Tuesday, August 14, 2012

AZ: Glendale model-train store puts businessman's dream on track

From AZ Central :  Glendale model-train store puts businessman's dream on track

Opening Jack's Trains in Glendale was Jack Miller's second chance to make his dream of a model-train business come true.

Miller, who received his first train set on Christmas in 1946, said since that day model trains have made up a big part of his life. Miller managed a train store in 1980 and 1981 in Rochester, N.Y., he said.

"When the guy went out of business, I wanted to buy the train store, but he wouldn't sell me just the train store, and that killed the dream," Miller recalled. "I said, 'Someday I will do it again.' Now here I am."

Miller, 75, and his wife and co-owner, Pat, opened the model-train business in Glendale in April 2011 near 58th and Glendale avenues, near Bitz-ee Mama's restaurant. In March, the business moved to its current location, 7021 N. 57th Drive.

Within the shop's white walls, visitors are surrounded by model cabooses, tracks and train memorabilia. In addition to selling model trains and accessories, the Millers repair trains.

The couple plan to open the Caboose Cafe in the back of the store soon to provide customers with sweets and treats.

The shop is a gathering place for model-train lovers, Miller said.

The West Valley Railroad Historical Society, founded by Miller, meets at 7 p.m. Mondays at the store to work on model-railroad projects. The society has about a dozen members, and anyone can join, Miller said.
Miller talked about his love of model trains and the business.

Question: What do most customers who come to your store look for?
Answer: "People are looking for specific things sometimes. Other times, they just ... come to check me out and see what I have."

Q: Has the model train industry changed in the past several years?
A: "The popularity of trains has never died. ... We're doing digital, and it's absolutely awesome. Our locomotives now are digital. We have a chip in the locomotive that designates the address to that particular locomotive ... (The chip allows you to control it) via computer or via cellphone."

Q: What will Caboose Cafe offer customers?
A: "(It) will be opening shortly, by September 1. We will have New York hot dogs, fudge, imported jams and jellies. We'll (also) be having cookies, muffins, sodas, water, juices and coffee."


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