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Old, very old, hobby shop in Baltimore

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Old, very old, hobby shop in Baltimore
Posted by oldline1 on Sunday, January 10, 2016 7:33 PM

Many, many years ago when I was a kid there was a great hobby shop in the Parkville section of Baltimore called City-Wide HS. The kindly proprietor was a man of great patience and understanding and would tolerate me and others spending the whole day every Saturday drooling on the Akanes and GEMs and asking tons of questions. He never refused our requests or questions and was a super role model.

ANYWAY, I have forgotten his name and would appreciate if someone else remembered him and his name and would refresh my memory.

Thanks,

Roger Huber

Deer Creek Locomotive Works

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Posted by DSchmitt on Sunday, January 10, 2016 9:31 PM

For information:

 Model Railroader Dealer Directory:   City-Wide T.V. & Hobby Shop -  Dec 1957 to Mar 1961:  City-Wide Hobby Shop - Apr 1961 to Jul 1981 -  Original address 7913 Harford Rd changed  to 7715 Harford Rd in Mar 1967. 

Listed as Retailer in a Life-Like ad - Nov 1982

 City Wide 1_zps2j6flxs1 by Donald Schmitt, on Flickr

7913 Harford Road

 

 City Wide 2_zpsh4ujyrhc by Donald Schmitt, on Flickr

7715 Harford Road

 

 

I tried to sell my two cents worth, but no one would give me a plug nickel for it.

I don't have a leg to stand on.

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Posted by oldline1 on Sunday, January 10, 2016 9:37 PM

Yep! That's the place.

Roger

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Posted by kasskaboose on Monday, January 11, 2016 7:34 AM

People like him are very rare; reaching out to him can probably help others in the area.

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Posted by gshin on Monday, January 11, 2016 2:23 PM

I grew up in that shop.  Me and my friends could walk there, so as soon as we had some money to spend it was off to drual at the Matchbox cars, plastic car, ship and airplane models, and of course, trains.  I bought my first craftsman kit there - an ATSF box by Silver Streak.  It was well-stocked and a friendly place for kids and teens.  Unfortunately, I don't remember the gentleman's name, but I sure to wish there were more people like him in the world.

Greg Shindledecker Modeling the =WM= Thomas Sub in the mid-70s

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Monday, January 11, 2016 10:24 PM

The gentlemans name was Gary Sperschneider. I knew him personally back in the 1980's. I managed the train department of another Baltimore area hobby shop. We partnered with City Wide to purchase gas powered R/C cars direct from the manufacturer in those days.

Yes, Gary was a true gentleman and a great asset to the hobby industry. The store has been gone for many years now, and I do believe Gary passed away some years back. 

I am still close friends with the store owner I worked for back then, and still know a number of the folks who once owned or worked in Baltimore's many hobby shops from the 60's on.

The Baltimore area once had a good hobby shop or train store off nearly every other exit of the Beltway - among them:

Glen Burnie Hobby World

MB Klein (you know them today on the web as "Model Train Stuff)

Marconi's Hobby Center

City Wide Hobby

Lloyds Hobby Center

Pro Custom Hobby (still around, farther out into the suburbs - the two guys largely responsable for Proto2000 and Bachmann Spectrum got their start working in this shop)

The Depot Hobby Shop

Stoneleigh Hobby

Not to mention it being the home of Life Like Products.......

Sheldon

    

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Posted by rrinker on Tuesday, January 12, 2016 6:34 AM

 Which of those is still around? I know Klein still is, not out in the Timonium/Hunt Valley area, as I buy from them regularly. And you mentioned Pro Custom - where have they moved to? Any of the others still around?

                      --Randy


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Tuesday, January 12, 2016 3:48 PM

rrinker

 Which of those is still around? I know Klein still is, not out in the Timonium/Hunt Valley area, as I buy from them regularly. And you mentioned Pro Custom - where have they moved to? Any of the others still around?

                      --Randy

 

All the ones I listed are long gone except Klein and Pro Custom.

Pro Custom was sold to a differnent owner a long time ago, and then moved to Eldersburg, MD. Still a great spot for detail parts and serious modeling supplies.

This "region" still has some great shops, but the Baltimore metro area really only has Kleins.

