Train City, Inc. News04/26/16 Hello from warm and sunny Cape Canaveral, Florida. Boy have we been busy! We are in the process of working on our Price Guides right now which are based on our actual sales history. Have you looked at a published price guide lately? Even today the prices are not accurate! Why? Because the market changes. But then again I'm not sure if the price guides have ever been actually accurate based on actual sales prices. Well ours is and it's free, so take a look if you like. We will be improving our guide as time permits.
So far this year we have run out of inventory two times. I'm not proud of that fact but it just shows the train market is alive and well. Only at a lower level that it was in the 90's. Manufacturers are just producing too many trains. There aren't enough collectors out there to support through the secondary market which is where we come it.
It used to be in the 80's and 90's that train prices actually went up. Dealer's held inventory until they got their prices back then. It has changed pretty drastically over the years. Now trains sell well in the primary market but now it is more like the automobile market. When it leaves the show room the price drops pretty drastically.
And then once we get the engine or rolling stock or accessory, being the realist we are, the price is much more stable and accurate for the secondary market.
I've been doing this now for around 35 years and can honestly say I've never had this much fun as any other job. I golf with many guys who are retired. They constantly ask me when I'm going to retire. To be honest I don't know if I will. I don't know what I'd do with myself. But I love buying and selling trains almost as much as I love to golf. Someday though I will retire to become a complete golf bum.
My son John who is my equal partner in this business is a pleasure to work with along with my wife, and everyone else that works here for that matter of fact. What more can a guy ask for!
We are a little light on inventory right now although we did have a pretty big shipment come in yesterday. If you know of someone selling please let them know we are still around, kicking, and buying trains if you will!
Well I'd better get back to work. John just went to play hockey and I'm here alone with a lot of work to do. (See what I mean it works out great… he plays hockey on Tuesday's and I play golf on Monday's and Thursdays.) And we get to play with trains the rest of the time. Can it get any better than that?
12/22/15 Merry Christmas and happy holidays from beautiful Cape Canaveral Florida. Once again sorry it has been such a long time since this has been updated. Lots going on here at Train City and choochooauctions.com. And we have made it to year 33 of buying and selling electric trains!
If you get a chance please visit our facebook pages at https://www.facebook.com/traincityinc/ . (I believe you have to be logged in to see it.) We are also on twitter. Just look for Train City, Inc. there.
I have been pretty busy re-writing the software that runs our business over the past four month. I originally wrote it in DOS format. We are now coming into the 21st century with Windows based software. That's the main reason I haven't been able to update as much as I would like to.<p>
Myself and my son John have also been traveling to purchase trains around the country. I just returned from a trip to Michigan which will be appearing over the next couple of weeks. And we are working on other collections of course. We are trying to be selective now in our purchases. We are looking for interesting collections that don't duplicate our current inventory. And I think you will agree we've had some great new items lately. Lots more coming.<p>
In addition to our travels and our software changes, we have broken a case that has been bugging us for the past four years. Evidently an individual who signed up for our site originally four years ago decided it would be a good thing to also make several bogus accounts so that he could manipulate our system. By the time we had caught up to him he had at least 10 bogus accounts and four accounts in his name. Many of the bogus accounts had already been suspended. I'd rather not go into details about what he was doing but it did affect us and you our customers as he would put in bogus bids with his bogus accounts to manipulate bidding.<p>
All of his accounts have been suspended as far as we know. And in trying to make sure this doesn't happen again instead of new members receiving an email which they just have to click on the link to join our site, we are monitoring all new accounts which now have to be approved. It really is amazing what people will do to try to take advantage. If you see any suspicious bids or individuals on our system would you mind giving me a heads up? We will look into every report. Email me at email@example.com.<p>
You've possibly talked with her by now if you call in but a belated welcome to Robin who taken over the auction processing. <p>
As usual everyone here is working hard to make sure you are happy. If you have any problems or questions, please feel free to email me any time! <p>
Well have to get back to work. Testing some of the new software today. I'm sure I will find some bugs. Hope you and yours have a very merry Christmas and happy holidays, whichever applies. From the bottom of our heart, John and I thank you for your business! We know without you we wouldn't be here!<p>
4/22/15 Hello from still sunny Cape Canaveral, Florida! It has been a while since I've updated this blog, but got a little time on my hands this morning. My wife Ginger and I just returned from a cross country buying trip to Oregon. We bought some very nice trains in which you will see on choochoo over the coming weeks. And at the same time we had a great time on the trip. It took us five pretty full days of travel to get the trains back to our warehouse but somewhat uneventful until the last day. On that day we experienced in Florida a never ending intense thunderstorm which we chose most of the time to drive through. We did stop several times though because frankly I was afraid for our safely. It's always good to get back to the island though and I don't intend to go anywhere soon!
My son John will be on a trip up north next week to purchase two more collections. And this is really great news as if you are a regular customer you might have noticed our inventory was getting a little sparse. One day last week for the first time in a long time we were actually out of inventory. Those are the worst days for me because let's face it if you have nothing to sell that is not good!
You may or may not know that we are somewhat laid back and try our best to accommodate everyone who is kind enough to do business with us. Occasionally we run into a problem that we can't fix at least in the way the customer wants us to. I'd like to mention a couple of things that have come up.
We offer to combine shipping on multiple auctions that end within seven days of each other. For some reason lately we have had several people who miss the seven day part and want us to hold auction indefinitely. Unfortunately we cannot do that. Our system is based on turn-over of inventory. Holding items indefinitely for people puts a crimp in our system. So please be aware that we cannot hold inventory longer than seven days.
In a related topic Fedex and all the other shipping companies constantly every year raise their prices. This year they put some heavy tariffs if you will on larger boxes. For this reason we are going to have to raise our shipping prices again. I'm not sure exactly how much as I want to get four months of study in. But it will be coming. I'm not happy with having to raise shipping prices but it is just a tough situation in that Fedex and others know they have everybody as there is so much traffic in their systems mainly because of Internet sales. I just wanted you to know we are not making money on shipping. We are only trying to hold our own on it.
We came into a somewhat unique problem with a customer last week. I missed some emails from him while on my trip to Oregon, but finally saw his fourth message last Friday after a long day of driving. He was very unhappy with an engine he had received which was not working properly and by the fourth email he had sent was pretty upset which I don't blame him, although I question why he didn't call the store as there were people here while I was gone that could have helped him.
To make a long story short he wanted me to give him $100.00 for the time he put into fixing the engine. OK first of all if you haven't already, please read ours and anyone else's return policies before you order anything from anyone. Ours is located in all of our auction under the link entitled 'Important auction ending information, shipping prices, and other policies can be found by clicking here! Not certain how we'll contact you after the auction ends, or wondering what we charge to ship? Then click here!' This is located in the details section of each and every traincity auction on choochoo auctions.com. There you will see all of our policies which we have developed over the years.
The last sentence in our return policy states the following: 'IMPORTANT - Call for instructions should you receive damaged goods or items that don't work correctly, regardless if they were damaged in shipment or not. Attempts to fix or alter in any way returnable items without authorization void your return privilege.'
I hope this makes sense to everyone as if you receive an engine in which is supposed to work but doesn't, we would like to inspect it and find out what happened so that we can make a correction so it doesn't happen again. At any rate, the customer was pretty angry and I'm sorry this happened. I never heard back from him after I sent the email with our policy information but had told him we'd work with him. And we bend over backwards to work with people when problems happen. We value our customers very much because you are the reason we exist!
With every package we ship we include an invoice. At the top of each invoice is our address and phone number. For this prior instance it would be better if you call rather than email us. Or if you email us and don't receive an answer within 24 hours, call. We are not out to get you and if there is a problem we want to fix it for you but it is unlikely we will be able to give back over half the purchase price. Normally we prefer to have the item returned to us for inspection. And generally give a full refund.
I'm not sure if I mentioned this before, I probably did because it is so exciting to me. As of January 1st , 2015 my son John is my full partner in business. I will retain half ownership of our business. As I am getting of the age of possible retirement we felt this was a great way to move forward. I have no plans of retirement yet and actually probably won't fully retire for a while. I have too many friends who retired then got a part time job. If I have a part time job I'd rather it be here helping John with the business that I built!
So back to work I go. Time to start working on this new collection we just hauled from Oregon. Whoopeeee!!!!
10/20/14 Hello from Train City, Inc. in the city of Cape Canaveral, Florida where we are now piled in trains from recent purchases. I can't see over the pile that sits in front of my desk only because it is stacked so high.
And that's a really good thing for this time of the year as we are going into hard core train season! We have been somewhat selective in what we have been buying though. We know you guys and gals are somewhat particular and only want the most interesting and best trains there are!
My wife Ginger and I traveled to Seattle around 5 weeks ago and purchased a beautiful collection. It wasn't the normal collection where we had already received an inventory list and given a firm quote. No this was a little scary as we had received a list of all the engines and got together on price on that one, so they we came and inventoried the rest. Thank goodness the seller was very happy with our offer and things went smoothly.
Now this wasn't our first trip out West. Actually it was the third collection we had purchased in the Seattle area. We've been out west quite a few times actually, but the most noted time was around a year before this Seattle trip when we got stranded three times in truck break-downs which wasn't very much fun at all.
No, this trip was much more boring. I like boring sometimes. It's like watching a guy hit the ball down the center of the fairway every time when golfing. Boring can be good!
But after we purchased that collection in Seattle, pending the night very tired after a long day, we went on our way and picked up another collection in Spokane, Washington. Then on the same day we purchased another collection in Montana.
We were supposed to purchase another collection in Missouri, but I knew we were in trouble when I saw the volume from the Montana collection. The truck was completely full. There was barely enough room for us to put our luggage in the back of the truck.
