When I wrote my blogs, I had no intention of stirring up a hornets nest of trouble.   Maybe one day there will be a Menards Store near you.  Mr. John Menard is a lover of 3 rail Lionel type trains.  Hence, he developed a way of putting trains in his stores.  He is in his 80's and does not work as hard as he use to.  The future of the train line depends on who is running the company and if they like trains.   This reminds me back in 1970 when Lionel was bought by General Mills and gave the trains to MPC (Model Products Corporation) to produce at the lowest possible price.  Check out the progress of Lionel today.  Lionel is the top train company in the USA and makes very sophisticated trains.  

Mr. Menards trains have been a great success.  They display trains only from November til about January.  Then they put them on the second floor until next season--just like the department stores use to do.   But I am a collector and operator of 3 rail trains.  I shop trains all year long and when something comes out that I like, I buy that item and of course, the price is decent.  To me, you just don't turn trains off for 9 months and put them on display for 3 months.  If Menards goes forward in the train market, he would be the only big box store offering Toy Trains and Accessories year round.   Personally, I think Menards should try an experimental part of one of his stores and display trains year round. 

Sincerely yours,   railbear601

05/30/2020 --- I added this to my original blog that appears above.   

Menards was developed by John Menard.  He likes 3 rail and HO type toy trains. etc.  His stores are colossal in size consisting of An Outdoor Lumber, Patio, and Garden Center.   His indoor store consists of everything from appliances, food, hardware, toys. toy trains and electrical.

"All" of his employees are helpful, kind, and try to please.  They take the time to help you and make sure you are satisfied.  They have an excellent return policy as long as you keep your register receipt.  If you pay by credit card, you can stop into the store at the Kiosk and look up your previous  cash register receipt(s) if you have misplaced them or forgot to bring them to the store.  The computer will print your receipt for you at no charge.  Duplicate receipts Do Not Have the rebate listed on them.

I wrote my blogs because Menards advertises in OGR Magazine and and on this forum. 

You can easily see his entire train line by clicking on the Menards name on this forums advertising section.  By doing this, his entire train line will pop on the screen along with prices.   If you check out his add on a week that is running the 11%  rebate, the price will reflect the final price.  To get that rebate discount, you have to shop at the store, on-line or call the store.   You pay the full price that Menards sells the item for.  You will pay a processing fee too.  If you want the item shipped to your home, you pay the mailing charge also.  When you finally get your bill, cash register slip and rebate form (all of these items come with your bill),  you cut off the rebate part of the cash register receipt  fill out the rebate form and mail these 2 items to Menards Rebate Offer,  PO Box 155,  Elk Mound, Wisconsin 54739-0155.  In a few weeks you will receive your post-card rebate to be used as cash at your nearest Menards.   You must spend the entire rebate listed on the card.  No Cash Back.  This is not that difficult once you start buying items at Menards.

The End

Sincerely yours,     railbear601   

 

 

 

 

Last edited by railbear601
Original Post

Well railbear601,

With all due respect, if you can figure out why big box stores don't have big displays of snowblowers, snow shovels, ice scrapers, and ice melt all year 'round, then maybe you could figure out why Menard's doesn't display model trains all year 'round.  And probably not even the least bit interested in trying a year-long experiment at one store.

Like you, I am a model train enthusiast, and participate in the hobby all year long.  I can visit a hobby shop and/or purchase on-line all year long for any hobby related item that I need or want.  But I don't expect big box stores or department stores to carry model trains all year long, any more than I expect fast food joints to offer eggnog and hot chocolate in the middle of July.  For probably 99.5% of the American public, model trains are a seasonal thing, and any store that doesn't specialize in the hobby business to start with isn't going to waste valuable floor space trying to sell seasonal stuff all throughout the year.

Hope this helps you understand.

I wish Home Depot and Lowes would do the same as Mernards.  I would have an excuse to drop to these box stores to look at the display, may be pickup some "toys" and probably other related products like holiday stuff, tools, and possibly some lumber.

@pmilazzo posted:

I wish Home Depot and Lowes would do the same as Mernards.  I would have an excuse to drop to these box stores to look at the display, may be pickup some "toys" and probably other related products like holiday stuff, tools, and possibly some lumber.

Paul - Lowe's Stores and Home Depot don't have O Gauge trains at Christmas, but in New Jersey they at least carry accessories.

Lowe's has their line of Carole  Town Village and Home Depot has had some nice O Scale houses, carousels and figures that I've picked up. No trains get but it's a start.