Star Hobby - Annapolis, MD

Mainline Hobby Supply - Blue Ridge Summit, PA

Strasburg Train Shop - Strasburg, PA

Tommy Gilbert's Hobby Shop - Gettysburg, PA

Time marches on.....

Sheldon 

    

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Posted by BigDaddy on Tuesday, January 12, 2016 4:10 PM

Where was Lloyds?  For some reason that rings a bell.  I could have walked to Stoneleigh, but I don't think I ever did.  Neighbor one block over had a basement layout, rows and rows of the colored heavyweights just like you would see in Penn Station NYC and some brass.  He had 3 grandchildren that were my age and younger.  We never messed with his trains when he wasn't home.

 

Kleins was in a gnarly section of Baltimore, but only a couple blocks from City Hall and I never felt unsafe parking around there. But then I also parked around U of Md in Balto next to abandoned homes.  It was in a better neighborhood than Hopkins Hospital  lol. 

Henry

COB Potomac & Northern

Shenandoah Valley

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Tuesday, January 12, 2016 4:27 PM

BigDaddy

Where was Lloyds?  For some reason that rings a bell.  I could have walked to Stoneleigh, but I don't think I ever did.  Neighbor one block over had a basement layout, rows and rows of the colored heavyweights just like you would see in Penn Station NYC and some brass.  He had 3 grandchildren that were my age and younger.  We never messed with his trains when he wasn't home.

 

Kleins was in a gnarly section of Baltimore, but only a couple blocks from City Hall and I never felt unsafe parking around there. But then I also parked around U of Md in Balto next to abandoned homes.  It was in a better neighborhood than Hopkins Hospital  lol. 

 

Lloyds was in Towson, on York Road, near the Beltway - actually that was the second location, the first one was farther in York Road IIRC.

Sheldon

    

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Posted by oldline1 on Thursday, January 14, 2016 7:38 PM

I remember Lloyd's when it was downtown. I think it was either St. Paul Street or Charles St.  Great shop and then they moved to Towson. Maybe I had a false sense of security or safety but when Klein's was on Gay St. I never felt in any danger even at closing time, unlike going to Bobbye Hall's in Dallas. Toward the end even a day visit was scary there! I haven't been to the new Klein's in their Cockeysville location....yet. So far just mail orders.

City-Wide was my go to place as a kid. I rode the street cars and made a transfer early Saturday morning so I could be there when they opened up....didn't want to miss anything. I'd stay all day until almost closing and get another thrill riding the PCC cars back to my Grandparent's house with my new treasures. It was the highlight of my week for years.

Thanks for the memories and his name. His wife was always there too and I think they had a son and daughter that were often there too.

Roger Huber

Deer Creek Locomotive Works

 

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Posted by oldline1 on Thursday, January 14, 2016 7:43 PM

Baltimore had another sort of shop I went to when I'd visit my Great-grandmother in the late 1950's. It was off Harford Rd. near a big park. I think Esskay may have been close by.

It was a hardware-plumbing supply store in a row house on a corner. He always had a layout in his window display. You could activate the trains by placing your hand on a gold handprint on the window. Very neat to a small kid! My Grandfather would often buy some new American Flyer item there. Anyone know of this place?

Roger Huber

Deer Creek Locomotive Works

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Thursday, January 14, 2016 9:21 PM

Roger,

I don't know when you left Baltimore, but as a life long central Maryland resident, and someone who has worked in and around Baltimore my whole life, I have never felt uncomfortable in most any part of the city - even today.

Truth is, most of the "problems" are among those involved in illegal activities, and others are not really at high risk - even in the worst areas - but, the worst thing you can do in a bad area is act "afraid" - that makes you a target for random crime. If you act confident and as if you belong there, chances are good that no one will bother you.

Why do I say this? I spend 7 years selling MATCO TOOLS in some of the roughest areas of Baltimore, never a problem driving around in a step van with $100,000 worth of tools and $2000 rolled up in my shirt pocket. And never any problems during years of work as a construction manager in every part of the city......

Now, should one pay attention to their surroundings - yes - but there is random crime everywhere - even in the fancy suburbs where I live now.....

