Jump to content

Bad News for Tomix and GreenMax building distribution in the USA


cteno4

Recommended Posts

Unfortunate.  But have heard that model rr sales/distributing is a low margin business, and in this case very niche- it truly has to be a labor of love for someone to invest their time and money in it.  If there is a viable market, I suppose someone else will come in to fill the vacuum eventually.  Otherwise, it's dealing with Japan-based mailorder houses. 

 

Yeah I think mokei's business was pretty unique and a rare situation and history for a wholesaler in this biz. Bob was the closest I ever saw at replicating this model, but he had to do with direct sales to make a profit. Somehow mokei did it at a wholesale level.

 

Jeff

Link to post

Unfortunate.  But have heard that model rr sales/distributing is a low margin business, and in this case very niche- it truly has to be a labor of love for someone to invest their time and money in it.  If there is a viable market, I suppose someone else will come in to fill the vacuum eventually.  Otherwise, it's dealing with Japan-based mailorder houses. 

 

From what I had been told by several shop owners I've known over the years, it was sheer volume which kept Walther's in business for so long. Of course, t here's been talk in these forums for years from a group of folks about getting i nto the import/export biz. Not a bad time maybe to expand upon the idea (as so long as the board itself doesn't try to do this.)

Link to post

Unfortunately i doubt we will see another distributor like Mokei come along again to supply US dealers with japanese stuff. the contacts you would require probably just cant be had and im guessing why the business was not passed on. volume is also big as well, which means lots of money for orders, container shipping, storage and redistribution. and low margins to make sure you can supply the stores with stuff at near japanese retail to compete with just ordering it from Japan.

 

If anything it would need to be like bttrains, doing stuff directly to have enough of a margin to survive. Like folks have noted its not a big money making business and a very niche one (thats good and bad), but it can be done (as bob showed) and make a living on it. It is a labor of love though, but then again i've always taken loving what i do for a living over the money.

 

jeff

Link to post

It's like anything in the export/export biz, if there's a demand, an im,porter wouldn't have too much trouble with this sort of business. I had a friend Mike who left his GF (which was good, casue I was finally able to set her up with my Gundam Master Molder friend) to head to Japan to start and import/export biz. Last I heard a few years ago when he came back to the states, he was doing quite well with his distribution chain of moving Japanese household furniture. But he worked a very specific niche in what he carried.

Link to post

Unfortunately i doubt we will see another distributor like Mokei come along again to supply US dealers with japanese stuff. the contacts you would require probably just cant be had and im guessing why the business was not passed on. volume is also big as well, which means lots of money for orders, container shipping, storage and redistribution. and low margins to make sure you can supply the stores with stuff at near japanese retail to compete with just ordering it from Japan.

 

I think that type of business is a thing of the past dating from a time when everything was mail order. Orders, foreign exchange  were much harder and communication often took weeks.  Now you can get an immediate currency conversion, order online form numerous suppliers, monitor your shipment and communicate within hours. Its a much different world.

Link to post

Good points bill. It will be interesting to see how things change with the distribution chain with the increase in communication and other technologies. With the rise of the bog box stores that almost always go directly to the manufacturer, distributors are getting squeezed out. Big online sellers are doing the same thing with their own spin.

 

Also harder to be a niche seller, like direct Japanese train sales, due to how easy it has become to order directly from Japan, more competition than the old days.

 

Jeff

Link to post

Unfortunate.  But have heard that model rr sales/distributing is a low margin business, and in this case very niche- it truly has to be a labor of love for someone to invest their time and money in it.  If there is a viable market, I suppose someone else will come in to fill the vacuum eventually.  Otherwise, it's dealing with Japan-based mailorder houses. 

 

From what I had been told by several shop owners I've known over the years, it was sheer volume which kept Walther's in business for so long. Of course, t here's been talk in these forums for years from a group of folks about getting i nto the import/export biz. Not a bad time maybe to expand upon the idea (as so long as the board itself doesn't try to do this.)

 

Not that I'll be doing import to America but I am in jpn atm looking into cutting out HS.

 

It really is difficult to get some supply going not easy as it is in say aus...

 

They want a life story before even bothering with you. Like applying for a job in Jpn while still in UNI except I'm long outta uni.

Link to post

Yeah from what i have always heard, getting into the distribution chain in japan is not so easy and is a very different system than outside japan. I think it took Bob some time to get his set up and Mokei was ages old. Newhall im pretty sure uses a hobby shop so is technically not into the supply chain really, just at the end after a LHS. I would bet even that takes some doing, connections, language and trust.

 

Bill had some interesting info on what it took and how you went about setting up a small shop in japan and it was very different than here in the us. Sounded like more formal even being in japan, so im guessing that would make it harder doing it from off shore as off shore is usually eyed with a bit of caution.

 

jeff

Link to post

From my sources in Kyosho (Radio Control), Japanese brands like to deal directly with the customers. No Mom and Pop type hobby stores.

Link to post

There are lots of small hobby shops in Japan for all sorts of hobbies, some extremely specialized. There can also be multiple layers of distributors between many manufactures and the shops, not the usual 1 distributor/wholesaler here in the us.

 

Jeff

Link to post

For those wondering about Mokei Imports, the owners have passed on.

