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Your first hobby shop

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Wednesday, January 11, 2023 12:06 PM

The very first hobby shop I remember being excited to go to and shop/browse for trains was in Gainesville, Florida on NW 13th Street.

Unfortunately, the name of this store has been lost to my poor memory.

-Kevin

Living the dream.

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Posted by selector on Wednesday, January 11, 2023 12:06 PM

About seven months after I retired from the Canadian Armed Forces (Industrial/Organizational Psychology), I took my father to Nanaimo to fly to Arizona for his annual snowbird migration.  After I dropped him off, I remembered seeing a hobby store advertized in MR, our host's magazine.  I decided to drop in to Leisure Time. 

I left with some tracks, a DC controller, and a BLI Paragon Hudson (Toronto, Hamilton, & Buffalo livery).

What'ryagonna do when you get hit?  Hard!

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Posted by MisterBeasley on Wednesday, January 11, 2023 12:14 PM

My Lionels were from my time as a single-digit kid, so I wasn't driving yet and I had negligible money of my own.  My Dad would get me train presents from some place in NYC.  Eventually, we moved near a place called Mulrany's Train Land in Lynbrook, New York.

When I sold my Lionels and switched to HO, I could ride my bike to a local place called Hobbyrama in Rockville Centre, NY.  That's where I bought my teen years equipment,  most of which I still have and is still running,  other than the engines.

Mulrany's is still there, only now it's part of Trainworld in NYC.  Hobbyrama is gone, though.

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

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Posted by John-NYBW on Wednesday, January 11, 2023 12:19 PM

The first hobby shop I remember being a regular customer of was Hobbyland in the Graceland Shopping Center in north Columbus, OH. This was in the late 1970s. It has since moved a few doors down but is still there. Soon after I discovered The Train Station by accident. They briefly had a shop in downtown Columbus that I passed by on the way to my parking lot. I then discovered their main shop was on Indianola Ave., a short distance from Hobbyland and where I lived. It became my go-to LHS. Hobbyland has cut way back on their model railroad offerings so I don't go there much any more. They seem to have found a niche in war gaming which I have never been into. 

One other place that used to have a large selection of model railroading products was Woolco. That was Woolworth's entry into the discount department store field. One of their stores was also in the Graceland Shopping Center. Lots of AHM rolling stock and locos. Woolco stores are long gone as are most of the discount department stores that sprung up in the 1960s and 1970s.  

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Posted by Mike in NC on Wednesday, January 11, 2023 12:22 PM

Sometime in the 60's in the little town of Greenwood, Indiana I walked by the window of an actual train store.  I was about 10 and I stopped and gawked at all those O and HO brass locomotives on display.  My mother said "No way" and continued dragging me down the sidewalk to the shoe store.    Eventually on another day I was released to do some shopping/looking, I never touched anything but I can imagine the look on my face,..   Looking around and near drooling I was creating a Christmas list, then I noticed the magazine rack so I invested in my first ever train item, the magazine.   Once home I setup my brothers Marx Monon set and started dreaming. 

Mike in NC, 

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Posted by crossthedog on Wednesday, January 11, 2023 1:33 PM

Uncle Harold's in Bellevue Square (Bellevue, Washington) was later known as Uncle Harold's Bike Shop, but it was more than a bike shop. Sure, we ran our hands along the shiny, weird "banana seats" of the Sting-Ray bikes that along with Schwinns and Tweeds filled the floor of the giant open space in the center, but we were really there for the airplane, car and ship models. In my memory's eye I see only the bikes and the shelves full of models, but somewhere in there were full train sets, and probably some individual locomotives in a glass case, rolling stock maybe behind the counter. I can't actually recall, but that's where my first train set came from, and my first Plasticville passenger depot, interlocking tower, and freight depot. This is what the place looked like when I was four years old.


-Matt

 

Returning to model railroading after 40 years and taking unconscionable liberties with the SP&S, Northern Pacific and Great Northern roads in the '40s and '50s.

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Posted by chutton01 on Wednesday, January 11, 2023 1:44 PM

I have metioned before on this forum Trainland in Lynbrook, NY. Trainland is part of Trainworld now, based in Brooklyn (yes Lynbrook's name was derived from Brooklyn) not sure if in the early 1970s Trainland was independant or a suburban outlet of Trainworld). Anyway in the early 1970s my parents took me there a number of times while they gathered up the components for a decent first layout. I recall the large "spaghetti-style" layout Trainland had in the front store window, centered around a large mountain and lots of structures and details spread around - this layout went away when they rebuilt in, maybethe 1990s (IIRC), adding additional second story storage space. I still occasionally stop by (maybe once or twice a year).
Of course in that era even department stores carried model railroading supplies (labeled 'trains' of course)  - brought my first diesel from Mays (AHM GP20 I think), and brought a number of small hoppers (Tyco maybe?) from Woolworths...not sure where those went, mabye sold them at a garage sale.  Christmas wasn't complete till the big, beautiful Montgomery Wards catalog arrived in mid-fall most years of the 1970s, with several pages of Railroad items.

I know the YouTube channel "Recollection Road" did hobby shops already (they covered a lot of stores, brands, and items) - now they are sort of wandering a bit, so maybe we can get some ideas among ourselves and get them to produce a video on Model Trains of the 1970s/1980s era...

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Posted by NittanyLion on Wednesday, January 11, 2023 2:05 PM

The lightbulb broke in one of my Tyco buildings, so dad and I drove over to Natrona Heights (about 20 miles up the Allegheny from Downtown Pittsburgh).  There was a shop in a strip mall there.  It was a dark, brown place with an enormous slot car track.  That's the first one I remember.  I recall my hometown (Butler) had a small shop that my dad went into once for...something.  That was the first time I'd ever really seen serious hobby stuff, like detail parts and window castings and that would have been around 1988 or 1989.  Occasionally, we'd go down into the city and go to AB Charles, which was (or seemed) enormous and had everything you could conceive of.  

In January 1991, I had minor surgery, which is a pretty big deal for a nine year old.  When we stopped to pick up a prescription for my painkillers on the way home, my dad got a copy of Railroad Model Craftsman for me.  I still have it somewhere.  There was an ad for the upcoming show season and about a month later, we went down the Expomart for what was probably a Greenberg show.  That was an eyeopener.   

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Posted by BroadwayLion on Wednesday, January 11, 2023 2:17 PM

YES, we lived in Merrick NY, and Dad had given me an American Flyer train set.

We got our trains at Nassau Hobby in Freeport.Place was filled with Lionel and American Flyer. I loved the American Flyer stuff especially the switches with their different colored lights on the switch housing.

Nassau Hobby is still there, alas the American Flyer trains are not. Besides, I live in North Dakota.

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Posted by BigDaddy on Wednesday, January 11, 2023 4:11 PM

I don't remember much about the slot car hobby store in the 60's.  I was an adult when I went into MB Klein, formerly a hardware store and later Modeltrainstuff.com.

Unfortunately they got rid of the the retail shop completely.

Henry

COB Potomac & Northern

Shenandoah Valley

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Posted by crossthedog on Wednesday, January 11, 2023 4:20 PM

Henry, that photo is gorgeous!! What city is that? Because there are no cars or people, I had to look closely to be certain it wasn't a model with a hazy background photo.

Returning to model railroading after 40 years and taking unconscionable liberties with the SP&S, Northern Pacific and Great Northern roads in the '40s and '50s.

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Posted by dknelson on Wednesday, January 11, 2023 5:29 PM

When I was a boy the local "Variety Center" had a tiny selection of HO stuff but I did not regard it as a hobby shop and it did not claim to be one.  

Here in Milwaukee there were a number of train stores in the 1960s that had been going strong for 20 or even 30 years but on the south side of town the destination for me starting with my Lionel and then when I moved on to HO, was Casanovas.  Even then it was not a great neighborhood; there was a vague atmosphere of menace from the surrounding bars and the folks walking (staggering) the sidewalks.  The store itself was in two parts and to get to the trains you had to walk through the gun/knife/hunting/sporting goods section.  I was intimidated by the firearms but intrigued by the magazine rack because they had a variety of "men's magazines" - nothing adults only, but Argosy, Man's Escape, True Men, Wildcat and others of that ilk ("pulp fiction" indeed!) had lurid covers that were shall we say very interesting to a 12 or 13 year old boy.  And as I recall the ownership of Casanovas was often in this or that kind of legal trouble, so it was lurid in other ways as well.  I think some highly publicized murders were committed with guns purchased at or stolen from Casanovas.  Of course now murders are so commonplace there almost is no such thing as a highly publicized murder.

But the trains were the big draw.  One entire wall of Lionel, and glass cabinets of brass, with shelves of HO kits and RTR.  One thing about Casanovas is that they'd keep inventory on the shelves until it sold.  This was great for collectors but hazardous for incautious buyers -- an example, a friend wanted to try a Walthers passenger car kit and bought one at Walthers only to learn that the kit was so old, probably pre WWII, that the stamped metal car sides were from before Walthers included rivet detail, so his was plain.  But they charged the current catalog price so in that sense he was ripped off.  Casanovas did repairs, both Lionel and HO.  There was a distinctive odor of lubricant to the place that just seemed so right.  Going there was always a special treat.  By the time I had a driver's license and could go there on my own, it seemed the entire place had shrunk, the inventory seemed puny and inadequate, the brass tarnished and uninteresting.  Actually nothing had changed ... I had changed.   The times had changed.  Casanovas had become a model train wax museum.  Even the women on the men's magazine covers seemed less undressed than I recalled from my youth.

Dave Nelson

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Posted by Jetrock on Wednesday, January 11, 2023 6:58 PM

I'm pretty sure that the first model railroad hobby shop I visited was The Whistle Stop, not the "Original" Whistle Stop in Pasadena (which I visited much later), but one in Arden-Arcade, across from Sacramento's first shopping mall, Town & Country Village. My dad was also a model railroader so it was typically a father-son outing, although we'd immediately split up upon entering the store to look at different things. This was the 1970s, so the stock was mostly a mixture of older white-metal kits on the shelves and brass under glass, with a lot of Athearn blue boxes making up the bulk of the rolling stock section. My first love in the hobby was building structures, and my limited skills & pocketbook kept me towards the basic Atlas plastic kits, but my creative side also liked scratchbuilding (plus it was also cheaper to buy some stripwood and use a plan from MR than buying an expensive craftsman kit that was basically just pre-packed stripwood and a few castings.) By the time I hit junior high school and my modeling interests gravitated more towards military models, the Whistle Stop had taken over the strip-mall space next door to expand its offering of military kits. The staff I mostly remember as kind of a blurry memory of friendly gray-haired old guys. Visiting the Whistle Stop was also kind of a triple whammy, because there was also an excellent art supply store (Graphic Hobby House) on the corner with its own well-stocked model section, and the Sprouse Reitz five-and-dime store (although by the 70s most things cost more than a dime) with its marvelous toy section and hilarious selection of blue gags like rubber vomit and joy-buzzer rings.

 

When I got back into the hobby in my 30s, the original Whistle Stop had closed, but its spiritual successor, Bruce's Trains, had opened in a former bank building in the same shopping center, but it shared a lot of Whistle Stop lineage and I think a lot of the staff had originally worked there; I was also volunteering at the local railroad museum and sometimes ran into other docents who were also model railroaders there, either as customers or behind the counter. The owner of Bruce's (named Bruce, naturally) finally retired in the mid 2010s, with a series of successive blowout sales that I hit several times--the last time, when everything was 75% off, they jokingly suggested that I was getting enough stuff to start my own hobby shop. While I do occasionally sell stuff at train shows, I still don't plan to have enough stuff to start my own hobby shop (although some who have seen my train room might think otherwise.)

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Posted by MidlandMike on Wednesday, January 11, 2023 8:01 PM

We lived out on Long Island when I was a kid in the '50s.  There was a hobby shop in Garden City South that had my 2 favorite hobbies; trains and chemistry sets.  I bought some trains, and some interesting lab glassware.  The Lionel trains got sold when I went into HO/HOn3, and eventually back into both, but I still have the glassware.

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Posted by Southgate 2 on Wednesday, January 11, 2023 9:00 PM

I got into trains in about 1975. There was a pretty good train  hobby shop in Coos Bay Oregon at the time. They had a club layout upstairs. But it was gone by mid 77, when I graduated  high school. I didn't get involved with the club. 

Their closing meant my nearest LHS was Eugene Toy and Hobby, 120 miles away. I'm still on a first name basis with the owners.

The first shop is where I learned of Athearn, I bought a GP-35 to replace my ever failing Tyco's. Dan

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Posted by 05c50 on Wednesday, January 11, 2023 9:15 PM

My first remembrance of a hobby shop was Loreski's in the Miracle Mile Shopping Center. It was the only shop that sold trains and was run by a grumpy old guy who seemed to be about a hundred years old and his two sons. Now that I've reached my senior years, he probably was more like fifty. They had a limited amount of trains and I didn't get to go there very often. Eventually East Hills Hobby Center opened and half of the store was dedicated to trains! They were pretty close to the public bus route and if I walked about two miles, I could catch the bus and take the 40 minute ride to the store for 35 cents. Starting when I was about ten, (times were different then) I would turn in the pop bottles that I collected to Tony's store for the deposit and take the bus to the hobby shop. I can remember spending hours at that shop just looking at (and dreaming) all the train stuff. The owner (Clair) was very understanding and tolerant of me. Through the years I was able to buy quite a few trains from him. I bought my first Model Railroader there and I believe I still have it. 

