Seems that this thread on a non-US webshop has opened a can of worms.
We down here in Australia have always done more than our share to keep the American and British economies going ... My first choice is always one of our local suppliers but if I can't get it here or someone is charging twice as much as I can have it sent to my house from overseas then I import it myself. In my state we have two slot car shops that are within 20km of each other but both are at least 70km from my home. The interstate ones are at least 1000km from my home.
In other words, some of us live so far from any slot car shop that almost all of our purchases are by mail order, and almost none of the items are made in our own country (except for things like decals and one brand of tyres) that very little in terms of 'local jobs' is involved.
In terms of overseas suppliers I generally support US ones, just because they are cheaper at the moment. If the US economy picks up and our dollar goes down the toilet again I will probably buy a lot less in terms of slot car parts and cars, because prices will go up here too.
What an interesting discussion. thanks! I'll take away that they are a good shop, but weak on communication.
I am all for buying local and supporting local businesses. I am blessed with a local slot shop that is known across the nation, and I think even advertises on this web page. They are great, and my 8 year old daughter loves the place.
As for Pendles... I saw they had a Citroen TA kit, among other uniquely british stuff. Might be hard to get this side of the pond. (oh, and I know Citroen is FRENCH... LOL)
I checked your site just now and the prices are definitely cheaper for someone paying US postage, although I'm pretty sure that someone buying from Pendle within the UK would find the price within the UK on a par with yours within the USA. The killer for us here in Australia is the postage, and there is a lot of variation in postage, depending on whether the seller is prepared to send First Class Mail. The UK often has a slight edge with regard to postage to Australia simply because there are so many flights from London to here, but generally I find the cost of items higher from the UK.
Thus prices here are usually thought of in price+postage terms. Sometimes sellers can vary as much as $30 on postage cost for the same item, with often very little benefit in terms of effective tracking etc unless one uses registered insured mail (which usually costs far more than the item).
Yesterday I got a couple of bargains from the local (i.e., 70km away) slot shop, a pair of Plafit Cheetah II motors for $10 each. There is no way I could get those sent here for that price. Their usual price is $15, which I would have been happy to pay, but I think they have a lot of discounts on after holding a national slot car event a couple of weeks ago. At $1.50/litre for petrol a 140km round trip is more expensive than having them sent through local post, but my work is only 15-20km from that shop so I was more than half way there already.
I have had excellent dealings with Pendle, expecially resin kits, i.e. Volvo fastback, MGB, Fiat850 and Chaparral2J'sucker'.. or TopSlot, and of course, the UK Festival limited edition releases. Yes, i was lucky enough to get 1 of 35 'autographed' Mr.Slotcar Mazda 787B #55... i suggest, you acquire a small list of European 'dealers', for cars/parts you can't get in the USA.. and as previously mentioned, as you local dealer about ordering for you!
Locals i know deal with pendles all the time and the service is second to none. From England to Australia is around 7 to 10 days,which i think is pretty good myself.
As people mention above where to buy where not to buy,i know cost is a big thing why people don't buy from the local retailers(here in Australia especially) but at the end of the day the local retail shop will not be around with people buying overseas. I support and follow the overseas forums but i only support my local retailers.
As for shops not having what i might need,i just ask and then receive.
I've shopped at Pendles many times for items not available here, usually scratch building parts, kits....They always come through but but are notoriously slow on the email for fixing problems with the order. Got some badly bored 13" wheels and after several emails went unanswered put something to the effect of "third request" in the header and Mr. Feathergill got back to me pretty quick. I've done that a couple of time since, seems to work well. They have a pretty amazing cottage industry over there for resin or fibreglass kits. If one of our guys here doesn't make it I wouldn't hesitate to shop with them. If it's a choice and it's made here I'll stack some of our casters here against anyone. Mr. Reinekes work is outstanding as was RR's.
I buy from them when they have stuff that I can't get on this side of the pond, and boy do they have a lot of it .
As far as e-mails they su-ck, only one's they answer are the one's they can make a sale on.
This has been my experience anyway.
I guess that's because we are celebrating the 4th of July and their not Ha ...Ha
I met them at a race in Switzerland and they were a bunch of very decent chaps. I have ordered things not available in North America from them twice. I got no email, confirmation or anything, but the packages arrived and they were fine.
Slot car racing has such a small following there's no way a local hobby shop can supply everything that we want. International mail order is a fact of life if you're slot car addict and want specialized items.
I live in Europe and buy regularly from a couple of suppliers in the US.
It really helps to get to know a dealer and stay loyal. Someone who knows how to ship abroad, who can package properly, and is easy to communicate with when there's a problem.
Insurance may be necessary for very costly items but has limited value for the less expensive things. It can be a hassle to process an insurance claim. In my experience 95% of shipping damage could have been avoided by proper packaging. Cars that break free from the plinth and rattle around inside the crystal case is a classic example, probably the most common transport damage to slot cars.