The Long Story
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10 years ago, I started Slot Car Corner Canada as the Canadian branch of Slot Car Corner, a slot car racing shop in the US created by my good friend Steve Sawtelle. From a few pairs of tires and a few packs of set screws and axle spacers, Slot Car Corner Canada has grown a lot since 2009. With now almost 2,000 different products in stock, from great brands like Slot.it, Sideways, Policar, ScaleAuto, etc. and over $100,000 in sales each year, I'm proud of what I was able to bring to the slot car hobby in Canada. Offering Canadian slot car racers a way to get products «locally» for their hobby, along with great customer service, was my goal from the start. And I think that I reached that goal for the most part, having fun and making a lot of friends along the way.
But after 10 years of doing this, after having a lot of fun and making some great friends, I've come to the conclusion over the last few months that it was time to close shop, for many reasons explained below.
More time for racing and other hobbies
Running Slot Car Corner Canada, while (mostly) fun, is time-consuming. Shipping orders, answering to customer requests, managing inventory, maintaining the website, managing all the financial aspects of owning a business, ordering products, dealing with customs/couriers, filling in all the paperwork, dealing with defective products, etc.; all of this takes time, every day. So much time, in fact, that I find that I don't have time to enjoy slot car racing as much as I would like to. I race with friends regularly but I no longer have time to tune cars and work on new projects. I have hundreds of cars that I want/need to work on and I want more time to enjoy the hobby that I love so much.
I also have other hobbies that I want to get deeper into. Photography, in particular, has become something I want to get better at. I've joined a group of photographers (amateur and professional) here in Québec City and our goal is to make sure all sporting and cultural events in the city are covered by some press and photo coverage. This is an important project for me and I need time to make a valid contribution.
Cost of doing business in Canada/Québec
With the huge increase in online shopping in recent years, we are now used to shop anywhere in the world, wait a few days (or weeks) and get our products delivered to our door. In many cases, when the products are bought outside Canada, there are no GST/PST/HST to pay. But for all products bought in Canada, those taxes have to be paid. That means that for Canadian businesses to survive and compete, they must lower their pricing and reduce their profit margin. Add to that the fact that there are currency conversion fees, customs broker fees and shipping fees that have to be paid by Canadian businesses buying their products mostly from US and international distributors, and you have a perfect recipe for a very low profit margin.
Governments need to understand that as long as products coming from outside Canada are not taxed the same way as products from within Canada, citizens will buy international. For individuals, this is a great deal... in the short term. But when Canadian money leaves the country, it does not come back and it does not contribute to our economy. When Canadian businesses close down because their profit margins are too low, it weakens our economy even more. In the long run, this is a road that leads directly to an economic disaster. Unfortunately, no government wants to be the one who will announce that all products coming across the border will now be taxed. They're too busy thinking about the next election, when they should be busy making sure our economy will be doing great 10 years from now. Netflix and Mélanie Joly, anyone?!
Storage space needed for products
As you all probably know by now, Slot Car Corner Canada is a part-time business that is ran from the basement of my home in Québec City. My wife and my daughters have been very supportive of this adventure since the beginning. But with the addition of many product lines in the last few years, the inventory has started to spread beyond my slot car room and into the exercice room, the garage and the office. Not good. Low profit margins mean that I can't rent a storage facility to store products. And seriously downsizing is not an option if I want to keep offering a variety of quality products.
Digital, Scratch Building, 1/24-Scale
In recent years, the hobby has started changing. Digital racing has mostly become the norm for new enthusiasts who are starting the hobby on plastic tracks. Scratch building is embraced by more and more experienced racers who want to go beyond the plastic chassis cars. And 1/24-scale has become increasingly popular with the release of many new models by Carrera, ScaleAuto, BRM, etc. As those parts of the hobby are not really of interest to me and I want to sell what I use and use what I sell. I find that I can't offer the level of service I would like to offer for the customers interested in Digital racing, scratch building and 1/24-scale. I don't want to become the old guy who's living in the past and is not in line with its customers' interests. I'll be the old guy who's living in the past in his own basement (!).
Those are the reasons I'm closing shop and won't be starting another decade of Slot Car Corner Canada. I had a lot of fun, I knew and met some wonderful people, many of whom have become friends for life and this is worth way more than the few thousands of dollars I was able to earn doing this. As for the future, I sincerely wish that someone somewhere sometime will be able to offer Canadian slot racers a way to «get their fix» on a regular basis. In the meantime, my very good friends Steve and Bob at Slot Car Corner (www.slotcarcorner.com) will be there for all your slot car needs.
Finally, I don't want to finish this without thanking Steve and Dickie, who put all their trust in me 10 years ago to start Slot Car Corner Canada, allowing me to use their name and their experience. Without their help, this fun ride would have never happened. Bob has since taken over for Dickie and he was also very helpful (Bob does the absolute best packaging job in the business, period!).
Thank you for being there all this time, trusting me with your slot car racing needs. This has been a pleasure to serve you during all those years. Keep having fun!