I felt bad about the Missouri collection, but on the other hand this was sort of a long trip in which my wife will tell you when we are on our way to the airport to catch the plane I always make the statement 'Can't wait to get home!'
At any rate, we really do enjoy these trips when the trucks don't break down. This was a nice trip. After picking up the Montana collection we drove maybe another hour and ended up in Butte, Montana in which we liked a lot. We met Our Lady of the Rockies which was fascinating. Google it!
From there I calculated that if we drove 850 miles a day we would get home in three more days. So that's what we did. Even though it was a fun trip, I kissed the ground when we arrived back here!
John was up North this past weekend and purchased a beautiful, Lionel post war collection. You'll be seeing a mixture of this collection and the others over the next month or so.
Also we are working on some other special collections for you to help us move. And we thank those of you who have been doing a good job of helping us move collections. Personally as I've said before I think that the best deals come from this site and the fact that many of our buyers are actually dealers who are re-selling proves that!
We've been living here in Florida now for six years. After so many years, you start thinking in Florida language and culture.
My sons went to Penn State and West Virginia. So since I spent so much money on tuition for those two great schools, I have been a big fan of their football programs. I still am, but since we moved here suddenly I like other teams such as Florida and Florida State.
So Ginger and I were in church the other day. Of course our priest is a big Notre Dame fan and always has a comment about the big game! So he asks for all the Florida State fans to raise their hands. OK so even though we are in Florida, I didn't raise my hand, looked around and didn't see anyone else in the whole church raise their hand. Then he said 'good!'
It was a nice serene service and towards the end you know you just feel good about things. Then the choir director stood up.
'And for the final song we will sing the Florida State fight song!'
The place went crazy!!! Of course it was a joke, but I just had to share it. Probably one of the funniest things that ever happened while I was in church!
The next day I watched Rudy! :)
07/27/14 Welcome to the best place to buy electric trains period! OK that's a little self serving, but I really believe that statement is true. Where else can you go to purchase trains where they are priced low in the first place? On top of that you can bid on the trains of your choice well below the already low prices!
OK how would you like a hefty buyer's fee tacked on after you win an item on an auction site. Believe it or not this seems to be more the norm than not these days. Not here at choochooauctions.com. And I can honestly tell you we don't ever intend to entertain that thought! A 15% buyer's fee? When you think about it that's like playing games with the customers!
I ran across an auction site yesterday that charges you per bid. It was something like $60.00 for 100 bids? Interesting, but just to complicated. We would never do anything like that.
So from the comfort of your home you can purchase trains from a very reputable company who has been in business almost 35 years at bargain prices. And no gimmicks. Sounds like a winner to me!
Check your batteries. A good customer of ours had a battery literally explode luckily while he wasn't too close by. The battery in question's life had expired. I don't know of any trend or rhyme or reason, but watch those batteries! (Not too closely).
Ever wonder where we come up with our prices? Over the years we have always tried our best to work on a margin that would allow us to buy and sell lots of trains. We are not here to purchase extremely low and sell extremely high. That's just not us.
Basically once we have purchased a collection each and every piece that appears on choochooauctions.com is evaluated, graded, and tested if needed. At the same time we come up with a retail price based on our sales history for the item. If the last one we had sold in 2 days for the buy-it-now price chances are we may raise the buy-it-now price a little. On the other hand if we place an item on choochooauctions.com and it never sells, well we will eventually sell it on ebay. But obviously we had asked too much money if it didn't sell at all on this site. So the price is adjusted downward. Thus we are constantly adjusting prices to a current market price.
You know you can purchase in the primary market from dealers who purchase from distributors or the manufacturer's themselves. The only problem with that is that since the mid-1990's the price of trains seem to follow the new car pattern. When you purchase a new car, as soon as you take it off the market the value decreases by at least 1/3. And the reason for that is that there are simply too many manufacturers producing too many neat things and not enough buyers in this market. Thus a great way to buy for value to protect against the new car decrease is to wait a little while and find those same items on this site or ebay and you will get a deal under the original retail price! And once again that indicates that buying from us is a great way to buy!
Our business believe it or not is run by a dos program that I have developed over the years. With the end of XP computers I was very worried about the future of our company because XP was the last computer you can run dos programs on. A serious problem for us.
Problem solved as I have found software that will allow us to run our dos program on the new window's platforms including Windows 8! Such a relief! Thus our company continues to be able to bring you great bargains through our dos system! Better yet I am not going to have to convert everything over more to a windows format which would tie me up for a long time! Yep we are among the pioneers in computers!
I just returned from another trip up North, this time to Detroit. We have several collections in the works. Seems we are being pulled in a bunch of different directions as I have two collections way out West I have to pick up. I'd love to find another one so we could make it an adventure. Well, not as much of an adventure as our California trip was last year. You know the one where we had 3 breakdowns and one crash. That was so much fun!
But the truck I had on this trip was fantastic. I flew into Detroit Thursday night, picked up the collection Friday morning and was back here in Cape Canaveral by mid afternoon on Saturday. Guess I like to drive!
I would like to update this page more often but trains seem to get in the way. It is so time consuming buying and selling trains. But our pleasure to serve you. We have been doing this so long that I'm not sure what I'm going to do if/when I retire. I know I'll start a layout and work on trains all day! Yippee that will be the life!
Thanks for reading, and hope you find lots of trains to play with. That's what this is about!
3/16/14 Hello from a beautiful sunny, warm day in Cape Canaveral, FL.
Hope you are enjoying the fire sale! Yes literally a fire sale! You may have noticed that a bunch of traincity's auctions refer to smoke damage. Bear with us as we are almost finished with this collections.
I must say though that most of the items where the boxes were blackened by smoke, well the items inside were not affected at all. Many were new. These have actually been selling quite well as we have adjusted the price appropriately on these.
We are down to the worst items which were on display and not in boxes very close to the fire. They suffered heavy damage from either the fire or the water to put the fire out! Most of these will go on ebay and start at 99 cents because I don't know where to price them! But most are at least good for parts and then some!
This was an interesting collection all around as it was located in Wisconsin and my wife Ginger and I traveled there to pick it up which we did on a very cold, snowy January day earlier this year.
We picked up the collection mid-day after landing at the airport. It was so cold that they had to start the truck with ether which made my stomach rumble after our disastrous California trip last year because I knew we would be traveling in cold weather and mountains later in the trip. We sort of flew into a bad store on this one!
We finally got on the road which was covered with ice and snow. This defines why we had moved to Florida! Oh the memories from the bitter cold and snow up north! But we did safely get to the farm where the collection was located. It was cold so the inspection was short and sweet. I had studied the itemized list which did describe fairly the smoke damage and the fact that there had been a fire.
So we are back on the road again in the afternoon and got into the usual traffic jams you encounter while going around Chicago. Finally we got to I-65 and started on our trip south in Indiana where we were going to pick up the next collection. We didn't get far as that lake affect snow started to blizzard on us. It got so bad for a couple of miles that we were literally forced to get off at an exit we could barely see. After living in the snowiest city Erie, PA for years this was the most dangerous driving conditions I had encountered.
We found a great hotel which was down the road a ways and just relaxed for the rest of the night which is a big perk on these trips.
The snow storm had passed by morning, but it was 10 degrees below zero! I bundled up and crossed my fingers as I tried to start that diesel truck. You can probably figure that it didn't start.
The good thing was that we were at a very nice hotel. The bad thing was that we didn't get back on the road until they had brought us another truck and had two guys transfer the inventory into the new truck which was around 7PM. Throughout the day I had talked to the truck rental company and the situation continually changed. At one point they couldn't get any of their back-up trucks to start which was a little unsettling.
I had second thoughts about starting on this trip at 7 PM. Ginger wanted to stay the night and start again in the morning. Not wanting to play the groundhog game and having the truck not start the next morning, we left. Finally got to our destination in Indiana and found another nice hotel to stay in.
I did lean a trick of how to keep the truck running all night long so that we wouldn't get stuck the next morning which worked great. We picked up that collection in Indiana then headed for the last collection in Tennessee.
No real problems to report in Tennessee except for we got there around 4PM. I had to re-arrange the truck to fit the last collection in. We didn't finish until around 9PM that night. What a long day! And we barely fit everything in the truck. I think there were a couple of things we just left.
But we had smiles on our faces the next morning as next stop was home!
We are now looking at our next ﾑroad trip'. Believe it or not I am talking with a gentleman in Alaska. OK that one will be shipped back. No trucking from Alaska, sorry. And I think we'll send John on this one!
Speaking of John my son who is vice-president, he has been becoming more and more active in the business. He will be taking over the business in the future and has been working hard leaning. I couldn't be prouder of him. I'll be slowly easing myself out over time. It is nice to know that this business that I started will go on over time. It's sort of amazing to think of the natural evolution of this business. From a small coin store in Erie, PA to a train warehouse here in Cape Canaveral. Who would have ever thunk? Although coins are a lot easier to transport!
We have been very busy filling orders from these last three collections and some others we have purchased since. We really do appreciate those of you who help us ﾑmove' the collections we buy. I've said it before, but I'll say it a million more times... I'm the luckiest guy in the world to be making my living this way.
Please stay tuned for more collections to come!
12/18/13 I was processing an American Flyer whistling billboard yesterday which brought some fond memories to me. We moved here to Cape Canaveral Florida some five years ago. Before that for the previous 27 years we had been located in Erie, Pennsylvania and actually had a walk in store there. By the front door when you walked in there was an AF whistling billboard that blew twice every time that front door was open.
I do miss that and we do miss our old customers who used to come through that door.