.......Paul

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Posted by Water Level Route on Thursday, January 12, 2023 5:55 AM

As seen in the diner, my first hobby shop was in an old train station, and was appropriately named "The Train Station".  Prior to my mother taking me there, I assumed the only way to get model train stuff was at Toys R Us, or through the Sears Christmas catalog.  Imagine my excitement.  The station was in pristine condition inside.  The owner's office & checkout counter was where the ticket agent would have been.  She (yes a female model railroader ran the place) had a G gauge Kalamazoo train running on an elevated track around the sales floor (the old waiting area).  There was a restored caboose sitting out front that was unlocked during business hours, and I was lucky enough to be there several times as a freight train rumbled by.  I also remember being struck by all these weird name brands I had never heard of before.  Atlas?  Athearn?  Walthers?  Roundhouse?  What the heck?  Where was the Life-Like, Bachmann, & Tyco?  My first ever "real" model railroad purchase from there was a Seaboard System 50 boxcar.  My first quality locomotive also came from there - an Athearn SDP40 in New York Central paint.  That was only because I didn't have enough money to buy the Soo Line engine on the shelf.  That engine set me on my path of modeling the NYC as I do today, only now during an earlier era.  I still have both of those purchases.

Mike

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Posted by Doughless on Thursday, January 12, 2023 7:15 PM

It wasn't a real hobby shop, but a store that had a train department.

Miller's Appliances, 3rd Street in downtown Grand Island, Nebraska.  It was about 1971/1972, and always stopped in to look at the Athearn Blue Box locomotives and car kits when my mom took me to lunch during the summers.  I don't remember if they had other supplies because at that age I was just interested in looking at the trains.

Then down the street was a larger train department in Woolworth's.  It had the AHM locomotives, cars, and all of those AHM structure kits in those yellow boxes.  My first kits were Ma's Place, Grusome Casket, Rico Station, and the coaling tower.

If York1 (John) is reading this, we used to live near downtown off of 1st street and my mom would take me to Woolworth's for lunch.  We'd sit at the diner counter when Ww's used to have those.  The train aisle was right next to the counter.  It was lunch either there or at Jake's Bake Shop on the corner.  Miller's was in between the two and my mom didn't want to take me there much because I think she got bored waiting for me as I looked over every train piece they had, LOL.

My first real hobby shop came years later after I graduated college and moved to Indiana.  Hawkins Rail Services in LaFayette, IN about 1987, downtown location.  I think Jack Hawkins had just bought the place from the previous owner.  Then later he relocated to a bigger building towards outer Lafayette.

- Douglas

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Posted by HO-Velo on Thursday, January 12, 2023 8:34 PM

Don's Hobbies in the Geri-towne mall, Fairfield, Ca.  A trip to Don's fired the imagination in so many ways; trains, models, RC airplanes and cars, rockets, doll house, Pinewood Derby, etc.  With Travis Airbase nearby a good stock of military aircraft models on hand.  Don and his wife behind the counter, always friendly and eager to offer help and advice, while providing a homey place for hobbyists to meet, chat and share.  Every spring Don's sponsored a model contest and hobby show in the courtyard of the little mall.  Don's closing in the 90s left a hole in the community, and sadly, a hole that many don't even know exists.  

Regards, Peter

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Thursday, January 12, 2023 8:52 PM

Well I remember going to several with my father as a young child, and when I was even younger, my uncle owned one.

But as far as me buying trains, at age 12 I was hanging out at the Depot Hobby Shop in Severna Park Maryland starting around 1969.

By late in 1970 or early 1971 I was working there. 

When that shop moved to Harpers Ferry, WV in 1973, I went with them for the whole summer to setup the new store and help build a diarama of John Brown's raid.

When I came home there was a new hobby shop up the road a bit, Glen Burnie Hobby World. I walked in and asked for job - worked there until 1979, managed the train department almost from the start. The former owner is still one of my dearest friends.

During most of this I was a member of the Severna Park Model Railroad Club.

And my father has been a somewhat serious Christmas time modeler in my early childhood.

So I grew up with model trains and in the model train business.

And I got to know all the Baltimore area shop owners of that time, including Ted Klein (now known as ModelTrainStuff), and met lots of people in the industry - it was great childhood....

Sheldon

    

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Posted by doctorwayne on Friday, January 13, 2023 10:34 PM

My first hobby shop was Riley's, on King St. East, in Hamilton, Ontario. That was likely in 1956, but my father had been going there for some time, as he had been involved with model airplanes from when he was a child.

Here's a couple photos of his hobby interests...

He was also interested in cars, too, and built this model of a 1950 Studebaker, shown below at the Studebaker Plant in Hamilton...

It was a pedal-powered car, with four-wheel independent suspension.  The wooden body (painted in a rich maroon colour) had a framework somewhat similar to those frames for the model airplanes. The front and rear bumpers and headlight and tail-light bezels were made from aluminum, as was the grill and the frame for the windshield. 
I was a little edgy, as that real Studebaker was still moving when the photographer was taking the photo.

Wayne

 

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Posted by dstarr on Saturday, January 14, 2023 1:33 PM

First hobby shop for me was the old Eric Fuchs in downtown Boston Washington street.  In those days we lived in an outer suburb (Framingham) so we did not get into downtown Boston all that often.  But when we did we usually managed to talk parents into stopping at Eric Fuchs.  They alway had some trains running in the store window and lots of stuff to look at inside the store.

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Posted by Billwiz on Saturday, January 14, 2023 3:32 PM

I grew up in Phoenixville, PA where we had "Bills Hobby and Peanut Shop".  He had trains and a peanut roaster.  My dad first took me, then I'd walk downtown and get buildings (and peanuts).

 

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Posted by maxman on Saturday, January 14, 2023 5:47 PM

Billwiz
I grew up in Phoenixville, PA where we had "Bills Hobby and Peanut Shop".  He had trains and a peanut roaster. 

That must have been more than 40 years ago.

I belonged to a club in Phoenixville starting about 1983 and I don't ever remember anyone ever mentioning that place.

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Posted by tloc52 on Saturday, January 14, 2023 8:47 PM

Trost Hobbies in Chicago on 63rd street somewhere between Western and Kenzie Avenues. 

I later ended up caddying for one of the most miserable ladies I ever met. Betty Trost who owned the store in the 70's. Lots of other great train stores in Chicago but that's the first one and probably at age 8 in 1960.

When I got my driver's license in 1968, I think I hit every train store in the Chicago and Joilet areas that were in the back of Model Railroader

 

TomO in Wi

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Posted by Billwiz on Saturday, January 14, 2023 10:02 PM

Maxman, I graduated high school in 82 and the shop was long gone by then. Were you a member of Scuykill Valley RR?

 

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Posted by maxman on Saturday, January 14, 2023 11:08 PM

Billwiz
Were you a member of Scuykill Valley RR?

schuy kill

Yes

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Posted by Billwiz on Sunday, January 15, 2023 8:03 AM

maxman
schuy L kill Yes

 

I knew that.  Been in this area of PA for most of my life.  Didn't help my fingers when typing though!

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Sunday, January 15, 2023 8:45 AM

Doughless
My first real hobby shop came years later after I graduated college and moved to Indiana.  Hawkins Rail Services in LaFayette, IN about 1987, downtown location. 

I have told this story before, if not for Hawkins rail service, there might not be a Stratton And Gillette today.

When I switched to HO in the early 1990s, I could not find any undecorated Athearn train cars. For some reason, no one had any.

I believe it was 1993, and we were visiting family in Indiana, when I went into the downtown location of Hawkins Rail Services. He had an entire shelf of nothing but Athearn undecorated freight car kits! I bought dozens that day.

When we came back to Florida I placed my first order for HO scale SGRR decals from Rail Graphics. I was set, and the SGRR lived on into HO scale.

I visited Hawkins several time after he moved to the new location. My company was headquartered in Columbus, Indiana, so I used to fly out of Indianapolis quite a bit. If I could schedule my return flight for Saturday, I could stop at Hawkins in the morning.

Jack treated me like a regular, even though I lived 1,000 miles away.

-Kevin

Living the dream.

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Posted by rrebell on Sunday, January 15, 2023 9:02 AM

First one I remember was a shop in downtown San Mateo calif. called Nothing But Trains. I was into N scale then and around 12 to 14 having started off life first with Lionel which didn't last long as a young kid, next moved into N scale because of an Aroura Postage Stamp set bought at Sears. The N stuff never ran well once I built the layout as I did this stuff mainly on my own. Got a bumper pool table and train set went in boxes. Next got into trains around 1980 as I had just got married and retired mostly and got bored and we stoped into MB klien's on a walk in downtown Baltimore as I had moved to Baltimore for college and stayed. Was amazed at how far N scale had come and wife encouraged me to get a hobby besides video games. First kid came and we moved back to California never having done much with N in Baltimore as I got busy and took advantage of side jobs to keep from feeling the pinch from a new way of life. Back in California I moved on to HO and got cheated by Cheap Charlies, a mail order firm with an order of track code 83 (he went to jail on mail fraud). A place by the name Talbot's Toyland desided to get out of Shinohara code 70 track so I bought most of what they had and started planning. Next the original shop in San Mateo desided to close and bought all their brass detail parts in a batch as they were selling them one by one even though the store was closing. There were other train shops that came and went and now they have mostly all closed, train shows too have gone away and I live in an area with over 12 million people.

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Posted by maxman on Sunday, January 15, 2023 11:35 AM

Billwiz

 

 
maxman
schuy L kill Yes

 

 

I knew that.  Been in this area of PA for most of my life.  Didn't help my fingers when typing though!

 

I know you knew.  That was for everyone else.  The “L” is just a separator anyway.  Keeps the pronounceable part of the word apart from the letters that no one can pronounce.

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Posted by moelarrycurly4 on Sunday, January 15, 2023 1:14 PM

Clear Lake Models in Clear Lake City Texas ( suburb of Houston). I bought my first Athearn car there a 50 ft Santa FE Super Shock control box car. I still have it. 

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Posted by nealknows on Sunday, January 15, 2023 3:45 PM

It’s interesting how many people grew up on Long Island. In the early 70’s and I used to bicycle from East Meadow to Willis Hobbies in Mineola. I also did a bicycle ride to Trainland in Lynbrook as well.

Then as a teen I worked at Larry’s Hobbies after school and also worked at Polk’s Hobby, both in East Meadow. I did do a couple of Saturdays at the Polk’s store in NYC on Fifth Ave. That was a treat working at that store!

There were many other train stores back in the day on LI, most are now gone.

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Posted by xboxtravis7992 on Sunday, January 15, 2023 5:30 PM

The Train Shoppe on the corner of 9th Eeast and 5th South in Salt Lake City. As a toddler, the store stocked not just model trains but toy trains as well and had a large selection of the ERTL die-cast figures for Thomas & Friends. They moved from that location when I was a young adult to a new one in South Salt Lake, and started to gain fame for their backshop being full of train themed arcade games and rides.

But as the rides and birthday party rooms in the backroom grew, it seemed the actual model stock in the front room shrunk. I began to move away from the shop of my early years of the hobby and make the longer drive to TrainLife/ExactRail in Provo instead. Eventually news came out that the Train Shoppe location in South Salt Lake was not properly compliant with fire code, and they moved to a new location in Gardner Village in Midvale. I have only been once since the move to the new location, and I certainly wish them well... but several store locations now seperated from that first one I went to its not quite the same anymore. 

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Posted by nycmodel on Monday, January 16, 2023 7:21 AM

My first hobby shop was Franklin Hobbies in Levittown NY on Long Island. Long gone. Then it was Lee's Hobby Shop in East Meadow. Also long gone. When I started driving it was Trainland and Willis Hobbies. Still around.

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Posted by Tin Can II on Monday, January 16, 2023 12:00 PM

It is really interesting that there have been two mentions of Hawkins Rail Services in Lafayette, IN.  I did some mail order with Hawkins as a younger man, and then when my son went to Purdue; I would spend most football Saturday mornings at Hawkins.  As Kevin had experienced, Jack also treated me like a regular. We would sit and talk trains and Purdue football. I was fortunate that the Saturday that my son's last weekend in West Lafayette was Jack's last day.  It was amazing how hard his family worked to organize the store and it was too bad that none of them wanted to continue to operate it.

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Posted by Doughless on Tuesday, January 17, 2023 8:22 AM

SeeYou190

 

 
Doughless
My first real hobby shop came years later after I graduated college and moved to Indiana.  Hawkins Rail Services in LaFayette, IN about 1987, downtown location. 

 

I have told this story before, if not for Hawkins rail service, there might not be a Stratton And Gillette today.

When I switched to HO in the early 1990s, I could not find any undecorated Athearn train cars. For some reason, no one had any.

I believe it was 1993, and we were visiting family in Indiana, when I went into the downtown location of Hawkins Rail Services. He had an entire shelf of nothing but Athearn undecorated freight car kits! I bought dozens that day.

When we came back to Florida I placed my first order for HO scale SGRR decals from Rail Graphics. I was set, and the SGRR lived on into HO scale.

I visited Hawkins several time after he moved to the new location. My company was headquartered in Columbus, Indiana, so I used to fly out of Indianapolis quite a bit. If I could schedule my return flight for Saturday, I could stop at Hawkins in the morning.

Jack treated me like a regular, even though I lived 1,000 miles away.

-Kevin

 

I think Jack and Sheldon share the same philosophy about inventory, LOL.

Hawkins had just about every product offered for the serious model railroader IN STOCK.  He did the mail order thing very early, and so he probably just grabbed the order off of his inventory shelves...no warehouse for him.

IIRC, he was known for not discounting anything, so I could always find NOS products on the shelves unsold for years.  I think the last time I visited was in 2012/13 and I think he still had 3 Life Like P2K Undecorated BL2s from the early 1990s on a top shelf.  Still $85 MSRP or close.

As he got older, his mobility decreased a lot and I think his inventory got unmanageable.  Its good to hear another report that his family helped him organize it when he closed shop.

- Douglas

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Posted by Attuvian1 on Tuesday, January 17, 2023 8:57 AM

maxman
Billwiz 
maxman
schuy L kill Yes
 

I know you knew.  That was for everyone else.  The “L” is just a separator anyway.  Keeps the pronounceable part of the word apart from the letters that no one can pronounce.