I only bring this up based on your comments, and any further comment will likely get us in trouble......

Kleins downtown was near my tool route back then and I would stop in there about once a week.

I currently live about 40 minutes from the new store, I stop in from time to time when I'm over that way. But truth be told, I don't spend much of my hobby money there any more.

The simple truth is the culture has changed, and the hobby has changed, and the internet now allows the benefits of more centralized distribution - which lowers prices and improves selection - so the local shops are gone.

The shop owner I worked for in the 1980's tried to put together investors for a "mega hobby shop" - the hobby version of the craft store chains today. Even then we could see the changes coming fast to the hobby business. But it was a high risk idea, a "super market" sized full line hobby shop, with low prices, large inventory and high level service - I think it would have worked, especially with mail order as well, but finding investors was tough.

While I am a life long Marylander, that may change before too long. My wife and I are considering our retirement options - my desires are for someplace else......

Sheldon

    

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Posted by DSchmitt on Thursday, January 14, 2016 9:59 PM

oldline1

Baltimore had another sort of shop I went to when I'd visit my Great-grandmother in the late 1950's. It was off Harford Rd. near a big park. I think Esskay may have been close by.

It was a hardware-plumbing supply store in a row house on a corner. He always had a layout in his window display. You could activate the trains by placing your hand on a gold handprint on the window. Very neat to a small kid! My Grandfather would often buy some new American Flyer item there. Anyone know of this place?

Roger Huber

Deer Creek Locomotive Works

 

Was it Uptown Hobby Shop  1700 Gursuch (near 2600 Harford)

I tried to sell my two cents worth, but no one would give me a plug nickel for it.

I don't have a leg to stand on.

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Posted by oldline1 on Friday, January 15, 2016 9:25 AM

Uptown? I was very young and names didn't mean much to me then. My Grandfather and I would always walk around the corner to that shop every time we visited his Mother. Cool place. I loved the hand on the window. Thanks for that info.

Sheldon, I agree with you about if you look desperate you have a better chance of becoming a victim. I never felt threatened at old Kleins but I knew folks that did. As to Bobbye Halls in Dallas it was in a far worse area than Gay St. Right across the street was a very sleezy place and lots of drugs, whores and all the other good things. I was approached in Halls side parking lot twice by druggies either wanting to sell to me or begging money. Once you ran that gauntlet you got inside to those rude folks (toward the end) working inside.

I live on a mountain in NW Arkansas. The closest hoby shop is way up in Branson, MO. It's a decent shop but it's full retail and limited products. In my need for my hobby fix I have to mail order most everything. I have found Kleins to be about the cheapest place around. I laugh when Walthers sends me the weekly "sale" and I see Kleins has it in stock at a cheaper price. My Walthers experience is "Back Ordered". No thanks!

As much as I refuse to sell on feebay any longer I do get quite a few bargains as a buyer there. I retired 3 years ago from Scum City (Houston, TX) and the only thing I miss from down there besides my big pecan tree is the hobby shops. Growing up in Baltimore in the 1950s and early 1960s, as I said, was wonderful as there were shops all over the place. I sure miss Maryland! Crabs, history, scenery, the Bay! Wow!

Roger Huber

Deer Creek Locomotive Works

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Posted by rrebell on Friday, January 15, 2016 11:20 AM

I lived in Baltimore in the 70's to mid 80's and shopped at MB Kleins. It was downtown so a lot of cops around during the daytime. Only got mugged once while there and the house only a couple times. We were renovators back then and used to put our broken tools on the stoop to see how long it would take to get them stolen.

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Posted by Howard Zane on Friday, January 15, 2016 5:16 PM

I remember City Wide and most other then local shops in the Baltimore area. In 1981 and '82 I visited most of these Baltimore shops not as a buyer, but to ask them to display flyers and hopefully attend the very first Great Scale Model Train Show ( now Timonium show) at the Ellicott City Armory.

If you can imagine a porcupine visiting a condom factory, then you can visualize how I was treated. Gary invited me to leave immediately, Joe Luber at Pro Custom tried to bodily toss me out of his shop, and it gets better depending on your view!!

