Well, we’re back from Orange Empire. A few observations:
- I don’t know whether it is normal for Veterans Day, but attendance seemed way down. The Thomas Train has a number of cars, which we fill in reverse order, from H (closest to Thomas) to A (closest to the real engine we drag along for effect). Only one trip did we fill down to the A car (which I was on in the morning). Most trips, we only got as far as E or D, with the occasional C or B.
- The economy certainly has an effect. From the folks I talked to, there were fewer pre-sales — more sales at the door (meaning folks didn’t decide until they saw gas prices had gone down). There were also spikes in ridership at 9am and 3pm, both times within the $4 discount window.
- I brought my ren faire stave with me, because my back had been bothering me last week and I wanted additional support if I was standing all day. It proved incredibly useful. Not only did it assist me in walking on the train, but it served to help people get on and off the steep steps (being an additional handrail). It helped get dropped batteries out from seats, served as a way of notifying folks through a window, and garnered numerous questions and compliments.
- The bookstore mix was different this year, being 100% Thomas with nary an OERM item in site. In fact, there was only the Thomas tent, and nothing OERM was in the tent. I wonder if that helps or hurts OERM — certainly folks don’t bring home stuff with the OERM logo on it, and the true railbufs that do come out can’t get some of the neat books we have.
- The tent, however, seemed to be doing good sales. Many shelves were decimated of Thomas merchandise after the first three days.
- I also wonder how much the economy will hurt the museum membership. I know a number live in the Inland Empire… which is being hit hard by foreclosures, and a large number are retirees, who are seeing their savings decimated. I could see this resulting in a drop in membership or donations, alas.
- The sunset tonight, as I was driving W on the 60 to the 71, was just beautiful.