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Thread: HAMKITT store is going out of business

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2000

    Default HAMKITT store is going out of business

    The HAMKITT store in Des Moines, Iowa is closing it's doors due to poor sales. Joe Leto, W0IW; opened the Des Moines, Iowa retail business with the intent to provide local hams an amateur radio store to visit. He also had a web site providing online sales.

    The ham store void in the area was an attraction for Joe to start his business and it was well received by the locals. The poor economy caused reduced sales and made the venture unprofitable. We all know that the light bill and rent must be paid.

    Joe said:
    Hi folks, well we tried and sold most the store, and now we are having to close our doors...
    Not enough local support = not enough revenue to keep a ham radio store alive and well..
    Is the basic reason shes closing FOR GOOD...


    The one thing we can say for sure is the folks that supported the store really did a great
    job and the folks that didn't have time to come in that's OK too, seems like there's
    never enough time in the day..

    (515)-250-2108 or Fax (515) 465-1259

    Joe hosts the The Iowa Wireless Contesting Station, W0IW.

    We wish him luck in the future.

    Terry Graves, K7FE
    Chief Editor, QRZ.COM

    "Some people call CW a MODE but in
    reality it is an autonomous LANGUAGE."

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    St. Mary's County Md since 2000


    A valiant effort. Thanks for showing the courage to give it a try!

    73, Bill

  3. #3

    Default I love and respect the noble try But!

    You just cannot compete with the internet 1 it's unfortunate for us but true radio shack has proven this. it is so nice just to be able to hop down to the local store grab some coax for this or that or an end or replacement diode but my local store went from 3 rows of gear and spools of coax to now a 4ft by 4 foot cabinet with half the inventory not stocked. the only way a local store might make it is if a guy had a shop as part of his house or some thing that was paid for and the electric was minimums and he kept as close to 16 hour 7 day a week hours then if you had a dins enough ham community you might make it.


  4. #4


    I had my concerns when he opened the store having lived in Iowa for the better part of my life there are still a limited number of ham operators in a state that like most has seen better times. In this economy it is going to take a specialty store to be able to open a brick and mortar store to compete with a click n' order internet stores (Internet Businesses). The majority of the Internet stores that are successful now are trying more and more to arrange drop shipment directly from the makers of the various product for the simple reason that storage, product insurance and liability and help to run a warehouse will eat the biggest part of the profit share.

    Whereas the average click and order store may have a handful of people that serve as customer service people but they are more than likely trained to serve a dual purpose as they may well be the person taking your order when you call. I do think an online ham store can make a go if it is handled right if you can steer away from handling only big name items where the maker sets the price for you. I have seen enough people offering service on the various sites such as QRZ, qth AND eHAM that I would attempt to see if these people selling things such things as the keyers, kits and antennas would not let a store sell their items and then have then ship directly to the customer. Just my 2-cents.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2000
    Eureka CA #CN70wt

    Default It's ROUGH selling to hams!

    Having been involved in ham radio for 46 + years, I understand the trials and tribulations of selling Amateur Radio equipment ... I was a dealer for about 4 years, major brands, in the 70s -- then (on the other side of the USA} management ... then up to KL7 -involved in sales and service too ... it just does not pay well. Hams come in, drink your coffee, twist your knobs,then go buy from the cheapest source .. without giving you a real "shot" to meet or beat price ... sales tax comes into their decision, shipping costs, etc... but, if you are selling that particular brand, when warranty work is called for ... here they come ...
    Now retired, I plead guilty to intense shopping .. but not wasting the shopkeeper's time and phone line --
    Most hams do not understand that Amateur Radio equipment is sold at a very low mark up .. not much profit, if any at all, if accessories are not included. Kind of like the automobile business ... volume, and "extras" make the business viable. Not like your jewelry or clothing store ... at all ...
    Hard row to hoe on a local level .. thanks for trying, Joe ... es 73 ..
    Mark AA6DX Eureka, CA
    From FAR Northern California, downtown Eureka .. the "HEART OF THE REDWOOD EMPIRE"

  6. #6


    oh yes you can compete with the internet
    nothing says a brick and mortar store
    can not use the internet as a selling tool

    i compete with the internet
    customers enjoy coming to my store

    lots of people would rather be able to see, touch, hold,
    a book before they buy it

    " most of all if its a modern first worth two hundred bucks "

    the grand opening
    was what
    the first of may
    this year

    thats less than three months
    can't expect to build a customer base in three months

    new retail busness
    should start with enought capital
    to able to stay open
    without making one cent of profit
    for at least a year

    if not
    you don't have enought capital

    Mark is right
    its a hard row to hoe
    know somebody that
    for about 20 years sold ham equpment retail

    he no longer gets on the air
    and has lost all interest in ham radio

    enjoy ham radio
    want to keep it that way
    do not get in the ham radio busness

    for the most part do not want hams
    in the book store

    read or die
    Last edited by W8ZNX; 07-22-2010 at 08:55 PM.

  7. #7


    Anyone know if he still is doing web orders?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2004


    Quote Originally Posted by W8ZNX View Post
    the grand opening
    was what
    the first of may
    this year

    thats less than three months
    can't expect to build a customer base in three months

    I have to agree. Since the store's grand opening on May 01, 2010, the ebb and flow of business hasn't even begun yet.

    I noticed the website only had 22,529 visits.

    To build a customer base, you need to do mass advertising campaigns and drive customers to yourself. Not sure what marketing campaigns have been initiated or how many hamfests were attended in that short period of time, but I am sorry to see the business throwing in the towel so soon.

    Good luck in your future endeavours.
    73 de Charles - KC8VWM
    North American QRP CW Club #3159, SKCC# 5752

  9. #9

    Default HAMKITT Store

    Welp, we tried it many years ago in Kansas, actually had two stores. Carried a lot of inventory and had a lot tied up in goods. Ended up selling off stuff below cost, took a beating and fell back on service. Could have bought a new car and more from losses we sustained.

    Many of the big operations are either a "hobby" business or have a major secondary operation to sustain them and a large local ham population close by. There is very little margin in the big ticket items and you can not sell enough of the little items to pay the bills.

    I wish them well in whatever they pursue. We gave it up long before the internet operations. Just hard to deal with "what's your lowest price?" and 1-800-SELL-CHEEP. Having been in ham radio for over 50 years, I am very aware of the ham customer "dickering".

    Just my observation from over the years.

  10. #10

    Default HAM STORE

    "If you cant beat um, join um"

    What would it take for say,
    HRO, AES, HAM City, Universal Radio to open another store in a certain area.

    I was in Foley, AL at Tanger Outlet Stores and thought, while the wives or others are shopping, The OM's could go to the local HRO (only cause it has Outlet in the name).

    Just wondered what the heck it would take to put in a big Outlet Strip store area........

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