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Mr. Allen Drucker

Wrong Allen Drucker?

Owner

Allied Hobbies
 
Background

Employment History

  • Owner
    Allied Model Trains
  • Contractor
    Drucker
8 Total References
Web References
OGaugeWatch.com: News
www.ogaugewatch.com [cached]
The owner of Allied Hobbies, Allen Drucker, has sold the shop to new owners and is retiring after 32 years in the business.The new owners will be re-locating the shop across the street from its current location.The article detailing the history of the store and Mr. Drucker's take on the state of the model train hobby is an interesting read.Read the article here.
Allen Drucker, former owner ...
www.mailtribune.com, 23 May 2007 [cached]
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 heels, he decided it was time to sell his business - a favorite stop for local boys and girls and train buffs for generations.
...
"He 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 said.
Among his 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.
"He 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 said.
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 restoring his 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.
Closing its landmark Culver City location ...
www.wavenewspapers.com, 10 May 2007 [cached]
Closing its landmark Culver City location on May 12, Allied Model Trains as it stands today is the brainchild of its owner for the past three decades, Allen Drucker, who turned a boyhood hobby into his life's work.
"This business has been my entire life for the past 32 years," said Drucker, seated in his store's second-floor office on a recent afternoon.
Gray-haired, lean and dressed in a crisp blue button-down shirt under navy suspenders, Drucker spoke in measured tones occasionally broken by excited exclamations.
...
"I remember walking away from this guy and … I couldn't believe what I heard," Drucker said."That … he was making a living with a train store."
Of his own job, Drucker says, "I really didn't like the corporate world.I was at a real low point."
A couple of weeks later, Drucker paid a lunchtime visit to a local store he had heard about called Allied Model Trains, on Pico Boulevard a few blocks west of Westwood Boulevard.
Charmed by the tiny, dingy shop cluttered with model railroads, Drucker asked the kid reading a paperback behind the counter if the owner might be interested in selling the place.
"Funny you should ask … ," the kid replied.
Drucker asked to borrow the phone.On the spot, he called in sick to the electronics store and made an appointment to see the broker representing Allied Model Trains that very afternoon.
When he found out that the $20,000 required up front to buy the business was more than he could afford, Drucker wrestled with what to do until, finally, he made a decision.
Over the next several months, Drucker sold his Ladera Heights duplex, his Porsche and even his model train collection to scrape together the money to buy the Allied Model Trains business and inventory.
Luckily, the Continental Airlines pilot who then owned the store (first opened by Art Truman in 1946), "had run the place into the ground," Drucker said.
...
His first four years in business, Drucker worked in the store seven days a week, sometimes staying open as late as 9 p.m. and barely broke even.Still, he constantly pushed to make his store better, piece by piece.
"I gave the business every single thing it needed," he said."If the business needed a new sign, it got a new sign … and if there was something left over, then I had something."
By the early ‘80s, finally turning a steady profit, "I was really in the right place at the right time," he said.
"The whole nostalgia thing was kicking into high gear at the same time, and up came this term, ‘yuppie.'" Suddenly, it seemed every young professional in town with money to burn needed trains to complete their holiday displays.
Drucker's revenues multiplied, but still, he was not satisfied.He envisioned something bigger, something better.
Spotting a for-sale sign one day in front of a Sepulveda Boulevard property that housed defunct motorcycle dealership and a vacant lot, Drucker thought it was the perfect spot to build the store of his dreams.
He bought the property and in 1989, thanks in part to the help of a train collector friend who was also a contractor, Drucker opened Allied Model Trains in its present location, debuting as a single-story replica of Union Station and the world's only building specifically designed to house a model train store.
Yet, as always, there was room for improvement.
With a nationwide recession hitting in 1990 and increased overhead from his previous store, Drucker reverted to his around-the-clock habits to keep afloat in his new, expanded location.
He traveled often to Europe to personally import hard-to-find models and stocked all the latest trains from the major designers.He kept his store pristine, everything neatly labeled, from the racks of railroad magazines to the cases holding model kits from the ‘50s, still in their original boxes.
At times his devotion has exacted a price.
"To try and take a business that is as unique as model trains and to bring it to the level where I had it … you can't spend money on tons of employees," said Drucker, who is divorced and has no children."That took its toll on me."
But hard work brought rewards too, and eventually Drucker's business flourished again.
In 1992, he purchased another building on Sepulveda Boulevard and used it as a warehouse while adding the second story he had always wanted to his store, where his office is now.
Despite Drucker's accomplishments, he says his business never commands the instant respect enjoyed by some other lines of work.
