FARGO, N.D. – After 44 years in the business of selling model aircraft and accessories to other enthusiasts, Paul Kegel is ready to spend more time enjoying the hobby himself.
Kegel and his wife, Linda, will close the doors of Paul’s Model Supply for good when they retire at the end of March.
Kegel started the business from his basement in 1970 after becoming frustrated by backorders at the existing hobby shop.
“It got to the point I decided to start a hobby shop and see if I couldn’t get the things I wanted and help everyone else, too,” said Kegel.
Linda joined the business when she and Paul married in 1971. They operated it from their home for a time before expanding into a retail location.
A guestbook on the counter has kept record of the store’s visitors over the years, some from as far away as Argentina, Brazil, Sri Lanka, South Africa and Germany.
It’s local customers like Kelly Evanson of Walcott, who will miss the store most. He figures he stops by at least once a week.
“I hate to see him close. No. 1 because I enjoy stopping in and chatting him up,” said Evanson. “It’s also because it’s just handy. Every now and then you crash one or need some parts. He always has something on hand that I can make use of.”
Paul said the model aircraft business has changed dramatically over the past few years.
The interest in actually building a model has waned. People today want ARF (almost ready to fly) kits.
“There aren’t really the modelers anymore,” said Kegel. “They’re model fliers.”
Another big change is the availability of aircraft and accessories online.
“I think that’s going to be the death knell of the brick-and-mortar hobby shops,” said Linda.
One thing customers can’t get online is a resource like Kegel.
“He certainly has a lot of savvy with the engines. He always knew what part you needed for the engine or how to repair the engine,” said Evanson.
Paul and Linda intend to remain active in the local model airplane clubs, the Valley RC Flyers and the F-M Skylarks, so fliers will still be able to hit them up for a few pointers.
Readers can reach Wieck at (701) 241-5501.
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