Subscriber & Member Login

Login, or register today to interact in our online community, comment on articles, receive our newsletter, manage your account online and more!

Some Hobby Shop Nostalgia

1949 views
16 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
  • Member since
    June, 2012
  • 243 posts
Some Hobby Shop Nostalgia
Posted by AVRNUT on Wednesday, June 13, 2012 7:58 AM

Was thinking back this morning to the time I had my first HO layout and was remembering all the various Hobby Shops I haunted during those years. The area where I lived had a ton of them & I was wondering if anyone else here on the forum might have been in that area at the time & might remember these same places, a couple of which were "legendary".

In 1959, when I was 11 years old, my family moved down from Maine to South Weymouth, Mass. I had two modeling interests then: HO Trains and military models, mostly World War II stuff. Shortly after moving, my dad & I began building a 4 x 8 layout down in our cellar. We had a small hobby shop just around the corner in Columbian Square. Can't remember the name of it now ( Ithink it might have been Columbian Hobby). He had a fair stock, but mostly pretty much the standard stuff you could find most anywhere. He closed only a year or so later. The void was quickly filled shortly thereafter when a small model railroad shop opened up in the empty Cities Service gas station that sat on the triangle intersection of Columbian St. & Park Ave, only about half a mile away. He had a decent stock, strictly HO, but only lasted a couple years.

The biggest & best in the immediate area was Capeway Hobby Shop, in Weymouth Landing. That was 3 miles away, but my dad & I would drive down often. GREAT stock of model railroad stuff & it well served our needs. But, around 1964, it closed. He sold out his stock to another guy, who re-opened the shop, under the same name, in a different location up the street. But, all he pretty much did was spend a couple years liquidating the old Capeway stock, never getting in much of anything new, and then he too was gone.

About that same time, we heard stories about a hobby shop in No. Quincy, Mass that was apparently already becoming legendary in the area: Fisher's Cycle & Hobby. Half the shop was bicycles & cycle repair. Roy Fogelman tended to that & his wife Jeane ran the hobby shop half. On our first trip there, I was in total awe of the place! Mind Boggling stock!! She had darn near everything in HO stuff you could ever hope for & if she didn't have it, she'd get it for you within a few days. Her selection of model kits & supplies, especially military models, was nothing short of amazing for that time. She did her own importing, something almost unheard of back then. As a result, that is where I was introduced to the incredible variety of 1/72 scale aircraft & armor kits from makers like Airfix, Heller, Frog, Artiplast, Tamiya and L.S.Labs. She also introduced me to Humbrol paints, in their cute little tins, which I came to love & still do to this day.

By our mid to late teens, me & my two best buddies had also broadened our horizons to three great hobby shops in Boston. Before we had our own cars, we would either walk the 3 miles to Weymouth Landing (or talk a parent into giving us a ride), take the bus from there to Ashmont Station in Dorchester & then the subway to South Station in Boston. Just across the square from South Station, on a side street was Boston Model Railroad. Kind of a dark & dingy, tiny place. The guy who ran it was pretty much "old school" Lionel O Gauge & kind of looked down on us lowly HO enthusiasts, be he did carry some HO stuff & we always stopped to check out what he had. A few blocks up the street near the corner of the Boston Common just off Park St. was Hobbytown. Great little hobby shop! He too, did his own importing & had a great selection of hard to find kits & HO stuff. Spent quite a bit of money there over the years.

Then, of course, there was "the Holy Grail" of model railroad shops at the time. Down Park St, past the other end of Boston Common & almost directly across from the famous Old North Church was Eric Fuch's Model Railroad. Strictly model railroad stuff & nearly everything available in the hobby at that time could be found on his shelves! A truly amazing place you could easily spend hours in, just looking at all the stuff, in every gauge. I fondly remember one gentleman who worked there. I had a great deal of respect for him. He was always extremely patient & polite with us, always eager to help & offer advice & tips. You could tell that he just loved to nuture youngsters in the hobby. Don't remember his first name (or if I even ever knew it), but I always addressed him, out of respect, by his surname, Mr. Hawkins. Made an awful lot of purchases from him over the years.

Anyway, virtually all of those places I mentioned are long gone now. I had many happy years patronizing them & was just wondering if anyone else here lived in that area at the time & remembers them.

"I could never belong to any club that would have me as a member."