Off Topic  Yeah, but unpronounceable only because it's Dutch ("schuyl-" is now "schuil-"), meaning "hidden"; "kil" is channel or stream).  It's the "sch" that's the bugbear.  My wife's Dutch and emigrated at six from her home town of Schevenigen, a costal suburb of The Hague.  I always had a flair for pronunciation, probably from hearing my mom speak French (she wasn't, but taught it).  My parents-in-law, though they'd lived here since the mid-fifties, still had their heavy Dutch accents.  I'll always remember Pop trying to get me to say "Scheveningen" properly.  The "ch" is very gutteral.  If you don't almost hork up something in the process, you've missed it altogether.  I'd say it exactly as he would - and he'd shake his head, and proceed to say it (to my ears) exactly as I had. Tongue Tied  It became kind of a family joke.

(Attuvian1) John

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Posted by Billwiz on Tuesday, January 17, 2023 7:05 PM

Attuvian1
  Yeah, but unpronounceable only because it's Dutch ("schuyl-" is now "schuil-"), meaning "hidden"; "kil" is channel or stream).  It's the "sch" that's the bugbear. 

Unless you are referring to the expressway, which is spelled "Surekill" and pronounced that way as well.

Bill's Hobby and Peanut Shop was on Church Street, just before Bridge.  I am not sure how long the shop was there, but it was a nice, small shop with a decent supply of trains and building kits.

My next shop was Allied Hobbies in King of Prussia.  I purchased my first "real" transformer there, an MRC unit.  It did not work.  I took it back, he tested it and handed me another, a higher level unit without additional charge.  I purchased a few more things from that store.

 

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Posted by hardcoalcase on Wednesday, January 18, 2023 12:41 PM

Here are two hobby stores that some forum members may recognize:

In the early '60's, building my first layout, my first hobby store was Todd's Train Store at 69th Street in downtown Philly, PA. This was "back-in-the-day" when an Atlas Remote Control Snap Switch cost $2.50!  I remember that there was a glass case of brass locomotives mounted on the wall near the front door, and I was curious about the Shay - whether it had cylinders on both sides or not.  I was disappointed to learn it was a one-sided arrangement! 

A few years later our family moved to Dallas, TX, where my favorite store was Bobbye Hall's Hobby House on Bryan Street.  It was some years later that I learned that Bobbye Hall was truly an iconic figure in the Hobby.

Jim

 

 

 

 

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Posted by dawgg on Wednesday, January 18, 2023 2:54 PM

I have been fortunate to travel in my professional career, so I never really had a "local" hobby shop, nor can I truly remember the first one when I was a kid, there were several as we moved around a lot.  I try to support small shops where ever I go, and have bought things in about 15 + states (and in multiple cities in those states), all across Europe, Australia, Canada, Mexico, a few Caribbean Islands and S America.  I just picked up some cool scratch building supplies in Plymouth, England in October, and plan on hitting at least one shop when in Japan in April.

When I first got back into the hobby in ernest about 15 years ago, I used to go to Depot Trains in Cleveland, but the owner passed and the shop changed.  I miss having a local shop to "hang out" in, and ordering online doesn't have the same sense of gratification as poking around a shop and discovering something new (or old).  

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Posted by The Ferro Kid on Wednesday, January 18, 2023 9:29 PM
The title of this topic really caught my eye, and took me back almost 50 years.  I knew Jay "Harold" Madsen, the founder and proprietor of Kar-Line and of the small hobby shop which he ran in the basement of his home on Perry St. in East Aurora, New York.  It was in church the weekend before Thanksgiving in the early 1960s that my Dad introduced me to Harold's wife -- Bernice -- with whom my Dad had been talking about my infatuation with trains.  She enthusiastically described how her husband had recently founded a line of HO train cars.  I was incredulous that anybody would just happen to be producing HO train cars in the village of East Aurora, but when we visited his train shop for the first time the next weekend it became more clear what he was doing: taking Athearn and MDC undecorated boxcar shells and turning proverbial "Sow's Ears" into "Silk Purses," with decals, his glossy "Miracle Coat" finish, Central Valley trucks (later, his "Neverlube"
trucks), and Kadee couplers.  Even the packaging was impressive -- glossy black boxes (I believe he later experimented with some different packagings).
 
Harold explained that he did most or all of the painting, and that he, his wife, and some friends did the decaling.  Through the 60s and 70s, during good weather a school buddy and I would bike -- and later drive -- down to Harold's store from the neighboring town of Elma.  Especially on weekdays, we would call ahead because they didn't have enough business to keep a rigid "Open" schedule during the off-seasons of the year.  In addition to a stock of scores of his own Kar-Line boxcars, Harold had several hundred standard Athearn and MDC rolling stock kits, as well as some glass display cases with various HO diesel and steam engines.  One of Harold's ongoing promotions was that for every $100 of purchases, you could get $10 of free merchandise.  This might not seem a large discount nowadays, but this was a pretty good deal in the days before the mail order discounters came onto the scene.
 
The other great feature of Harold's store was the huge Pennsy layout that took up most of his basement (the Pennsy's "Buffalo Line" ran through the village of East Aurora on its way north to Buffalo).  He would generally run his trains while we looked around and decided on our purchases.  It was difficult to know what to do -- continue selecting railroad kits, or watch the trains run.
 
At $7.99 (some multi-color paint schemes were a dollar or two more), Harold's kits were rather pricey for teenagers at a time when minimum wage was $2.10 per hour.  But I did manage to snag 10 or 12 over the years.  My first was the Erie-Lackawanna grey boxcar with maroon lettering.  The one drawback to Harold's decal method was that you could see the edge of the decals through his glossy "Miracle Coat."  In theory that could be largely cured by hitting them with a coat of Dullcoat, but I've never had the heart to do so.  Another prized possession is an Atlantic & Danville car that Bernice once gave me, which I believe they were closing out.
 
Harold worked for the State of New York as a construction inspector of some type.  I marvelled at the ambition it must've taken to paint, decal, and then apply Miracle Coat to all of those cars, along with all of the other aspects of running a business.  Harold occasionally loaded his van with Kar-Line kits and took off for a meet or convention, generally in the Northeast or Midwest.  He also periodically put out an un-illustrated brochure listing the current or upcoming Kar-Line boxcars.  It was quite a list -- 184 cars at one point in time.  He was fast to produce many new schemes as they came on the scene, and also tackled shortlines that nobody else would do.  At the time of the Penn Central merger, he was the first to point out to me that the Penn Central green was NOT the same as NYC jade green.  I had not yet seen enough PC repaints to know the difference, but he was already "in the know."
 
I lost contact with the Madsens when I moved west circa 1980, but do know that Bernice passed away in 1990, and Harold -- in his late 80s -- in 1998.  He had found an interesting niche -- I have always suspected, without knowing, that he had a lot of repeat business from loyal customers.  Harold and Bernice were a class act, and it was reflected in their products.
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Posted by Attuvian1 on Wednesday, January 18, 2023 10:20 PM

Kid -

That post was particularly well done.  Thumbs Up  Thanks!

Attuvian John

 

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Posted by drgwcs on Wednesday, January 18, 2023 11:56 PM

Doughless

 

 
SeeYou190

 

 
Doughless
My first real hobby shop came years later after I graduated college and moved to Indiana.  Hawkins Rail Services in LaFayette, IN about 1987, downtown location. 

 

I have told this story before, if not for Hawkins rail service, there might not be a Stratton And Gillette today.

When I switched to HO in the early 1990s, I could not find any undecorated Athearn train cars. For some reason, no one had any.

I believe it was 1993, and we were visiting family in Indiana, when I went into the downtown location of Hawkins Rail Services. He had an entire shelf of nothing but Athearn undecorated freight car kits! I bought dozens that day.

When we came back to Florida I placed my first order for HO scale SGRR decals from Rail Graphics. I was set, and the SGRR lived on into HO scale.

I visited Hawkins several time after he moved to the new location. My company was headquartered in Columbus, Indiana, so I used to fly out of Indianapolis quite a bit. If I could schedule my return flight for Saturday, I could stop at Hawkins in the morning.

Jack treated me like a regular, even though I lived 1,000 miles away.

-Kevin

 

 

 

I think Jack and Sheldon share the same philosophy about inventory, LOL.

Hawkins had just about every product offered for the serious model railroader IN STOCK.  He did the mail order thing very early, and so he probably just grabbed the order off of his inventory shelves...no warehouse for him.

IIRC, he was known for not discounting anything, so I could always find NOS products on the shelves unsold for years.  I think the last time I visited was in 2012/13 and I think he still had 3 Life Like P2K Undecorated BL2s from the early 1990s on a top shelf.  Still $85 MSRP or close.

As he got older, his mobility decreased a lot and I think his inventory got unmanageable.  Its good to hear another report that his family helped him organize it when he closed shop.

 

Hawkins was a special place. When I lived in Indiana would pop in when I was through the area. Always something to discover and find. I think it got pretty hard for him to run it with his mobility issues. I was glad my timing was right one day when UPS came and left boxes in that front entry room. I carried them in for him. A couple were pretty heavy. They were nice folks. 

Jim

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Posted by drgwcs on Thursday, January 19, 2023 12:11 AM

You know I was trying to remember which one was my first hobby shop. There were three that I vaguely remember going into when I was about 10 or 11 but which one came first I am not sure. There was one in Crossroads mall in Oklahoma city called Hobbyworld and I remember looking at some engines in a case. Then I also remember going into Cambell's Hobby house also in OKC when they were closing. Probably preceeding this was a place called Aqua Mart in Stillwater OK they were a pet store and hobby shop. They didn't carry many trains mainly plastic models but I did get some RR magazines there. 

Later Hobby Lobby opened in town (store 5!) and they carried a fair amount of trains then. Roughly the equivalent of one of their current aisles. Wound up working for them in high school and college and running the hobby dept. I would go into Woodwards and Whistle Stop in OKC. Today only whistle stop is around and I'm on the other side of the country. 

Jim

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Posted by NorthBrit on Thursday, January 19, 2023 3:52 AM

As a youngster living in Leeds (U.K.) my local model shop was 'King Charles Street Model Shop'  in King Charles Street.  (Original or what?)  A great place for anything regarding model railways. 

In those days there was only O and OO gauge models.  N gauge  and others did not exist. Models of locomotives came in one livery; not the half dozen or so like these days.  If you wanted a different livery out came the paints and brushes.   

The street, King Charles Street, was named  many years before King Charles 3  was born.   The model shop has long gone.  The street is still there.

 

David

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Posted by moelarrycurly4 on Thursday, January 19, 2023 7:16 AM

My other first hobby shop was G&G models on Times Blvd in Rice Villiage( Houston) . That was a shop run by Gus and George ( hence G&G). I bought lots of things from them all the way thru college( since I had to drive in for school anyway) G&G is still in business but they have moved locations it appears , I think the family still runs it from what I read on the interwebs, They claim to be the oldest hobby shop in Texas.

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Thursday, January 19, 2023 7:22 AM

drgwcs

Hawkins was a special place. When I lived in Indiana would pop in when I was through the area. Always something to discover and find. I think it got pretty hard for him to run it with his mobility issues.

Jim

I visited Hawkins a couple of time way back in the early 90's when I was a poor grad student at Indiana University and a group of us would drive up there.  He had one of the better inventories of stuff that was usually sold out elsewhere, but the prices were at or near MSRP. 

One of the main reasons so many hobby shops are gone was pointed out discussing Hawkins; the owners age out and the shops are single owner, so they close.  Commerce has changed so much of model trains are sold online now.

I realize this forum is full of old nostalgic men (mostly) so topics like hobby shops are full of nostaglia.  I am not sure I remember my first hobby shop visit.  It might have been when I was 4 years old and my dad was in there planning my Christmas train set which was a Lionel O27 in 1963. 

Much later when I lived in Davis CA as a Junior High teen there was a hobby shop in the Alpha Beta strip mall I purchased some Athearn SP Daylight passenger cars.  Since then I've visited quite a few over the years, especially when I was traveling for work and making a point of visiting several shops after work when in other cities or state. In those days my former wife would not let me spend much money on trains and hobby shops tended to charge at or near MSRP so I simply couldn't afford much anyway, a freight car or two was all I would bring back assuming they had something I needed, which more often than not they didn't. 

Being constrained financially, I learned to look for discounts, which usually meant mail order, to afford engines especially.  During the past 15 years, there have been no decent hobby shops within striking distance except for MB Kleins and even they have closed their walk-in store and are basically fully mail order.  I think if you live in the area you can arrange curbside pickup but you can't browse shelves. 

At the end of the day, I don't really have lots of warm fuzzies about hobby shops, mainly because for a variety of reasons, my experiences were either neutral or in some cases negative.  There were a few good ones like AAA in Warwick RI and MBK, but those were among the few exceptions.  Pickens are pretty thin anymore unless you are one of the few that still have a decent shop withing driving distance.  And even then, it will probably close when the owner ages out.

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Posted by Attuvian1 on Thursday, January 19, 2023 9:51 AM

riogrande5761

And even then, it will probably close when the owner ages out.

 
And they will all "close" the instant we each age out.  Wink   But that's a hundred other threads that have gone before.  Hopefully, with all our stuff, most of us also collect perspective.
 
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Posted by LenS on Thursday, January 19, 2023 10:11 AM

tloc52

Trost Hobbies in Chicago on 63rd street somewhere between Western and Kenzie Avenues. 

TomO in Wi

 

Trost was located at 3111 W. 63rd St, (south side of the street) between Troy and Albany, just east of Kedzie. Right on the other side of the street was Hoffkins (sp) bakery. I lived in an apartment on Albany and was not allowed by my wife to go into either place unchaperoned. Wink
 
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Posted by tloc52 on Thursday, January 19, 2023 11:45 AM

I spent much time in Trost as a kid. Biking from 68th and Hamlin to 63rd and over. I loved the HO brass engines in the glass counter as you walked in on your left. Lionel in the back corner straight in was my hang out. They were good folks till Betty took over. Every Christmas for years I added on to my Santa Fe Super Chief passenger train. Found HO senior year in college, 1973-74.

But then it was the suburban shops I hit up.

