-All About Us-
In 1981 Pat and Cheri Neil opened Collectible Trains and Toys in the Medallion Shopping Center at Northwest Highway and Abrams Road in North Dallas. The business was small, only 20 feet wide, but was an extension of their interest in toy trains and related collectibles of the past. Pat had been learning about, seeking out and accumulating a substantial and impressive collection of Pre- and Post-War toy trains from America and Europe and so together they decided to turn their passion into (hopefully) a livelihood.
It was a struggle but about every 5 years or so, another 20 feet of storefront was added as the space became available, more products were introduced, more employees were hired, and eventually by 2001 the store had grown to almost 8,000 sq.ft. About 1987 a simple Brio Wooden Trains play table was added to keep the youngsters occupied while the grown-ups shopped and by 2002 the Kid’s Department and play area had grown as large as many specialty toy stores.
Not every idea was a success in the long run (Radio Control cars for instance), some were great while they lasted (Department 56) but the continued growth in the area of new train production and interest in “collectibles” led to a decision to grow yet again in 2002. This decision was helped along as the Medallion Center announced plans to demolish our entire end of the shopping center to build a new department store anchor.
-2002 To June 2007-
We were lucky in that one of our good customers helped us find and develop a unique space at Skillman and LBJ-635 a little further north. It was a former movie theater with 25 ft. ceilings – a huge empty space. A second floor open front mezzanine was built to provide more storage and we found ourselves with 12,000 sq.ft. of space to play with. A much larger “old trains” section was added, there was lots of room for big, tall train layouts, a huge new Kid’s Department with a Birthday Party room, a slot car display and layout, a greatly expanded library with a huge selection of “real train” books and research material and more.
Most significantly HO and N-Gauge trains were added to our product mix. In the next 5 years that department and it’s companion products grew to become a large part of the business. In addition the incorporation of the internet and EBay auctions and Store business expanded our market. This physical growth and all these new directions created a need for an even larger staff and required more and more time and effort. In early 2007 as our lease expired it was finally decided to head the other direction….Downsize.
- June 2007 to June 2010 -
We found a great location to downsize to on Welch Road just west of the prestigious Galleria Mall, near 635 LBJ and the Dallas North Tollway. The area had been purely industrial, but was in the midst of becoming the “North Dallas Design District”. Full of furniture stores, small restaurants, a few design and art galleries, we felt this would be a great transitional space. Moving to smaller digs was exhausting, though; we really had to plan our square footage. We enjoyed three years at the store on Welch. We tweaked the store front and the warehouse Backshop, had open houses, continued our Customer Appreciation Days, and more. However, the industry was still changing, and so was our customer base. Ebay and the Internet were gaining even more ground, in our sales in the store, and world wide. At the end of our lease, we decided to pursue our often thought-about plan ? to move out of Dallas, to a house in the country with our store right behind the house! So we did…!
- 2010 to Present -
In 2010, we made our final move to the little town of Forney, est. 1873, just southeast of Dallas. We had been looking to move from Dallas, the Big City, for several years, and we looked as far north as Denison, and as far east as Greenville, and as far south and east as Terrell.
We stumbled upon Forney on our way to Terrell to look for property. We had thought about being “urban pioneers”, looking for a downtown building that would house the trains and our muscle cars, with living quarters upstairs. We didn’t locate one in downtown, sadly, but did discover a cute house on a country road and right behind it is a 4,100 sq.ft. building that now houses our train store!
As in the past, we have a unique showroom full of trains, our specialty cars, and antique toys. And our warehouse is full of repair parts, stock in various ages and stages, track, and many odd ‘n ends. We’re buying collections in all gauges all the time, so the inventory changes daily. We have the largest selection of new and used trains in this part of the USA!
For many of our customers, this location was a longer drive, but for many other customers, it’s the same or even better (especially our East Texas folks, who don’t have to drive into Dallas to get to the trains!) We still think your visit will be worth the drive, wherever you start from! We look forward to seeing you soon!