  • Member since
    April, 2003
  • From: Clinton, MO, US
  • 3,387 posts
Posted by Medina1128 on Wednesday, June 13, 2012 8:41 AM

The HO bug first bit me back in the 80s, when I lived in west Phoenix (west Phoenix USED to be a nice area, believe it or not, but that's another story). There weren't a lot of brick and mortar shops that had much train stuff, except, Val's Hobby Hangar, in Glendale. I couldn't wait for payday, when, on Saturday morning, I'd put my son in his booster seat in the van and see what treasures I could pick up.

  • Member since
    December, 2004
  • From: Bedford, MA, USA
  • 14,943 posts
Posted by MisterBeasley on Wednesday, June 13, 2012 9:07 AM

I remember Eric Fuchs Hobbies as a shop in the Burlington Mall in Burlington, Massachusetts.  It was a general hobby shop with only a small train section.  It's been quite a few years since I last saw it.

Listening to others write of how they have to drive an hour to an LHS, I feel lucky here in the Boston area to have several shops nearby.  We even had a shop in town, but that was before I got back into the hobby.  The owner, unfortunately, passed away, and it's now a nail salon.

My favorite LHS, Maine Trains in Chelmsford, MA, is now all trains.  Before the current owner, though, it was half trains and half dog-grooming supplies.  Husband-wife, I guess, but still it was a very odd combination.

It takes an iron man to play with a toy iron horse. 

  • Member since
    March, 2007
  • From: South Carolina
  • 1,600 posts
Posted by Train Modeler on Wednesday, June 13, 2012 9:16 AM

I have those memories too and thankfully so does my son.  We have 5 basic senses, all of which are at work when we visit a hobby shop(coffee/treats for taste--not always available).  So the memories created are done so in a reinforcing manner.    Particularly good during Christmas time.  When I was much younger I would listen eagerly to the advice given from the man behind the counter.      Also when we traveled to other cities we tried to have one key stop to a hobby shop we heard was worth visiting.   I now have an old Athearn BB full of cards from around the country and enjoy going through them every now and then to recall those visits--as well as buy hard to find product.    On one visit in the LA area I remember seeing some famous people from TV/movies buying trains--that was neat.

Thankfully, those experiences can't be replicated via the internet and so give some of us reason to continue visiting our LHS as well as introduce others to the experience.

Richard

  • Member since
    June, 2012
  • 243 posts
Posted by AVRNUT on Wednesday, June 13, 2012 9:56 AM

MisterBeasley;

I had heard that Eric Fuch's had closed the original store in Boston, which was strictly model railroad, and opened a general hobby shop out at the Burlington Mall. I never got to that one. I lived in Mass. until 1988, when I moved back home to Maine, so that was really after my time down there. I understand from something I read online that after Eric Fuch's passing the Burlington Mall store closed too. I haven't been down that way since I attended a friend's funeral in 1998 & I didn't have time to go hobby shop hunting while there, so don't really know what's there now.

I did see online that there's a general hobby shop in Braintree now and I heard that there is alledgedly a pretty decent one in Taunton, but I really know nothing about either of them.

"I could never belong to any club that would have me as a member."

  • Member since
    October, 2001
  • From: OH
  • 12,624 posts
Posted by BRAKIE on Wednesday, June 13, 2012 11:08 AM

Since I have several hobby shop memories that stands out I will mention those that was above the rest that I went to first up must be Frank P.Hall Hardware-the shop was in the basement.A great place to be Saturday mornings and 55 years later I still have many fond memories of that shop even though its be gone for years .Then there was Hobbytown in Huntington,W.Va that I went to two or three times a month and finally The Train Shop that was located in Tiffin,O.Another shop I use to visit once a month was the Train Station in Columbus..

Looking back I wish I still had shops like Halls,The Train Shop and Hobbytown.I would be more then happy to support those shops..

Larry

SSRy

Conductor

  • Member since
    March, 2007
  • From: South Carolina
  • 1,600 posts
Posted by Train Modeler on Wednesday, June 13, 2012 11:13 AM

Larry,

Did you ever go to the hobby shop just north of Cincy?  It was well known for having Rivarossi and other parts--brass, etc.    Very neat place.

