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I miss(ed) them all.

I recently bought a NOS Lionel freight car.  It was produced way back in 2003 .  There was a piece of paper in the box from Lionel that listed dealers by state.  There were 6 stores listed in my area (St. Louis) in 2003.  They're all gone now.  I've only been involved in this hobby for four years.  Therefore, I've never bought anything at a train store.  100% Internet or shows.  The way it is.

I have to say now that I don't have any family in the Philadelphia area, I really miss going to Nicholas Smith up in Broomall Pa. From the 1950s & 60s , Beckers & Nicholas Smith on 11th St and Millers Union Station on Arch St between 10th & 11th St in Downtown Philadelphia, Quaker City Hobby & Tom Thumb Hobbies who had a huge HO parts inventory also Downtown Philly and Todd's Upper Darby where I grew up. I occasionally worked for the Original Nicholas Smith on 11th St back in 1967 when I was 14. And finally some of you may recall Service Of Merritt on West Chester Pike and Darby Rd in Havertown? It wasn't a hobby shop but he repaired trains and sold used Standard, O & S gauge trains at very attractive prices. The shop closed when Mr Merritt passed away about 1988.

@shorling posted:

Oscale Train Lover was lamenting the loss of his train store that also sold Department 56.  All the big D56 retailers are gone here in CT:  Windsor Shop in North Haven, Vinny’s in North Haven, G & L Windham plus just about any other local D56 outlet.

Kind of the same here in NE Pennsylvania, Steve. Not far from me is a local legend called the American Candle Shop - in reality, candles are a small part of their business. 20+ years ago, they did an enormous amount of business in collectibles, including Dept. 56. If you went there on the day after Christmas, all D56 was 40-50% off!!! They had stacks of boxes piled 4 - 5 feet high throughout the store - each of the different lines had a different section. If you didn’t see what you were looking for, you just had to ask and they’d check the stock room. You would see folks leaving with these enormous clear plastic bags with five or ten houses!!! I must admit to having picked up a couple of items over the years While they still carry a small amount of D56, it just ain’t the same... not a complete tragedy - leaves more money for trains!!!

@graz posted:

AB Charles on West Liberty Ave. in Dormont, PA.

Bill and Walt's in Downtown Pgh.

Jim's in Homer City, PA

Collectible Toys and Trains on Loop 12 in Dallas, TX





Born and raised in Pittsburgh thru high school 1965. Christmas + train layouts were king. I had a Pittsburgh Press paper route and virtually every customer had some sort of train layout. I got too see them all! My dad started us out with a Lionel steam set in the early 50's. Then added New York Central F-3 set with magna traction, switch tracks, logloader, coal loader, etc. I don't recall the stores he took us too though. But I been hooked on O scale ever since. My daughters loved them. And now my grand kids, Fast forward to moving to the Dallas area in 1988. Discovered Collectible Toys and Trains sometime after that. My Layouts got bigger and a lot of stuff came from Collectible. Great bunch of guys and gals there.  Then they moved somewhere out in the country. I heard the owner  passed away (can't remember his name, but I do remember his face). RIP. And the hobby lives on.

Last edited by BackYardBill
@PRR8976 posted:

@Cincytrains --  Weren't there actually two Westchester Hobbies? I seem to remember the first one closed (I think they had a fire, but not 100% sure) and then they relocated slightly more East on East Post Road. Either way, they seemed like a friendly bunch.  They always had a decent supply of the magazine "Locomotive & Railway Preservation" which was a pretty nicely done magazine, but didn't last too long.

My dad ran the furniture store, W&J Sloanes, still further East on East Post Road in the late 1970's- early 1980's.

Tom

Tom, those 2 stores were entirely separate businesses.

The one that was more east on East Post Road was owned by two guys, Mike and Joe.  Joe focused on repairs and was quite good at it. That business was taken over by Mike, who subsequently relocated to the Hamilton Avenue Mall in White Plains, and then to the Galleria in White Plains where it currently exists. It is a fine model railroad and hobby shop. Mike promoted MTH trains early on, and I bought quite a few of them over the years, and am very happy with all of them.

The other store, which was further west on Post Road in White Plains, is where Pete did train repairs. 