But from what I understand it is a good thing that we moved down here as this year in particular Erie, PA is buried in snow. I like snow to a certain extent. I like snow on the day before Christmas through the day after Christmas, but beyond that, well you know why we moved here.
It has been really busy here this December as we purchased some great collections. I love being busy!
Watched a movie yesterday on TCM called ﾑHoliday Affair'. I had never seen it before, but it had some nice Lionel train scenes. The train had been re-decorated for the movie, but they sure were Lionel. Don't know why I hadn't run across that movie before, but it was fun to watch. Catch it if you can.
Well I had better make this quick as we have a lot to do. I'd like to wish you a very merry holiday this year. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays or whatever you prefer. And thanks so much for your business. Keep those trains rolling!!
11/27/13 Happy Thanksgiving!! Hope yours is fabulous this year. Make sure you play with those trains and it couldn't be better!
I just returned from a buying trip to Tennessee. I went alone this time. Guess I have developed a phobia for mountain driving after our disastrous California trip! Had to go over the Smokey's twice and I was holding my breath that my SUV (and trailer) made it with no problems. Well, we made it.
On this trip I didn't have a full inventory list as I usually do. The seller had sent a partial list in which we agreed on a price and then I did an inventory for most of the remaining items while I was there.
I was very surprised that there was much more than I had thought in that collection! If you like big steam engines, make sure you visit these pages regularly over the next couple of weeks as there will be a number of big Lionel steam engines and other really neat items!
As usual our shipping staff is doing a great job getting those trains to you. I just wanted to give them a special thanks as they have been working hard to keep up with the orders as we have been flooded lately.
And I would especially like to thank you for keeping us flooded. We sincerely appreciate your business and hope to serve you for many years to come!
11/13/13 Tis the season and we had discussed what we'd like to do to maybe give something back to the train community, especially those that have bought from us. So the other day we worked from our database and found all those who had ever bought from us who had an email address.
Well, as you can imagine there were quite a few. So we composed a thank you letter of sorts and emailed that letter to each and every one on that list!
I was disappointed to find that only 25% of those emails sent got through. And now I'm wondering how many got stuck in their junk bin! So if you have purchased from us on-line, most likely you would have received one. If you didn't, please look in your junk mail for an email with the subject ﾑA thank you gift to you from traincity!'. The email came from firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you just didn't receive one, it is possible your Internet provider has our email blocked. Oh the internet, it is so complicated!
Well, happy Thanksgiving everyone!
11/05/13 Hope you are having fun with your trains now. Let's face it. It is officially electric train season.
John just returned from a trip up north and purchased four nice sized train collections. That's the good news, the bad news is that we underestimated the size of the truck and ran into a problem, but we finally got all the trains here to our warehouse.
You will see our traincity auctions on both choochooauctions.com and ebay.com expand daily with this new, exciting inventory. Make sure you check in often as there will be new gems added each and every day!
Why do you do business with us? Well, maybe you don't do business with us, but possibly you should consider doing so as let's face it you won't find better deals than our traincity auctions on choochooauctions.com and ebay.
Some things to think about:
-We've been in business now for well over 30 years. I have gained much knowledge in those years, my son John who will be taking over the business when I retire is gaining knowledge each and every day. One of the things I am stressing to John is honesty is the best policy. I think your reputation is one of the most important attributes of a person. I think that is why we have customers who continue to buy from us over and over again.
-We appreciate our customers. I know for certain that we wouldn't be here without you. Of course those of you who buy from us, but also those who sell to us. We try our best to be fair whether you are buying or selling.
-Exciting inventory. We pick the best collections we can find to bring you items you want to buy. We look for quality, rarity, and features before anything. Our inventory does not consist of left over items that we can't sell elsewhere. You are looking at our inventory fresh and daily. You are getting the pick of the litter when it comes to our inventory.
-Pricing is very important to you we know. They's why we try our best to price it a low retail value. Many items on choochooauctions.com are sold through the buy-it-now option mainly because they are priced so reasonably. We realize that turnover is everything to us! The faster we turn it over the happier we are and we are willing to work on a modest mark-up.
-Although we have been in business for over 30 years, choochooauctions.com has been in operation for somewhere around 15 years. We do charge to place auctions on our site, but we never tack on premiums for buyers. I've seen auctions both live and on-line where 10 to 20% was automatically tacked on after the auction sold. This is a game as far as I'm concerned. Who wants to bid $100.00 on an item then end up paying $120.00 plus shipping and handling? We don't play games with our auctions. The amount you win an auction for is what you pay plus s&h of course. Oh and by the way, although we don't push it because it isn't the reason we are here, if you want to sell something on our site, you will be paying the lowest fees anywhere! We don't have to allow others to sell, but I have always felt that if you buy from us, someday you may want to sell through us and that's a great way to do it. traincity.com is the first ﾑelectric train' web site on the Internet.
-I dislike liars, hustlers, people who purposely stretch the truth, that sort of thing. We have always tried our best to run our business in a very honest way. We aren't car salesmen trying to hustle you. (Not that I have anything at all against actual car salesmen. That's their job.) But I'm selling electric trains. I'd much rather give you the option to buy it or not. I'm not one to pressure you into buying from me or selling to me. I am going to try to offer you the best deal I can and hopefully you will see that!
-One reason we generally have so much inventory through our site is because of our reputation for honesty. There have been many times that I purchased a train collection at or maybe a little under what someone else offered mainly because the person knew they could trust me. Think of it, if I treat one person badly or dishonestly when buying, it would be all over the Internet. That's not going to happen, because when we say we are going to do something, we do it!
As I said, we sincerely appreciate our customers. I hope that we can do business someday if not already. If you agree with my little blog here, please pass the word. And once again, thanks so much for your business!!
09/24/13 Just returned from a very long trip out west. We purchased two very nice Lionel/MTH collections on Oregon and California. You will see new items uploaded daily on weekdays for some time to come! I'm sure you will be happy with these items as both collections are mainly new and like new items in the nice original boxes.
That's the good news. As it turns out, this was the trip from hell for my wife Ginger and myself.
We landed in Idaho where we picked up a rental truck. From there we meandered our way down into Oregon on a road called Rattle Snake road. I found out later that the reason for it's name is because it is full of rattlesnakes, but also the road resembles a coiled rattlesnake. I have never been on a road that was that dangerous, that zig-zaggy and up and down. One minute you were at the bottom, then next thing you knew you were looking down hundreds of feet over the unguarded cliff you were driving merely feet from!
OK so that part of our trip was over and we picked up our first collection. It was a beautiful isolated log cabin with one of the best views over a cliff I have ever seen. Gorgeous!
So the next day after quite a trip through desert we made it to California. OK we had one incident that day in Neveda where we almost ran out of gas in the middle of nowhere, but from what was about to happen to us on the next three days, that was minor.
The next morning we got up very early, passed by San Francisco, then picked up our second collection which almost filled the 24 foot truck we were driving.
Then the fun started. As we were driving up a four lane mountain road, the engine light came on in the truck. I managed to pull off the road next to a road phone which was pretty good luck because even though it was a four lane highway, there wasn't much room on the brim of the road.
Even though we were on somewhat of a major back road, we waited for service from the rental truck company for 5 hours in the hot sun. It was so frustrating. They said the couldn't locate us!!! I'm not sure I believe them. We were at a road phone which had a number which I continued to give them. No one ever called us back, I had to call them several times to keep my sanity that someone was actually going to come and help us! I looked at Ginger a couple of times and she had panic in her face. This was terrible!
Finally we did get help and managed to drive the truck safely back down the mountain to a fantastic place called Casa de Fruta where we stayed for the night.
The next morning I immediately called another rental truck company and set up a contingency plan, but then the original rental truck company finally came through and got us a new truck in which we had to move all the trains into. Finally by 2PM PST we were back on the road. And what a road we sailed down 5 towards Los Angeles and by 6PM we were just coming out of the mountains. Well actually we were still on top of a mountain when we heard a loud bang. Ginger and myself looked at each other, then the truck lost power. I was starting to feel as if I was in an episode of the Twilight Zone as we sat there on the narrow brim of the road looking down at a lake several hundred feet below us.
Finally I tried starting the truck again after finding my nerves somehow and I was able to get the truck moving. Luckily there was an exit that I was able to get off of and turn into a gas station.
We knew the drill only this time we were somewhere that had food and water and gas, so in a way I felt better than our last breakdown.
Four hours later the service truck had come and actually the mechanic was a nice guy. He went over the engine, clamped what needed clamped, cleaned what needed cleaned, and checked what needed checked. And finally we were able to get to the hotel which was only a half mile away on the other side of the Interstate, which we could see, but the truck rental company didn't want us to go to because the mechanic could have been there anytime. I guess this rental truck company just doesn't want their renters to have any comfort at all when they break down!
The next morning, bright and early we were able to get to interstate 10 which was going to take us to Florida all the way. Ginger and I felt so good. We were in a truck that was moving!! Well that is until we heard that loud bang again. And thank goodness this happened near an exit which I immediately got off of. Then we sat there at an intersection because once again we lost power!
To make a long, hellish story a little shorter let me say this.... It is ok to dial 911 if you are having a non-life threatening emergency. I learned this on this trip. All you have to do is tell the operator this is a non emergency when they answer.
Finally we were able to get a taxi to take us to pick up a Penske truck. We found two great Mexican guys to help us load the trains from the dead truck to the new truck for pay. And after only another four hours we were once again on our way.
The Penske truck was fantastic! It had around 32,000 miles on it verses 125,000 for the first and 135,000 for the second. It just whizzed us home like you wouldn't believe. We got home faster than it took us from the first breakdown to the last breakdown, or close to that!