Richard

  • Member since
    June, 2012
  • 243 posts
Posted by AVRNUT on Wednesday, June 13, 2012 11:26 AM

BRAKIE:

I whole heartedly second that! We have a LHS wasteland up here in Maine now. Very few & the nearest one is 90 miles from here! I miss the frequent visits & chatting with proprietors & other hobbyists. That was a large part of the fun of the whole hobby. And of course, the anticipation on your way there of what might be new in stock (that you absolutely HAD to have). If we had a decent LHS now, I would gladly support & patronize it.

I have always believed in supporting local, mom & pop businesses.  When you do so, you're not paying for the 3rd summer resort home or 4th Lincoln Towne Car of some grossly overpaid, corporate CEO. Your money is helping to pay for some little girl's dance lessons, or some little boy's long desired new baseball glove or just helping to put food on the table for one of your neighbors.

The local mom & pop businesses were part of the core of the strong family values that once predominated life in this country. We all might be far better off if we got back to those.

"I could never belong to any club that would have me as a member."

  • Member since
    October, 2001
  • From: OH
  • 12,624 posts
Posted by BRAKIE on Wednesday, June 13, 2012 11:36 AM

Train Modeler

Larry,

Did you ever go to the hobby shop just north of Cincy?  It was well known for having Rivarossi and other parts--brass, etc.    Very neat place.

Richard

Richard,I did visit a shop two or three times in '68 in the Cincy area-I rode NYC's(PC) RDC from Columbus to Cincy and I took a bus to the shop.

I keep thinking the shop was in the Mongomery area.It was a small shop but,had lots of stuff and the owner was very friendly..

Larry

SSRy

Conductor

  • Member since
    March, 2007
  • From: South Carolina
  • 1,600 posts
Posted by Train Modeler on Wednesday, June 13, 2012 12:48 PM

BRAKIE

 

 Train Modeler:

 

Larry,

Did you ever go to the hobby shop just north of Cincy?  It was well known for having Rivarossi and other parts--brass, etc.    Very neat place.

Richard

 

 

Richard,I did visit a shop two or three times in '68 in the Cincy area-I rode NYC's(PC) RDC from Columbus to Cincy and I took a bus to the shop.

I keep thinking the shop was in the Mongomery area.It was a small shop but,had lots of stuff and the owner was very friendly..

Larry,

I hope that trip was as found as it sounds today.

I think the name could have been Manor House Hobbies.   I also remember a good one NorthEast of Columbus, but again the name escapes me.  

Richard

  • Member since
    July, 2006
  • 84 posts
Posted by BF&D on Wednesday, June 13, 2012 1:41 PM

I remember Krull's hobby shop in Fort Wayne, IN  -  some airplanes, a few ships, and Lionel and HO.  No really specific memories of the shop or their stock, other than the owner's cigar amoke.  But walking downtown from North Side High School one day in 1958 I was approaching the confluence of the St Mary's and St Joseph's rivers to form the Maumee, which then curves north and east.  On the far side of that curve were the Nickel Plate tracks, climbing up for the elevated run across the north side of downtown, and barking their way up the grade were a pair of 700-class Berkshires  -  one of the last times to see that sight.

  • Member since
    July, 2007
  • 162 posts
Posted by oo-OO-OO-oo on Wednesday, June 13, 2012 11:31 PM

Although there have been some closings, the Southeastern Pa. region still has a good variety of hobby shops.

There are two general hobby shops and one trains-only shop within a 30-minute drive of where I live, and a few more if I want to go more like an hour.

But speaking of hours, that seems to be cut down for some of them - one is open only one day a week at this point, but it's fun to go in because it's almost like a flea market.

It's a general hobby shop, but with a good selection of HO stuff with a fair selection of used equipment along with new.

Plus, there's a good selection of other model kits - planes, ships, tanks and automobiles to go with the trains.

The trains only shop offers a good selection of parts and supplies for scratch-building, and excellent service and support for DCC.

I try to get to the three local shops when I can - I figure if I spread my money around, it'll help keep the variety available! :)

Eric

I wish I was a headlight

On a northbound train

  • Member since
    August, 2006
  • 957 posts
Posted by jerryl on Thursday, June 14, 2012 7:07 AM

Most every town had some kind of hobby shop in the late 40s to mid 50s, some even specialized in trains.Only 1 shop in the area survived from the 50s & it is strictly trains. One other large Hobby Shop- distributor in the area. All of the hobby chain stores are gone.

