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Today, I made my semi-annual visit to Nicholas Smith Toy Train shop. This is without a doubt one of the best train, model, and toy stores I've ever been too. While I have certainly made many on-line purchases from various stores over the last couple of decades, and although I appreciate a well-organized website, there's nothing on-line that comes close to the experience of perusing a well-stocked train, hobby, and toy store. I actually found some newer Lionel and AF accessory items that I had never seen before. I also bought some Superstreets items. It occurred to me as I was driving to the market after leaving the train shop that as our culture becomes more and more digitized and virtual, we may be losing something special. Just today, in the downstairs toy department I chatted with a woman doing her Christmas shopping, and upstairs two grandfathers were buying stuff to set up trains for Christmas for their grandchildren.

This shop is in Broomall, PA, and the original shop was at 11th and Arch in Philly and was one of the first Lionel train dealers way back in time. I noticed there's new people running both the upstairs and downstairs, though Chris is still the owner, and is in retirement. The new staff were very helpful to me, and they all seemed to be taking an interest in both the toys and trains, and one guy upstairs talked with delight about the steam engines at Strasburg. Good stuff all around.

Last edited by Paul Kallus
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It's great to hear positive news about NS.  Despite many purchases from them at York and online, I've only been there once, about 5 years ago (wish it wasn't 700 miles away) and it was an amazing place.  There was a recent thread regarding some negative experiences there due to dealing with the new folks.  I hope that they've turned things around and will be viable for many years to come.

Unfortunately, the track record of great train stores doing well after the original owner is no longer actively involved isn't good - I remember Les Gordon's shop and Watt's Trains in central Indiana, along with Davis Electronics near Cincinnati.  Davis, in particular, went downhill incredibly fast.

The original Nicholas Smith passed away in 1973. There's a photo of the original Philly building in the current store ~ a neat structure it was.

The aspect that separates Nicholas Smith from every other train store I've ever visited is the floor to almost-ceiling shelves of every scale/gauge. I imagine this is what hardware/train stores were like in the 1920s/30s. I think what I like best is finding stuff that is a bit older and sought after without sought-after prices, if you know what I mean.

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