Trainpops Attic on the Right Side of the Tracks
by Cate Murway
Model trains tend to bring out the kid in all of us… it’s the lure of the locomotive!
Children dream of a toy train set but many, as they grow up, keep their passion, continue to be enamored with trains, and they join the hobby of sophisticated model train layouts.
Brian Adams is a member of an extended family of toy train enthusiasts. Introduce yourself to Brian, the Trainpops Attic owner, with an indefatigable connection to trains and railroading. He is way more than just qualified to help anyone interested in ‘choo- choosing’ a hobby that can create a fascinating world, melding realism and imagination in a unique and inviting way.
Today many collectors and hobbyists enjoy the nostalgia and tradition of model trains.
Brian became a devoted train buff with a nod to his dad, John, who worked for a gentleman who started the [TCA] Train Collectors Association, the largest and oldest group of toy train enthusiasts in the world. His late paternal grandparents Ogden and Marjorie, who actually “met at a train display in some point in time”, were dubbed by the family as “Trainpops” and “Trainpops Mom”.
Brian recently moved his shop to a much larger space on the “RIGHT side of the tracks”, to 400 Mill Street, the entire right corner on the first block of Mill Street when driving into historic Bristol on the Delaware.
People are literally entranced while watching the trains chugging around a series of concentric ovals, with the sleek engine that belches steam, towing detailed replicas of freight and passenger cars.
Lionel trains were manufactured between 1906 and 1938, drawing admiration from model railroaders around the world for the solidity of their construction and the authenticity of their detail. They ultimately became the standard against which all other model trains were measured.
The original Lionel Corporation was founded in 1900 by Joshua Lionel Cowen [aka Joshua Lionel Cohen 1877-1965] and a colleague from Acme Lamp Company, Harry C. Grant [1872-1955] in NYC.
During Lionel's early days, Americans were captivated by the railroads and awed by electricity, still a rarity in many homes. Now attics and basements and spare rooms across the nation are literally filled with small buildings and model engines. Trains are a hobby that transcends generations and a toy that bonds fathers and sons like no other.
Cowen was an audacious promoter and he used creative marketing techniques, convincing department stores to incorporate his toy trains into their Christmas tree displays, linking toy trains to Christmas and making them popular Christmas presents. Lionel ceased toy production in 1942 to produce nautical items for the US Navy during World War II but the company continued to advertise heavily, promising new and exciting products, urging American teenagers to begin planning their post-War layouts. Cowen’s son, Lawrence, born in 1907, became the company's emblem on boxes and posed for pictures in the Lionel catalogues.
Lionel's electric train, along with the Easy-Bake Oven, became the first electric toy inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame.
The holidays are coming FULL STEAM AHEAD. Trainpops Attic shoppers are urged to take a STATION break and step into “Kringle’s Korner”. This room is chock full of reasonably priced novelties for kids, canvas RR wall hangings, best quality, compelling, and fun train and railroad puzzles and books, and an eclectic assortment of vintage railroad accessories, capturing the hearts and stirring the imagination of young and old alike.
P.S. The famous St. Nick will be making an appearance there himself.
“Wow! I stopped in tonight for a sneak preview of the new Trainpops Attic on Mill Street before Saturday's open house. Fantastic location to house Santa this season, magical train layouts for kids and an amazing inventory for serious train collectors, an enhanced asset on Mill Street,” local author, Bill Pezza shared.
Local photographer, John Robert Root, BHS ’93 is a rail enthusiast. His fervor for his craft is serious and sincere and his TRAINED eye has captured incredible pictures that have become a perfect gift item.
His impressive imagery beverage coasters command a STOP amid other local entrepreneurs’ creations.
Tina M. Fricano, proprietor of t.s. Cornerstones admired the handmade soaps and sugar scrubs. “This is a great gift shop and I like the detail of the little villages.”
Brian’s mother, Cynthia is pleased that this new location is so spacious. They have additional room for select Bristol items, and hand crafted gifts, greeting cards and holiday cards. “It won’t just be a Christmas shop but a gift shop for all year round.”
Artist of Bristol, Jeanette “Jan” Ruano said, “this place is marvelous and another asset to Bristol. I found some craft items I can certainly put to use”. Her sister, Ceil Graff creates the most beautiful handmade train greeting cards and she markets them at Trainpops.