   Really fond memories of visiting them with my dad.

  • Member since
    November, 2011
  • 110 posts
Posted by tallcapt on Thursday, June 14, 2012 7:59 AM

Mid to Late 1970s, Durham,NC...used to go to Billy Arthur's in the Eastgate Shopping Center just east of Chapel Hill.  HO trains, and hobbies of all types. To this day, that place (which is long gone), defines the magic of Christmas to me as a child.  Back then, it seemed quite possible that Santa lived in the 'employees only' section back behind the counter somewhere.  So many good memories, age of innocence, seemed purely magical, all that stuff...

  • Member since
    August, 2011
  • 678 posts
Posted by narrow gauge nuclear on Thursday, June 14, 2012 9:35 AM

Bob's hobby shop in Richmond,VA has been the full subject of another post recently here.  Unlike many hobby shops that come and go, Bob's was a busy and active place from the 1950's until it closed in about 2003.  It was "the" hobby shop here.  Others came and went after only a few years but Bob's was hobby central.  A small and cramped store on cary street, he carried chemicals (perfect brand), model airplanes, both plastic and flying wooden ones, R/C stuff, model rockets when that was big, but his big seller was HO trains and N gauge when that was introduced.  He carried many brass engines in stock from the fifties until he closed.  I bought many HO brass locos from Bob in the 70's.

I never walked into his store when it wasn't packed with people. Sometime in the early 90's he moved from his original inner city, Cary Street address to just outside the city limits on Patterson Avenue.  It opened as the "Hobby Center", but it was still Bob's with the same people behind the counter.  With the move, he added G gauge which was pretty much LGB only then.  Sadly, health issues and age caused him to close.  Many folks who had worked there opened their own places some are still around.

Richmond has always had at least 5 hobby shops open at any given time and perhaps as many as 10 at some point if you include the suburbs and surrounding county shopping centers. So we have never been lacking for hobby shops.  Now though, many are specialized and cater mainly to a specific hobby.  This is how many stay in business, by taking all or much of the business in town for one specific hobby. The R/C plane, boat and car folks go one place and the crafts and doll house miniatures go to another, etc.

I would say that if you are into trains and want that old Bob's atmosphere and  service coupled with good MR advice, the current shop here would be Chesterfield Hobbies.  It is located just outside the city limits in Midlothian, VA.  He is heavily into trains, (~ 80% of the shop), and specializes in O, HO and N.  He is incredibly well stocked with train books and mags, Woodland scenics, all forms of track and a ton of those tiny little bagged, "behind the counter", scratch builder goodies that, when asked for, a large cardboard box or bin is produced filled with Grant line, old Cal-Scale, specific decals, etc.

He is not much into HOn3 narrow gauge save for trucks, couplers, code 70 rail joiners and the like, but I still give him all the business I can on mags, supplies, HO scale figures, vehicles and buildings that serve my purposes and era.

For Richmond, whether you are 16 or 86, Bob's Hobby Shop is a powerful hunk of nostalgia

So, there is a lot of nostalgia here and it's still goin' on.

Richard

Richard

If I can't fix it, I can fix it so it can't be fixed

  • Member since
    June, 2009
  • 8 posts
Posted by chessie! on Thursday, June 14, 2012 10:11 AM

The Hobby Shop in Cincinnati was Golf Manor Hobbies, being located in or very near the community of Golf Manor.  Funny you should say the owner was friendly, because as a teenager, I would go in and get completely ignored.  I just thought it was because I was a young kid, but as the years passed and I got grayer and grayer, the attitude stayed exactly the same.  They did have an outstanding stock however, and the selection made the attitude worth enduring.  Sorry to see they closed, but was an older family business in a declining neighborhood.

  • Member since
    August, 2014
  • 1 posts
Posted by dick byron on Sunday, August 17, 2014 8:37 AM

It sure feels good to remember Capeway Hobby. I worked there in 1958-9

Subscriber & Member Login

Login, or register today to interact in our online community, comment on articles, receive our newsletter, manage your account online and more!
Popular on ModelRailroader.com
Model Railroader Newsletter See all
Sign up for our FREE e-newsletter and get model railroad news in your inbox!
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

Search the Community

ADVERTISEMENT
Find us on Facebook

Loading...