Iroically most of the Baltimore shops did eventually attend as vendors and did quite well. Luber actually apologized and his shop became fixtures until his untimely death in the mid 80's.

There were only a few decent train shows then and I can see how stores viewed us as serious competition.

True, not many shops are viable today as things change. The show is still very much alive, although under new mangagement. I think there is a message here.

HZ

Howard Zane
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Posted by oldline1 on Friday, January 15, 2016 8:09 PM

Message.......things change! Sometimes for good, sometimes not. Mostly not from what I've seen.

I can understand them getting upset with your vision! At that time with hobby shops being prosperous (for the most part) and plentiful that would have been like you opening a shop across the street from them.

The only "shows" I can remember in Baltimore during my early years were the ones put on by the YMCA and they were geared toward kids having fun more than what we call a show today. Hustler races were the high point if I remember.

I don't think "shows" were necessary then as with so many shops around items were easy to find and most good shops had plenty of new, used and junk stuff available.

I don't know if the rise of shows was the death of shops alone. Walthers killed off a lot of people including a portion of my business. I was a Walthers dealer for many years and as a custom painter I wasn't a real threat to any shop I knew but Walthers declared war on custom painters & custom builders and insisted we have a brick and mortar store, yellow pages ads, business telephones and a zillion dollars in purchases from them. Naturally that was the end of that relationship. All the while they were seeking the GATS folks who lived like gypsys in travel trailers traveling from city to city for shows and met none of those requirements with drop shipments.

I think the internet was a bigger death knell for shops than shows. I've been to the Timonium Show as often as I can, living in Texas and now Arkansas, and it's amazing! Meeting and talking to Howard was always a great experience too. Most of the local shows and GATS are not all that great as far as I'm concerned and have too much Tyco and other crap. Just not in the same league as Timonium. Yes, there are some other classy shows out there but they aren't the majority and I'd much prefer the local shops like have been discussed in this thread. Until the Great Rise of the Hobby Shop we'll have to settle for feebay and the closest shows for stuff.

Roger Huber

Deer Creek Locomotive Works

Joe was a very dear friend and I can actually see that response to you so I don't doubt that happened. I know later on he talked well about the Timonium Show. Sure wish he were still here with us. I learned a lot about many things and not just model railroading from him.

 

 

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Posted by Howard Zane on Friday, January 15, 2016 8:33 PM

Roger,

Speaking of Joe Luber and Pro Custom from the 70's to mid 80's, I wish other shops could have seen how well he stocked this incredibly small shop(550 sq. feet).  After, Joe, and his wife Carrie also became friends and he grew to understand how shows were helping the hobby and not really a competitor....but a fine venue for stores not only to increase their presence, but sales as well. Joe was also a fine craftsman and custom painter of brass.

I once owned a shop 40 something years back...way before the mass expansion of train shows as we know them today. I probably got around 1500 visitors per year, where as in a good show, several thousand modelers will pass by my tables in the first few hours. Had a show promoter promoter presented this to me in 1973, not only would I signed on as a vendor, i would have made him (or her) dinner, breakfast and tucked him in bed for a week.

Joe in 1984 acquired a huge collection of brass and other trains...far too big for his store. As he knew the market well, he knew how to price and sold out completely 12 tables of choo choos during the May 1984 show then at the Howard County fairgrounds. The show moved to Timonium April of 1985 and has remained there ever since.

HZ

Howard Zane
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Posted by rrebell on Friday, January 15, 2016 9:04 PM

The death nell of the local hobby shop was themselves. In the area I live in now there were dozens of shops, most closed now. Half or more were/are run by very nasty people along with being poorly run. 

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Posted by oldline1 on Friday, January 15, 2016 9:49 PM

Howard,

You are 100% correct in Joe's inventory. The 3rd floor of the original Catonsville store was amazing. I don't know what was more amazing......the amount of merchandise or the fact that that old bulding was still standing and supporting all that weight!

Joe taught me how to paint after he had my prized brass Pacific for 6 months and hadn't started the paint job. After I stopped whining and  bitching he said to follow him upstairs. He took me to his paint booth and tossed me a Tenshodo NYC Hudon boiler and handed me an airbrush. He showed me how to spray and after I screwed it up he stripped it, blew it dry and told me not to come downsatirs until I had a decent covering on the engine. When I was semi satisfied I went downstairs and showed him. He said, "OK. Here's your stuff". He pointed to a Wold Master M airbrush, compressor and all the stuff necessary to use them AND my Pacific! Great salesman!