 

good memories

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Posted by scott7891 on Friday, January 20, 2023 10:00 AM

My first shop was Engine House Hobbies in Gaithersburg, MD.  It is located along the former right-of-way of the B&O Brunswick Line.  It was where my parents took me and where they bought me my birthday and Christmas presents of various engines, rolling stock, track, structures, etc besides Toys R' Us and KB Toys back when they were around selling toy trains in house.  If it wasn't for my parents and that first store I would not be here over 30 years later.  When I got older I too used my own money to give them my business. 

Now the owner is retiring and closing the store down May 1st.  He is now the last dedicated train store in the area now that the other store, Potomac Trading, lost its owner last year and liquidated everything this past month.  The only place left will be Hobby Works but they are a general hobby merchandise store.  Their model train selection is pitiful and they only sell current production stuff sold close to MSRP (I would know I used to work for them in my college days for extra spending cash) and it isn't even the high-end but the entry-level generic items ala regular Bachmann and Walthers Trainline.  They don't even do repairs or any custom work as far as I can tell but if they do it is for everything else but trains.

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Posted by Metro Red Line on Sunday, January 22, 2023 6:02 PM

The store was called Troxel Bros. Models, on 202 S. Western Avenue in Los Angeles.
Over 40 years ago when my dad and I built my first permanent layout (a 4x8' in HO scale), we would go there and buy supplies. To this day, the smell of fresh cork roadbed and lichen would send me back. The store had a lot of Athearn blue boxes, and it was run by this older gentleman who ran the store by himself and would play classical music on the radio in the background. 

During Jr. High school, I would ride the bus or my bike there to get some Athearn blue boxes, back when a boxcar was only $4 or $5. The store moved around the corner around that time, to 4319 W. 2nd Street. 

The store closed down for good in the early 2000s decade when the owner retired. I always thought the owner was one of the Troxel brothers but it turns out his name was Ed Kielty, and some time ago, he bought the store from the brothers, who founded the original store in the 1940s and apparently were big players in the model railroad scene in Los Angeles (they built an O scale layout that was on display at the California Museum of Science and Industry that was one of the famous public layouts in the area at the time.

I was in HO scale at the time but I looked at N scale with a curious eye. The smallness of it capitvated me for some reason but N scale in the '80s and early '90s looked too toylike for my tastes. Flash forward to today, where I'm all about N scale. I guess looking at the N scale display at the store was me glancing into the future.

The original storefront on Western Avenue was demolished to build a new elementary school. The second locaton on 2nd street is a holistic health supply store.

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Posted by Soo Line fan on Monday, January 23, 2023 10:32 AM

My childhood store was Models Hobby Center located at 9 mile and Woodward just north of Detroit. To this day you can still see the 55ft crossbuck RR sign high atop a pole. Sadly, it’s now a book store sign.
 
I remember going there on Friday after work or Sat afternoon with my Grandfather. The store was absolutely full of trains with Lionel being the heavy hitter. It was standing room only on Saturdays and you almost needed a number system.
 
They had a repair center which could fix anything. I loved that place.
 
Years later, I wanted to put my old Lionel set around the Christmas tree to show my wife and young son but it needed some parts. The fish car body was cracked, knuckles would not pop open and some light bulbs needed replacement.
 
The owner of Models had passed and family members were running the store. They told me parts were not available.
 
I ended up at another hobby shop called PD hobby shop. I left there with a new body shell for the fish car, knuckle springs, pivots, bulbs and a great experience.
 
It was the start of a long relationship with them and a purchase of 40 plus HO locomotives and lots of cars.
 
Sadly, the owner, Pat passed away a couple of years ago. He loved the store and worked up till the day before he passed. I remember him telling me how thrilled he was to qualify for Medicaid because the cost of heath care was so much.
 
His son ran it for another year and half and decided to go online only. 
 

Jim

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Posted by Lone Wolf and Santa Fe on Monday, January 23, 2023 8:06 PM

The first hobby shop I remember going to was when I was in about 4th grade. I had a Lionel 0-27 trainset with a steam engine. I wanted a modern diesel locomotive for my birthday. My mother took me to a hobby shop in Portland that had trains and planes.
When I looked through the shelves with the Lionel stuff I could only find one diesel and it was from a railroad I never heard of so I was kind of disappointed. Then my mom pops up with a guy who worked there and they had a pair of Santa Fe locomotives in the warbonnet livery. I was so happy. They were exactly what I wanted. Aparently they had been part of a train set but the person who bought the set didn't want the locos.
So I got two brand new locos that I loved even though they weren't in boxes. I didn't care. I was happy! That's the kind of thing that can only happen at a local hobby shop but never at a regular department store.

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Wednesday, January 25, 2023 9:32 AM

My first hobby shop was the late, lamented Highway Hobby in Ramsey NJ, although at the time I wasn't into trains, I was into model airplane building, specifically First World War aircraft.  Highway Hobby had everything  though.  Trains, planes, automobiles, ships, tanks, you name it. As soon as I was old enough to drive I was up there once a week. 

Highway Hobby closed in the early 2000s, the owner wanted to retire and his kids didn't want to take over the business.  C'est la vie. 

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Wednesday, January 25, 2023 10:03 AM

Flintlock76
My first hobby shop was the late, lamented Highway Hobby in Ramsey NJ <SNIP> Highway Hobby had everything  though. <SNIP> Highway Hobby closed in the early 2000s.

That all sounds exactly like Orange Blossom Hobbies in Miami.

What an amazing store that was.

Sad that it is gone forever.

-Kevin

Living the dream.

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Posted by NorthsideChi on Thursday, January 26, 2023 11:30 AM

Brasseur electric trains in old-town part Saginaw, Michigan  back in the 80's.  Still open and thankfully avoided two major fires that wiped out a whole city block. Also went to Riders hobby in Flint with my dad as a kid.  Recently went back there visiting Michigan and the store was modern, nicely updated with a great selection.  

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Posted by ATSFGuy on Thursday, January 26, 2023 10:50 PM

Whistle Stop in Pasadena, CA around 2000.

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Posted by The Milwaukee Road Warrior on Monday, January 30, 2023 9:32 AM

There was a hobby shop somewhere on the north side of Milwaukee that I went to as a kid.  It was not Walthers.  I want to say it was something like Gorman's or Garman's.  First place I remember going to.

Andy

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Posted by vsmith on Monday, January 30, 2023 4:39 PM

Officially the Toy Train hobby shop that used to be inside Knott's Berry Farm, as a little kid I could spend hours inside looking at all the old and new model trains. First hobby shop I took myself to? Earls Hobbies in Bellflower. I would ride my bike there from Cerritos. Later I added Hobby Warehouse, the Military Shop and another shop name long lost to history in Artesia. Once I got a car the Train Shop in Hobby City and a couple others long gone that were once around SoCal.

   Have fun with your trains

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Posted by Ulrich on Tuesday, January 31, 2023 2:59 PM

Art and Photo, in Sherbrooke, QC. They sold mostly art supplies, but they also had Triang trainsets. 

In 1972 my parents took me to a hobby shop in Manhattan, NY. I don't recall the name of it, but it had several floors of train displays. I remember being blown away by the sheer number and quaility of the models on display. It must have one of the largest hobby stores in NYC.. if anyone has a name please pass it on. We're going back over 50 years.. so in all liklihood they're long gone. 

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Tuesday, January 31, 2023 3:39 PM

Ulrich
It must have one of the largest hobby stores in NYC.. if anyone has a name please pass it on. We're going back over 50 years.. so in all liklihood they're long gone. 

I'm guessing it might  have been Polk's Hobbies.  I went into the city a few times (I lived in North Jersey) with a friend from high school.  As I recall Polk's had at least four floors; one for cars, one for trains, one for planes and one for ships and packed  with merchandise.  And just like yourself I'm speaking of over 50 years ago, so don't trust my memory 100%.  I do recall Polk's was the biggest in the area and the place to go for the hard-to-find.  As far as I know they're gone now.

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Posted by Ulrich on Tuesday, January 31, 2023 4:05 PM

Flintlock76

 

 
Ulrich
It must have one of the largest hobby stores in NYC.. if anyone has a name please pass it on. We're going back over 50 years.. so in all liklihood they're long gone. 

 

I'm guessing it might  have been Polk's Hobbies.  I went into the city a few times (I lived in North Jersey) with a friend from high school.  As I recall Polk's had at least four floors; one for cars, one for trains, one for planes and one for ships and packed  with merchandise.  And just like yourself I'm speaking of over 50 years ago, so don't trust my memory 100%.  I do recall Polk's was the biggest in the area and the place to go for the hard-to-find.  As far as I know they're gone now.

 

 

That name sounds right! Thanks!

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Tuesday, January 31, 2023 4:52 PM

You're welcome!

I did a little quick n' dirty on-line research on Polks and it looks like they went out of business in 2013.  RIP Polk's, it was an incredible place!

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Wednesday, February 1, 2023 7:55 AM

Flintlock76
I did a little quick n' dirty on-line research on Polks and it looks like they went out of business in 2013. 

Wow. I visited New York City about a dozen times between 1978 and 2013, and I never went to Polk's.

I did make a few visits to FAO Schwartz.

It sounds like I missed out.

-Kevin

Living the dream.

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Posted by billslake on Thursday, February 16, 2023 5:09 PM

Family Fun in Appleton, WI.  Opened in about 1955, closed in the early 60s.  Four/fifths of the store was toys, the other fifth was a fairly complete hobby shop.

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Posted by acgilbert on Friday, February 17, 2023 1:59 AM

The Milwaukee Road Warrior

There was a hobby shop somewhere on the north side of Milwaukee that I went to as a kid.  It was not Walthers.  I want to say it was something like Gorman's or Garman's.  First place I remember going to.

 There was a Gorman Hobby Shop at 8216 W. National Ave. in West Allis, as listed in MR's hobby shop directory Jan. 1962 issue.  That's not north Milwaukee but maybe they had moved when you were there.

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Posted by MetrolinkFan on Friday, February 17, 2023 12:26 PM

Allied Model Train in Los Angeles Ca,Before they closed mant years back. It looked like Los Angeles Union Station I got to vist the store and bought some Ho stuff.Got me 2 SP SD9"s and a few buildings.Sad it closed up.

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Posted by FRRYKid on Saturday, February 18, 2023 2:44 AM

My first hobby shop started out in a person's house in the rural area. I can't remember the name of it as this was 25 years ago at least. The shop later moved into town and then moved to a different location in town. It later ended up closing as I recall due to the death of the owner. His ex and her then husband had it for a bit but it didn't last long after that.

However that wasn't the first place I bought train equipment. That honor belonged to our local Ben Franklin store. IMS the owner's name was Grant Wicks and he was a modeler himself. There was a small train section in the back of the store. I got all my pieces from there at the time. I still have an MDC/Roundhouse bulkhead flatcar that I purchased from there all those years ago. (It has been repainted and relettered however to get the lettering a bit closer to prototype.)

My best hobby shop experience probably has to be Whistle Stop Hobbies in Portland, OR. We were visiting my brother who lived in Portland at the time and my Dad was nice enough to take me to the shop. (Long after the above mentioned spots were gone.) I only directly found one thing I was looking for (an Atlas Passenger shelter) however the shop was able to get me some part numbers that I needed for some trucks I needed for a passenger car. (Brought it with me for showing purposes. Another modeler happened to come while Dad was waiting at the counter. He thought that the car was Dad's. Dad corrected him and said it was mine as I was shopping at the time.)

"The only stupid question is the unasked question."
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Posted by DonRicardo on Saturday, February 18, 2023 8:27 AM

My current hobby shop is Centerline Hobbies on Cape Cod, near the Hyannis Mall. Excellent in service and stock!

 

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Posted by The Milwaukee Road Warrior on Saturday, February 18, 2023 8:43 AM

acgilbert
 

 

 
The Milwaukee Road Warrior

There was a hobby shop somewhere on the north side of Milwaukee that I went to as a kid.  It was not Walthers.  I want to say it was something like Gorman's or Garman's.  First place I remember going to.

 There was a Gorman Hobby Shop at 8216 W. National Ave. in West Allis, as listed in MR's hobby shop directory Jan. 1962 issue.  That's not north Milwaukee but maybe they had moved when you were there.

 

 

 

That's GOT to be it.  I don't know why I remembered it being on the north side, but I was only 7 or 8 and, apparently, didn't have my bearings yet.  I remember it was a neat place.  I got all of my Athearn blue box power, MRC Tech II, track, etc there.

Andy

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Milwaukee native modeling the Milwaukee Road in 1950's Milwaukee.

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Posted by Rambo2 on Monday, February 20, 2023 9:41 AM

Georges trains in toronto for me 

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Posted by Vintagesteamer on Monday, February 20, 2023 12:26 PM

My earliest memories of going to a hobby shop with my father was Forest Park Hobby here in Kokomo.  On special occasions he would take me to Casey Jones trains in Indianapolis or Harmon's Trains in Arcadia(where I eventually became his shop mechanic in my teens).  I found Hawkins Rail in Lafayette in my teens when I joined the local HO scale club.  Jack was quite a fellow and a good friend.  Many other shops in Indy thru the years such as Watts Train Shop for my LGB G scale needs, Big Four Hobbies, Train Central and so forth.  Most are long closed up, but those fond memories remain.   I also bought AHM/Rivarossi items at the local Ben Franklin five and dime store.  I still have my USRA 0-6-0 in well worn condition.  Mike

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Posted by ghostrydr on Monday, February 20, 2023 1:20 PM

My first train store was Hobbies for Men in Beacon, NY., as I grew up just five minutes down the street. Their original store was really small, but I spent many a weeks' allowance there as a 13 year old. Hobbies For Men eventually relocated into a large store on main street which was previously a Woolworths. I don't remember them lasting long after the move to the large store front, only a couple years.    

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Posted by mlehman on Monday, February 20, 2023 5:11 PM

My first shop may have been all trains, because that's all I remember although it's possible they had other items. It was Bob's Hobby Shop at 212 N. Walnut in Bloomington, IN. I had been into model rockets in Texas, but had a lot of trouble tracking them down in bushier Indiana after the USAF sent dad to get his MBA at IU. At least when your trains crashed, the parts were found in a rather limited area.Whistling

I started with some hand-me-down Lionel inherited from within the family. Took it all to Bob's and he gave me something like $25. Seems small, but was a lot of cash as a 14 yo. I switched to HO starting with that money. One of my first kits was an old Varney flat. I still have the decrepit carbody somewhere, but the box complete with day-glo Close Out price of 98 cents is right here on the desk holding some stuff. I also bought a Mantua 4-6-0 kit that I built but it never was one of my better runners.

