Allen Drucker, former owner of Allied Model Trains, is shown before he sold his store after 32 years in Culver City.
The store exterior is modeled after Union Station and easily one of the biggest model train stores in the country.Los Angeles Times
...And fading along with it, says owner Allen Drucker, is the model train industry.
"It's just a dying hobby," said Drucker
, 58."I always told myself I didn't want to be the old man running the train store."After 32 years at the miniature railroad hub, Drucker
has sold to new owners, who will move the business to a smaller Art Deco-style building he
owns across the street.He'll rent the Union Station look-alike to a camera shop.
With real estate values rising and competition from the Internet barking at his
decided it was time to sell his
business - a favorite stop for local boys and girls and train buffs for generations.
had a huge Lionel layout and all along the walls were shelves full of trains," said Drucker
, who visited Sinatra's home several times.
"It has become increasingly more difficult to run a single store like mine in a major metropolitan area," Drucker
challenges have been paying electric bills of $3,000 a month to help keep his
display trains running and maintaining a staff big enough to look after the place.
Then there is the looky-loo hobbyist who, he
said, comes in, checks out the latest model trains with powerful lights and digital sounds, but buys almost nothing.
says, 'Wow, I would love that.' Then he
walks out of here with a tube of glue and a magazine and buys it online from some guy working out of a barn in the middle of Kansas," Drucker
But the real problem with the model train industry, Drucker
said, is that its biggest fans are growing older and haven't been able to pass along much of their passion to the next generations.
Customer Randy Miller endures gentle mockery from his
children." 'He's 55 and still playing with trains,' my daughter says. 'I think he's
losing it.' "
Miller drove down to check out Allied's
closing sale and walked out with $300 worth of Lionel boxcars in a big sack.He's
late father's old train set and enjoying memories, recently using his
skills as a machinist to restore a toy water tower his
brother broke in the 1960s.