Published in St. Louis Post-Dispatch on July 17, 2013

 

Durham, Lee P. 89 years old, died July 12, 2013. Obituary and information regarding memorial service will be forthcoming.
{ I have not been able to locate anything about the service }
 
Lee's wife preceded him; 
Published in St. Louis Post-Dispatch on January 8, 2012
1547499_0_G1547499_001440.jpgDurham, Kimiko F. of Saint Louis, Missouri, died on Friday, December 30, 2011 in her 90th year. Married for 65 years to Lee. Dear mother of Douglas (Judith), David (Madonna), and Paul (Ruth); grandmother of 8; greatgrandmother of 4. Kimi was a longtime member of University United Methodist Church, Springboard to Learning, People-toPeople, Friends of Nagano, Sister Cities Program, Japanese American Citizens League and longtime supporter of the Missouri Botanical Garden, the St. Louis Science Center, and the St. Louis Zoo. During World War II Kimi worked for the United States Government in the Office of War Information after receiving a special early release from Gila River Concentration Camp in Arizona. Kimi retired after teaching special education for more than 30 years in the City of St. Louis School District. Services: There will be celebration of the wonderful life of Kimiko F. Durham on Sunday, January 15, 2012 at 2:00 PM, at University United Methodist Church, 6901 Washington Ave., St. Louis, MO 63130. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to University United Methodist Church, 6901 Washington Ave., St. Louis, MO 63130 or to the Missouri Botanical Garden, 4344 Shaw Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63110.
 
-----
I am in the process of building an N-scale module, titled "Mokei Memorial Module".
If anyone has more information, please post.
I did not know the family.  I learned of this news from attending the Belleville train show, speaking with vendors who knew Lee & his family.
 
 
Link to post

For those wondering about Mokei Imports, the owners have passed on.

Published in St. Louis Post-Dispatch on July 17, 2013

 

Durham, Lee P. 89 years old, died July 12, 2013. Obituary and information regarding memorial service will be forthcoming.
{ I have not been able to locate anything about the service }
 
Lee's wife preceded him; 
Published in St. Louis Post-Dispatch on January 8, 2012
1547499_0_G1547499_001440.jpgDurham, Kimiko F. of Saint Louis, Missouri, died on Friday, December 30, 2011 in her 90th year. Married for 65 years to Lee. Dear mother of Douglas (Judith), David (Madonna), and Paul (Ruth); grandmother of 8; greatgrandmother of 4. Kimi was a longtime member of University United Methodist Church, Springboard to Learning, People-toPeople, Friends of Nagano, Sister Cities Program, Japanese American Citizens League and longtime supporter of the Missouri Botanical Garden, the St. Louis Science Center, and the St. Louis Zoo. During World War II Kimi worked for the United States Government in the Office of War Information after receiving a special early release from Gila River Concentration Camp in Arizona. Kimi retired after teaching special education for more than 30 years in the City of St. Louis School District. Services: There will be celebration of the wonderful life of Kimiko F. Durham on Sunday, January 15, 2012 at 2:00 PM, at University United Methodist Church, 6901 Washington Ave., St. Louis, MO 63130. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to University United Methodist Church, 6901 Washington Ave., St. Louis, MO 63130 or to the Missouri Botanical Garden, 4344 Shaw Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63110.

 

-----
I am in the process of building an N-scale module, titled "Mokei Memorial Module".
If anyone has more information, please post.
I did not know the family.  I learned of this news from attending the Belleville train show, speaking with vendors who knew Lee & his family.
 
 

 

Thanks for posting this little "Mokei Imports Memorial." Lee was way ahead of his time in the U.S. when it came to recognizing the possibilities of Japanese N-gauge products.

 

Rich K.

Edited by brill27mcb
Link to post

This is very sad news. I knew his wife passed last year. her declining health was a big reason he shut the business down.

 

He was great in finding an import niche and was able to get phenomenal import prices on green max and tomix buildings over the years. local hobby shops were sad to see him go as he was such a good wholesaler for them. He was so good about bringing over the catalogs every year so we could get them at japanese street price (including us shipping) here in the states. took a month for the container to get here, but if you were patient you were rewarded! lots of buildings were ordered thru him. might take a month or two for the next container to come over but always got what he said he would.

 

Mokei was around my whole model train life as i found some of my old model railroader mags from when i was a kid in the 70s and there were mokei ads flagged by me where i sent off SASE to get price lists (old mimeographed ones!). I wasn't collecting japanese trains yet, but his simple little adds intrigued me, if there had been pictures i would have been buying im sure!

 

JDH, keep us posted on your module progress. i may eventually do the same, i probably could do all the buildings for one with mokei supplied buildings as there are many on the shelf with Mokei Imports tags on them. always something comforting when i run across an old Mokei Import tag somewhere at a show or ebay post...

 

jeff

Link to post

I never knew him, but you couldn't be in this hobby (model railroading, not Japanese model railroading) in the U.S. without feeling his impact. In an era when everything was kits, he was importing kits that could be used on any layout to add just a little variation from the usual run of things. He touched the lives of thousands of modelers, even if many of us had no idea what the "Mokei" sticker on the box meant. I hadn't known until a few years before he retired, as I somehow missed all the ads (and I've been reading MR since the '70's, so I've no idea how I did).

 

It's sad to hear of his passing, but he appears to have lived a long and full life.

Link to post

the ads were tiny and simple something like Mokei Imports send SASE to address. very plain and tiny. i think i put aside a few mr from the late 70s at my folks house ill see if i can dig them up next trip.

 

You are so right his quiet little business really extended all over. LHS loved him as his pricing to them let them sell those structure kits at a good price and he was that one outlet for the few odd japanese bent folks to actually make a request for something thru your LHS back to mokei and he would try to get it.

 

jeff

Edited by cteno4
Link to post
somehow missed all the ads (and I've been reading MR since the '70's, so I've no idea how I did).

 

Mokei ads appeared in N Scale Spotlight, an advertising feature that often featured a colored background and very small ads over two pages in the front of the magazine. I think he usually only mentioned one new item per ad.

Link to post

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...