Not sure when Bob's closed, but think it was gone be the 1980s IIRC.

Like others, I share some fond memories of Hawkins in Lafayette, too. I started visiting Jack's in the late 80s. Bought my first brass there, a nicely weathered Westside C-25 that is one of my best runners after a motor conversion. Jack also had a pretty good selection of HOn3 for Indiana as I got deeper into that. While it was always MSRP, Jack's deep inventory meant that as prices went up, his stayed the same, so some things eventually became bargains, as well as being in stock when everyone else was sold out.

Mike Lehman

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Posted by kbaker329 on Tuesday, February 21, 2023 1:53 PM

The first real hobby shop I ever visited was Hammer's Hobbies in Decatur, IL.  I left with an Athearn NS GP38-2 and a Walther's EJ&E coil car.  Still have both!  They later moved to Springfield, IL and then closed.  

Central Missouri didn't have a lot of train shops but there was a guy operating out of his basement that I bought several Athearn kits from.

Then, on a Colorado vacation, I was able to go to Caboose Hobbies.  What a place!  I was able to visit a few more times when traveling to Colorado for business, but sadly it's no more.  I was able to visit lots of hobby shops over the years but like Caboose Hobbies, most of them are gone now.

HO scale modeling N&W and Union Pacific, somewhere in Missouri between 1940 & 1990!
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Posted by hardcoalcase on Tuesday, February 21, 2023 10:41 PM

I also had the luck to make business trips to the Denver area, which always included a visit to Caboose Hobbies. A favorite feature was the small layout under plexiglas, where, upon closer examination, one might notice that a group of chimps escaped from a zoo truck and were creating havoc throughout the city scene.  I could have spent hours just looking through the wall display of brass detail parts.

(sigh)

 

Jim

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Posted by drgwcs on Wednesday, February 22, 2023 12:26 AM

Vintagesteamer

My earliest memories of going to a hobby shop with my father was Forest Park Hobby here in Kokomo.  On special occasions he would take me to Casey Jones trains in Indianapolis or Harmon's Trains in Arcadia(where I eventually became his shop mechanic in my teens).  I found Hawkins Rail in Lafayette in my teens when I joined the local HO scale club.  Jack was quite a fellow and a good friend.  Many other shops in Indy thru the years such as Watts Train Shop for my LGB G scale needs, Big Four Hobbies, Train Central and so forth.  Most are long closed up, but those fond memories remain.   I also bought AHM/Rivarossi items at the local Ben Franklin five and dime store.  I still have my USRA 0-6-0 in well worn condition.  Mike

 

That brings back a lot of memories when I lived in Indiana. There were tons of different shops in the 90s and 2000s in Indianapolis that are gone. Big Four was a great shop. Tom Metzgers was also great. There were a few smaller ones too. Big Boy hobbies once had a bunch of Train stuff but gradually it whittled down. There were a couple that I can not remember the names on. There was a small one in a plaza by Washington Square and another in Greenwood that opened up and closed a couple of times but was still on the train show circuit. There was even a mini train shop in an antique mall Sanford and sons. Way before that there was a Great Train Store in union Station and later Circle Center.

I think it is just down to train central and the Hobbytowns now isn't it? The north side hobbytown used to have a great selection but it had shrunk considerably when it moved and I was in the area about 3 years ago. Train Central used to be Varey Trains and was further over on Washington almost out of town then they moved to the stone building then on Shadeland. (Casey Jones trains wasn't related was it seems to me I heard one time it was) 

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Posted by Tin Can II on Wednesday, February 22, 2023 9:06 AM

I can remember visiting Caboose for the first time in the 80's and thinking that I had died and gone to heaven.  I bought mass quantities of detail parts and hard to find items just because they had them in stock.  My last visit was about a year before the original owner retired.  Not quite as much stock, but still a fruitful trip for me.

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Posted by drgwcs on Wednesday, February 22, 2023 10:50 AM

Only went to Caboose Hobbies once on a whirlwind trip through Colorado. I wished I had planned on spending more money but was a college student at the time and had a lot more trip to go. 

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Posted by mobilman44 on Wednesday, February 22, 2023 5:37 PM

Ahh, one never forgets their first - hobby shop!

Mine was Bell's Hobbies, located across from Lane Technical High School on Belmont Avenue in Chicago.  I believe my first visit was in 1957, and my interest was the Lionel train section.  As I recall, the store was split in half with the left side being trains, and the right side being other models and such.  I bought a Lionel #64xx boxcar - a Baltimore & Ohio.  

I was in 8th grade that first visit, and started high school at Lane Tech in Feb. 1958.  I made a few visits to Bells while in high school, but didn't really have the time or money to spend.

Bells, like so many others, is long gone.  But I'll always remember the first few visits when I looked in awe at all the trains they had on display.

ENJOY  !

 

Mobilman44

 

Living in southeast Texas, formerly modeling the "postwar" Santa Fe and Illinois Central 

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Posted by softail86mark on Thursday, February 23, 2023 12:45 AM

Steve's Hobby Shop, Pelton Center, San Leandro, California, 1960

WP Lives

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Thursday, February 23, 2023 7:49 AM

drgwcs
Only went to Caboose Hobbies once on a whirlwind trip through Colorado.

Caboose Hobbies and Allied Trains are two places I wish I could have visited in their glory days.

-Kevin

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Posted by MTsteamfan on Tuesday, March 21, 2023 8:53 PM

I was also a big fan of the original Caboose Hobbies in Denver.  We live about 550 miles from there but anytime we'd be in Denver I demanded that we go to Caboose.  The store closed, moved to a different location with a new owner and reopened as just "Caboose" and it looked great, but it didn't catch on and is now gone, sad to say.  Well I spent what I could every time I was there, at least!

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Posted by Bayway Terminal on Saturday, March 25, 2023 12:48 PM

In the 1960's / 70's / 80's up until the mid 90's I went to Fishkins Dept. store in my home town of Perth Amboy NJ, it had everthing for the hobbist, from camera's and film developing, hunting & fishing equipmnet including live bait, sheet music & LP records, Schwinn & Raliegh bycycles, and best of all a large selection of model car kits , die cast+slot cars, Lionel/Marx/Tyco trains. At Christmas time the huge store front window had continuous run of Lionel trains.

It closed for good some years back and is now a Laundry Mat.

In the early 1990's I started purchasing at The Model Railroad Shop in Piscataway NJ, it originally opened in 1932 and amazingly has never stopped operating, its one of the few remaining full service RR stores in the Garden State. In-store face to face customer service / the old fashioned way,  be prepared to spend a lots time there if you decide visit ths small store, they actually write down your pre-order in a book with your name, and call you when it eventually arrives at the store, original wood strip floor and cast metal ceilng tiles, truly a unique shopping experience in today's fast paced world. Bayway Terminal NJ

 

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Posted by GP025 on Sunday, March 26, 2023 8:19 PM

   My 1st hobby shop was in Decatur, IL. Must have been in late '72. I still remember the wood floors. 

  My 2nd hobby shop was in Decatur as well, but farther out of town in a building I also got my haircut, (I was maybe 10 yrs old). This one was "cooler" though, 100% trains, had a "huge" layout, ok, only a 4x8, but big to me! I got scolded a few times for spending my allowance in secret after sneaking down as dad was getting his haircut.

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Posted by JimL on Monday, March 27, 2023 10:40 AM

Bayway Terminal

In the early 1990's I started purchasing at The Model Railroad Shop in Piscataway NJ, it originally opened in 1932 and amazingly has never stopped operating, its one of the few remaining full service RR stores in the Garden State. In-store face to face customer service / the old fashioned way,  be prepared to spend a lots time there if you decide visit ths small store, they actually write down your pre-order in a book with your name, and call you when it eventually arrives at the store, original wood strip floor and cast metal ceilng tiles, truly a unique shopping experience in today's fast paced world. Bayway Terminal NJ 

Also my first, and still only, shop for HO trains.

I started going there in the '60s ... on many Saturdays after I finished my bicycle paper route, my father would take me. Very old school shop, jammed with everything you need, run by really nice people. Specializing in new and old NJ railroads, plus the rest of the "Anthracite Roads." 

Sadly, one of the owners, Jack de Rosset, recently passed away. Super nice man.

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Posted by Overmod on Thursday, March 30, 2023 12:08 PM

I'm still wistful that I never had a hobby-shop experience like the one at Frank's.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=56S9hM2PBW0

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Posted by floridaflyer on Thursday, March 30, 2023 1:37 PM

My first hobby shop was in Dunellen NJ, just out side Plainfield. that was in the late 40's. Long gone now.

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Posted by snjroy on Thursday, March 30, 2023 1:38 PM

I finally found the time to read this thread. What a treat. Mini Wayne gets the prize for his picture on the pedal car Smile.

There is just no substitute for a small shop with nice vendors that are there both for the hobby and the money. Online shopping is really killing that... Anyway, there were two "real" hobbyshops downtown Ottawa in the 70s that everyone went to, Hobbyhouse and Hobbyland. The original owner of Hobbyhouse passed away, but his son took it over. And he is just as nice as his dad, so we are very lucky. I try to spend there as much as I can to keep the tradition alive. Another hobby store (Hobby Centre) openned I don't know when at the other side of town. They are also very nice folks, and I go there on occasion. We are really well served in Ottawa. At least in HO scale...

Simon   

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Posted by ripvanwnkl on Wednesday, April 5, 2023 7:47 AM

Davis Trains in Milford, Ohio.  Sadly it closed in 2007.  

Dave

USAF (Retired)

 

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Posted by NorthsideChi on Sunday, May 7, 2023 1:55 PM

Was planning a bike ride this week to Chicagoland Hobbies.  According to their website the building is being sold and the owner is retiring.  Seems to be a routine thing lately to decades old family businesses being replaced by condo buildings.  They had a great selection. Everytime I went there the place was busy. They had an excellent selection and always kept the place well stocked.  

I give them all the credit for helping me restart my interest in the hobby in 2015

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Tuesday, May 9, 2023 3:22 PM

NorthsideChi
According to their website the building is being sold and the owner is retiring.  Seems to be a routine thing lately to decades old family businesses being replaced by condo buildings.

Sadly, that's a fact of life, not just now but always.  When the owner wants to retire and no-one in the family (or anyone else) wants to take over the business that's the end of it.  And not just hobby shops, it happens to restaurants, diners, bakeries, burger joints, "mom & pop" hardware stores, you name it.

It's understandable really, the owner works his (or her) butt off for years so the kids can go into better paying professions and have a better life and not have to work so hard.  

And of course if someone made the owner an offer for the property he couldn't refuse who can blame him for taking it?

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Posted by richhotrain on Wednesday, May 10, 2023 5:10 AM

Flintlock76
 
NorthsideChi
According to their website the building is being sold and the owner is retiring.  Seems to be a routine thing lately to decades old family businesses being replaced by condo buildings. 

Sadly, that's a fact of life, not just now but always.  When the owner wants to retire and no-one in the family (or anyone else) wants to take over the business that's the end of it.  

Rent and retirement, the two most prevalent reasons that local hobby shops close. I lost all three of mine for those two reasons.

Rich

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Wednesday, May 10, 2023 11:25 AM

richhotrain
Rent and retirement, the two most prevalent reasons that local hobby shops close.

Down here we go through Hobby Shops at an alarming rate... Just off the top of my head...

Clear Track Ltd.

The Hobby Hound.

Metro Trains.

Caloosa Hobbies.

Prestige Models.

The Enginehouse.

I am sure there are a lot more.

Rent and retirement are not the problem. My experience is that for some reason in Lee County, Florida only a certain type of personality opens a hobby shop, and they are not welcoming places.

I live literally less than two miles from a model train shop and a game store, and I never go to either one of them. The atmosphere in both make me feel unwelcome.

If I drive to Sarasota, Melbourne, Tampa, West Palm Beach, or Orlando I can go to a hobby shop that is warm, helpful, welcoming, and they appreciate me shopping there.

-Kevin

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Posted by wjstix on Wednesday, May 10, 2023 1:57 PM

Mine has to go with an asterisk I guess. My first hobby shop was Hub Hobby in Richfield MN in the 1960s. However, that was when it was in the Hub Shopping Center about a block from my house (and the MN&S "high line"). Hub Hobby is still in Richfield but it moved a mile or two west in the 1980s. 

Stix
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Posted by richhotrain on Wednesday, May 10, 2023 2:13 PM

SeeYou190
 
richhotrain
Rent and retirement, the two most prevalent reasons that local hobby shops close. 

Rent and retirement are not the problem. My experience is that for some reason in Lee County, Florida only a certain type of personality opens a hobby shop, and they are not welcoming places.

Kevin, that may be true down where you live, but in the Chicago area and suburbs, rent and retirement are by far the most prevalent reasons for closures.

Rich

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Wednesday, May 10, 2023 11:21 PM

richhotrain
Kevin, that may be true down where you live.

Yes, that is why I tried to make it clear that my comments were only about Lee County, Florida.

-Kevin

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Posted by maxman on Friday, May 12, 2023 3:04 PM

SeeYou190
My experience is that for some reason in Lee County, Florida only a certain type of personality opens a hobby shop, and they are not welcoming places.

Have the new owners just moved there from Chicago?

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Friday, May 12, 2023 3:25 PM

maxman
Have the new owners just moved there from Chicago?

Most people on the West Coast of South Florida have moved here from the midwest, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, and Illinois mostly. I guess that is a good possibility.

It just amazes me that I can walk into a hobby shop in Sarasota or Tampa and get greeted with "welcome, what do you model, and how can we help", but in my back yard I get greeted with "let me give you a quick reaction test to hot-button issues so I can see if you are the kind of person I want shopping in my store".

So weird.

