"Gear trading, deals, etc. that support the hobby/interest"
If you find sponsors, never give away "free" stuff. Make it an earned privilege. I don't know what's the best method but you'll figure it out.
"Events that get people together (both organized and casual)" A great idea, but as others had found out already. the wide geographic spread we have made this impossible for most the members to participate.
I was the club chairman of a local internet USGA golf club, they used my reference to apply for the club and we had more than 300 paying members , That was just one of the club in this area. That organization transfer to another ownership, several times. I gave up the chairman seat because it too too much time to try to get these members to play together. They don't and couldn't enforce the "peer evaluation" for handicap purpose.
Most of the members will just ignore the warning of the requirement to play with other club members.
So there you go, a tough job even a paid position would be tough.