|Bob and Mary Hofmeister's Train Haus at 406 Market St. is a kid-oriented, safe environment where children of all ages can have a hands-on experience with toy trains.
The couple got involved with model trains in 1995 when they placed a set under the Christmas tree for their two-year-old son, Kevin. This prompted Bob to get out his old set. Mary said, "From there he went overboard with buying trains."
The Hofmeisters began attending train shows and swap meets to sell off some of their acquisitions. But then they would turn around and purchase even more expensive equipment. This buying and selling evolved into the opening of The Train Haus in 1997.
The Train Haus is really a full hobby shop that specializes in trains. A wide variety of trains, from G-scale to Z-scale, and train-related items are available. In addition, any hobby-related item can be special ordered if it is not in stock at the shop. These include model kits, radio-controlled items, miniature racing cars, puzzles, Breyer horses, and candle making and soap making kits. If you want it, they can most likely get it.
The inventory changes frequently. Mary said that train-related merchandise is constantly changing and once the supplier is out, it's gone. However, she and Bob will take special requests from customers looking for out-of-stock items and try to find them at one of the many train fairs they attend.
Mary credits her father for her lifelong interest in trains. She can remember her father having an eight-track Lionel set up in the attic of their home. Bob, too, has had an interest in trains for a long time, but neither knew of the other's interest until several years after they were married. As they've done for years, when the family goes out to eat they look for a restaurant near railroad tracks so they can watch the trains go by.
The Train Haus is a great place to take the kids because they can play with the wooden sets. "I don't want a don't touch atmosphere. I want them to be able to touch and do," said Mary.
The Train Haus is open Monday through Saturday from 10-5 and is closed Sunday. For information, call 573-486-0117.
A second store is located at the Warrenton Outlet Center next to K-B Toys. Hermann native Bob Buesking, an avid railroader, works at that location and is happy to share his knowledge with customers. Hours at Warrenton are Monday through Saturday 10-8 and Sunday 11-6. The phone number is 636-456-0117.