I'll drive the 70-120 miles to spend money at a store where they are glad I came in to shop, whether or not I agree with their personal beliefs.

-Kevin

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Friday, May 12, 2023 4:08 PM

Too long ago, I don't remember.

Rio Grande.  The Action Road  - Focus 1977-1983

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Posted by richhotrain on Friday, May 12, 2023 5:26 PM

maxman
 
SeeYou190
My experience is that for some reason in Lee County, Florida only a certain type of personality opens a hobby shop, and they are not welcoming places. 

Have the new owners just moved there from Chicago? 

My guess is that they move to Lee County, Florida from whatever town maxman lives in.

Rich

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Posted by Road Foreman of Engines on Friday, May 12, 2023 6:42 PM

My first hobby shop:

 don't remember the name, but it was in Ventura county, California in the late '60's. I bought the Revell engine house.... for$1.98. This was a groundbreaking kit at the time, we were getting a lot of building kits from West Germany, and the Revell kit was U.S. prototype. Bought some Atlas switches there too. I was running Tyco/ Mantua engines at the time, they still run!
  This store had a little bit of everything; ships, planes, cars, and some trains. Long gone now....

Paul

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Posted by maxman on Friday, May 12, 2023 7:50 PM

richhotrain
My guess is that they move to Lee County, Florida from whatever town maxman lives in.

Probably correct.  I noticed a recent decline in population.

"I'll drive the 70-120 miles to spend money at a store where they are glad I came in to shop, whether or not I agree with their personal beliefs."

Not sure if I agree with this or not.  If they keep their personal beliefs to themselves is one thing.  If they hit you in the face with them is another.  Local (non-hobby) place very close to me had a very large sign in front of their place supporting their political choice.  Then when you went in they had what I would call a shrine to the same individual.

No thanks. I'll get my tractor oil elsewhere.

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Sunday, May 14, 2023 12:02 PM

maxman
Not sure if I agree with this or not.  If they keep their personal beliefs to themselves is one thing.  If they hit you in the face with them is another.  Local (non-hobby) place very close to me had a very large sign in front of their place supporting their political choice.  Then when you went in they had what I would call a shrine to the same individual. No thanks. I'll get my tractor oil elsewhere.

Oh brother.  I have to agree, if you're a retailer it's best to keep the politics OUTSIDE the front door, especially if you're a hobby shop.  Most folks into this hobby look at it as a refuge from this crazy world we live in and don't care to be reminded of it in what should be "neutral ground." It's a mistake to assume we're all of one mind, which is why political discussions here are an invitation to an immediate thread-lock. ALL should be welcome no matter what their personal or political beliefs are.  If you've got the "Stars & Stripes" hanging on the wall that's fine, it's everyone's flag, but go no further. 

 

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Posted by wrench567 on Sunday, May 14, 2023 6:01 PM

  My first hobby shop was not a hobby shop at all. Even though we had a large Lionel empire in the basement, my dad got us boys into slot cars. Once a week we would go into Cleveland to a slot car emporium to race on the big track. There they sold cars, parts, and accessories for the slot cars. In the back of the emporium there was a small HO scale layout. Looking and studying that layout is what really kicked off the model railroad bug. Sure we had the Lionel, but it really wasn't modeling. Then the plastic model kits bit me. After building many models of cars, trucks and a 1/16 scale funnycar that won several blue ribbons life took over. 

    The shops I remember the most was a Lionel shop in Akron. Owned by a grumpy old guy but had everything you could want in Lionel. And a large multi scale shop in the west side of Cleveland. Sorry but I can't recall the names. We're talking 50 to 60 years ago. I'm lucky to remember my name.

         Pete.

     

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Posted by wrench567 on Sunday, May 14, 2023 6:31 PM

DonRicardo

My current hobby shop is Centerline Hobbies on Cape Cod, near the Hyannis Mall. Excellent in service and stock!

 

 

 

    Mine too.

        Pete.

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Posted by MidlandMike on Sunday, May 14, 2023 9:00 PM

While not my first hobby shop, there was an Ace hardware in Traverse City, Mich. that at Christmas would sell model trains.  They had a small O gauge layout, and as I remember, mostly sold O gauge.  After Xmas they would be relagated to a back corner until sold out.  New owners discontinued this anout ten years ago. 

Now I see Menards home improvement stores (a midwestern chain and 3rd largest behind Home Depot and Lowe's) has a model railroad line of products.  All this kind of reminds me of the old Madison Hardware.  Another hardware owner who had a thing for model trains.

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Monday, May 15, 2023 7:18 AM

MidlandMike
While not my first hobby shop, there was an Ace hardware in Traverse City, Mich. that at Christmas would sell model trains.

That reminds me, when I was six years old (or so) my Dad went to a local hardware store around Christmas time and I went along with him.  As was typical of the time this hardware store sold Lionels and there was a wall behind the counter FULL of them!  Wow!  To say that impressed me was an understatement!  In fact, I've pretty much replicated what I saw as a six-year-old on the walls of my train shed.

As I understand it Mr. Menard is a fanatic O Gauger hence his involvement in retailing O Gauge trains, in fact I've been told Menard purchased all the modern era trains Williams tooling and dies from Bachmann.  Beyond that I know nothing, Mr. Menard is kind of a "mystery man" who never grants interviews to the hobby press.  

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Monday, May 15, 2023 8:18 AM

For decades, the Ace Hardware store in Bonita Springs, Florida had an amazing display of Lionel Trains.

Maybe they still do, but it is not on their website.

-Kevin

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Posted by York1 on Monday, May 15, 2023 9:59 AM

I grew up in a small town, and in the 1950s this building was the drug store.  In the back aisle of the store, there was a wall of trains and model cars and model planes.

Seeing the building now on Google, it sure seemed like it was a lot bigger back then.  I'm sure the number of models was small, but to a kid, it was like a wonderland.  I remember standing for a long time dreaming of buying a bunch of stuff.

Somewhere along the line, I changed from model trains (too expensive) to model cars.  I remember that AMT was a favorite model company.

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Posted by cowjock on Monday, May 15, 2023 10:48 AM

First hobby shop. It was located in a small steel town of Phoenixville , Pa. "Bills Hobby Shop"  it had plastic models and HO trains, just a hole in the wall hobby shop. That was in the late 60s' early 70s'. Loved that shop they even had a peanut roster in there.

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Monday, May 15, 2023 9:23 PM

SeeYou190

For decades, the Ace Hardware store in Bonita Springs, Florida had an amazing display of Lionel Trains.

Maybe they still do, but it is not on their website.

-Kevin

 

The next time I'm down that way I'll take a look, but honestly I don't expect to find any trains for sale.  Unless it's a Menards I suspect the days of hardware stores selling trains around Christmas or any other time of year are pretty much over.  The last hardware store where I saw trains for sale was Walker's Hardware in Totowa NJ several years ago, but they closed not long afterward.  Too bad, they were a great old-time hardware store, more stuff in there than you could imagine.  A friend who came along just to watch me train shop found something for his bathroom he'd been looking for and couldn't find anywhere!

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Posted by drgwcs on Tuesday, May 16, 2023 6:16 AM

Flintlock76

 

 
SeeYou190

For decades, the Ace Hardware store in Bonita Springs, Florida had an amazing display of Lionel Trains.

Maybe they still do, but it is not on their website.

-Kevin

 

 

 

The next time I'm down that way I'll take a look, but honestly I don't expect to find any trains for sale.  Unless it's a Menards I suspect the days of hardware stores selling trains around Christmas or any other time of year are pretty much over.  The last hardware store where I saw trains for sale was Walker's Hardware in Totowa NJ several years ago, but they closed not long afterward.  Too bad, they were a great old-time hardware store, more stuff in there than you could imagine.  A friend who came along just to watch me train shop found something for his bathroom he'd been looking for and couldn't find anywhere!

 

At one time Ace Hardware had a partnership with United Model Distributors out of Chicagoland that they called "Ace the Hobby Place." That was roughly 20 years ago and United is long out of business. Out of curiosity I googled up that and there are a few left. That led me to Lionel of what combinations are still out there. They showed a little over 20 hardware stores as dealers. A combination store used to be pretty common to do hobbies too. I remember a drug store in Enid,OK that carried trains and believe it or not Lionel still listed a couple of drug/ hobby shop combos. Still a couple of camera/ hobbies stores on there too (of course including Colonial in Orlando.) Most of the camera stores and a whole lot of the independent drug stores are gone though taking out a lot of that possibility. There were still a lot of combinations with gift and craft stores. The most intriguing one though had to be "Classic Trains and Ferarris" although I would hate to see their pricing! What a way to subsidize a hobby shop. Big Smile

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Tuesday, May 16, 2023 11:07 AM

drgwcs
The most intriguing one though had to be "Classic Trains and Ferarris" although I would hate to see their pricing! What a way to subsidize a hobby shop.

Been there, in Paducah, Kentucky.

Their prices are high, but the Farrari selection is very limited. The owner drives an older Ferrari to work, but none were for sale!

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Posted by Tin Can II on Tuesday, May 16, 2023 11:53 AM

I bought some stuff from Long's Drug Store in CA; they partnered with Intermountain on several special runs.  I bought 24 Santa Fe reefer kits from them; still haven't built them 30 something years later.

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Posted by MidlandMike on Tuesday, May 16, 2023 9:39 PM

Speaking of combination hobby shops, I don't recall Hobby Lobby being brought up.  Our town lost its last hobby shop, and I have drifted into Hobby Lobby when my wife was going there, and I actually picked up some useful hobby tools.  They also have things like Woodland Scenics which are used in a number of hobbies.

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Tuesday, May 16, 2023 10:00 PM

MidlandMike
I have drifted into Hobby Lobby when my wife was going there, and I actually picked up some useful hobby tools.  They also have things like Woodland Scenics which are used in a number of hobbies.

The Hobby Lobby here in town has Vallejo Model Colour paints at a good price with a pretty good selection.

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Posted by drgwcs on Tuesday, May 16, 2023 11:26 PM

MidlandMike

Speaking of combination hobby shops, I don't recall Hobby Lobby being brought up.  Our town lost its last hobby shop, and I have drifted into Hobby Lobby when my wife was going there, and I actually picked up some useful hobby tools.  They also have things like Woodland Scenics which are used in a number of hobbies.

 

I'm actually working on a clinic on things that can be used from the craft store. Hobby Lobby used to have a very great hobby and train selection. My first job was running the hobby dept in store 5 when there were only 13 stores. We had quite a bit of train stuff probably the equivalent of one of their modern aisles although ours were shorter. We had Athearn Roundhouse and Atlas plus a bunch of woodland scenics.  Even had a good selection of radio control. Quite a change from today but they still have a bunch that is usable. 

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Wednesday, May 17, 2023 10:39 AM

drgwcs
Hobby Lobby used to have a very great hobby and train selection.

I have noticed that not all Hobby Lobbys have the same sized hobby section. Here in Fort Myers ours has two aisles of hobby stuff, but the Hobby Lobby in Lakeland only has half an aisle.

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Posted by drgwcs on Wednesday, May 17, 2023 11:00 AM

SeeYou190

 

 
drgwcs
Hobby Lobby used to have a very great hobby and train selection.

 

I have noticed that not all Hobby Lobbys have the same sized hobby section. Here in Fort Myers ours has two aisles of hobby stuff, but the Hobby Lobby in Lakeland only has half an aisle.

-Kevin

 

May vary according to store size. They used to have class A,B&C stores. Not sure if they do that anymore as most are the size of what used to be an A store. The ones nearest us are roughly the same size and have the same amount of hobbies. 

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Posted by DonRicardo on Wednesday, May 17, 2023 4:08 PM

Our Hobby Lobby has a limited amount of model railroad merchandise, but they have a terrific paint, magic marker and tool section.

I find myself using our local hobby shop mostly, Great service, can order almost anythig, and when you add shipping to on line items, they are very reasonble. And a great place for asking questions!

 

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Posted by maxman on Wednesday, May 17, 2023 4:17 PM

Went to Hobby Lobby more frquently when they had the coupons.

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Posted by AEP528 on Thursday, May 18, 2023 7:02 AM

I drive the extra distance, and yes, pay the higher (non-corporate subsidized) prices to buy from local hobby, craft and art supply stores instead of Hobby Lobby. 

But go ahead, continue to shop at Hobby Lobby, Ebay, and Amazon and whine on these forums that all the local stores have closed.

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Posted by josephbw on Thursday, May 18, 2023 7:38 AM

My first hobby shop was Weaver's Bikes and Hobbies in Greenville Ohio. Dan Weaver became a very close friend of mine. Sadly he passed away a few years ago.

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Posted by York1 on Thursday, May 18, 2023 7:42 AM

AEP528
But go ahead, continue to shop at Hobby Lobby, Ebay, and Amazon and whine on these forums that all the local stores have closed.

 

The Hobby Lobby that I use (50 miles away) is not exactly the same as Ebay and Amazon.  At Hobby Lobby, I can actually pick up and look at the items.  They also employ local people.

There is a 'local' hobby shop about 55 miles away which I use.  They often don't have the same types of things that I want from Hobby Lobby.

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Thursday, May 18, 2023 7:51 AM

MidlandMike

Speaking of combination hobby shops, I don't recall Hobby Lobby being brought up.  Our town lost its last hobby shop, and I have drifted into Hobby Lobby when my wife was going there, and I actually picked up some useful hobby tools.  They also have things like Woodland Scenics which are used in a number of hobbies.

 

When Lady Firestorm goes on one of her what I call "yarn raids" (her hobby's knitting)  to places like Michaels or Hobby Lobby sometimes I'll tag along.  First, she's fun to watch!  Second, I might just find something useful myself and frequently do. 

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Posted by n012944 on Thursday, May 18, 2023 8:47 AM

AEP528

But go ahead, continue to shop at Hobby Lobby, Ebay, and Amazon and whine on these forums that all the local stores have closed.

 

I don't go to Hobby Lobby, but I love eBay and Amazon.  I don't really miss having a local hobby shop at all (there are none in the Jacksonville FL area anyway).