Both of those stores were near where I've had my White Plains law office, and it was always a pleasure for me to visit them. During my lunch hour and after work, I would often hang out at both stores. Arnold

@Cincytrains posted:

Westchester Hobbies was the one that caught fire and burned in the very early 1990's, a different store, Westchester Train and Hobbies opened up at the end of Post Rd in the late 1990's. It was/is separate from the other. It is owned by a tow truck guy. He was in the old mall for years and now in the Galleria on the bottom floor.  Its ok I guess.

That's my understanding too.

The stores I miss:

Trains N' Things in Maspeth, NY - After "Santa Clause" brought me the "Kickapoo Valley & Northern" set, a few months later my parents took me there and I got a GP-20 (6-8367 Long Island). It looked so silly with the cars from that set.

World Of Trains originally in Rego Park, NY then Forest Hills, NY. My grade school was across the street - that was my go to place growing up. One of the two owners - Leon - always helped me out when I was a little short of the item prices, and always had a nice thing to say. When I was older I would always sop in whenever I was in town. I could always find something.

Aqua Pet Hobby Den in Flushing, NY. They had a ton of "N" scale - I didn't model in N scale but their rotating displays were awesome.

hello

Hobby World in Jacksonville Fl. When Don the owner passed his son sold it. It went down hill fast then closed.  i woUld go there for hrs and look at everything on the shelf's. one day i bought a lgb gondola in a brown box. Don asked how i knew what it was.  I told him I read all the box's. he had a back room with all the old lionel that he would only let a few people go in and look at and buy. I was one of the lucky one's to get to go back there.  He and Hobby World are missed.

Kevin 

Train Barn -Portage, Mi.

Model Depot- Royal Oak, Mi.

Train Center Hobbies-Birmingham, Mi.

Mark's Trains and Hobbies-Marion, Il.

20th Century Limited Hobbies-Wheaton, Il.

Empire Hobbies-Troy, Mi.

Wild Bill's Roseville, Mi.  (I think I got the town right on that one).

Lionel Visitors Center-Chesterfield, Mi.  There was a nice train shop there.

Ryder's Hobbies-Madison Heights, Mi.

Al's Hobby Shop-Elmhurst, IL.  This one still might be open but I haven't lived in the Chicago area for over 30 years.

I had great experiences at all of these hobby shops.  Sad to see they're all gone.

A couple of small "mom and pop" / repair stores just came to mind:

  • Log Cabin Trains - a one-man repair shop off Camp Horne Road north of Pittsburgh.  This was a very hard-to-find location.  Unfortunately, a thief found it and robbed the place (mid-late 1990's?).  It closed as a result.
  • Blue Mountain Trains (or Hobbies?) - I believe this "store" (really his basement) was north of Annville, PA.  The owner passed away in the early 2000s.

George

My favorite train store was a small hole in wall shop in west Phoenix called "An Affair with Trains".   I went there every few weeks prior to my interest in O scale and going to the store was always an interesting adventure.  Between the packed aisles of new and consignment items were lots of new old stock kits of the likes of Red Ball, yellow box Athearn, and even a few Varney kits.  It just felt like what a train store should be like, an eclectic mix of interesting items.  There were a few O pieces at the time, but it was mostly postwar and MPC era Lionel which I still don't have an interest in. 

The original owner sold the store, it got moved north to an industrial park, and the new owners sold new product only.  I lost interest at that point.

I may have mentioned this one before in another thread. Maybe someone remembers it?

In Baltimore, there was a train store at Falls Road and 36th Street. It was a few blocks away from friends whom I would visit every few months. One day in around 1985 I walked in to discover a large number of Kusan, AMT and KMT boxcars, and a 1984 (?) Williams catalog. The owners weren't that interested in making a profit that day, I guess. I seem to recall I paid $10 to $15 each for a quantity of boxcars, probably 20 or so of them.

It was the rebirth of my interest in trains, having put them away for a few decades at that point.

Last edited by Arthur P. Bloom

That's it, thank you!  Did you buy things there?

They are still listed in Google searches, but I don't think they've been around for a number of years.

When I saw the boxcars, and realizing that they were closer to scale size than 6464's, I was fascinated and liked them. I hadn't ever heard of them, and the old goober behind the counter, "in the style of" Lou Shur, snarled something like "yeah, some guy in the midwest made them, and nobody likes them. Do me a favor and buy all of them."   So I did.

Last edited by Arthur P. Bloom

I miss Al’s Hobby Shop in Elmhurst Il. A general hobby store but my first go to and visit often hobby shop. I rode my bike there from home.