Yes, that was my point.  They could and it may help push hardware and other holiday sales if they did but no one will ever know if they don't try it.  Doesn't have to house branded stuff either.

Lowes and Home Depot are publicly traded companies and need to keep their stock holders happy by maximizing profits.  I doubt they would ever go heavily into any hobby, especially one getting smaller like O gauge trains.

As railbear601 mentioned, Menards is a privately owned business mostly owned by Mr. Menard.  He can do pretty much what he wants, and since he enjoys O gauge trains he has his stores sell them.  Nice to be The Boss.   It will be interesting to see what his family does with the train line when he passes. 

While Menards has definitely created a new market here, I am concerned that Home Depot and or Lowes may be too big to do the same.  My experience is with Home Depot, which in many ways feels like a Walmart for the home builder.  The product you see one season, won't be there the next or likely ever again.  I don't see a good fit for the Train hobby market here at all.  

I really appreciate the line of buildings that Menards has introduced, this has been refreshing for our hobby.

 

@Sean007 posted:

Paul - Lowe's Stores and Home Depot don't have O Gauge trains at Christmas, but in New Jersey they at least carry accessories.

Lowe's has their line of Carole  Town Village and Home Depot has had some nice O Scale houses, carousels and figures that I've picked up. No trains get but it's a start.

I just wish that we had a Menards here in Jersey so I take what I can get wherever I go.

But I do like the buildings that Menards has been putting out. Hopefully that will continue.

It’s all about shelf space. Yes, he owns the business but he will not give shelf space to non moving items. During spring and summer that space goes to money maker items. 

Menards is the ”Amazon” of O-gauge model railroading. They produce a product, present its specifications, and you can order it that day. The big manufacturers present a big catalog and your wife could have two kids before you can get one of their products from that catalog.

Lowes and Home Depot don’t consider model railroading within the scope of their core market. 

I have nothing but praise for Menards’ contribution to O-gauge model railroading.

I haven’t bought a single O-gauge model railroading item from a brick and mortar store in 6 years. I don’t care what shelves in Menards display O-gauge model railroading items. Their website works just fine.

Last edited by TM Terry

The Menards in Manchester Missouri has had the train department on the first floor and well stocked since they opened about three years or so.  

Re Menards

Besides the rolling stock and buildings Menards supports this hobby in other ways. Most of my layout is made with Menards stock, pink board lumber glues paints wire finish wood indoor outdoor carpet and more. I save up the rebates and go after Christmas to get train stuff. They have been shipping products to me for weeks to help continue the build. JM2C

@Keith k posted:

The Menards in Manchester Missouri has had the train department on the first floor and well stocked since they opened about three years or so.  

Well, that's the last time I go to Richmond Heights!

@TM Terry posted:

The big manufacturers present a big catalog and your wife could have two kids before you can get one of their products from that catalog.

Now that's funny.  And sad.

The closest Menards to where I live is 6 h 53 min (430 miles) away. Thank goodness for mail-order.

I have several Menards buildings. And our modular club is getting ready to decorate our entire 12x15 modular layout with Menards buildings. Great value, I am more than happy for their O Scale presence.

Agree.  It's all about revenue per cubic foot of space, but maybe while they sell some decorative villages near the Christmas lights which are close to O gauge by chance, have a few Christmas starter sets and accessories and see how it does?  Give each store like 10 of sets or something in one pile.  They would have to do the math to see a few Christmas starter sets make sense.  I remember one year they had some battery operated plastic G scale boxed up on in the Christmas section and after the holidays, my friend picked the last one up they still had.  Of course that was many years ago, so I would guess it just didn't make financial sense even for that inexpensive battery train that was designed to only go around the tree in a circle.

It's okay to dream...

 

A few years ago Home Depot, Walmart and Target tried an exclusive Lionel starter set during the Holidays. Must not have been profitable since it was a one and done scenario. Starter sets take up a lot of shelf space.

This is another case of a hobbyist saying “I like trains, therefore Menards should sell trains in 350 stores in 15 states year-round.”

Great opinion. But one that doesn’t even come close to considering the numbers involved and the facts of retail, with clearly no effort to study either.

There are fewer than 50,000 O gauge hobbyists sufficiently enthused enough to subscribe to one of the hobby’s magazines. A majority live in states where Menards has no stores. That’s the limit of the target audience so train-focused that they would make a special trip to a store.

