HOME SHOPS - Frequently Asked Questions
Question 1 - What is a Freelance Model Railroad?
A Freelance Model Railroad, sometimes referred to as a “Proto-Freelance Model Railroad”, is a model railroad that represents a railroad that does not exist in the prototype world. Growing in popularity, many talented model railroaders have decided to create their own railroad and accompanying narrative to model.
Some of the pioneering Freelance Model Railroads include Frank Ellison’s Delta Lines, Allen McClelland’s Virginian and Ohio, and Eric Brooman’s Utah Belt. These fantastic freelance model railroads have inspired generations of modelers to develop strong freelance concepts of their own.
Think of it this way. If Model Railroading were to be considered an entertaining art form like Hollywood Cinema, then it would stand to reason that there would be different genres. Not everything has to be a documentary... Freelance Model Railroads are your Science Fiction and your Action/Adventure movies, deliberately designed and meant to enjoy!
Vintage: Delta Lines
Classic: Virginian and Ohio
Home Shops founder Christopher Palmieri is an avid Freelance Model Railroader himself! As such he is a member of a number of Facebook groups dedicated to Freelance Model Railroads and has supported the growing number of people who have produced custom runs of Accurail freelance equipment.
The Accurail cars are great and attainable for an individual who might want to make a small-batch custom run of a single freight car. The popularity of these cars is rising, with many selling out in a single day! This has established that the market for freelance cars is growing.
With a personal interest in having higher quality factory painted freelance cars, Mr. Palmieri decided to launch Home Shops LLC to do just that! Home Shops is investing in projects with high-end manufacturers to bring some fantastic freelance equipment to market! Be sure to show your support by buying some of these cars for your own collection!
Examples of Sold out Freelance Custom Runs on Facebook:
Question 3 - Why does Home Shops do advance sales?
The answer is quite simple - Timelines and Deadlines!
We want to bring as many projects to life as possible. And we want to diversify our offerings by era and scale so that all model railroaders will have Home Shops selections that will fit into the theme of their Model Railroad.
The expected duration from the beginning of a project to the receipt of cars from the factory is easily nine to twelve months. Model Railroad manufacturers require a bulk of the cost of a project to be paid upfront and the balance to be paid before shipping the cars to Home Shops. Now we cannot talk exact contract details, but consider our very first run of cars: PS-4750 covered hoppers by Tangent Scale Models. A fantastic project that totaled 1,820 cars! That is seven road names, four road numbers of each, and a grand total of 65 cars produced for each unique road number. You can probably guess a number close to what these cars cost Home Shops to get an idea of the amount of capital tied up in this one project.
Manufacturers have deadlines to add to their factory orders for a specific car we may be interested in. If that deadline comes and goes while our capital is tied up in the year-long development and manufacturing of an existing project, then that car does not get done. This is an opportunity missed to make another Limited Edition Freelance model available to you!
At Home Shops we believe our Limited Edition Freelance cars are truly works of art that will be sought after and increase in value after purchase! We believe that such luxury items are reasonable to pre-sell once they are in production at the factory. This also ensures that an entire product arrival can be immediately shipped to our customers, requiring no warehousing costs. And there is some satisfaction to be had for our customers when they receive these beautiful cars knowing that they are sold out.
Question 4 - What about other model railroad companies that announce/presell items that never seem to materialize?
We can all think of one or two model railroad companies that struggle to get their product out.
Home Shops is not one of those companies and here is the difference: Home Shops is not aggressively selling products that have yet to be developed. Nor is Home Shops building a supply chain/product distribution network from scratch.
Home Shops partners with experienced, quality, and professional industry leaders (like Tangent Scale Models) who have already “invented the wheel” so to speak. Our freelance model railroad offerings are add-ons to existing model railroad manufacturer factory orders. As such for each project we are essentially hitching a ride on an existing product pipeline, simply adding volume and variety. This is not unlike how the prototype Texas Mexican Railway acquired each of their two GP60’s from EMD – with one matching NS specifications and the other matching SP specifications!
When Home Shops offers Limited Edition freelance models for pre-sale here is what has ALREADY taken place:
1 – Home Shops has written project approval from the Freelance Model Railroad owner.
2 – Project artwork has been developed and approved by both the Freelance Railroad Owner and the Model Railroad Manufacturer.
3 – A purchase order has been placed, contract signed, and financial obligations met with the Model Railroad Manufacturer.
4 – The factory has accepted the order and a preliminary timeline has been established.
5 – Factory pre-production samples/photos have been received or are imminent.
Now all of the heavy lifting has been done and we are just waiting out the clock. Offering the product to our customers for presale at this point allows us to recover our project investment and launch another exciting project! This also affords our loyal customers the opportunity to secure cars from each order before they are sold out.
Question 5 - How do I get Home Shops to produce cars for my freelance railroad?
At Home Shops we are interested in your Freelance Model Railroad! That being said, this is a business and we have to allocate our capital smartly. Be sure to read Answer 3 for an understanding of the basic investment we make in a project.
So here are some of the rules of thumb that we are governed by when we decide if a Freelance Railroad is a good fit for a future project:
1 - Will it sell? We have to make a determination of the viability of our investment. Generally speaking the more time and thought you have put into your freelance model railroad, the more likely it is that your fellow model railroaders will want to add your railroad to their collections.
2 - How well will your freelance railroad "fit" in a train or scene? We go to great lengths to create a product that will look like it belongs in any era-appropriate freight train with prototype models. For example, and there are of course exceptions to every rule of thumb, if the name of your railroad sounds like something a real railroad would name their railroad, that is a plus. If you name your railroad after yourself or your kids, it has to be really good. Because now we are not just selling your railroad, but we are also selling you. If you go trackside and watch trains go by, you are unlikely to see any railroad equipment named after a person. This is just one example of keeping it real.