I know you want to know what rental truck company had the lemons that caused us so much grief. I want to tell you. However we are now in negotiations with that company to give us our money back. I'll tell you what if they don't help us out again, we'll let you know for sure! Just be careful who you rent trucks from. Make sure they don't let their fleet of trucks get so old that they break down 3 times in one trip! It probably would help if they checked them mechanically every once in a while also!
OK horror story is not quite over. Like I said we whizzed over 10 and got into Florida two days later. Once we got off 10 and started down 75 the funniest thing happened. OK it wasn't so funny. Ginger pulled into a gas station. She didn't give it enough room and all of a sudden we heard a big bang. Yep... we were stuck on the pipes that protect the pump. Yea.. yea.. yea... OK I didn't have a gun. That is a very positive thing for this trip.
Only an hour later, they managed to get us off that pipe and we were on our way home. Got home at 3 in the morning!
So yea, that is by far the worst experience we have ever had on a trip. Hopefully never again. But I do hope to buy many more train collections like this as they just might have been worth it!
So if you want to be kind to a guy who is still in truck shock, look at our inventory, buy some trains. You will have some great buys and trains from our now famous buying trip from hell!
08/16/13 We have many trains incoming over the next couple of months. John is traveling down 95 as I type with a truck load of trains that will start appearing on choochoo next week. We have some more coming up 95 from south Florida. But what I am most excited about is a trip out west to purchase at least two large collections. This will happen next month and I hope to be on that trip!
So stay tuned for many new exciting train items to appear on this site very soon!
08/10/13 I remember waking up in what I think was a helicopter. I remember someone asking me to move my toes and fingers and I remember after being able to do that saying 'That's good right?ﾔ
Two weeks ago I was riding my bicycle and was hit by an SUV on A1A in Cape Canaveral. I don't remember anything from the accident. I am somewhat angry that it happened to me which I suppose is human nature. But then again I have just spent the past 3 years fighting cancer, and now this?
Four broken ribs, cuts and abrasions all over my body. It's worse than it looks as this accident did something that cancer couldn't do. It hurt my will to go on to a certain extent.
Right now I'm supposed to be at a wedding in Erie, PA that I was very much looking forward to. We were going to have a week of seeing friends and other activities. But instead I'm here writing this. And if you think I feel a little sorry for myself, you are right.
But then there is my helmet. Yes I was wearing a helmet during the accident. My helmet was shattered. If I hadn't been wearing that helmet I would have died. So from that point of view I am very, very happy. I love life. I'll get by this, and the first thing I'm going to do, maybe even today is buy a new bicycle.
BTW this is the third time I have been saved by my bike helmet. I highly recommend them if you are on a bike.
Now let's talk about electric trains which I am sure is a much more interesting subject! On our trip to Erie, PA towards the end we were supposed to purchase four collections while in the area. Obviously I can't go. But instead my son John will be going and purchasing some new inventory. There will be some great stuff!
We are low on inventory now and will be able to use the new stock. This has become a never ending problem with us as far as buying and selling trains. Because we believe that in our business we purchase and then try to sell as fast as we can, we tend to go through inventory pretty fast. We are always looking for train collections, the larger the better. So if you know of someone with a collection for sale, please let us know. We will give you a finder's fee if you give us a tip and we actually purchase the collection.
We have purchased several collections lately all over the country so far this year. When we moved our business down here five years ago, It wasn't the smartest thing done from a business point of view. Most of the collections we purchase are from the NE area of the United States. That's the bad thing. The good thing is that I absolutely love traveling to purchase those collections. It's so cool to meet new people, see different ways of lives, beautiful scenery, and buy lots and lots of trains! Wow I can't wait until I'm back to 100%. Can't wait to go on that next cross country road trip to buy more trains for you guys.
Hope you have a fantastic rest of your Summer. Don't forget to wear your helmet!
04/23/13 The United States Senate has passed a law that would make Internet sales taxable. The good news is that the House of Representatives has placed this on hold for now. No law has gone through the full process.
This is a hot issue for everyone involved. I know I am concerned. I don't want to have to charge a percentage of sales that could be thousands of different percentages depending on what county of what state you are in! This could actually put small businesses like mine completely and totally out of business in just the processing, not to mention the loss of revenue because people would be holding back bids to make up for the sale tax!
You don't want it because you don't want to have to pay the extra 6% or so for items that have always been tax free. But have they really been tax free?
You probably don't know this fact, and most likely you don't want to know but each and every product purchased out of your state is liable for a use tax in which at least the vast majority of states require by law. In other words you purchase a $100.00 train from me, I don't charge you sales tax because you are in another state. However the county you are in requires a 6% tax. That means that each and every month you are supposed to fess up to your state revenue department and send them the $6.00 for this item and all others you have purchased out of your state!
So yes in a way we are all disobeying the law and are liable for this tax, however up to this point most states have no way to enforce this law as it really is dependent upon our knowledge of the law and stupidity to abide by it.
The law passed in the Senate is not consistently fair to every business in my opinion. Besides the administrative nightmare for businesses, they made the cut off point of businesses that have to collect the sales tax at $1,000,000.00 of non-instate revenue.
I'm sure the business that sold $1,000,012.00 is not going to be overjoyed by this fact especially if their biggest competitor's out of state revenue is $999,992.00. I can only imagine that will hurt the poor guy who sold over a million since he has to charge the tax and his competitor does not.
Ebay, Amazon, and others are in this fight as well where Amazon wants the tax, Ebay wants it only for companies larger than 50 employees or 10 million in sales.
So this is a mess. And it's going to be a big fight and eventually the tax will probably happen which will make everyone honest in paying their fair share. Hopefully that eventually will be a long way off. With luck our legislators will think this thing through a lot more thoroughly than simply pushing it through the Senate while no one is watching. We'll see. Keep your eyes on this one!
04/23/13 Hello from beautiful and sunny Cape Canaveral, Florida on this Tuesday (4/13/13) morning.
Hope you understand, but we are forced to raise our S & H charges for traincity auctions on this site. Please go to the message boards and you can see the new rates. New rates will start on 5/7/13. Rates will also appear in all of our auctions under the ﾑImportant information..' link.
OK that's the bad news. The good news is that we have just purchased some great collections which you all seem to be tearing apart nicely. And we appreciate that! There are more collections coming. American Flyer fans get ready for some more great trains coming in May.
We have a couple of trips coming up for some really nice collections. I can't wait. I love driving those trucks around the country picking up great train collections. Nothing better!! Well maybe golfing comes to mind.
Hey, in every auction on choochoo that we place we ask that auctions be paid within 7 days. That seven days starts once you have received your invoice. We can combine auctions, but only within that 7 days. If you allow one auction to go past 7 days we are now charging a $5.00 holding fee and will be unable to combine the cost of auctions.
Thank goodness most people pay on time and we really appreciate that.
Well I'd better get back to work. I have a couple of collections I need to process and I know you will like these!
03/06/13 Recently we returned from a grueling buying trip that took us to Seattle and then to the Chicago area on the way back. It was a fun filled trip that took us five days to complete, but well worth it.
So let me tell you more about the two new collections. The Seattle collection is mainly Lionel, mainly modern trains. The vast majority of the items are new in the original boxes. This was an interesting collection to gather let me tell you!
The bulk of the collection was in a fourth story storage unit. It took us around 2 ﾽ hours to finally get the trains down to our truck. Then the remaining trains which I didn't think would be that big of a deal were located on the 5th floor of the gentleman's condo. There were many more trains included in this lot than I had anticipated and took us another 2 hours to finally fill the truck.
The truck was 3/4 full and I didn't know if we would have room for the collection we were buying in the Chicago area.
Now these trips are usually fun. Especially when you finally get to stop moving for the day. But because of the enormous distance between Seattle and Chicago, we didn't have much time to stop driving at a reasonable hour. The view was beautiful throughout Montana in which we didn't get out of that first day of travel. But in North Dakota the views were starting to get a little old. Minnesota and Wisconsin too. But finally we did manage to get to Chicago. Only to find that there was a winter storm that was pushing at our heels. We actually did run through some snow in Indiana.
And as I opened the truck up in Chicago I found that we had experienced a silent avalanche. But after an hour or so was able to get some space back in the back of the truck. Then in eyeing the contents that were to go in the truck and the space left in the truck, I started to get faint. It became pretty apparent that we were in trouble.
So for the next hour or so I filled every little cubby hole and finally came to the point of realizing we were going to be good. But the truck was completely full!!!
Now that I've been processing the two collections for the past couple of weeks, well let me say this... WOW! The Chicago collection has so many super nice Lionel post war and even some American Flyer items. Usually when someone sends a list where every items is excellent++, like new, New, I think to myself, yea sure. But not this one. Every piece is beautiful and better than I expected. Hooray! And the Seattle collection has so much new stuff in it, well let's just say that they will keep us busy for a while! Although I understand we have another trip coming up to the north in a couple of weeks. Wow, do I love this job!!
And on that note I say this with a tear in my eye. I have decided to retire or at least semi-retire in 3 years or so. My son John will slowly be taking over all operations over that time period. Actually as Vice President John has been taking on more and more responsibility over the past year.
I am very much looking forward to retirement, however hopefully I will be able to help out on a part time basis after retirement.
It's funny many people tell me when they sell me collections that they aren't sure how the process goes as they've never done it before. I completely understand because I have never exited from a business before, so I'm not sure exactly how it will flow. However I am sure that John will do a great job and bring renewed enthusiasm into our business!
We sincerely appreciate your business with us and look forward to serving you for many years to come!
