New owner pulls into station for the holidays at Seaside Hobbies
Decorating around the holidays has become a tradition, synonymous with the Christmas season, from lights and garland and stockings on the mantle to the iconic evergreen that seems to flood a room with holiday cheer. But for many, including Craig Thomas, it was the decor below the tree that resonated the spirit of Christmas.
Ever since he was a young boy, growing up in Middletown, Thomas remembers the model train that circled the trunk of the family’s Christmas tree — the ominous buzz of the electric current that brought it to life each season, the click-clacking of the cars over the track, the unmistakable whistle that echoed from the engine.
Since relocating to lower Sussex County, he found himself stopping into Seaside Hobbies in Ocean View, expanding and elaborating on the seasonal setting below the Christmas tree. Since taking over the shop at the start of last month with the help of wife, Karen, though, Thomas is enjoying helping others carry on the festive tradition, as well as advising some who are just getting into the spirit.
“It all started out when I got a train set for Christmas,” Thomas recalled. “From there, you’d have it set up for a month around the holiday, but then you’d put it away and you wouldn’t see it for a year. That wasn’t good enough for me. I started leaving it up, year-round, and it kept going from there.”
As time went on, he found himself adding to the pint-sized railway, from tracks and train cars to the surrounding community of miniature onlookers and buildings.
“There’s a passion that comes with it,” he said. “It starts with one thing and snowballs into another. It’s like a disease. Once you get it, you’re hooked.”
Now, as the owner of Seaside Hobbies, Thomas passes along his knowledge to customers, many of whom, like himself, started out frequenting the 11-year-old shop.
“I was definitely a customer before I was an owner,” he said. “There is a really good following in the area, and I see the same people who have been coming here for years, like myself.”
The store’s shelves are lined with countless additions for the model train enthusiast, as well as starter sets for the late bloomer. Brands like MTH, LGB, K-Line and Lionel, the name behind the beginning of model trains, are all available at Seaside Hobbies. Repair from experts in the business can also keep things right on track, quite literally, and they buy used trains and sets, too.
“People like being able to swing by and add onto their sets,” said Thomas. “Hobby shops are dying off these days, and it’s hard to find any in the area.”
And trains aren’t the only thing that Seaside Hobbies has to offer. Remote control trucks, boats and helicopters, as well as model airplanes and cars — plastic and wood — and Estes rockets, can fulfill any collectors’ or enthusiasts’ wishes.
Although the holiday season is a particular busy time of the year for collectors, Seaside Hobbies keeps their door open, year-round.
Through the Christmas holiday, Seaside Hobbies, located at 15 Daisey Avenue in Ocean View, will be open Mondays through Saturdays, 11 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. After Christmas, doors will be open Tuesday through Saturday, with the same hours.
This holiday, Seaside Hobbies is once again teaming up with the Delaware Seaside Railroad Club for the 12th Annual Christmas Train Tour. The Delaware Seaside Railroad Club is a group of local collectors and aficionados who open their doors to the public each year, displaying their elaborate, festive model train sets.
“It’s really a great event,” said Thomas. “It’s a great way for people to show off their passion and a way for us to keep the hobby alive.”
The tour, which began last weekend, will continue this Saturday, Dec. 10, and Sunday, Dec. 11, and again on the first full weekend of January. For a complete list of participating members, stop by Seaside Hobbies during business hours.
For additional information, contact Craig Thomas at Seaside Hobbies by calling (302) 539-1601 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.