Mel Williams’ wood crafts and plaques deck the walls and are ready for purchase.
The Bristol Borough Business Association exists to promote the town and its businesses.
BBBA VP Joseph J. “Joe” Barbagallo attended the Grand Opening, “supporting the businesses in town and I loves trains. I think this shop is wonderful!”
Many just stop and stare at the tiny train worlds, and they are mesmerized.
A model railway was never just a train set, but a recreation of a real life location in miniature, a 3D art form. It’s actually quite addictive; the more realistic…. the more enchanting!
BBBA President/Bird of Paradise Flowers proprietor Jimmy Bason just appreciates “that everything is in miniature.”
Brian’s cousin Donna Ervin loves his new bigger store. “I am a Peanuts collector and now, thanks to my husband who purchased items for me, I own a Christmas Peanuts’ train and a Halloween Peanuts’ train.”
Margaret R. Grundy Library circulation librarian, Peggy Kindt said “my family loves the store. My grandson, Kenny is very into trains. He has his own train and he is in a train club. The gift room is unbelievable!”
BAAA Executive Board member, Gerald Raymond “Jerry” Kline, BHS ’63 nodded, “I’m kind of a little kid still and I love trains.” His buddy, retired BHS Earth Science teacher/ BAAA secretary, Michael Joseph “Mike” Russo, BHS ‘66, shared, “I’m more than a little boy. I’m a big boy! I’ve had trains at home since I was a Smurf. Trains never went out of fashion for me. Grandkids reeled me back in!” His wife, Wanda appreciated the assortment of gifts available for every occasion.
Dennis Hickey admitted, “I’m an occasional customer and I’ve been a fan of trains since I was a child.” His wife, Grundy Library Youth Services Coordinator, Shirley Hickey was invited and she chose him as her guest.
Patron Services & Museum Docent/Margaret Grundy Memorial Library/Grundy Museum, Robin Simmers-Butrey always supports the Bristol businesses and she and her husband, Frank enjoy trains.
Robin confirmed, “This is the place to come!”
Lions member/ Bristol Zoning Board member, Angelo Grisolia and his wife, Theresa who works at CBM in Bristol came for the Grand Opening. “He loves trains. He’s in charge of trains!” Theresa chimed in.
Craig Whitaker of Whitaker Brothers South, Inc, a Bose® Premier Certified Dealer, and his wife, Lynn support all the businesses in the town. “We have a train setup for the grandkids.”
Chris Risko is Brian’s loyal friend. “This space is phenomenal with a lot of potential for growth.” Chris’ friend, owner of “Libby’s Sweet Escapes” baked the custom ‘Trainpops’ cookies for their Grand Opening events.
Peter Carter lives in Burlington but he often strolls throughout Bristol. “I have been a train person for awhile. I have a train set in the basement.”
Dave Huber and his wife, Ellen noticed all the lights after having enjoyed dinner at the Mill Street Cantina. They were pleased that they had come into Trainpops to see what was going on.
Steve Corleto is the proprietor of neighboring stores, ‘Steve's Tees Awards and DeSigns’ and ‘Barking Spyder Board Shop’. He confirmed, “Trainpops Attic is a true asset to the area!”
So, apparently Brian Adams is ON THE RIGHT TRACK! All Aboard!
A toy train is not just a representation of something physical. It is also a kind of joy that represents a time in our lives when things were as simple as a ‘choo choo’ ride. Traveling the same tracks over and over again, a model train’s playful spirit never seems to cease. It's a system; precise and logical.
In the real world, trains are an afterthought, a nuisance, even. In the model train world, they are what they once were. They are the reason for the little buildings and little people that cluster around the stations. Listen for the whistle. It represents the ability to travel somewhere where you weren't.
It represents freedom.
For this exact reason, toy trains deserve a place in our cluttered, work-infested lives.
A Christmas Gala Christmas tree will be decorated on November 1st with tags noting gifts for the less fortunate seniors. Be a Santa for a Senior! Come in and select a tag gift request from the tree for a senior citizen who may not otherwise receive gifts this holiday season.
Trainpops Attic, LLC
400 Mill Street
Bristol Borough, PA 19007
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