Chart based on HMA data released April 26, 2011

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There’s Light at the End of the Tunnel . . . And it’s a Model Train!

by Raymond G. Potter

Chart based on HMA data released April 26, 2011

Chart based on HMA data released April 26, 2011


Good news for those who love model trains. Since the spiraling economic drop in the fall of 2008, the model railroad market, as well as the hobby industry as a whole, finally seems to be on a rebound following the rocky period of the last few years.

 A press release posted on April 26th by the Hobby Manufacturers of America casts a positive light on the growth of the hobby industry over the past few years. Comparing numbers from 2007 to sales from 2009, and estimated final sales of 2010, this industry group finds that HMA members selling Model Railroad products have seen a 15 million dollar jump. While some other HMA hobby industries saw greater percentage increases, the Model Railroad segment stands well ahead of the other categories in sales volume.

 From the press release, “The estimated sales in the individual product segments as compared to the 2007 projections are:

  2010 2007
Model Railroad $424,770,000 $409,500,000
Plastics & Die Cast $305,777,500 $259,100,000
Radio Control $362,912,500 $357,900,000
General Hobby $377,637,500 $247,600,000


The study was conducted by the University of Louisville School of Business via an online questionnaire survey tool . . .  All data was transmitted anonymously … to protect the confidentiality of responding companies.”

These statistics seem to be supported by the growing attendance at the countless model train shows around the country. Not a week goes by throughout the year that one can’t indulge their interest in toy trains or scale model railroading by attending one of these events.

 So clearly, model railroading is not going away. While some hobby shops are finding times tough, the savviest ones are fielding sales via the internet. On-line sales in this market have increased greatly over the past few years, and this trend will only continue. Choosing your trains, structures, and details to expand your collection is as easy as click and pay. No driving necessary – no hungry gas pumps to feed. 

So where does this leave the traditional brick & mortar hobby store? Like virtually any other industry today, to maximize and grow their customer base, the answer is simple. Customer Service!

In such a diverse and complex hobby with an ever increasing multitude of products, finding answers to your countless inevitable questions is essential. Hobby shops that cater to this need are sure to remain.
Once you are on the way to acquiring your trains and related accessories, building a layout to operate your railroad empire is a challenging undertaking that requires a lot more effort.

Staying at home to avoid rising gas prices is a perfect opportunity to indulge in family hobbies like model railroading that involve so many skills and teach so many more.

For those who lack the skill, the knowledge, or the time, this is where SMARTT comes in. We can make your model railroad dreams to come to life, and we do it by using the basic principles one demands in today’s times — uncompromising quality, and unrelenting personalized customer service.

With a model railroad layout at home, there’s no admissions fee, crowds, driving or parking hassles, or weather conditions to worry about, and the refreshment kiosk is no farther away than your fridge.

Best of all, whether you are a die-hard enthusiast who demands prototype fidelity for your layout, or you are seeking an opportunity to enjoy a wonderfully inclusive pastime for every member of your family to share, model railroading truly has something for everyone.

from the May, 2011 SMARTT Newsletter

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