My Favorite Train Shopping Venues

I’ve already told anyone who has visited before that I began this hobby seriously in January of 2016. After spending so much time being the good father to my children by attending any and every function they participated in I am enjoying their transition to college. With that comes more opportunity to take time to enjoy a hobby or two. Model Railroading is a great hobby for anyone who loves trains like I do.

This hobby is no small adventure. There are a great number of manufacturers of the parts and pieces, plenty of displays scattered around the world of train models and plenty of people interested in the hobby. As with any pursuit their is people in all phases of the process, from start-up, to expansion, maintenance and sadly trying to pare down their collections. It is these souls that provide an opportunity for those like me who are trying to break into the fold.

When I began to desire my own layout I was quick to log on to eBay and Amazon and snap up a locomotive, track, controller and a few train cars. There is an abundance of each for sale 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. But you have to know a little about the manufacturers to know what price is best. I mean everyone wants the most they can get for their money, right?

With time I began to accumulate the knowledge to make better choices of what I bought. I also began to ruminate on the other places I might be able to find model railroad items for sale. My biggest find so far came from a local flea market where I hit the mother lode. I found buildings, tracks, engines, train cars and accessories that were part of an estate sale. Using eBay as a reference as well as a tool, I was able to get an idea of the value and resell some of the items I wasn’t necessarily interested in for my design. The important thing is not to get too set on anything you buy like this. Everything is for sale.

 

When I began to buy specific items for my layout I went back to eBay since it is a great resource. It was during this time that I hit upon the idea of observing auctions to see what was for sell with little time left and low prices. With the money I had accumulated from selling extra items I would pick up these auction items with the idea of reselling them myself for a bit of profit.

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My grandparents lived in a small town in Virginia that was served by Southern Railways. It will definitely be a major component of my design.

Another great place to find train related items for a good value is at train shows. In 2016 I was able to attend three that were near my home. I found items at each that nicely augmented my collection. The thing about trains shows is that you have new and used items to choose from. Lots of times you can get more detailed information about the items too.

So here is a quick list of the places I shop:

  1. Online – You can find new and used here. Amazon and eBay are the main places I shop, but there is any number of places, including manufacturer specific sites. You must do your homework about specific manufacturers, brands and types to get the best bargain. As I mentioned watching auctions that are ending for bargains is a great idea.
  2. Flea Markets/Yard Sales – I have made two good connections through the flea market. The first time I really came out well, making 200-300% profit on what I chose not to keep. I just recently bought a smaller lot, but it has the potential do return as much or more than the first. The advantage to flea markets/Yard sale is that the seller usually is open to one price for all the items.
  3. Train Shows – What better place to find a specific item for your design than where many others with the same love of the hobby have gathered? You get to rub elbows with experts, fans and develop your understanding of how to construct your layout.
  4. Online Swap Groups – Facebook and Yahoo offer groups specifically leaning toward your individual hobby. I have a feed to my e-mail of a Yahoo group selling HO Scale (my preferred size) items. So far I have not bought anything from this, but mainly because things move too fast for me to investigate the value to know if it is a deal I want to try.
  5.  Buying up collections – This is more like a dream scenario I guess, but as with all things sometimes the interest wanes or the situation changes to where the person involved is ready to get out.  I am not necessarily in the right place with my finances to do this right now, but hopefully as I continue in the hobby I can.
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