The above poster is right that online sales are very much a Me Run No Thanks I Fly Swim Shirt and if you are looking for deals train shows are also a thing where items can be bought and sold and have strong popularity (at least in our local area). On the other hand, these trains-which are essentially toys- are so darn expensive. The new stuff has a bunch of tech in them that makes them really cool, but they are delicate and pricey. They are essentially older people play things. No parent is gonna buy their 10 year old a $400 starter set. I think that is actually common in the model train hobby. I want to say a year or two ago there was a thread on Reddit about model trains and someone was saying that a lot of the train stores that still exist are owned by retirees that love trains and they use the store as a place to hang out/interact with other train enthused retirees. As these people get older/pass away it (unfortunately) makes sense that their retirement project goes with them.
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My hometown had a similar story. Toy and Hobby shop downtown that was a Me Run No Thanks I Fly Swim Shirt icon, mostly model train stuff with a few overpriced classic toys (more timeless stuff like baby dolls and overstock matchbox cars rather than whatever was hip). The elderly owners decided they wanted to finally retire and a group of people purchased the lease to “save” the iconic store from closing forever. Turns out the store hadn’t turned a profit in years and the couple was just paying the lease themselves to have a retirement project. The place was permanently closed within a year. You should encourage him to embrace war gaming if he hasn’t considered it. Much of the love of building terrain and landscapes, and the materials to do so, carry over. War gaming on tabletop, with games like, is actually gaining a lot of players these days. It could be a possible way to save the business. Even if the store is too late to save, much of the merchandise may sell to wargamers online. The stores are being run out by online shops. But the community is still pretty strong. There is a circuit of Model Train shows in Ontario every summer. I put $20 in, what used to be a SUPER popular cache that people would visit daily like 15 years ago… I later turned, about 6 months later and the same items including the $20 were in there.
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