11/22/12 Hello from sunny but cold Pittsburgh, Pa. Where myself and family have gathered to celebrate Thanksgiving.
It's funny how things come into your mind sometimes. Little bits and pieces of memories from many years ago. I just had one while testing a ZW transformer. It was weird. I don't know if the voltage of the transformer exploded into my brain to bring out this memory, but just before it came out I was questioning myself, ﾑhow did I get into this special occupation of mine?'
I think I was 4 or 5 or 6 years old at the time. We had a house keeper who came and cleaned our house once a week name Katrina. I can remember pretty vividly her heavy German accent. She was a sweet, sweet lady. But I can't remember much more, just that my mom liked her a lot and she had become like family to us.
What is a little frustrating in things like this, I'm not 100% sure I am correct in my flash memory or not and unfortunately my mom and dad are gone so I can't even ask them to confirm my suspicions. But that doesn't matter.
I mean for instance that picture of myself and my dad that appears on the lower right corner of our main page of choochooauctions.com suddenly appeared in the consol of my car one day out of nowhere. Although I'm pretty sure my mom had put it there, well that's pretty obvious now, but then it was a mystery.
And yes of course when my dad and I were playing with that Marx train back then, that was instilling my love for trains.
But I wonder if by that time the egg had already been laid that made my heart beat faster every time I heard a train horn on the 19th street tracks that were some 13 blocks from our house in Erie, PA. And yes I think that shock I got from the ZW transformer finally made me understand that Katrina was the key to my undying love for electric trains.
I have always remembered going into the basement at an unknown house and there before me stood a train layout that was so inspiring that it would not only give me an intense interest in electric trains, but more importantly many years later inspire me to start a business that would define my values and allow me to build a business that would become more or less a heritage for myself and family. A business that has touched thousands and thousands of people over the years.
I can remember the four ZW transformers. But everything else is still only a faded memory. There must have been several steam and diesel engines from the early 1950's or earlier, but I can't remember for sure. All I know is that my fascination for electric trains was probably born at that time and I'm so thankful!
And the thought that popped into my mind as I tested that ZW was that Katrins's son or nephew was the owner of that layout. So I owe all this interest in trains to Katrina which is fascinating to me as I had absolutely no idea. Life is a puzzle and I think I just placed another piece in it's place.
So it is with fond memories of that wonderful woman that I thank you Katrina. I'm sure you had no idea what you did for me, but possibly it is the best gift I would ever receive. (Next the Roku machine my son Charlie gave me for my birthday this year! :)
Thanks so much to Katrina for a hobby, an occupation and the many, many friends we have acquired over the years that share my love of electric trains!
5/29/12 Hello again from Cape Canaveral. Once again, sorry for this being such a long time since I last checked in. Seems there aren't enough hours in the day anymore.
Since I wrote last time we lost my daughter Kathy as an employee who many of you had probably talked with on the phone over the past year. I'm happy to say that Kathy got a job in her field of choice which wasn't electric trains. (I don't think they carry that course in college anyway!)
In the mean time we hired Melissa who took over Kathy's job, so there is a good chance if you call you will run into her. And we would like to welcome Melissa to our family at Train City!
We have purchased some really exciting collections so far this year. When you start a year you never know how it is going to proceed, but this one has been very busy so far. We are on a record pace for sales and I have to thank you for helping us. But then again hopefully you are very happy with your purchases and the prices you paid for them.
I feel if you are buying from us on choochooauctions.com you are receiving the best product and best prices anywhere. Let's face it, if you want the best deals for new trains from the factory Charles Ro has always been the best and most consistently low priced dealer through the years. Now the other Charlie (me) brings you the best prices in the secondary market. If you've purchased from us, I don't think there is much denying that statement is true.
As far as my health goes, I'm all done with all the treatments for my cancer. Now I am going through treatments to fix the problems my cancer treatments caused. I hope to be back to work full time soon. However I will say this we are doing pretty well for my only being able to work part time lately. And that's thanks to my staff which have done a great job.
John and I will be going on another buying trip very soon. We are still working on some very large collections we purchased earlier in the year. This next trip will give us some more great inventory to sell you. I've been asked where the post war Lionel has been. Well you'll see quite a bit starting with a collection we are working on now. But you will see a lot more in a particular collection we will be purchasing on this next buying trip.
This blog is being brought to you by my wife Ginger. She is getting a new knee today and I am sitting here at the hospital in the waiting room. If you know me, I'd rather be working than doing nothing, so that's where I found the time to post this one.
Hey once again, thanks to you for your interest in the trains we have for sale. We really appreciate your business!!
11/25/11 Happy thanksgiving!! Hope yours was very special.
We had a great thanksgiving this year. For the first time since we moved to Florida we got to spend it with our family in Pittsburgh, PA. Although it is cold up here, not that bad since the sun is out.
In a way I feel guilty as I don't remember the last time that I just did nothing this time of year. We have now entered hard core train season and I do miss my store in Erie, PA this time of year. Why today would have been one of the busiest days of the year in the store, this black Friday. I miss the people coming into the store, the excitement of the kids they brought with them. And the fun in showing them one of our operating layouts run. I really miss sitting there repairing train engine after engine. It was fun to do especially after our store had closed and I could sip on a beer as I repaired.
Yes those were the days. But now the only work I have on this black Friday is to write this little quip (if that's a word) and reminisce about the good ole' days! But that's OK because I think I have learned a lot since those days about life and about people and relationships. I've learned what is most important in life. Of course electric trains are high up on my list, but family comes above that. And it is really good seeing family. So although I do miss those things about our store, I think I am happier being with family on this Thanksgiving.
But I still can't wait to get back to Florida and get back to work!
Speaking of work, if you know of any train collections, please let us know. I was supposed to purchase a nice sized train collection a week ago. I had been working on this deal for over a year and actually we had everything set up and ready to pick up the collection. A couple of days before that was supposed to happen the seller decided to renege on the deal. You know that's a bad word in business but it does happen occasionally. Just sort of throws things out of whack for our inventory. So now we are light on inventory. So I ask again, if you know of anyone with a collection to sell (the larger the better), please let us know. We do pay finder's fees.
As far as my health issue goes, I have survived four rounds of chemo I am happy to say. Actually it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. I think going to work throughout my treatments has helped a lot. I feel pretty good right now and actually plan on going to the gym to work out in a little while.
And the treatment has helped shrink my tumor. Although unfortunately it has not shrunk enough for the operation I need. So I will undergo another month of chemo with radiation added. I'm not looking forward to this because this looks worse than my prior treatments, but who knows maybe it won't be that bad.
My treatments have affected our business a little, but not terribly. I'm the type of person that if I'm not working or doing something constructive, well I drive myself nuts. So hopefully this coming month will be the same and we will get work done. I'm not so much worried about my treatments as I am running out of inventory right now, so you can see where my priorities lay.
One other thing, and I don't mean to belabor this health thing. But I would like to add something. My daughter Kathy who works for us obviously grew up in Erie, PA. One of her best friends from Erie around 2 months ago found out she has a serious cancer problem having to do with her stomach. This came out of nowhere for Lindsay who is 23 years old. Lindsay's situation is very serious, and I know and really appreciate those of you who said you were praying for me. But please if you are going to pray for anyone, please do it for Lindsay. She's just to young to go through this and it hurts me terribly to see it. I pray that her operation which is coming up soon is successful and that she lives a long, healthy life! Please put her in your prayers.
This has been a tough year for some reasons, and at the same time a good year for others. We've picked up many new customers, and met many new people into trains. That's the good part. We've traveled across the USA buying train collections. That's a really good part! I love buying train collections and hope to purchase many more over the next several years! What could be better than to be driving home with a truck full of trains to sell to you wonderful people!
So here is hoping we are around for many more years serving the best group of people in the world. Train enthusiasts! I am a lucky man to be in this business!! And to be honest I wouldn't be lucky without customers like you. Thanks from the bottom of our hearts here at Train City, Inc. and choochooauctions.com!
10/17/11 Hope everyone had a great time at the York Train Meet. Wish I could have attended!
Haven't written since mid June. It has been hectic here buying and selling collections since then.
At one point earlier this year we were out of inventory and that had me a little concerned because if you don't have inventory, well that can be a big problem. But since we have had many opportunities to purchase some very nice, interesting collections and offer them to you. Thanks so much to so many of you who have taken advantage of these great deals we have acquired!
Recently we have purchased collections all over the place! Phoenix, AZ, Salt Lake City, UT, Buffalo, NY, Allentown, PA, and many other smaller collections.
My wife Ginger and I like to travel on these collections. The problem is so does my son John. But that's not a problem. Mainly because I get the say of who goes where!
Around a month or so ago my wife and I traveled to Salt Lake City to purchase a super American Flyer collection. This is probably the longest trip where we flew in and actually trucked the inventory back. The country out there and throughout that area is so beautiful, Ginger and I had a blast! I'd never traveled through Wyoming before but what wonderful scenery!
I think I have become a true trucker as I really like driving that truck and can go for hours. Ginger kids me that is what I should be doing for a living!
At any rate, I hope you are taking advantage of our great deals. We do look for good deals and then pass the savings onto you. I hope you realize that prices you pay for trains through traincity on both choochooauctions.com and ebay are among the consistently best prices and values you can find in the electric train industry.
Our business is based on movement. We are constantly moving inventory. Our warehouse never looks the same two days in a row and daily new inventory is pumped into our system and sold items are moving out. And that's the way I like it.
Let's face it we could purchase collections, set the items aside, put a very high price on them and then let them sit for a while until the person who has been looking for that particular piece for years comes along, but that's not what we do! And that is why we have so many dealers purchasing from us as customers!