Yes, he had an incredible collection and knowledge of brass and the market. I miss him and Carrie. We named our daughter after her.

I have never owned a hobby shop but have worked in several across the country including PCH. Most were run by well meaning and knowledgable guys. I worked in a toy store with a small hobby section once in Grand Prarie, TX where the owner was anti hobby items  but with the help of another guy working there we convinced him there was money in it and so we gradually increased the customer base and inventory to a decent  level. People were always shocked to see so much HOn3 in a toy store but we worked hard to get that customer base.

One poster talked about the nasty people in his local shops. Well, I have to somewhat agree, I have met a lot of nasty and rude people on that side of the counter over the years. I don't understand it but it seems to be fairly common. When that happens just take your $$$ elsewhere! Money is what counts and if he keeps counting less and less $$ then he can either change his attitude and ways or find another source of income. Life's too short to deal with a**holes. I disagree that that was the cause of the demise of hobby shops though. GATS and the internet did more to kill them off.

Have fun with your choochoos!

Roger Huber

Deer Creek Locomotive Works

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Posted by toptrain on Tuesday, June 1, 2021 2:36 PM

Concerning Lloyds Hobby shop.

 In 1955 Lloyd's contracted Hobbyline (John English ) to manufacture 2 B&O Ho train sets for Lloyd.s to sell. One set listed by Lloyds as their set #1 and known as set #462 was a passenger set named 'Royal Blue". Power was a twin set of Hobbyline FA-1 locos which pulled a  heavyweight combine and 3 coaches in B&O colors. For Hobbyline this is a unlisted set with no info anywhere on it except what I reciently placed online in a few forums. I seen info three times of sales of this set on eBay.

 The Freight set Lloyds call set #2 I don't know any HObbyline number for,  number, or a name. I only know what lloyds posted in their sale info in a Oct 1955 issue of Model Railoader on page 45. Lloyd's only numbered their sets #1 and #2. #2 being the freight set. What I know of this freight set is it is powered by a twin set of FA-1 locomotives in B&O colors. They pull 6 freight cars and a caboose. That is everything I know of this freight set, all that Lloyd's had posted in their ad. Any additional information is sought on this set. At the time of release this set could have contained any combination of the 5 different freight cars that HObbyline made. I can only guess the car types. Did Hobbyline also make special road named freight cars for this set? Who Knows? Only the people who purchased the set. Maybe they even made a B&O caboose. Photos of this set would be very nice to see.  

frank toptrain1@aol.com

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Posted by Roundhouse on Tuesday, January 18, 2022 8:41 PM

Lloyd's was on Charles St going north it was on the right side (I think around the 800 block-since Mercy Hospital is 300 block). My Dad and I would stop in there.

  Mr. Lloyd had several brass Locos behind the counter on the wall that were truly beautiful,,,and VERY expensive !

  P.S. My Dad had the highest senority on the B&O RR and put the "Tom Thumb" in the Roundhouse (where you can STILL turn the roundtable by hand-if you unlock it first heh-heh).

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Posted by Bowserman11 on Monday, October 30, 2023 11:22 AM

Am looking for an email address for Dear Park Locomotive Works

Art Waite 

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Posted by Bowserman11 on Monday, October 30, 2023 3:45 PM

I have a Tenshodo 4-8-4 and the receipt for it from a guy who bought it 61 years ago at City-Wide HS on Harford Rd. Not sure why I have it as I don't buy brass generally, and it must have been a couple of years ago, and I had forgotten about it. Lubed it up today, and it runs like a watch. Just thought I'd mention it in case anyone ever reads this post who cares.

Art (I'm 86)

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Posted by York1 on Monday, October 30, 2023 6:18 PM

Bowserman11
Lubed it up today, and it runs like a watch. Just thought I'd mention it in case anyone ever reads this post who cares.

 

That sounds like a nice locomotive.  It's amazing that after all these years, it worked so well.

York1 John       

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