"Whenever I tell people I sell trains … it's always, ‘Oh, ha ha,'" he said, mimicking a condescending laugh, his voice taking one of its surprising upwards journeys."I got that all my life with the trains."
In the early ‘90s, when he wanted to carry the much sought-after Christmas villages made by Department 56, an exclusive designer of high-end collectibles, a company saleswoman informed him that they only sold their products in swank gift shops and department stores - not hobby shops.
He lobbied for the items anyway, insisting his store was different, until the company sent a sales associate to check it out and, impressed, agreed to make Drucker an authorized dealer of its wares.
With customers clamoring for limited-edition ceramic houses and figurines to complete their Christmas villages as they were released year-round, Department 56 helped turn Allied Model Trains into a booming business for all seasons, whereas before it had tended to do better around the holidays.
Then came what Drucker calls "the beginning of the end."
In 1993, Department 56 went from private to public ownership.Under increased pressure to drive up sales figures, over the next several years it began churning out more and more village accessories until "collectors threw their hands up," Drucker said, unable to keep pace.
"It was meteoric," Drucker said."We were doing tremendous business with that line, and then it came down so fast.They really killed the goose that laid the golden egg."
Recently, there have been other hits to his business too.
With the popularity of the Internet, Drucker has found more and more customers coming into his store to test new models, then leaving without buying anything.
"They'd go home and they'd get on their computer and they'd buy that big locomotive from some guy working out of a barn in the middle of Kansas who's willing to sell it at a big discount," Drucker said."I can't compete with that."
Also at work is another phenomenon beyond his control: the waning demand for model trains.
"People collect things that they wanted when they were kids," Drucker said."The golden era for model trains was in the 1920s and the 1930s … so the old trains … now tend to be collected by people that are in their 80s."
And as for kids today, he said, "It seems like everything has to crash and bang and be about ‘Star Wars' or video games.Trains are just mundane."
Model train sales, Drucker estimated, will only be viable for another 10, maybe 15 years.
"It really is a dying business," he said.
A few years ago, Drucker decided to lease the building he was using as a warehouse to an outside tenant.
When he found out what the market rent was, he was shocked.
"I said to myself, ‘Why am I selling trains?'" he recalled.
He hatched a plan to move Allied Model Trains a third time, out of the beloved store he built and into a smaller property, and to find a tenant to take over his current space.
But the more he thought about it, the more Drucker realized such a move would be his first step backwards in his entire career.
"This place was absolutely unique," Drucker said."I thought, you know … after doing this, doing anything less or different wouldn't have been as much fun."
If he was ready to leave the store, it was time to leave the business.
Drucker had always imagined that when he was finished with Allied Model trains, he would simply sell the business and stay on as landlord, allowing the new business owner to take over his store as-is.
Locating a model train business that could afford the $30,000 in rent per month that his building is now worth, however, was all but impossible.So when Drucker sold his business to Fred Hill and Brian Brooks from Pasadena competitor The Original Whistle Stop, along with former Allied employee Nick Barone, he did it knowing they would have to relocate to a new space.
The new Allied Model Trains store, opening in July at another Sepulveda Boulevard location
Trolleyville Times - November 2007
www.trolleyville.com, 1 Nov 2007 [cached]
Allen Drucker, the former owner of Allied Model Trains from 1975 until earlier this year stated in the local press that he sold the business because "I always told myself I didn't want to be the old man running the train store". We are convinced that he was already that, and had been that for some time and probably was the only one that did not know it!
Trolleyville Times - July 2007
www.trolleyville.com, 1 July 2007 [cached]
It is not exactly a trade secret that the former owner of Allied Model Trains, Allen Drucker, did not think much of his model railroader customers. He even stated to the Los Angeles Times recently that "...Then there is the looky-loo hobbyist who... comes in, checks out the latest model trains with powerful lights and digital sounds but buys almost nothing...". He also predicted the premature death of the entire model railroading hobby. It never once occurred to him that maybe his attitude towards and his method of dealing with customers affected his sales. Come to think of it, we never saw Allan Drucker with a smile on his face.
...
Six months ago, there was Allied Model Trains in a "landmark" building with "landmark" prices owned by Allen Drucker. Today, the fine building is still there but the customers of Samy's Camera will be supporting it. Model train lovers will have a new Allied Model Trains, dedicated to their needs, with new and friendly staff that will actually like most of their model railroading customers. Looks like the big change is that all that is gone is Allen Drucker and this is real hard to consider a loss to the model train loving community at all!
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