is it time to fill all the gaps before they no longer get published?

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I assume like most situations like this those copyrighted works are worth $$$ and someone will step in and offer something for them. Now how long that will take is another matter.

Books are not republished often. If a title is published, that print run may be available for years. Much of Squadron’s print run went to online dealers like Amazon, so you should be able to get what you need. Their own stock will no doubt be sold to another wholesaler as they liquidate assets. Whether there will be subsequent reissues is unknown. I don’t know if their publishing arm was a separate corporation.

Like others here Squadron was ‘The’ mailorder source for my modeling needs back in the 80’s and for several years there after. I started using Great Model Web Store sometime in 2005 because the pricing was more affordable and bettr selection, I’ve continued dealing with them since Sprue Bros. purchased the company. I can relate to Jef’s account of Squadron’s demise. I work for a web based retail company that was begun in the basement of the founder and once profitable was sold to a larger company, this company after making too many competive takeover purchases found itself hemorageing money trying to stay afloat while manageing and maintaing three other separate subsidiary businesses, in come the investment venture capitalists that would inject operating funds but then reap the annual profits and put us back on the aquisition market for another venture gruop to repeat the process. We (the company) were finally purchased by an established national name brand business that wanted to grow the business but since they were in an entirely different market sector their attempt to redesign our company nearly sank us. Thankfully they sold us to a larger company that was more inline with our product line and we’re profitable and growing the lable, as long as we can survive Covid.

Cajun

I would order paints and other disposables from them when they had a sale. Other than that, the prices of their kits during any sale they had, was still higher than what other sites/companies offered on a regular basis. Nostalgia wise, I did enjoy thumbing through their pamphlets/catalogs over the years.