An "expensive model collector"

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Posted by drgwcs on Thursday, May 18, 2023 3:37 PM

AEP528

I drive the extra distance, and yes, pay the higher (non-corporate subsidized) prices to buy from local hobby, craft and art supply stores instead of Hobby Lobby. 

But go ahead, continue to shop at Hobby Lobby, Ebay, and Amazon and whine on these forums that all the local stores have closed.

 

I do patronize my "local" hobby shops but they are an hour and 15 to 30 away. For most of us that is a reality. Going to shop one Saturday. But if I need a bottle of paint or glue etc I do buy at Hobby Lobby rather than make the drive. That being said there are some things that you wind up having to buy on ebay. I'm a narrow gauger on the VA/ NC border and it's rare here. 

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Posted by MidlandMike on Thursday, May 18, 2023 9:54 PM

AEP528
But go ahead, continue to shop at Hobby Lobby, Ebay, and Amazon and whine on these forums that all the local stores have closed.

Perhaps you missed the part where I said that I've been going to Hobby Lobby after my local hobby shop closed.  I use eBay after I can't find what I'm looking for at out-of-town hobby stores or train shows.

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Friday, May 19, 2023 9:19 PM

I went to the Hobby Lobby on East Colonial Drive in Orlando today.

Two aisles of "hobbys", but an amazingly diverse selection.

Model trains, military models, coin & stamp collecting, woodburning, airbrushes, miniature rocketry, hobby paints, anime models, foam cutters, and on & on & on.

I don't remember that many different sub-sections in the hobby aisles.

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Friday, May 19, 2023 9:23 PM

n012944
I don't really miss having a local hobby shop at all (there are none in the Jacksonville FL area anyway).

Is Hurricane Hobbies still there?

I know they did not have any trains, but they had a massive selection of paints, tools, and supplies.

-Kevin

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Posted by n012944 on Sunday, May 21, 2023 3:11 PM

SeeYou190

 

 
n012944
I don't really miss having a local hobby shop at all (there are none in the Jacksonville FL area anyway).

 

Is Hurricane Hobbies still there?

I know they did not have any trains, but they had a massive selection of paints, tools, and supplies.

-Kevin

 

 

Yes, they are still there.  Since they don't bother stocking model railroad stuff, I don't bother them with my money.

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Posted by richhotrain on Tuesday, November 14, 2023 3:42 PM

tloc52

I spent much time in Trost as a kid. Biking from 68th and Hamlin to 63rd and over. I loved the HO brass engines in the glass counter as you walked in on your left. Lionel in the back corner straight in was my hang out. They were good folks till Betty took over. Every Christmas for years I added on to my Santa Fe Super Chief passenger train. Found HO senior year in college, 1973-74.

But then it was the suburban shops I hit up.

good memories 

Good memories, for sure. I had previously replied to this thread, but I missed these two posts on Trost Hobbies.

That is quite a bike ride from 68th and Hamlin. I rode my bike from 60th and Artesian. Spent most of my grammar school years at Trost except for dinner and bedtime.

Betty does not stand out in my mind.

Rich

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Posted by Tin Can II on Wednesday, November 15, 2023 9:56 AM

A little later in life, we were living in Arlington, TX.  My Dad was an intern at John Peter Smith hospital in Ft. Worth, so we did lots of things in Ft. Worth.  My Lionel engine quit working, and Dad took it to a hobby shop in Ft. Worth called Tolson's.  It seemed like forever for them to fix it, but when it was finally ready, he let me go with him to pick it up.  It was an interesting shop, with lots of Lionel, but also lots of HO and brass.  Fast forward to 1981; I am working and have some disposable income.  I was living in Abilene, TX, but I went to a train show in DFW and dropped by Tolson's.  They had a Hallmark CF7 model for sale.  I had to have it; but as it was unpainted, I paid them to paint it and install constant/directional lighting and a flashing beacon.  That took another 3 months.  I loved that engine, but it would not negotiate less than perfect track without shorting.  The constant  lighting unit quit working.  It has been boxed for over 35 years because I have moved on to RPP and now Athearn CF7 models. 

Sometime after my experience with Tolson's and Hallmark, I discovered Bobbye Hall's in Dallas.  I thought I had died and gone to heaven.  That shop had everything.  I eventually moved to the DFW area, and had monthly meetings in downtown Dallas.  I would make a trip to Bobbye Hall's part of the itinerary.   

I later found out that the repair that Tolson's did was to re-solder one of the motor leads.  It didn't take, and I had to resolder it myself.

 

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Posted by wjstix on Wednesday, November 15, 2023 10:48 AM

Back in the 1960s, before I was a model railroader, I used to go to Hub Hobby Shop in Richfield MN to buy plastic model kits (airplanes and ships mostly). This was the "old" Hub Hobby when it was still in the Hub Shopping Center (strip mall) at 66th and Nicollet. I started buying train stuff there when I started model railroading in 1971. However, there was also a bike shop on Lyndale Ave. that sold train stuff too that I frequented, and my dad was the mailman for Woodcraft Hobby, "the old reliable" on Lake and Bryant in south Minneapolis, so we went there sometimes too.

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Thursday, November 16, 2023 8:13 AM

Since we are going down memory lane - my first recollection of a hobby shop was as a 4 year old, my dad visited a hobby shop while working on my (I didn't know it at the time) Christmas present from Santa.  It turned out to be a 4x6 plywood board painted and laid with Lionel Track and a Hudson Steam engine and cars.  After that I don't remember visiting a hobby shop until I was a teen and found a shop in the Alpha Beta strip mall in east Davis CA.  There I bought some SP dayight Athearn shorty passenger cars.

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Posted by trwroute on Thursday, November 16, 2023 9:16 PM

Tin Can II

Sometime after my experience with Tolson's and Hallmark, I discovered Bobbye Hall's in Dallas.  I thought I had died and gone to heaven.  That shop had everything.  I eventually moved to the DFW area, and had monthly meetings in downtown Dallas.  I would make a trip to Bobbye Hall's part of the itinerary.    

My dad and I would frequent Tolson's, Whistle Stop Hobbies, A&A Hobbies, and several others in Fort Worth back in the 70's.  Bill Tolson was a bit of a strange guy, but he had a bunch of Lionel, brass, and narrow gauge stuff.

There was also a small shop in Everman, Smitty's, that did some locomotive kit building and painting for my dad.

Hobby Hub in Seminary South was probably my first hobby shop I ever went to.  I loved that place and will never forget their neat layout in the center of the store with plexiglass panels all around it.  I could watch it for hours!

Bobbye Hall's (Hallmark Models) was in a class all by itself.  Went there a bunch for close to 30 years until it closed in 2000.

Chuck - Modeling in HO scale and anything narrow gauge

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Posted by Tin Can II on Friday, November 17, 2023 9:35 AM

trwroute
Bill Tolson was a bit of a strange guy, but he had a bunch of Lionel, brass, and narrow gauge stuff.

I took an out of town friend to Tolson's in the early 80's.  In addition to being a very skilled HO modeler, he also built model airplane models.  Tolson's had a wall of plastic model airplane kits.  My friend picked out several that he wanted to buy, but Mr. Tolson would not sell them because they were rare and he could not restock them.  That was my last time to visit Tolson's.

There was a Hobby Hub in Arlington, TX near our house; close enough to ride a bicycle.  Unfortunately, I didn't yet have any HO trains, but it was fun to look and dream.

 

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Posted by trwroute on Friday, November 17, 2023 4:25 PM

Tin Can II

There was a Hobby Hub in Arlington, TX near our house; close enough to ride a bicycle.  Unfortunately, I didn't yet have any HO trains, but it was fun to look and dream.

Hobby Hub moved from Seminary South mall to New York Avenue in Arlington in the late 70's.  In the 80's, they moved off 303 and Cooper St.  They were then purchased by Whistle Stop Hobbies in the early 90's and closed a few years later.  Whistle Stop also purchased A&A, and they also closed around the same time.

Chuck - Modeling in HO scale and anything narrow gauge

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Posted by up831 on Sunday, November 19, 2023 9:02 PM

My first real hobby shop was St. Clair's Hobby Shop in Salina when I started building Athearn YB kits and got into HO.  Then was Larry's Hobbyland and finally McDowell's Craft Shop.  All of those shops were gone before 1970.

Less is more,...more or less!

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Posted by Polarys425 on Monday, November 20, 2023 11:14 PM

I grew up in the small town of Covington, VA. We had a store, Barr's Critters, Crafts and Cards. They sold a few hobby things as well. My first train was the Tyco 638 Chattanooga. Not sure if it came from there or not. But they had a sale after the flood of '85 for stuff that couldn't be sold as new, damaged packaging, etc.  My mom took me up there. I came out with 4 Bachmann C&O diesels, cars, transformers, track, etc. I still have it all. The Bachmanns are down to two working units, as they suffer from cracked gears. I've combined and repaired pieces to make two units work. More sentimental reasons than anything, as DCC is far superior. I don't have room for a proper layout, so I've been out of the train game for a very long time, as in since before DCC. Needless to say, I wish DCC was a thng when I was a kid. I'm currently collecting a few things, way more than I need however. With the goal of setting up a wall mounted track setup for a couple trains in my den. I'm trying to replicate the the "Shenandoah Valley Limited" That the Virginia Museum of Transportation and the Virginia Scenic Railway recently ran featuring the N&W 611. I also have my dad's Lionel childhood train that I'd like to setup on the second track.

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Posted by maxman on Wednesday, November 22, 2023 6:47 PM

up831
.... and finally McDowell's Craft Shop. 

I thought McDowell's was a burger place.

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Posted by Tin Can II on Tuesday, November 28, 2023 11:20 AM

I rode my bicycle to the New York Avenue store when I was in 4th & 5th grades; that was in the 67 - 69 time frame. I remember the move to 303 & Cooper; went in that store many a time in the 80s as a young adult with disposable income.  There was also a train counter at Roy's Toys in the Forum mall for a while.

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Posted by trwroute on Tuesday, November 28, 2023 4:08 PM

Tin Can II

I rode my bicycle to the New York Avenue store when I was in 4th & 5th grades; that was in the 67 - 69 time frame. I remember the move to 303 & Cooper; went in that store many a time in the 80s as a young adult with disposable income.  There was also a train counter at Roy's Toys in the Forum mall for a while.

Maybe Hobby Hub had the two locations at the same time?  I just remember going to the Arlington location after the Fort Worth one closed.  Yep; Toys by Roy in Forum 303 Mall and Ridgmar Mall in Fort Worth.  Loved those stores!  

We also frequented Woolworth on 303 in Arlington for inexpensive AHM stuff.  Great times.  This was during the early to mid 70's when I was around 10 years old.

Chuck - Modeling in HO scale and anything narrow gauge

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Posted by MisterBeasley on Tuesday, November 28, 2023 7:20 PM

My train shop was more than that.  It was an introduction to many different hobbies.  I tried some and enjoyed them.  It was a way to expand my horizons.  I bought a couple of slot cars and went to the shop to race them.  After a while, I got into gas-powered airplanes, the kind you flew around in a circle with a couple of lines.  I wasn't gòod at flying, but I got good at fixing planes, mostly with glue.

But, I always came back to trains.

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

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Posted by drgwcs on Wednesday, November 29, 2023 8:55 AM

trwroute

 

 
Tin Can II

I rode my bicycle to the New York Avenue store when I was in 4th & 5th grades; that was in the 67 - 69 time frame. I remember the move to 303 & Cooper; went in that store many a time in the 80s as a young adult with disposable income.  There was also a train counter at Roy's Toys in the Forum mall for a while.

 

 

Maybe Hobby Hub had the two locations at the same time?  I just remember going to the Arlington location after the Fort Worth one closed.  Yep; Toys by Roy in Forum 303 Mall and Ridgmar Mall in Fort Worth.  Loved those stores!  

We also frequented Woolworth on 303 in Arlington for inexpensive AHM stuff.  Great times.  This was during the early to mid 70's when I was around 10 years old.

 

Thank you for filling in a couple of holes in my memory. I had relatives in Arlington and remembered going into the Hobby Hub as a kid. I also remember going into the one at Seminary South with the multi scale wedding cake layout. Was there a hobby shop in Hulan Mall too or am I confusing that with Seminary South?

Toys by Roy had a couple of locations in Oklahoma too. They had one in Crossroads Mall in OKC that was pretty neat. I remember drooling over some of the original Atlas engines that were at that time as a kid out of my price range. I do remember looking there and then finding a few trains on after Christmas clearance at JC Penney there Tyco but hey they were a buck. I think Toys by Roy also had a store in Woodland Hills in Tulsa briefly but that was not there long and that was about the time the one in Crossroads closed. I was surprised to see one in 1993 when we went to a mall in the Metroplex (but I can't remember which one) That was long after the ones in OK had closed.

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Posted by Vintagesteamer on Wednesday, November 29, 2023 10:09 AM

The first hobby shop I can remember is going with my Dad to Forest Park Hobby Shop here in Kokomo, they carried everything to do with hobbies, kind of like a mini Hobby Lobbys but with a small train department at the back.   We also had a Ben Franklin five and dime.  I bought lots of AHM/Rivarossi stuff there with my allowance and yard mowing money.  My first engine I bought on my own was one of the USRA 0-6-0(simplified version).  I always admired the AHM O scale kits, but they were beyond this boys means back then.  Not anymore!   

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Posted by drgwcs on Wednesday, November 29, 2023 12:45 PM

Ok this thread got me thinking and figuring in my head- I have been to at least 92 hobby shops around the country. (I didn't count anything that had little to no trains) I did travel a lot so that helps. Many of these are gone over the past 40+ years. (I started this when I was about 13 so I'm not that old guys.... Big Smile)

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Posted by maxman on Wednesday, November 29, 2023 1:46 PM

drgwcs
I have been to at least 92 hobby shops around the country.

Many of these are gone.

I see a pattern developing here.

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Posted by drgwcs on Wednesday, November 29, 2023 4:43 PM

maxman

 

 
drgwcs
I have been to at least 92 hobby shops around the country.

