Reid Carlberg

Connected Devices, & Other Adventures

Chicago Area Hobby Store Review

Do you have a favorite train, RC or hobby store in the Chicago area?  I’d love to hear about it.  Please drop me a note or comment.

Berwyn Toys & Trains, Berwyn — nice store with a decent O nd HO selection and a pretty cool O scale layout that you can operate yourself.  Not as much Lego as I expected based on their giant Lego advertisement on the outside of the building.  No N scale, a couple LGB but nothing to write home about.  A surprising amount of plastic ponies.  (Visited: 1/2012)

Lombard Hobby, Lombard — This stand-alone building in what seems like the middle of nowhere has the best selection of HO trains I’ve found so far.  Really fantastic.  Great prices, too.  Decent amount of N.  Staff is helpful, and the store is very neat and organized.  I first ran into them at Trainfest where they sold me some Athearn spine cars (which I love) for $10 less than anyone else at the show. (Visited: 12/2011)

America’s Best Train, Toy & Hobby, Itasca — This place is insane.  It’s packed full of stuff, everywhere you look.  One side of the store is dedicated to toy’s — Legos, models, etc. — and the other to trains.  And holy moly what a selection they have.  It’s not nearly as organized as Lombard Hobby.  In fact, it reminds me more than a little of The House of Guitars.  This is a store to browse, patiently.  For example, while there, I found an old HO box car celebrating Christmas, 1977.  For $15 or something.  Crazy.  Great quantities of O and HO, decent amount of N and Z.  (Visited: 12/2011)

Al’s Hobby Shop, Elmhurst — three storefronts in downtown Elmhurst, one of which is devoted to trains.  Nice consignment area with a few midrange brass sets, decent selection of track (HO, N, O) and some scenery.  Not a huge selection of engines, sets or rolling stock.  (Visited: 12/2011)

Chicagoland Toys and Hobbies, Chicago — one of the first stops I made on the Chicago hobby shop tour, Chicagoland Toys and Hobbies is a pretty nice place.  I bought an Athearn heavy-duty flat there along with some track.  Kind of a standard selection of O, HO and N.  Looks like their real strength is in G.  Holy moly.  Lots of it.  (Visited: 10/2011, 12/2011)

Oakridge Hobbies and Toys, Darien — This store pretty much rocks.  Toy selection is on par with America’s Best, but it’s very organized.  Trains feel like an afterthought, although they have some nice stuff and it’s well organized.  (Visited: 11/2011)

Hobby Town, Orland Park — Mostly an RC store, although it has a bit of everything.  The new train department is kinda light however this is where I bought some great used stuff — the Athearn PRR PA1 & PB1 units (both powered) that work really well with the Digitrax DCC decoders.  BTW the PB1 appeared to be NIB and probably never run.  I had to install the couplers.  For $30 or something ridiculous.  (Visited: 10/2011)

La Grange Hobby Center, La Grange — I can’t find a website for this place, which is crazy, but it’s a nice little shop.  They touch on a lot of areas — trains, RC, etc — but seem to have a larger interest in models.  Nothing like the selection over at America’s Best, but pretty decent for a local store.  (Visited: 09/2011, 10/2011, 12/2011)

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