I miss the train store on Calumet Ave in Munster In. Two blocks from my in laws, and a welcome respite. Called the Train Stop I think.
Years ago there was a very small train shop in Oshkosh Wisconsin, (my home). I mean it was tiny and it was not very busy but I learned so much there. At one time Oshkosh also had a train show. “Ah those were the days my friend”

Last edited by train steve

Growing up in Glen Ellyn, Il, I had a couple of morning paper routes delivering the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun Times.  With the some of the money I made, I would take one of the CN&W commuter trains to Elmhurst, stop at Al's and buy a few things for the HO layout I used to have.  Then I'd catch the train back to Glen Ellyn about 45 minutes later.. I started doing that when I was in 7th grade and really enjoyed my "train adventures".  I miss those days but sure had fun and of course, it helped to know the trains schedules.

Train Barn -Portage, Mi.

Model Depot- Royal Oak, Mi.

Train Center Hobbies-Birmingham, Mi.

Mark's Trains and Hobbies-Marion, Il.

20th Century Limited Hobbies-Wheaton, Il.

Empire Hobbies-Troy, Mi.

Wild Bill's Roseville, Mi.  (I think I got the town right on that one).

Lionel Visitors Center-Chesterfield, Mi.  There was a nice train shop there.

Ryder's Hobbies-Madison Heights, Mi.

Al's Hobby Shop-Elmhurst, IL.  This one still might be open but I haven't lived in the Chicago area for over 30 years.

I had great experiences at all of these hobby shops.  Sad to see they're all gone.

Wild Bills was in Clinton Township, MI and Bill was a great friend of mine.  I had known bill since the early 70's when our wives both had twin children and joined a club here in Michigan and back in the early 80's prior to the shop Bill showed a  very slight interest in the building of my layout.  So my train buddy Ken and myself started taking Bill to train shows and man did he ever get hooked and the rest is history.  I really miss the guy and the crew at the store on Groesbeck.

Keene's Model Railroad Shop on G Place in downtown Washington, D.C..  Long gone.

After leaving the world of O3R behind for HO at the ripe old age of, oh say, 10 years (~1954) Keene's was my 'haunt'.  Clark Keene's store...a literal hole-in-the-wall of a place...only purveyed for the benefit of the HO market.  But he was probably the friendliest, most smiling guy behind the counter I remember.  Even as a pre-teen, I was treated with the same respect that he gave the crowd of adults in their ubiquitous Fedora's, white shirts, ties, smell-of-smoke suits that invaded especially during their lunch hour. 

I remember even WALKING to the store (with Mom's permission!) from our home in the NW corner of the city...about 3 blocks off the Maryland state line...about 4 miles by the crow's flight.  Quite a hike for this "free-range" kid!  More ften it would be a combination bus/trolley ride...again: "free-range" (Times surely have changed!!) 

My most memorable purchase from Clark was a pile of sticks...a bundle of basswood per the bill of material accompanying an article in Model Railroader magazine.  It was nearly Christmas.  The magazine's December issue had a neat 2-story Santa Fe station construction article.  Dad noticed the article and commented something like...'That looks like a fun project!'...and, BINGO!...No socks, ties, handkerchiefs for Dad this Christmas!   What ensued on that Christmas morning as Dad opened that weirdly shaped bundle in Christmas wrappings is a whole story in itself.  It took the next 50+ years to complete the station...Dad started the article's project, I finished it about a dozen years ago.  (He had carefully saved the wood bundle's remnants...including scraps!...in a special box...which I carried around with the building's shell he had erected...through college, marriage, several relocations, a million distractions of life, etc..)

Yepper.  Keene's.  Clark Keene.  For a few years thereafter...until high school graduation and off to college...Clark would acknowledge me by name when I came through the door.  Talk about a very special hobby-encouraging relationship...to supplement Dad's interest/involvement!

BTW, Merry Christmas and a healthy, happiest, prosperous New Year to all!

KD

In Buffalo, Spoonley the Trainman, all Lionel, all the time, in his basement. Bob Schuh's K-Val,  3 blocks from my Grandma's. Field's Hobby Shop. On one of my annual trips (Atlanta-Sandusky) stopped at Davis Trains in Milford, just great, and then they were gone in the space of about two years. Paul's Hobbys in Norwalk, OH; owner apparently died after complications from a botched surgery; wife was unable to sustain the business.

Last edited by CN6167

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