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 ABE BAUMANN'S MODEL AERO SUPPLY


THE STORE :   1940-42
 From age 13 on, summertime was divided between playing tennis, swimming, and building model airplanes, with time-out for earning money to support the model airplane part... Lawn mowing and other odd jobs covered expenses for the smaller, rubber-band powered models, but when my sights set upon the larger, gas-engine powered models my wherewithal was wanting, and if I spent much more time working I wouldn't have time to build the model airplanes.

Then my eye was caught by an ad in  Model Airplane News  for the "Imperial Model Aero Supply" -- a wholesaler to the trade, conveniently located in nearby Hackensack, just a 10 cent bus ride away... For a minimum order of $5  (about $50 in 2003)  one could buy in quantities at 40% discount. That seemed the ticket to prosperity -- to buy something for one price and then to legally sell it for almost twice as much seemed almost like a "money tree!" ... There being no Model Aero Supply in hometown Bergenfield, that would be the business for me. Not only would there big big profits from sales to my fellow modelers, but the cost of my own kits and supplies would always be 40% off!

A month of mowings later I'd accumulated the required $5 minimum investment, and had inviegled agreement from my parents to use part of our basement as "the store."

So off I bussed to Hackensack, at age 14, to convince the proprietors of Imperial Model Aero Supply of the seriousness of my intent... The color of my money convinced them, and I returned home with a large carton full of model kits, balsa wood, glue, and sundry supplies of interest to airplane modelers.

It was fun setting up the store, spurred on by visions of legal larceny. The fixtures were simple but serviceable:  Display shelving from my grandmother's dry-goods store from an earlier time; a multi-compartmented parts cabinet from my father's workshop for the little things; and an old kitchen table for the customer counter, the silver-ware drawer serving as the cash-register.

My friends decided I needed a new name to better fit in with the business community. .. It would be "Abe," and that nick-name would stick with me through the rest of high-school and four years in the Navy, and then it finally faded away.

Bob Foster, classmate and apprentice printer, made up posters for me to plaster up all over town, and on the high-school bulletin boards, announcing the grand opening of:

                      " ABE BAUMANN'S MODEL AERO SUPPLY "

Being the only such shop in town, business was brisk almost from day-one, and that first summer I really enjoyed the role of store-keeper, especially counting up the weekly proceeds on Saturday night.  In a few weeks I'd profited enough to buy (at wholesale) my first really big (six-foot wingspan) airplane kit, and a gas-engine to power it... In addition, financing of my expansion plans  for a model railroad empire, begun the previous winter in another part of the basement, was also assured.

But when school began again in September, a problem arose about just who would be minding the store.  I had daily after-school practice with the high-school football and basketball teams, and my Mom oft-times became the reluctant store-keeper. Having minded her own mother's store, she had all the necassary skills, but neither a knowledge of nor interest in "model airplane stuff."  And she had other things to do -- plently of them... We managed through the winter though, when model airplane interests get lost in the ice and snow...

When business picked up again in the Spring I decided to free myself of after-school sports interests, having pressed my luck to the limit... So I resumed proprietorship of the enterprise and it survived for another two years, and so therefore did my hobbies of model planes & trains...

Then "GIRLS" arrived on my scene, and priorities changed...

Carl Baumann --BHS'43
April 2003

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