And Menards is a mass-merchandise big-box chain. That means products are expected to turn over within months, sometimes weeks. That turnover is key to that success.

Just on that basis — and there are numerous other factors to consider as well — there’s not enough traffic to accomplish the most basic elements of mass-market retail.

It’s obvious that Menards knows what its doing. Please let’s stop blogging these “Menards should” opinion pieces without some basis in fact.

And please keep in mind that Menards train products are available year-round online. Menards is not in the business of putting stock in stores just so an occasional hobbyist can wander in and feel happy.

Feel happy that the hobby has a retailer whose owner is a fellow enthusiast and has already made an extraordinary effort to satisfy us folks. 

Last edited by Jim R.

I guess I am selfish as I wish Menards would bring trains out for us 365 days a year.  Well they do if you order on-line or phone the store.   John Menards really has a "Gimmick".  He Loves toy trains.  He presents a very desirable product that appeals to the Model Train Builder at very "decent" prices.  No one sells train cars starting at  $20 on up and then offers a discount of 11% on them.  If you jump through the right hoops, you can also obtain a Capital One Menards Credit Card that gives you a discount on everything in the whole store of 2% -- right at the cash register.  You must have an open credit score(s) which Capital One will check and approve or not approve your card.  Once you get that credit card, you can immediately start using it while waiting for the card to arrive.  All you have to do is punch in your social security number at the Menards Cashier at checkout time or On-Line.  The Big Red Card is a separate item and has nothing to do with the 11% rebate.

I love my accessories.  The Morton Salt Company has an animated sign that can do two things.  When you plug it in, the 2 Animated Sign shows the "Salt Girl" pouring the salt with red LED lights flashing on top of the building.  There is a switch next to the plug & play connection that shuts off the pouring effect but leaves the sign lite up and the red LED lights on top of the building just red.  There is room in the accessory to put a track in it and run your favorite Morton salt hopper(s) or boxcar(s) into the building.

The Illuminated Billboard is brilliant, has very interesting signs and the plug and play has 2 ways to connect.  On the side or bottom of the accessory.  Most of the accessories of Menards  have 2 ways to connect the plug and play.  Hence you can hide the p & p plug by drilling a hole under your layout, hiding the connection.

The Flying Saucer has nifty flashing lights, an alien in the commander seat and a cow being abducted into the saucer.  The cow moves up and down and a white LED Light illuminates it.  There are other cows on the ground and you might want to add a few more to the mix.  Oh yes, there are a couple of aliens on the ground too!  

Schneider Trucking has a loading dock with a moving cart.

Tide Soap has 2 Illuminated signs,

Gamer-Thrones has a display toilet on the dock and a revolving toilet on the roof. 

These are just a few of the novel accessories that Menards offers and most of them are very well lite with LED lights.  Plus they usually have Jack, Menards mascot dog in most of the accessories. 

If you order on-line, you will be charged a small processing fee for your order.  If you pick it up at the store, there is no more fees....but if you have to have it mailed to your home, they will charge you postage. 

Yes, John Menards has a "Gimmick" to get you to come back to his store or order on-line.   But the real gimmick is the PRICE of his trains....very inexpensive compared to what is on the market right now.

It is absolutely correct that the rebate card you send off for has to be used when you visit Menards on your next order.  You cannot use it when ordering on-line or over the phone to the store.   So if you have no Menards near you, the only way to get the 11% rebate is have a friend shop for you at there Menards and send them your rebate card.  I have one of there stores very close to me.  It is very difficult to get the 11% rebate discount unless you live close to one of there stores.  Sorry, I do not make there rules.

If your close to one of there stores, make sure to apply for a Menards Cap;ital One Credit Card which gives you 2% immediately at the cashier on all of your purchases.  This means you can save 13% when you shop Menards on an 11% rebate day......fini.

Good Luck,   railbear601      enjoy your trains   

 

            

Be careful what you wish for. Department store layouts need constant attention. I've seen what happens when they don't. Derailments and break-downs do nothing to promote the hobby.

Harware stores used to sell Lionel.  Menards is basically that, on droids.

Lots of places used to sell Lionel around Christmas time. 

We used to frequent the Sears Homan Avenue store/warehouse quite a bit when I was a kid.  Trains were a big part of the Toy Department at Christmas.  After the Christmas season, trains were nowhere to be found.  There was also a Radio-TV store in my old neighborhood that sold Lionel and Plasticville around Christmas. 

My Santa Fe F3's came from a furniture store way back when...

Rusty

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