Many of these are gone.

 

I see a pattern developing here.

 

Maybe I should not have said that. Did not intend to sku the thread that direction. Over a 40 year span a lot will change that was my point. For that matter one of the first train stores I got to go in was Campbell's hobby house in OKC back in the late 70s as they were having a closing sale. 

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Posted by maxman on Wednesday, November 29, 2023 7:07 PM

drgwcs
Maybe I should not have said that.

I wasn't trying to sku the thread into a  hobby shop closing thing.  I was just observing that perhaps they were closing because of your visits.Oops

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Posted by drgwcs on Wednesday, November 29, 2023 11:34 PM

maxman

 

 
drgwcs
Maybe I should not have said that.

 

I wasn't trying to sku the thread into a  hobby shop closing thing.  I was just observing that perhaps they were closing because of your visits.Oops

 

Smile, Wink & Grin oh I get it.......  

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Posted by WRGMILW on Thursday, November 30, 2023 8:29 PM

My first Hobby Shop was Hobby Horse at Capitol Court in Milwaukee,WI

They moved at least two times . Sadly they closed I think in the 1990's

 

CHARTER MEMBER OF THE MILWAUKEE FALLEN FLAG MODEL TRAIN CLUB .  I COLLECT HO, N , O-3rail & On30  Trains & run them !  I Use KATO HO & N scale Track . I also Use Lionel Fast Track !   I change track layouts Often !  

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Posted by Geared Steam on Wednesday, December 6, 2023 2:22 PM

Real model railroad dedicated hobby shop?

Cooks Trains - Shreveport LA 

He had a room full of brass, 1st time I had seen any besides on the mags.. unfortunately Lew passed away in the 90's, no more shop. 

"The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination."-Albert Einstein

http://gearedsteam.blogspot.com/

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Posted by blabride on Friday, December 8, 2023 12:36 PM

In reply to the posts about the shop n Paducah KY. and the Ferrari out front rang a bell.

I know who u r talking about but cannot remember his name. Very friendly and talkative guy that used to have a shop in the DFW area, maybe Plano? He also was a very frequent dealer at all the Texas trainshows. Always seemed to have Ferrari prices though.

Also I bought my Hallmark Katy Mikado from Cooks passing through Shreveport n the late eighties. Great place. I want to remember a 1/1 caboose out front?

SB

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Posted by blabride on Friday, December 8, 2023 1:56 PM

Being from San Antonio myself the first post of this wonderful thread had me thinking a lot about the SA hobby shop scene over the last 63 years. I was born and lived in SA from 1960-1984.  I still visit quite often as the in- laws still live in Boerne.

Ces and Ronnies is still a big regret for me as my parents would never take me in despite the facts we passed it quite often taking my Dad to work at the TV station downtown in which he worked as a TV engineer. I even remember the train running around the front a couple of times.

Finally in '75 I got my motorcycle license and on a Kawasaki dual purpose 100 headed out to see it. Well it was to late and had closed. So I headed down Hildebrand to the other side of town and discovered Dibbles Hobbies on Donaldson near Jefferson High School. Great place, models in front trains in back. Good news is it is still thriving as the only shop in town that has a large train selection. 

That motorcycle and my Grandmothers 60 Studebaker Lark I inherited allowed me to explore the rest of the SA hobby shops over the years. 

There was Hobby Heights on Broadway, a neat little store in Alamo Heights packed with mostly scale military models and rockets. Long gone.

Used to be a fairly large store on N Fredericksburg Rd run by a family where I purchased a lot of three rail MTH stuff in the 90's and 2000's. Also closed.

I also remember a Dick's Hoby Shop over in Terrell Hills in Terrell Hills shopping center out Austin Highway. It had been there I know since the 60's. But it was very big on model trains of all scales even repaired them. I remember discovering and buying quote a few Walthers freight car kits there in the late 80's. He moved over to Broadway and Alamo Heights sometime n the 2000's but closed up not long after.

My first actual HO locomotive I bought was from the Kiddie City Toy store at the edge of my neighborhood fronting IH 410. It was a Tyco GP40 that I painted up for a MKT green and yellow locomtive. The RR my Grandfather worked 50 years for and I still model. Kiddie City was a large size Toy Store chain in SA that carried quite a bit of Hobby stuff. My Mom also bought me my first Hot Wheels set there in 1968.

Despite being a large important Railroad hub, SA train shops like anywhere have had a hard time competing with the internet. I know of at least three other shops that have attempted the model train market down there n the last 30 years that did not last long. I think the key to Dibbles long lasting success is the very friendly and personal service you just don't find anymore. The shop is also jammed with stock as well as treasures you don't find just anywhere. Their prices are also fair as well.

I recently retired from teaching High School after 37 years and in my last few years my students would occasionally ask me what differences I missed the most from my childhood and teen years. Most of the readers here can relate that it was variety and color. The real world was our internet. Today in the central TX town I have lived since '84 everything is litterally beige stucco or beige rock And very little signage anywhere. I miss the colorful neon signs and variety of architectural designs and paint. 
Oh well, time marches on I guess. Thanks for letting me ramble.

SB 

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Posted by wjstix on Thursday, December 14, 2023 4:30 PM

drgwcs

 maxman

  

drgwcs
Maybe I should not have said that.

 I wasn't trying to sku the thread into a  hobby shop closing thing.  I was just observing that perhaps they were closing because of your visits.Oops

  

Smile, Wink & Grin oh I get it.......  

 

I try not to blame myself, but when I think about it, I can come up with at least 5 or 6 hobby shops I used to go regularly - until they closed.

Stix
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Posted by Southgate 2 on Saturday, December 16, 2023 12:39 AM

In Coos Bay, Oregon there was a well stocked train shop that closed just as I was getting past train set junk, and into the real hobby, in '77. I Got my first Athearn there, GP 35

So,the next closest real shop was Eugene's Toy and Hobby, 120 mile drive. I'm still on a first name basis there, and still about the same distance, but from Bend.

Coos Bay had a little country type convenient store back then for a while that sold AHM. Got my first steam engine there, AHM Genoa. 

Both locos lost in a shed fire. Dan

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Posted by trwroute on Saturday, December 16, 2023 8:38 AM

drgwcs

 

Thank you for filling in a couple of holes in my memory. I had relatives in Arlington and remembered going into the Hobby Hub as a kid. I also remember going into the one at Seminary South with the multi scale wedding cake layout. Was there a hobby shop in Hulan Mall too or am I confusing that with Seminary South?

Toys by Roy had a couple of locations in Oklahoma too. They had one in Crossroads Mall in OKC that was pretty neat. I remember drooling over some of the original Atlas engines that were at that time as a kid out of my price range. I do remember looking there and then finding a few trains on after Christmas clearance at JC Penney there Tyco but hey they were a buck. I think Toys by Roy also had a store in Woodland Hills in Tulsa briefly but that was not there long and that was about the time the one in Crossroads closed. I was surprised to see one in 1993 when we went to a mall in the Metroplex (but I can't remember which one) That was long after the ones in OK had closed.

 

Such good memories! 

There was a hobby shop, Whistle Stop, in Hulen Mall when the mall first opened.  It was on the upper level near the main mall entrance.  Whistle Stop had moved from their first location in West Cliff Center close to TCU.

In 1993, the only Toys by Roy that could have still been open was the Ridgmar Mall location.  Such a cool store.  I put an N scale Bachmann 0-6-0 with tender in layaway there when I was 12 or 13.

I did find this some time ago in an old yellow pages.  I confirms that both Hobby Hub locations were open at the same time.

Chuck - Modeling in HO scale and anything narrow gauge

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Posted by drgwcs on Saturday, December 16, 2023 8:16 PM

drgwcs

Ok this thread got me thinking and figuring in my head- I have been to at least 92 hobby shops around the country. (I didn't count anything that had little to no trains) I did travel a lot so that helps. Many of these are gone over the past 40+ years. (I started this when I was about 13 so I'm not that old guys.... Big Smile)

Jim

 

Got refiguring and I had forgotten a few and totaled it up to 99. Well yesterday on our way back to VA from family in Indiana I went by The Smoke Stack Hobby Shop in Lancaster Ohio and officially hit 100 hobby shops. Nice shop by the way. Picked up a few things. (and my wife got to do some Christmas shopping too!)

Jim

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Posted by drgwcs on Saturday, December 16, 2023 8:25 PM

trwroute

 

 
drgwcs

 

Thank you for filling in a couple of holes in my memory. I had relatives in Arlington and remembered going into the Hobby Hub as a kid. I also remember going into the one at Seminary South with the multi scale wedding cake layout. Was there a hobby shop in Hulan Mall too or am I confusing that with Seminary South?

Toys by Roy had a couple of locations in Oklahoma too. They had one in Crossroads Mall in OKC that was pretty neat. I remember drooling over some of the original Atlas engines that were at that time as a kid out of my price range. I do remember looking there and then finding a few trains on after Christmas clearance at JC Penney there Tyco but hey they were a buck. I think Toys by Roy also had a store in Woodland Hills in Tulsa briefly but that was not there long and that was about the time the one in Crossroads closed. I was surprised to see one in 1993 when we went to a mall in the Metroplex (but I can't remember which one) That was long after the ones in OK had closed.

 

 

 

Such good memories! 

There was a hobby shop, Whistle Stop, in Hulen Mall when the mall first opened.  It was on the upper level near the main mall entrance.  Whistle Stop had moved from their first location in West Cliff Center close to TCU.

In 1993, the only Toys by Roy that could have still been open was the Ridgmar Mall location.  Such a cool store.  I put an N scale Bachmann 0-6-0 with tender in layaway there when I was 12 or 13.

I did find this some time ago in an old yellow pages.  I confirms that both Hobby Hub locations were open at the same time.

 

Thanks for the info- we did go to Ridgemar that trip so that must have been the Toys by Roy that was still open. Always wondered how many total stores they had as there is no info out there on them it seems. Part of me was thinking that they had one briefly when Quail Springs opened in OKC but I think I may be confusing that with Woodland Hills in Tulsa.

Jim

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Posted by Mister Mikado on Friday, December 22, 2023 10:56 AM

this is one of the best threads ever.  i grew up in the bronx ny in the 1950s.  my dad started getting me lionel when i was seven, adding on more accessories every Christmas, dont know where he bought them (or where santa got them).  but when i was twelve me and friends transitioned to ho and my mother brought me to honigs hobby on white plains road near pelham parkway where i picked out a revell ho train set.  ho for us kids was like the rite of passage into teenage manhood, and the lionel kid stuff stayed in the closet.  -rob

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Posted by richhotrain on Saturday, December 23, 2023 5:49 PM

Mister Mikado

ho for us kids was like the rite of passage into teenage manhood, and the lionel kid stuff stayed in the closet.  -rob

Same for American Flyer, but as an adult, the American Flyer came out of the closet. Smile, Wink & Grin

Rich

Alton Junction

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Saturday, December 23, 2023 7:31 PM

richhotrain

 

 
Mister Mikado

ho for us kids was like the rite of passage into teenage manhood, and the lionel kid stuff stayed in the closet.  -rob

 

 

Same for American Flyer, but as an adult, the American Flyer came out of the closet. Smile, Wink & Grin

 

Rich

 

I never had American Flyer or Lionel. I became an active HO modeler at age 10.

Sheldon

    

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Posted by Arjay1969 on Sunday, December 24, 2023 4:26 PM

The first places I bought "model" train supplies were Gemco (limited selection of Tyco trains), Toys by Roy in Parkdale Mall, and Toys-R-Us, all in Beaumont, TX.

Fast worward a few years, and my family moved from Beaumont to Bryan/College Station, TX.  There were a couple of toy stores in the local mall but not much of a selection.  Fortunately we did have a local hobby shop called Keyser's Hobbies.  There was another shop in College Station for a while catering to trains only (I want to say it was called J&J Hobbies), I bought my one and only HO standard gauge MDC Steam engine kit from there.

Fast forward to the early 1990s, and I was spending a lot of time at Keyser's so they put me to work.  At that point I met a man who would go on to be a good friend, who decided to open a hobby shop called Whistles, Wings and Wheels.  He put me to work there too!

Sadly, we haven't had a good hobby shop here since WWW closed down.  There has been Hobby Lobby and a couple of tries at HobbyTown franchises, but nothing has stuck.

Robert Beaty

The Laughing Hippie

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The CF-7...a waste of a perfectly good F-unit!

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Then it comes to be that the soothing light at the

end of your tunnel, Was just a freight train coming

your way.          -Metallica, No Leaf Clover

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Posted by Tin Can II on Friday, January 5, 2024 5:06 PM

Arjay:  Thanks for being part of the best three years of my life.  WWW was a dream job, but with a wife and two little kids, not financially sustainable.  But so many good memories.  Falling weimaraners, one-man helicopter kits, how you got the "laughing hippie" nickname, top ten lists, Gengkis Khan, Saturday mornings with the gang, and so many, many more.  I should write a book...

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Posted by blabride on Saturday, January 6, 2024 12:02 PM

I remember WWW as my youngest is an Aggie. Always stopped in and found some things when visiting CS.

SB

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Posted by Uncle_Bob on Friday, January 26, 2024 5:31 PM

Hobby Hut in Elmira, NY, was my first hobby shop.  It was a full-line hobby shop owned by a teacher friend of Dad's.  My first two Athearn blue box cars (D&H hopper, PC boxcar) came from there.  They closed in the mid-'80s.  My first train shop was Charlie Farmer's store in Pine City, complete with outdoor tracks and a layout inside, in a room adjacent to the store.  Charlie sold out to Don Barcus (sp?), who moved the store up behind the mall in Horseheads.  Years later, I started going to English's on Elmira's south side, which was bought out by an employee and became Altoona Shops in Horseheads; when I wasn't there, I was at Lackawanna Station in Corning/Painted Post, English's mother ship in Montoursville, PA, or Central Hobby in Syracuse, with occasional trips to Tommy Gilbert's in Gettysburg.  All of them are gone as retail establishments now except Tommy's, and I sadly haven't been there in 15 years.

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