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June 18, 2011

Shop Talk: Delhi Station Train and Lighting Shop

Shop Talk is a weekly column featuring locally owned and operated businesses. This week, we talk to Neil Mitchell of the Delhi Station Train and Lighting Shop.

How long have you lived in the area?

I moved here in 1998 from New Jersey, where I grew up. My mom was from Otego, where my grandfather had an opera house and newspaper business. My aunt and uncle owned the Delhi Republican newspaper quite a while ago.

Tell me about your business:

I sell new electric model trains in all gauges; occasionally I deal in used trains as well. I am an Aladdin Lamp dealer specializing in kerosene, electric and restoration pieces especially in the era of 1830 to 1960.

This is a small shop with a lot of inventory; in addition to the trains and lamps, I stock track, scenery and parts, do special orders and I have specialty catalogs for customers to look through.

Describe a typical day in your business:

I really never know _ people stop in out of the blue looking for something specific or just to look around, or I will have people stop in and have a train that they would like to have repaired. November and December are really busy with the holidays.

How did you get started in this line of work?

I guess it all began with a train around the Christmas tree. My first train was a 1954 Comet American Flyer, I believe, and I have always been interested in model trains since. I had originally thought about running an antique shop, but there are plenty of those, and I didn’t have the space required for antiques, so I decided to specialize, focusing on trains and on lanterns.

Where do you see this business in five years?

It will all depend on the nation’s economy. Model trains are a discretionary income hobby, but they manage to stay popular despite the economy. In five years, I want to still be open with a regular flow of customers.

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