Sometimes some things seem too good to be true. Possibly if you are a collector or operator that is what you are thinking about us and that's why you've never participated in our auctions. They are good deals, and you'll get one if you buy from us!
In updating my health status, this has been a tough year. But actually today we received a phone call from the doctor with some good news that the treatment I have been getting may have made it possible for them to be able to operate on my tumor. Hopefully so. Although the treatments have not been all that pleasant, I'm surviving and hope to get back to 100% living again sometime soon in the future.
There is one other thing that I must apologize for. I've been pretty hands on since I found out I had cancer a little over a year ago. At least in business. However since by treatments because several months ago my time has been taken away from me so especially in the case of train collection lists I have not been as diligent as I would like to be. There are a number of people who might have sent me a list for a quote that I never got back to. I do apologize for that. Please don't think I'm ignoring you, it's just that I'm a little overwhelmed right now.
However we are obviously still quoting lists. We just can't get to all of them. Get in touch if you submitted one, haven't heard and want to know the status.
I'm not certain if I mentioned this before but my daughter Kathy decided to help out at work for a while. She is answering the phone, taking orders, and doing a great job! It's like going home when I go to work anymore as my wife Ginger, son John, and Kathy are there everyday. Makes it a very pleasant place to work along with Susie, Nancy, Cathy, and Bob. We have a lot of fun at work! And a fun work place is a great place to work and serve our customers!
Please stay tuned as we will of course have some more fantastic deals on choochoo as always! Don't miss a day as you could miss out on that one piece you've been looking for!
6/17/11 Hello from steaming hot Cape Canaveral!
To say we've been busy is an understatement. Right now our warehouse is about full of trains that we have to process and get ready to sell. It's about the fullest we've had it in some time. Just three weeks ago the same warehouse was almost empty. I like it better this way though despite being out of money, and don't know where my next meal is coming from. LOL Just fooling, we still have a little left!
Hey, we have a facebook page for both of our sites traincity and choochooauctions. Although I haven't had time to figure out how to get the blue 'f' on our pages. Hopefully we'll do that within a short time. But if you do a search on face book for 'traincity' or 'choochooauctions' they should come up. Not much there right now, but it should become more interesting with time.
We've been placing auctions on ebay and choochoo now for more than most. One thing that I would like to make a comment about is people who give bad feedback without even giving the seller a chance to make something right. This happens every once in a while to us and it is aggravating to say the least. And then there are the people who want you to send them a credit 'or else'. Had a guy do this to us the other day. We had a problem in finding an item he had won. It was our fault so maybe we did deserve the bad feedback. But once we realized the problem we got the item out to him right then and resolved the problem for him.
Well I guess he was a little irritated so yesterday John received a message from him that said 'either give me a credit or I will give you bad feedback'. To be honest I would have much rather had he just given us the bad feedback. Although I am certainly not asking for it. In my opinion that is blackmail, and we just aren't going to submit to that.
The last thing I will do on ebay or our site is give others bad feedback. Unfortunately ebay has made the penalty for bad feedback extreme for sellers and there is no appeal process. We do not receive much bad feedback. Every once in a while we do. But even so, we strive to satisfy our customers.
There is one defense that sellers have from people who give bad feedback on impulse and that is to blackball those users from bidding on another auction. We don't want to do that, but we will if we feel a person has treated us unfairly.
Bad feedback is for those people who don't stand behind their products. Those people who are fraudulent, or rip-off artists. I don't think it is meant for users who try their best to serve their customers. I'll be the first to admit that we make mistakes. Although our goal is to minimize them, they get by us. But if we do make a mistake we always try to make it right. Well that is with the exception of making a blackmail payment!
I'm proud of myself as I have finally made an entry in this blog. It's been a while. I have a lot going on in my life right now both in business and personal. One thing I can say about this business is that we love our customers. Some may think we just say that, but no we really love you! Everyone is an individual. Everyone is different and as I grow older I understand that every person that I meet I want to make a friend. It makes much more sense to have friends than to have enemies.
Unfortunately we've lost some of our friends over the years. Although I am seeing younger people in trains, the 'tinplate' generation is getting older. We've lost some really good friends over the past couple of years. People we've been dealing with for years, and that hurts. At any rate one of our best assets is health. If you have your health, family, and friends you are a billionaire! I hope you are a billionaire!
Thanks so much for your business and friendship.
11/28/10 Hello once again from beautiful Cape Canaveral, Florida. It's 75 degrees and partly sunny today.
It's been a while since I've written, mainly because of some issues and it has been very busy here at Train City Land! We have been very busy buying train collections this year going on several cross country trips. I think we've spent more money on train collections this year than any year in the past making this a very good year for business! We try to work as close as possible and that's why we sell so many trains as well!
Recently my son John and I embarked on a trip that started in Albany, NY. where we purchased a very nice collection of Lionel trains. It was dreary and cold when we landed there. Once outside we looked at each other and shivered! Reminded me of the many years in Erie, PA where it was cold and rainy that time of year. We looked at each other and smiled knowing that in a couple of days we would be back home with warm sunny weather! And it really is weird to say that having lived in Erie for so many years. I can honestly say that I do miss the first snow. And I definitely miss the store activity during those busy Winter months.
From Albany we traveled to Long Island, NY where we picked up a very large Lionel collection. This collection mainly consists of vintage trains from the 80's and 90's. Most of of the trains are new in the original boxes. Most of the sets are still sealed. Tough items to find in truly new condition. You will see those items popping up on choochooauctions.com and traincity.com over the next month or so.
I've never felt comfortable driving through the New York City area in a truck. There are too many restrictions and many things that can go wrong. I remember one of the first times I traveled into NYC to purchase a collection and got into the wrong lane at a toll booth. I had cash and this one and easy pass lane which I had never heard of before. I can't remember exactly how that was resolved but it wasn't fun.
At any rate we had a pleasant visit with the seller of this huge collection who told me some wonderful stories ab out his experience with Madison Hardware. The more I hear about Madison Hardware the more fascinating I find it and wish I could have visited when before they closed. My friend who I purchased the collection from claims he had the last transaction ever with Madison Hardware the day they closed the doors, just before everything was shipped off to Michigan.
We were so surprised that there were no issues what-so-ever in getting through NYC. I am starting to know my way around there. Hope we have some more great collections to purchase from the area.
From NYC we traveled down 95. And there had to be a glitch in the trip as we were held up for three hours in a huge traffic jam caused by a terrible accident in the Washington, DC area. Hard to get around that city without problems!
Next we ended up on an island off the coast of Georgia to purchase yet another Lionel collection.
Finally we made it back home only to find that cool weather had followed us down. It was in the 60's that day.
I love those trips so much! We will be in the Buffalo, NY area in a couple of weeks purchasing another collection. I'm just hoping that there isn't too much snow to slow us down on this trip. We'll see.
We are getting into the hard core train season now. I love this time of year. If you are reading this I'm pretty sure you do too. Get those trains out and run them around that track. That's what happens this time of year.
We are always looking for train collections to purchase. We specialize in large collections. If you hear of any, please let me know. We do pay finder's fees. If you give us a lead, tell us you would like the finder's fee and we buy it, well you will have some extra cash to buy more trains if that's what you want to do with it!
I hope that everyone has a very nice holiday season. This is the best time of year. Family and friends and trains. Just doesn't get any better than that.
Thanks once again for your business. We couldn't be here without you!
08/01/10 Hello from very hot Cape Canaveral, Florida.
I was talking with fellow Cape Canaveral resident the other day and he made an interesting comment to me about our location.
He said we live 10 miles out in the Atlantic Ocean. That's not exactly true but we are located around 10 miles from the mainland. I guess I never thought about it that way. Wish I knew how to fish!
We have purchased some great new collections recently after our inventory got pretty low around a month ago. Now we have lots of new inventory.
Many years ago I was talking with a dealer friend Lou at a Train Show in Pittsburgh. I believe this was sometime in the 1980's so a long time ago. I can't remember what brought up the subject or even what my question was. But Lou had an answer that would affect our business in a big way in future years. His answer was ﾑeverything sells at the right price'. Boy was my friend Lou right.
People that I talk with in everyday life don't understand my business. Most of them when they hear I buy and sell electric trains think how could a person possibly sell trains in this economy. I see it when they shake their head or roll their eyes. It's almost embarrassing sometimes to admit what I do. I'm sure some of them think I sit around and play with my electric trains 8 hours a day. I mean how could anyone possibly sell electric trains in this economy?
Well back to Lou's comment. I learned from him that day probably the biggest tip to selling trains or anything for that fact. Price means everything. If it is priced too high, sorry you aren't going to sell it. Or it's going to take a long time to sell it. Not in this economy. But if you price that item fairly for the market, it will sell. And I will say we do sell our share of electric trains.
We would much prefer to sell everything at our buy-it-now prices and to be honest we sell quite a few items that way. But our back-up plan is the auction starting price which comes into affect if someone makes an initial bid.
So how can you lose when you buy from us? You are going to get a great price! If you really want an item and you don't want to chance someone else getting it you quickly click on that buy-it-now button. But if you don't have to have it, but would like to own it you set your price and bid the item as an auction. I love our auction site. I think it is one of the best ways to sell and buy items.
So thanks Lou! That was the best advice in business I have ever received.
That's the way we do business. We price items right based on past sales, and you buy them. Everyone's happy!
At any rate we once again thank all our customers out there. Without you, we wouldn't be here. But don't thank us for our great prices. Thank Lou!
04/18/10 Thanks to those of you who support our sites traincity.com and choochooauctions.com. We enjoy so much serving you in your electric train needs. We have so many customers now that it has been suggested to me that we use account numbers. But truthfully I want to know our customers by their name, not a number.
