Like many geeks out there, I look forward to the precious time I get to indulge one of my hobbies. As a father, that has gotten so much harder for some of my hobbies, but way more fun for others.As a Games Workshop junkie, a model train nerd, an occasional R/C vehicle fan, and a fan of games ranging from Engel to FRAG I find myself drawn to one place for my needs for just about all of these things – my local hobby shop. These little cubby holes in strip malls all over the US have been providing a most necessary of services to nerds as collectors of random bits of everything. If I wanted a set of custom color rods for my Necron’s blasters, or some tall grass for my Tau scouts to crouch in, or even just a new set of dice after my son lost YET ANOTHER of my D6, my local hobby shop has got my back. I can have conversations with the people that work there that may not amount to more then “I’m looking for something that would do this…” and the thing I want is either already there of will be there in a day or two.Something happened this week that I could not have imagined would have ever happen, certainly not to my hobby shop. The local hobby shop was closed up, with writing on the windows explaining that they had gone out of business. No big deal, I thought. While it’s a shame that this one is now closed since it’s so close, I can always go to another. Wrong. When I looked, every hobby shop within 50 miles of my house had been closed.It took me a day or two, but I finally tracked down a previous owner of one of these places. I had to know what would have caused this. The same hobby shop that had played host to full houses of all night gaming tournaments, R/C races, and seemed to always have people in it every time I was there couldn’t keep things going? Turns out, all of the real moneymaking purchases were now being made online.I take advantage of my Amazon Prime account every chance I get, and I tell the world how amazing it is all the time, so I’m probably pretty guilty here. Sicty seconds online verses the hour including driving and talking and mulling in store… no brainer, right? Still, there are items I would rather hold in my hand before purchasing to make sure it’s what I want, especially for model kits and trains and the like. Also, there’s a highly social aspect of the hobby shop. Fellow hobbyists who are maybe doing something you hadn’t thought of, or found some cool new thing, for example. When I went to look online after this conversation for a digital replacement to my hobby shop, I was less than impressed. None of the places I found really provided that one-stop experience, and the individual websites often used different payment gateways and shipping or return policies.How far does this go? As a Games Workshop fan, I’ve noticed that their US headquarters has moved, and the locations around here have consolidated and are now closed two days a week. Arcades only seem to exist on the boardwalk of beaches around me. We’ll probably soon be referring to baseball card collecting as a lost art, and I can’t tell you the last time I’ve walked down my street and seen kids huddled around Pogs, Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh!, Magic the Gathering, or really anything like that. The hobby shop seems to be a real victim of the digital marketplace, and nobody even noticed it die.