Sad News (and an opportunity)
I recently learned that Larry Gradek, long-time owner of the Chicago-area (Griffith, IN) Hobby Store "G & G Hobbies," died in November of 2022.
I'd only been in that store a handful of times, but it left special memories. The owner was super-kind, never pressured you to buy anything, didn't like to sell you something you didn't need for your project and, above all, was willing to listen, even if he couldn't help you out.
He was a licensed and Authorized Lionel Dealer, and boasted that " we pass on most of the discount that we get back to you, the customer." So, whenever I (very, very occasionally) purchased a car from him, he saved me between 10% to $20 over MSRP and website prices from other Authorized Dealers. His goal was to keep the customer happy and treat them as friends, whether they bought anything or not. He succeeded at it. If you came to him with a problem, he'd be willing to put hours in trying to help you fix it.
He will be missed by all the hobbyists in the Midwest who ever had a reason to stop in. The news article I found said that people stopped in from as far away as South Bend, Lafayette, Chicago, and Joliet, as well as "all over the country, when they were in the region."
A relative recently called two news stories about the man and the store to my attention.
You can listen to them both (or read them, until they get too old).
This first is a tribute to the man and the store. He was (apparently) a pillar of the local community and liked by all who knew him. The Hobby Store has been there since his parents founded it in 1966.
The new owner of G&G Hobbies is looking for (in order of preference) a Griffith, IN; NWI; or Chicago-area hobbyist to either manage or buy the store, as he has a full time job and cannot do it himself.
He wants the new owner to keep the name.
""I've got an appointment with a hobby shop with two locations in California and Illinois, but they would probably want to change the name," he said. "The best-case scenario would be if there's a diehard customer of customers to buy it to keep it running."
"Whoever buys it will have everything they need: inventory, a customer list and the same phone number it's had for 30 years. It's a turnkey operation. All you would need is a new computer system."
he is willing to hold onto G&G Hobbies as long as needed to find a new operator to keep it going.
If you're interested in buying the store, email email@example.com or message G&G Hobbies on Facebook.
So, I don't know if anyone from here would be interested, but wanted to spread the word, as I know there are members from Lansing and the Greater Chicago Area. who might have known Mr. Gradek, and who might be interested in buying the store.