PINELLAS PARK, Fla. — In Pinellas Park, there’s an age-old business that not only survived the pandemic but grew stronger because of it.
Like the real-life steel titans, their models are made to replicate, which doesn’t look like it’s going to change anytime soon.
HR Trains and Toys supplies model trainFor 45 years, owners have been able to provide everything they need for their railroad dreams. They offer a wide range of models and all the accessories that bring them to life.
They’re also in the business of making dreams come true for people of all ages.
“We facilitate people in a hobby that is probably one of the oldest hobbies around,”Dennis Hoffman, operator and owner trainI was informed by an enthusiast.
Dennis Hoffman was my interviewer when I met him. I was even shown his holiday. trainIt is open all year, and it’s a puzzle based on his likeness. I had forgotten how muchPeople love to place trains around Christmas trees. I suddenly remembered that I had one.
George Apthorp, my grandfather, was a conductor for the Erie Lackawanna Conrail Railroad, Upstate New York. justI was fortunate to have an industrial railroad yard right next to my house. My grandfather would take me to his house and pick me up on certain days. He would allow me to ride along with him for a few hundred yards until I had enough. I was only about four or five years old, but it’s a memory that still sticks in my head.
He also owned a large model trainHis basement. I can still remember him playing with his trains. He also gave my dad a set of trains that we still have in their basement.
Let’s not get into that now.
Dennis was born into this hobby. His father was a model railroader and started the business with his wife back in the ’70s. Dennis and his mom now run the shop, trying to pass on their passion for it to their children. more generations.
“We get our kids in here with Thomas the Tank trains. Then they move on to some of the smaller models. We get the grandmas and grandpas that want to build train sets they had when they were kids. We also get the railroaders that have been doing it all their life,”Dennis shared his knowledge with me.
HR Trains survived despite the fact that many businesses were affected by the pandemic. “model railroading is a stay-at-home type of hobby.”
It’s the largest model train storeFlorida. It is difficult to run a shop of this size and the amount of products that he uses every day.
Dennis is the conductor here, but he admits he’s not the most knowledgeable person at the store, and that’s when I met his engineer.
In the back, you can work in a workshop. store, I met Marco Camuzzi. It was his birthday. He’s 18 years old.
Marco started here as a customer and now for the past year has been Hoffman’s right-hand man, repairing models for customers, stocking shelves, and helping customers pick out the right train.
Today, he was busy repairing a train’s electrical that shorted out after the owner accidentally put the wrong component in to make the smoke stack work. He was also teaching me a lesson in history.
Like Dennis, it’s in his blood.
“My Uncle had model trains. He built a table. He built a table for my cousin. When he grew out of it, I got all the stuff. My grandmother’s father was a conductor for the railroad in Cuba,”Marco Camuzzi stated that he had repaired the customer’s computer. train.
Model railroading isn’t Marco’s only thing though. He’s been singing and playing the violin since he was eight and also does musical theatre.
“I’m the kid that wants to sing and act for a living but does model trains on the side,”Marco smiled.
Even if he doesn’t stick to model trains as a career choice, Dennis is grateful to have such an enthusiastic person helping guide the storeA new generation.
“He’s a go-to person if you want to know something about European trains, digital, and American trains. He just knows everything,”Dennis stated.
He was so confident in his knowledge that he succeeded in fixing the issue. trainWhile we spoke, he was busy working on something else.
His enthusiasm for it is contagious. So contagious that I went searching for my grandfather’s railroad car and actually found it.
From the realism of these models to the technical skills they require to keep up, there’s no denying they’re doing much more than justAt HR Trains and Toys, you can play with trains.
“I just love it and when you love something as much as this you just learn as much as you can about it,”Marco said.
H-R trains can be visited toys on 49th Street North in Pinellas Park.
They’re usually open six days per week, but can be opened seven days during the holidays. Online shopping is also possible.
The storeAlso, they are preparing for a huge trainThis October’s show will feature lessons, speakers, as well as the opportunity for children to race and build their own trains.