Berwyn’s Toy Trains and Models

| April 16, 2009 | 0 Comments


By Shannon Capanna

I think when it comes to the dilemma of big box stores versus mom ‘n pop, we’d all like to support the little guy … in theory.  But let’s face it, it’s getting harder and harder to even find the little guy, and when you do, he often doesn’t offer a comparable price to the big box store.  Or the selection is limited.  Maybe the hours just aren’t good.

But recently I discovered  Berwyn’s Toy Trains and Models in Berwyn, Illinois. It’s the independent toy store that you’ll actually want to choose over the bigger-name retailers.

Here’s why:

First off, their selection is better.    Approximately half the store is dedicated to the serious model trains that the bigger boys tend to gravitate toward (and by “bigger boys,” I mean “our husbands”), trains such as those made by the Lionel company.  And check out this awesome display of electric model trains!  Kids can operate various features in the display by pushing buttons, which I believe to be one of the top three favorite pasttimes of children.

But when it comes to trains, in my family only one name matters: Thomas.  Berwyn’s has two Thomas wooden train tables for the kids to play on, and each is jam-packed with engines and accessories.  (Contrast this with the Thomas table offered by the nearby big-name toy store, which offers a single engine for kids to fight over.)  The selection of Thomas items available for purchase is astounding and–get this–cheaper than Toys ‘R Us.  They even gave me a mail-in form to get my tickets for A Day Out with Thomas before they even go on sale online, and without the extra online fees.

The store also offers other well-known toy brands at competitive prices.  I’d say their selection tends to lean toward more imagination-based and educational toys.  They even have a great selection of those Schleich animals that they sell at Target.  And there are cool ride-on toys, baby toys, and collectibles.

But besides the selection and prices, I also appreciated the store’s sales staff.  It’s always tough to find that perfect combination of friendly and helpful without being pushy and annoying, and somehow the staff at Berwyn’s achieved just that combination.  Nobody was getting in my face while I let my son play for nearly an hour with the train tables, and that actually made me want to support the store even more.  I knew the workers would be more than willing to help if I needed it, but they also understood when I wanted to browse on my own.  (Also they looked the other way when my son had a massive tantrum upon leaving the store, something that must happen all the time there.)

Berwyn’s Toy Trains and Models is just 15 minutes from downtown Chicago.  It’s also only about ten minutes from Brookfield Zoo.  And if you need another reason to make the trip out there, stop by nearby Lalo’s for food and the world’s best margaritas!  It will be a family day that everybody will want to get on board for!

This is an original Chicagonista article.

Shannon Capanna is a writer, editor, and mom who lives in south suburban Homewood with her husband, toddler son, and cat. She blogs at ChicagoMoms Blog, and at her personal site, Boringtown’s Closed.

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Category: Shops & Services

About the Author ()

Joining Shannon Capanna in Home Sweet Homewood are her professor husband, toddler son, and giant cat. Career-wise, Shannon worked as an elementary school teacher for three years before becoming an editor for math textbooks. She quit that job to try to achieve that elusive work-life balance, and she is now trying to cobble together some kind of career as a writer, editor, and mom. Shannon enjoys swimming, watching quality television, and cat-watching.She also blogs at Chicago Moms Blog, and at her personal site, Boringtown's Closed.

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