Travel Twin Cities: Choo Choo Bob’s Train Store

Don’t forget to enter my giveaway of MyMemories Suite v.3.  It’s open until noon on Friday, January 27, 2012.

At the crossroads of Marshall and Cleveland in St. Paul, you will find a thriving little shopping block.  In this interesting little strip of retail real estate lies a bustling toy store named…
Choo Choo Bob’s Train Store has been around since October of 2005 and was opened by Choo Choo Bob himself, Bob Medcraft.

I was first introduced to Choo Choo Bob’s by my friend Amanda.  I was so curious about this place that it wasn’t long after she told me about it I went to check it out.  Since then, it has become a favorite destination of my children–well, actually of my whole family.  We bring grandma and grandpa.  We meet our friends.  We go to play! Dash and JackJack can’t get enough of Choo Choo Bob, and my girls are entertained during our entire visits aswell!

 This store is for the train enthusiast of any age.  The first time I walked in there, I immediately felt that we were in a train store.

I know.

Dumbfoundingly obvious, isn’t it? 

But hear me out.  The reason I say this is because some toy stores say they are train stores because they have a little Thomas and a little Brio or Chugginton.  Other train stores are definitely not toy stores, have not ever been toy stores, and will never be a toy store built for a young train enthusiast.

On the other hand, Choo Choo Bob’s was designed for the train lovers who have little hands and big hearts. 

Like I said, when I walked into Choo Choo Bob’s, the first feeling I got was that this was a train store.  Behind the desk the wall is filled with displayed scale model railroad cars (as in H, N, and OH and whatever other sizes there are.)  There is a shelf filled with picture books and history books about the history of trains in Minnesota.  I didn’t know there was so much to know.
 
The walls aren’t painted with extremely bright colors.  The floor is carpeted with a neutral berber.  I think.  I’ll tell you this.  My eyes were not drawn to the carpet. 
But this is only at first glance.  When I began to look around, I saw so much more:
  • model railroad displays (at the children’s level).  More than just one.  There were at least three on display if not more than that. 
  • six train tables in the back of the store with set ups for the youngest train lovers to use.
  • one train table in the front of the store similar to those in the back.
  • rentable and nostalgic party rooms (a second one was just added this past fall which they call “The New Party Room.”).  These party rooms are designed to look like train stations and add to the decor of the play areas.
  • shelves  and shelves of railroad accessories, railroad toys, a tv monitor with a train video playing.
Choo Choo Bob’s Train Store was not designed to be the end all be all of model railroading.  They readily admit this themselves.  This is the perfect place to come and introduce an imagination to the joy of trains.  This is the place to come for a beginner model train set. This is the place to come to play. 
Choo Choo Bob’s Train Store was designed as a playland.  It’s a playland for moms and kids, dads and kids, grandpas and kids, and grandmas and kids. Being able to enjoy the Choo Choo Bob’s experience together is what makes it special.
Highlights:
  • The store is not particularly huge, and every inch of space is used effectively.  The front of the store is used for the big-hands train lovers, and the back two thirds are used for the little-hands/big-hearts train lovers.  I am starting to enjoy small stores that welcome little ones.
  • You can rent the train station party rooms for birthday parties.  The birthday parties cost $125 for 8 guests ($5 per child over 8) which includes a goodie bag, a wooden train craft, use of the room for 2 hours, gourmet train cake from a local bakery, all the necessary table supplies (and clean up crew), and beverages. 
  • Engineer Paul and the rest of the staff.  They are so excited and enjoyable. Sometimes they are a bit eccentric, but they are always educational.  Engineer Paul leads story times on the 1st and 3rd Tuesdays and Saturdays of the month.  He sings songs, reads stories, and engages with each and any child who wants to be included.   Engineer Paul is one of the most loveable reasons to go to Choo Choo Bob’s.  Look for the grandpa-man in the engineer hat and uniform with the red bandana and perfect engineer beard.
  • Individual pieces of wooden track are for sale.  This may not be unique, but it’s helpful. 
Disadvantages:
  • Even though you are not traveling to Grand Avenue in St. Paul, Marshall Avenue is still busy.  There is a small parking lot in the back which is super helpful, but if you visit during storytime or a Saturday morning, you may need to find a parking spot along the street.
  • Since the store is small, it can get pretty crowded inside.  Most people are very polite and understanding, but you need to be willing to be cramped a little and help with the sharing of the train tables. 
  • Bob Medcraft (Choo Choo Bob) has created a TV show surrounding Choo Choo Bob’s trains.  What is the disadvantage of this you ask?  There is a lot of stuff that goes on behind the scene (ha!  get it?) concerning a TV show and right now this TV show does not have network backer so it’s not on TV yet.  You can get the 2 DVDs that they sell at the store, but that’s the limit.  That’s kind of a bummer.  But everything is in the works and they are in the process of producing an entire season of shows full steam ahead with the expectation that they will be on the air soon.
When you walk into Choo Choo Bob’s Train Store, make sure you look up at the ceiling and then look around the store.  You never know when you might run into something unexpected.  Then, take off your jackets, get on your knees, and play!
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About giannarae

I am a child of God who has been given the humbling job of being a wife and a mother to 4. Those whom He has given to me are my Sweet Peas and Buddies and one Honey.
This entry was posted in children, Choo Choo Bob's, family, model train store, trains, travel, Travel Twin Cities. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Travel Twin Cities: Choo Choo Bob’s Train Store

  1. I wish we had a place like that here!! we do have an old toy store, but nothing compared to this. sounds like fun and I don't even like trains!

  2. Man, that store sounds INCREDIBLE! Kind of reminds me of the Shop Around the Corner in You've Got Mail.. only more manly. 🙂

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