We’ve known for a while now that this had to be coming. Here’s the release from Slot It’s US distributor, Hornby America:
“In September 2016, Hornby America in agreement with Slot.It and in consultation with many of our retail partners, initiated a MAP (minimum advertised pricing) policy related to the Policar and Slot.It brands. We agreed to a six month trial in an effort to try to protect and maintain the value of both of these premier brands.
“After reviewing the program with Slot.It and the feedback received from many of our retail partners and consumers, the decision has been made to discontinue the MAP policy April 1, 2017.
“Many of the comments we have received highlighted concerns that the S.R.P. for the cars were prohibitively expensive for North American consumers and that in many cases, those consumers were able to purchase the cars for much less from online European retailers who were not subject to the MAP policy. This concern was brought to the attention of Slot.It and as a result, a plan has been put into action that hopefully will encourage those consumers to purchase these brands from our North American retailers.
“Therefore, effective April 1, 2017, all new Slot.It standard cars will be released with a new S.R.P. of $59.99 and will not be subject to a MAP policy.
“We will continue to honor the original MAP pricing on cars released prior to April 1 and they will continue to be offered on the Hornby website at their original S.R.P. of $69.99 through the original MAP expiration period.”
We really hoped this would work ,at least to some degree. Unfortunately, it appears to have made things worse. It was intended to keep certain US Internet dealers from blowing newly-released cars out at $10 or less over cost, making it impossible for local hobby shops and raceways to be competitive. It was hoped that this would encourage more retailers to stock and sell the Slot It product line.
However, it didn’t take into account the fact that price competition is worldwide, not just within individual countries. To have any real effect a MAP policy would have to be worldwide and there is no way such a policy could be established and enforced, as it is illegal in many countries, including, we understand, the entire European Union.
While I have genuine appreciation for the US distributors, some of whom I have done business with for decades, the problem is simply bigger than they can overcome. As long as US retailers can’t buy slot cars at the same prices European dealers pay all US retailers will have to do business at a built-in price disadvantage. This is not keeping Victory Lap and a number of other US slot car retailers from succeeding, but it is a big part of the reason why the slot car hobby has never reached the size and popularity it should be enjoying here in America, the world’s largest consumer market. It presents the many local hobby shops across the country with a disincentive to embrace slot cars as a product category the way they do with radio control. model railroading, and plastic model kits, among many other kinds of hobby products. There are simply too many other hobbies for which they can make a better business case than they can for slot cars. As a result, the slot car hobby simply does not get the wide exposure at the local level that it needs to take hold and become an American hobby industry mainstay. Until some way can be found to keep retailers 3000 to 6000 miles away from being able to undersell Joe’s Corner Hobby Shop, even with the cost of trans-Atlantic shipping added in, the situation is not likely to change.
Meanwhile, I want to express my thanks to Hornby America for making the effort to find a way forward. They are trying to look after their dealers’ best interests as much as they possibly can, and their efforts are appreciated. I also want to thank all of our loyal customers and friends who have been essential to victory Lap’s success thus far. We are glad to be able to serve you.