Modeling In A Tough Economy

If the economy is kicking you in the butt,(you lost your job or 401k funds) now is not the time to sit down and pretend it is happening to someone else.

You can’t just sit there and use the time for more scale modeling.

There are alternatives. No they won't return you to your previous income level but they are better than sitting home, collecting unemployment.


This is a very early diorama to practice scenery techniques. The bridge abutments are scratchbuilt, the gas station is an old Bachmann Esso station, painted orange to reflect the Gulf brand, and the engines long ago ended up in the junk box. The Ramada Inn sign is from a match book cover. (photo 1988)

Diorama modeling is one way of creating detailed modeling scenes with a minimal investment in hobby materials. By not powering these models you can save the money you'd spend on power packs, motors, remote control units, DCC wiring and diecut model building kits.

Do these items add to the enjoyment of the chosen hobby? Yes, but they can be added to a still scene over a period of years as money is saved for them.

Your favorite modeling project is not something easily set aside but you don't always let it slide to the back burner just because money starts getting tight.

Heresy you say? Not by a long shot, after sustaining the loss of your major income source through job loss, retirement fund evaporation or even over extended credit, you be happy to just climb into a hole and pull the hole in after you.

No matter what your previous income level, after its loss lifestyles change and it is important to go back to the drawing board and recalculate.

I reached this point in my life and have found the field of serious Independent Contracting, in my case Mystery Shopping can get you back into income production, at least enough to maintain your scale modeling leisure activity.

Why mystery shopping?

These are quick (usually less than an hour) varied, non stressful and low energy assignments. Anyone who has shopped before can do these assignments.

Stores and restaurants all over the country have many or even thousands of different locations. They rely on Secret Shoppers to check the quality pf every location and its employees.

It is like having an ordinary customer go to each store and report back to the corporate offices on the service, cleanliness and product or food quality. Based on these reports corporate marketing can guarantee the same consistency at every store. Secret Shoppers provide a very valuable information source to keep Corporate Headquarters up to speed on all of their stores.

Secret Shoppers work 'undercover', so the sales reps at the store treat them like normal customers. In this way, Secret Shoppers can provide an unbiased assessment of their shopping experience. Their reports will be used by Corporate Headquarters or management to help to improve the quality of their programs and to promote better service throughout the chain.

As a Secret Shopper, you will be providing valuable information and you will get paid very well for it!

It gives a whole new meaning to the term “counter spy”.

Anyone who has ever been shopping come with all the talent needed to be a secret shopper.

There are really no special tools required though there are computer and telephonic items that make the job easier.

I use a computer and printer-scanner, a cell phone equipped with a GPS system and a small digital camera.

Most mystery shopping assignments pay between $8 and $10. Merchandising is generally in the range of $13 to $18. Some assignments offer free meals and/or groceries either as a form of compensation or in addition to a small fee. More complex assignments pay more — up to $30 or so per assignment.

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