However it would be helpful if you have a middle initial, if you use that with orders. We have had some close calls and actually a few real calls in switching shipping labels in our fedex database. At any rate, we do appreciate having so many customers!
In February a week after her birthday my mom, Elizabeth Siegel passed away after a long bout with Alzheimer's disease. Although it made us very sad to lose our mother, it was a blessing as well as she had suffered for ten years with the disease and as terrible as this might sound, it was her time to meet the lord.
Throughout the ordeal of mom's disease the anxiety of her illness caused some family problems which were pretty serious. I am happy to say that those problems have been resolved and we are one happy family again. I think it was mom who had something to do with that in her passing.
Mom worked for us at Train City for several years when we issued our monthly paper price list. I looked forward to seeing her every couple of weeks to help out with the list. She is very much missed from our lives now, but I really think she is in a better place and know she is in good graces with the lord.
My mom was a character! She loved dogs and had many dogs throughout the years beginning with my childhood dog Spot. There were several articles and pictures of her walking her dogs in the Erie Times over the years. Generally she had two at a time and sometimes I felt slighted by them. Probably rightly so!
We received some very nice cards from some of our customers, which was so kind. That is one reason that I can honestly say we love our customers. And I hope that no one thinks that we love you just for your money. I just find ﾑtrain people' to be among the nicest, down-to-earth, honest people on this planet, and we do sincerely appreciate you.
March came in with a bang and left with a bang for us. It was the busiest month we have had since we went into business almost 30 years ago. We hit a mark in March in which I never thought I'd see. I'm almost embarrassed to boast this in these hard economic times. On the other hand last May of 2009 was the worst month we have ever had on the books. So it is sort of tough to figure what is going on here, but this year has started out very strong and we sincerely appreciate that very much! Hopefully our boom in train sales will continue. Maybe mom had something to do with this as well!
Of course the only way we can sell trains right now is by lowering prices which are down but stable from say a couple of years ago. We are going to start updating our on-line price guides soon. They are based on our actual sales history which are lower or higher in different venues. I call our price guides ﾑmoving' prices as they are based on actually selling prices rather than sitting on them for a long period of time.
Our business has changed over the years in that we have always tried to price our items at low retail. We continue to price them that way, but because of the nature of auctions and most of our sales come from on-line auctions, dealers are buying from us at wholesale prices. That is fine with me. We want to continue to move our inventory as long as we can find collections to buy.
And on that note we are getting a little dry in our warehouse, so if you know of anyone selling a collection, please give us a mention. Many of the train collections we purchase are from people with whom we have been recommended. And if you tell someone about us, let us know you did so. If we purchase the collection on your word we will give you a finder's fee. All we ask is that you let us know that you recommended us and that they will be calling us.
Well, that's about it for this time. It's going to be a busy week as we have business as normal through Wednesday, then I'm off to purchase another train collection on Thursday and Friday. Hopefully I'll get back in time for my golf league on Saturday! Wish me luck.
But on that note, I think I like buying train collections better than I do golfing. Never thought I'd say that, but I really like to buy train collections!
11/9/09 Hello again from partly cloudy Florida. The temperature is around 80 Degrees although it is somewhat windy today. It's tough but somebody has to live here!
We have been unbelievably busy buying and selling trains this year. We are blessed with the best customers in the world who are keeping us afloat during these tough economic times!. Thank you so much for your business whether we are selling to you or you selling to us!
I was talking with an adverting salesman for one of the large Train Magazines recently. I won't mention his name but he is a really nice guy who I've known for years. For a newsletter that they are producing I wanted to use ﾑBest Train Prices Anywhere'. He encouraged me not to do that which I thought he would. I guess in advertising you don't want to boast something in that definitive language. However I think for the most part I can back that statement up for our traincity auctions on choochooauctions.com. We've always consistently tried to keep our retail or buy-it-now prices as competitive as possible. Well if you've been using our sites you know that. It's probably the reason most people come back and purchase more over and over. It's good for you and good for us because it allows us to turn our money fast and buy more trains to sell you.
So I came up with a different phrase to use in our little ad. ﾑFantastic Train Deals'. I like that and think that's what we'll use. I think it gets the point across. But seriously, when you think about it where can you go and find trains prices cheaper from a dealer? Accurate grading and good service help too. Well maybe that's why we've been around for almost 30 years now. We thank you very much for allowing us to do business with you. We really love our customers, and really appreciate your business.
Since I wrote last time we have been to Akron, OH and Pittsburgh, PA buying collections at the beginning of October. Last week we were in Scranton, PA and NW New Jersey purchasing two more collections.
I absolutely love buying trips anymore. I don't know why I've changed. I used to dread them and didn't have any fun at all. It was like a lot of stress to me on those trips before. Now it's just fun getting on the plane and traveling usually up North, filling a truck and Driving that truck back here.
I think part of what has alleviated the stress is the GPS. I can't tell you how many times in the past couple of years since I've started to use them that it just made it a pleasure to travel. With the exception of going 20 miles in 2 hours on our last trip near Washington, DC, well you know how that goes if you've ever traveled in that area. I learned the hard way you never travel during the day around that area!
At any rate I look forward to many more ﾑroad' trips to buy collections. Hey, if you know of anyone in your area that has a large collection or estate of trains, please let me know. I do pay finder's fees if you inquire about that before you tell me who it is you are referring me to. Actually we have more and more collections we are buying from recommendations from others in the hobby. We sure do appreciate that! And we always need inventory, so if you hear of something, please let us know.
I like this thought. You have my trains. I have your money. Of course that could be turned around to you have my money, I have your trains too! Well I like those two phrases. And the other thing I like that a good friend Jim from Erie, PA always kidded me about was ﾑWe Prefer Friendly Deals!' That has always sort of been my philosophy in business. At least we try our best to be friendly here at Train City and choochooauctions.com.
One thing I like about train people is that they are among the most honest, friendly people on this earth. I was a coin dealer and I couldn't believe the difference when I started dealing in trains. I liked it so much I switched.
We have eliminated over 500 stale auctions on choochooauctions.com. I was receiving complaints about the same auctions appearing over and over again. Finally we did look into it only to find many such auctions that were appearing over and over for well over three months. We have now changed our policy to allow auctions to appear no longer than 90 days, because if you can't sell something in that time period the item was probably overpriced. And if I am going to start advertising ﾑFantastic Train Deals', well hopefully you understand.
We sincerely do appreciate those of you who post auctions on choochoo as well as those who bid. All we ask is that you remember these are auctions and you will do better to start them lower because people don't like starting bidding at retail!!!
Recommend choochooauctions.com to a friend and if they register you receive money back into your account to use towards placing auctions or buying from traincity on choochooauctions.com. If you recommend the site this month you will receive three times the normal amount if they register this month and you use the credit before the end of the year. To participate, when you are signed in go to options in Your Personal Menu, then click on Recommend Our Site. If they register you will receive a dollar in your account. But if you use it before the end of the year, it will equal $3.00. You can recommend an unlimited number of friends. Let us pay for some of the auctions you win or post!
Well that's it this time. Hope you have a great Thanksgiving!
8/23/09 Hello from sunny Cape Canaveral, Florida. Sun, sun, sun. That's all you ever see down here. Doesn't it ever rain???
Just fooling, we just had a thundershower, which was refreshing. We've been getting rain all around us, but that is the first storm that has hit us in weeks.
We have some new faces here at Train City. Susan and Jayne are sharing duties as secretary. I would like to welcome them and thanks for all their efforts in getting us more organized.
Thanks very much to those of you who have stuck with us over the years. One of the toughest decisions I ever had to make was to eliminate our monthly price lists. We did this a couple of years ago when we got so involved with internet sales. I'm happy to say that some of our old customers have now caught up to the new technologies and we are seeing more and more join us on choochooauctions.com and traincity.com.
It's been a little over a year since we moved to Cape Canaveral from Erie, PA. This is our first summer here and let me tell you, it is hot! But not as bad as I had thought it would be. I'm golfing once a week now if that, because of the heat. It is funny because it is the opposite down here from up north.
A couple of years ago I was down here and talking to a stranger. I think we were at a bar watching a football game or something. But he mentioned something I hadn't thought about. He said up north for the most part in the winter you sit in a cave. That's not exactly true as when I lived up there I liked to ski at one time and go out in the winter. Snowball fights and all that. But after many years the cold and snow became old to me and I more or less lived inside.
Now I'm down here in the summer and other than a little golf, some biking, walking, and beach time for the most of the rest of the time I'm in a cave either at my condo or our offices working during the summer. But to me the heat doesn't bother me as much as the cold. The sun is out so much here that you almost get sick of it. NOT!!! But then again as I understand it last week it was hotter up north than it is down here!
Oh well, it wasn't an easy move, but we are here now and don't have any choice but to love the weather! And I do.
My son John didn't take too long to decide to move down here with the business. I think he's glad he did. I know I'm glad I did, although the process was hell!
I'd like you to know that as a company, Train City, Inc. is so privileged to serve you. We are tickled pink every time we sell a train, and every time we buy a train collection, big or small. Although it's not always a bed of roses and problems do come into play which we have to fix at times, I can honestly say that we appreciate very much those of you who allow us to continue in business. Whether we are buying trains from you, or selling them to you, thanks!
4/16/09 Hello again. It's been a while since I have been able to add to this never ending blog of mine. There are many reasons I've been meaning to write for the past week.
