Snowy Soo

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Monday, 8 February 2016

Want to save your modelling dollars? Buy Canadian

Those gold coins don't hold chocolates. They are Loonies, each worth one Canadian dollar or, as of January 2016, about 72 cents U.S.
Let's face it, this isn't the cheapest of hobbies, though there are more expensive ones out there (polo, boating and cocaine come immediately to mind).

The Internet is full of good-sense tips to help modellers save a few bucks. There are, for example, YouTube videos about building static grass applicators from battery-powered fly zappers, tips about using craft paint instead of the stuff on hobby shop shelves, there's even a YouTube channel called The Frugal Modeller devoted almost entirely to helping modellers stretch the old layout-building budget.

For example in the Frugal Modeller episode embedded above (URL is here), he tells of using old loading pallets to build benchwork for his N-scale layout.

Now scouring through construction sites and back alleys in an effort to find warped, wet, splinter-ridden wood shot through with 800 nails is not everyone's cup of tea, but you have to praise his ingenuity.

Or maybe I just like his channel because he's a Canadian who models CP. The point is, money saved on lumber (or anything else) is cash you could better spend on custom locos or a DCC system.

I'd like to offer another another money-saving modelling tip, this one directed at my many friends and followers who reside in the United States.

The top-secret tip? Buy Canadian.

Though it's big news up here, my American neighbours may not know the Canadian dollar is trading particularly poorly against the U.S. dollar right now. To get specific, a U.S. dollar is worth about $1.40 Canadian at current exchange rates.

Expressed another way, U.S. shoppers get a 40 per cent discount when they buy Canadian, though that's before they pay shipping, taxes and duty. But even with that factored in, there are bargains to be had up here. It's at least worth a look.

Now I'm a regular troller for deals on eBay but lately I only search Canadian sellers because the current exchange rate punishes me so severely. But what hinders me, can help my U.S. friends.

I'm not suggesting my American friends and relatives (and I have many) stop buying in the USA, but before making your next MR purchase, why not run the numbers and check prices on the sites of a few Canadian retailers?

I've ordered model railroad goods -- everything from my DCC system to structures and locomotives -- from the following three retailers and have found them all to be top-rate vendors:
  1. Credit Valley Railway - A massive hobby store located in Mississauga (just west of Toronto). This place is 100 per cent devoted to model railroading and they have excellent customer service. If you're ever in the Toronto area, drop in (they have a great in-store HO-scale layout) but if you can't make it here and you live in the U.S., check them out, remembering all the while that one of your dollars is worth $1.40 to them.
  2. Otter Valley Railway - Another excellent retailer I can recommend with a very good online store. They're located in Aylmer, Ontario. I'd explain where that is but why bother? You're going to order from the comfort of your home in Wichita or wherever. Check out their site and knock 40 per cent off every price you see. (Note: 40 per cent discount does not apply to Canadians; try not to take it personally.)
  3. Canadian Express Line - A smaller operation but one I've used with great satisfaction. I purchased my NCE PowerCab there. Again, a reminder, prices are in (cheap) Canadian dollars.
Other Canadian retailers I've not used but with excellent reputations are Rapido Trains, Fast Tracks (they make supplies for hand-laying track) and Pacific Western Rail Systems out in Vancouver. 

There are other retailers I could mention in this post but I'm holding back until they agree to accept my Canadian dollars on par with the U.S. Greenback for my next purchase. I issued that request a while ago and am still awaiting their reply.

Also, I am accepting commission cheques (or MR supplies) from Canadian model railroading retailers who've sold goods to U.S. customers who've read this blog post. 

And as good as this potentially is for U.S. residents who suffer from model train addiction, you can consider this a limited time offer. Note that the exchange rates between our respective currencies does bounce around. As recently as spring 2013 our dollar traded at par with the U.S. dollar.

So as they say in the ads for Shamwow and Flex Seal, act now. 

1 comment:

  1. Seems I'm not alone trying to save money here and there. The nice thing about it is that it makes you more creative and the hobby become more fun and challenging.