Otis Schulte’s lifelong love for model trains has led him to open a hobby shop in the rear of his Gerald business.
Schulte opened the hobby and model shop in December at the Gerald Home Center, and he continues to expand the business.
The store sells a variety of items to decorate train set landscape, including, telephone poles, trees and cars; as well as houses and buildings, train engines and train cars. There also are tracks, replacement parts and a variety of other set-related items.
“I like trains — I have a layout in my basement that I have been working on for years,” said Schulte.
Schulte said he first became interested in trains when his parents bought him a train set and layout when he was 6 years old. He still has that set today.
He said the hobby is for all ages.
“A lot of people are trying to get kids interested again,” Schulte said. “They are trying to get them off of just playing games on the computer.”
There also are seniors who have picked up the hobby for something to do in their spare time.
At the shop, Schulte has primarily HO and N scale train parts and accessories, but also carries some O scale.
Many of the trains, cars and buildings are new, but there also is a large assortment of used pieces that already have been assembled.
While the main focus of the store is trains, there also are model cars, planes and boats.
There are a small amount of remote control helicopters for sale, but Schulte said he does not plan to expand those sales.
According to Schulte, he has customers from Hermann, Warrenton, St. James and most of Franklin County.
This is the only store in the area that offers this wide of a variety of train-related items, he added.
The store carries some collector lines that are no longer made and can go to four different suppliers to order for customers.
He further explained that much of the inventory was built by purchasing the remains of hobby shops that closed their doors, or limited their inventory.
Schulte said he has lower overhead to operate the store because it is located in an existing business.
“Most stand-alone shops are not making it,” Schulte said. “I don’t have to sell anything today to keep the lights on.”
The store is located at 388 W. Springfield Road, Gerald. The phone number is 573-764-5000.