Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Follow your bliss, build it from scratch

It's not entirely clear why, but you just don't see old-fashioned hobby shops around anymore. Probably it's the Web, but probably it's also the po-mo impulse to specialize. Instead of hobby stores today, you have model airplane shops, small electric engines shops, glass beaker shops, medium-sized styrofoam ball shops. Thirty years ago, a hobby shop contained all these things and more, and you walked inside with the pleasing sensation that, given 24 hours alone in that store, you could build just about anything your 12-year-old imagination could conjure.

If you look hard, though, you can still find one or two. On a spring errand to repair a kite for May zephyrs, we walked into the Hub Hobby Center at 64th and Penn in Richfield. While the place has been overrun by the RC/micro-gasoline engine crowd—radio-controlled airplanes, boats, and miniature 4X4 trucks have their own counter and team of experts—the Hub has also expanded their offerings in the area of raw material. We needed (and found) a whole cluster of carbon-fiber tubing, right next to the brass plates and aluminum sheets, down the aisle from rubber tires and wooden propellers.

The blue-shirted folks were gracious and helpful, the place was filled with good kid energy, and best of all the Hub is open on Sundays.

Hub Hobby Shop, http://www.hubhobby.com