3 - Are you actually modeling your own Freelance Model Railroad? While we may not expect you to have built a full-size operating layout for your freelance model railroad, we do expect that you have had decals made and have painted up some equipment of your own to run at clubs or at least to photograph. After all, if you are not interested in modeling your own railroad then it would be unreasonable to expect others to want to buy models of your railroad.
4 - Are you generating a following for your Freelance Model Railroad? The connectivity afforded to us all by Social Media means that sharing your freelance work is easier now than ever before! It is free and it is very powerful. So if you approach Home Shops about your Freelance Model Railroad and a Google search and a Facebook search on the Freelance Model Railroad pages generate zero content, then that means Home Shops customers who perform the same searches will find nothing as well. We want to see that you are doing something with your Freelance Model Railroad to generate a following.
5 - And finally, are you willing to sign a contract that grants Home Shops the right to use your Freelance concept in a production run? Home Shops bears the full financial risk of each Freelance model order and the profit margin is slim. We view these partnerships to be mutually beneficial as they bring attention to your freelance model railroad and give you the opportunity to add high-end factory painted models decorated for your own railroad to your collection!
If you have met most of the above guidelines and want to reach out, please send an email to ShopForeman@homeshops.net or simply use the contact form below to get the conversation started!
Freelance Model Railroad Social Media Examples:
Question 6 - What is the Home Shops Ambassador Fleet?
Home Shops would not be possible without the awesome connectivity that Social Media provides to our niche community of Freelance Model Railroaders! The Home Shops Ambassador Fleet is a fun and creative way to use Social Media to generate interest and knowledge in our products as well as in the Freelance Model Railroads our products represent.
The concept is relatively simple. Due to the long turnaround of a single freight car project from concept to actual product delivery (nine months to a year) we have decided to custom paint cars that represent coming factory projects. Because these cars are representing both Home Shops and a Freelance Model Railroad that perhaps our customer base is unfamiliar with, we have decided to name these custom painted cars the “Home Shops Ambassador Fleet”.
Basically Home Shops will ship these cars around the country (and in some cases further) to host model railroads for the purpose of having photos and videos taken of them in operation on the host model railroad. These photos and videos are meant to be shared on various social media outlets by both the host railroad and Home Shops.
The original intent was for this to be a short-term exercise only to play out ahead of our very first freight car release to get the word out about Home Shops. As it turns out this exercise is pretty fun and is generating quite a bit of interest! It is pretty cool to see a freight car in a train on one layout and then to see it appear later on a layout some distance away!
So, for now, we plan to keep the Home Shops Ambassador Fleet tour going! Thank you to the early participants for modeling the way. We look forward to seeing where these cars go next!
Question 7 - How can I participate in the Home Shops Ambassador Fleet tour?
If you own or have access to a module or model railroad with great scenery and you think a Home Shops Ambassador Fleet photo shoot might be a good fit, please reach out to us at ShopForeman@homeshops.net or use the contact form below. We would love to hear your idea!
Generally speaking we would expect the dwell of any Home Shops Ambassador Fleet car(s) sent to you to be under two months should we decide to move forward. Some people have asked to weather our Home Shops Ambassador Fleet cars. This generates additional interest in the posts and allows the modeler to see his or her work get some exposure as the cars move on to subsequent model railroads. We will create a shared album that you can upload images and videos to for Home Shops to use on the Home Shops LLC website or in social media posts. Of course you will be encouraged to share these images and videos on your social media platforms as well!
Question 8 - What are Home Shops General Shop Bulletins?
General Shop Bulletins are our communications to our customers regarding announcements, special offers, events, and product availability. Rather than simply having another e-commerce newsletter, we decided to stick with the railroad theme and issue bulletins. At the bottom of each General Shop Bulletin will be a list of all numbered bulletins that are in effect.
If you want to play along, there will be promotional discounts offered from time to time for those who have made a railroad style bulletin board in their own Home Shop, Layout Room, or Club Layout Building. Keeping your General Shop Bulletin Board up to date and visible will have its advantages!
This is just another exciting way in which Home Shops heightens the level of realism in your model railroad experience!
You can sign up for General Shop Bulletins in the footer of any page on the Home Shops website.
Question 9 - What if there is an issue with a car I purchased from Home Shops?
At Home Shops we partner with model manufacturers who have practiced due diligence with regards to product and packaging design, so we fully expect your product to arrive in good order!
That being said, the high-end products we offer qualify as such because of the great amount of detail that goes into them. That means lots of little pieces…hundreds per car.
The journey that each one of our HO-scale freight cars takes to get from the factory to your hands is quite large. In most cases this journey will be close to the 10,000 mile mark! So we recognize that many things could happen to impact a car during the transportation cycle.
It is our experience that the vast majority of inbound defects are simple fixes that require only a drop or two of CA (Krazy Glue) to re-secure a detail part. Should this be unsatisfactory or otherwise unable to resolve the issue, please reach out to us via email at ShopForeman@homeshops.net and let us know what is going on. We will be happy to work with you to make it right! For convenience the Home Shops contact form is provided below:
Question 10 - What is your return policy?
Only products that are defective or damaged and are unable to be repaired or replaced by Home Shops LLC can be returned. Returns will only be accepted within 30 days of the date the product was delivered to you. Altered or modified freight cars cannot be returned. Cars that cannot be returned include cars that you have weathered or painted or cars on which you have replaced couplers, wheels, and or trucks. Cars being returned must also be retuned in their original box.
Please email Home Shops to advise of any product issues at ShopForeman@homeshops.net or simply use the form below!