However I have this unbelievable picture of my dog Orion sitting in Mary's (my Florida secretary) chair at work. Yea we bring him to work with us!! But this picture is so cute. The only problem is it is on my phone and I don't know how to transfer it onto a computer. Well at any rate the picture is so cute!!! Once I figure out how to get that picture on here I'll do it so please stop by again and read this part. It'll be worth it. By the way Orion is house broken. I taught him myself how not to pee on trains.
At any rate that is why I haven't been able to write this for the past week, but now I decided enough is enough and I'll just go through it now. Who knows maybe I'll figure it out before I post this!
I just received a request from a gent who wants us to post some nice warm Florida pictures because he says it is still cold up north! Wish I could. Why it is 25 degrees outside and snowing... Not! OK it is nice and warm down here. My only problem is we are so busy buying and selling trains we are inside most of the time.
But I have managed to take some time off on weekends which is very nice. So if you call us on a Saturday and there is no answer, you know I'm out in the warmth doing something fun! Leave a message though and we will get back to you.
Since August when we moved here, I have made buying trips to Wisconsin, Long Island, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. See a pattern? What ever happened to Florida collections? I'm looking at one this weekend. Cross your fingers! I will be returning to the Pittsburgh Pennsylvania area soon to buy another collection. I'm looking for something else to buy up north on that trip, so if you know of a big huge collection for sale, please let me know. I will travel anywhere to purchase larger collections! And what could be better than to visit that Pittsburgh Steeler's city!
OK I have some big news for you. We are once again moving. This will not be as big of a deal as last August since we will be moving only a couple of blocks away. Our goal is to affect business as little as possible. We will be moving sometime in May, and well I'm not going to tell you exactly when. Hopefully you won't even know by the time we have moved.
The reason for the move is space. We are crammed in a very small space now that I thought would work. Unfortunately it isn't. It's too small and crammed. People are running into each other. It's a mess I tell you!
Jean Beck (my secretary in Erie) told me it wasn't enough room. OK you win Jean! We have a warehouse that is detached from our offices so every time I need new inventory to work on I have to move a number of boxes from the warehouse to our offices. OK that wouldn't be so bad except for there is heavy gravel in-between the warehouse and offices. So to avoid the gravel which would be hard to pull a dolly through, I have to go completely around our building. People think I'm nuts carting a dolly piled six feet high with trains every day. Maybe they think I'm cool doing it! I don't care what they think, I'm just sick of losing the time it costs me to walk all the way around our huge building every day, day after day!
Our new space will not only be around double the size we now have but there will be no separate warehouse. Everything will be inside. This will work out much better and more efficient for us. I actually believe it will make us more efficient as a company and be able to give you better service. And after that statement you think to yourself, ﾑhow could Train City possibly give me better service than they already do!' Hopefully you say that!
I just can't believe we are going to have to move again! Anyone have some time and a truck to come down to paradise sometime in May, well I'll even tell you when we are moving if you want to do that! Stay tuned, it will be interesting. I'll let you know how things go.
Please tell your friends about our site. We can always use new customers. Sometimes I think people don't pass the word about choochooauctions.com just because they are getting such great deals they don't want others to take their great deals away from them. Don't worry, there is plenty for everyone. At any rate we would really appreciate it if you passed the word along to others.
Well finally I finished this. We have an extremely busy couple of months ahead with the move and all. We sure do appreciate your business!
2/1/09 Hello from sunny but a little cool Cape Canaveral. (Only going up to 65 today!)
I would like to thank everyone from the bottom of my heart for your business as we made our move and transition to Florida.
We had a rough ride there for a little while. I think we lost some of our customers temporarily that may have wondered if we'd be able to make it back with the brutal move. I'm happy to say we have accomplished that.
It was tough the first couple of months as we went from normal business to no business for a month, then little by little we gained steam. To say I was worried would have been an understatement but like I said things are more or less back to normal thanks to you!
We are now working hard on refining our customer service which thanks to our new staff hasn't suffered that much. Let's face it when you hire new staff things don't run quite as smoothly as you'd like at first. But we are just about 100% back to normal now thanks to our great staff.
Since we have been down here we have purchased some very nice collections. I am right now in the process of receiving two mid-sized collections from Canada which we will be working on in the next couple of weeks. In addition we are working on some other big collections as well.
We can always use new inventory, so if you know of someone with a collection, let us know and we'll make sure you receive a finders fee if we purchase it.
A while ago I was purchasing a collection and the seller told me he almost didn't sell it to me. He said another dealer had told him that I am a wholesaler, not a retailer. I thought about this for a while and do realize that some of our customers are dealers looking for good deals. Well evidently I was the highest bidder on the collection because he sold it to me anyway. But I shuddered to think that I almost lost a buy because someone was concern who I would sell the trains to. Does that matter?
I'm just a little impatient when I buy collections. I used to go to the shows with hundreds of items, sold say 20 items and returned home. After doing that for many years I knew there had to be an easier, better way and then I tried ebay. Well you know the rest of the story! I believe in turnover. When you turn your inventory over as fast as possible everyone wins. Basically the buyer usually gets a great deal, and I am able to get my money back so I can buy more and more collections. I can work close so the seller wins as well. Would you have it any other way?
I feel if you treat people with respect in a friendly, honest, professional way, people are going to want to deal with you. And I believe that is one reason I have been so successful in purchasing collections. We truly are professional when purchasing collections. I know there are many reasons people sell their collections. The one that I hate most is death or sickness. But I am seeing more of that as time goes on.
I'm a straight shooter. I think anyone that has sold to me at least respects the way I treated them and their situation. I feel I have made many friends in this business, and many have been when I purchased their collection.
So if someone tries to sway you away from doing business with me for a silly reason, or for that matter any reason, please give me a shot anyway. We are offering a service and we pride ourselves in what we are doing. And don't forget I will travel anywhere on larger collections.
This is sort of a weird fact but we used to purchase many train collections from here in Florida. That is when I was in Pennsylvania. I traveled here maybe three times a year purchasing collections for a good ten years in a row. Now that we've moved here to Florida do you think we can buy local Florida collections? I have purchased one collection here since August. The collections we have purchased since moving here are from New York, Pennsylvania, New England area, and Canada. Does that make sense? Not to me. Oh well good thing I love to travel!
Come on Florida, I'm here. Let's do business!!!
And once again, thanks very much for your business. From the bottom of my heart I sincerely appreciate your business and hope to do much more in the future.
By the time you read this you'll probably know so I hope I don't eat crow in saying this but.... Go Steelers!!
11/22/08 Happy Thanksgiving to everyone! Things seem to get more and more settled as time goes by. Hard to believe it has been three months since we moved here to Cape Canaveral. I'd like to say a special hello to our friends in Erie, PA. We do miss you. We don't miss the snow!!! As I understand there are over 2 feet on the ground now and no end in site. I guess we picked the right year to move as this seems early for that much snow!
We just returned from a buying trip to Pennsylvania. John and I traveled to the Scranton, PA area where we had somewhat of a grueling trip. Although it did go pretty smoothly overall. However anytime that you have to inventory a large collection, then pack it up. And then drive it back in 2 days in a truck. It's a long trip! You'll find some nice individual items and lots as a result on choochooauctions.com that will appear over the next couple of weeks.
I'm happy to say that we will be making a return trip up North in a couple of weeks to buy another large collection. We will have many more items in the future on choochooauctions.com.
Once again I am sorry we aren't updating text on our sites as much as I'd like. We have been so busy lately that there is just not enough time in the day.
Thanks very much for your interest and business. We sincerely appreciate it.
9/20/08 Three weeks have gone by since my last blog and things are a little better! We are pretty much settled and back to business, thank goodness. No hurricanes just some beautiful sunny days which I have not been able to enjoy because I am working all the time! Not complaining I love to work!
We are in the process of updating our choochooauctions software to allow invoicing customers similar to ebay. Actually I have been trying to have this added for some months now but we have had trouble finding a programmer to do it. This feature will allow a seller to invoice winning bidders directly through choochoo rather than having to send emails. I believe this will save everyone time and aggravation! We are certainly looking forward to it! It will help our operations greatly!
It is important that your profile be accurate as that is the address the seller will be using. To update your address click on my profile when you are signed it. You will have to input your password again. Then you can change your address using the template.
We hope to have this up and running within a week or so. Whether that will happen or not is up to the programmer.
It has been a couple of years since our shipping and handling rates have change. Actually I have been monitoring this for the first half of the year so this has nothing to do with our move to Florida. We are actually lowering the percentage we charge from 7.5% to 7%. That's the good news.
We are however raising our minimum domestic shipping to $9.50 per package. Our maximum goes to $23.00. As before large or heavy packages are subject to a surcharge.
Please understand we don't make money on our shipping and handling charges. Most everyone in mail order charges to offset their shipping charges. Our shipping and handling charges go into our books against our postage charges, not as revenue.
This is only the second increase in over 10 years. I have been looking at the numbers on this since the beginning of the year and only do this reluctantly. Part of the blame is the increase in oil that the carriers pass on. I remember when you could ship a package for under $4.00. Unfortunately those days are long gone!
This change will go into affect October 1st.
We have committed to purchasing three collections in the next week with some interesting items. I am working on many train lists right now because our move somewhat stymied me from being able to work on them. Only last week was I was able to start working on lists again. It is still frustrating for me as I am not able to spend enough time on them with many moving related issues. Things have started to settle down though.
Thanks very much to all of you who have stayed with us through thick and thin. This has been a very tough move and was very discouraging at times, but finally things are starting to get organized.
Our shopping cart system on traincity.com should be up soon. The problem we had was our inventory was off and there were a number of items that were listed that we didn't actually have and a number of items that we had but didn't show up. This will be fixed soon.
Wish you the best for this coming train season! Sincerely,
8/26/08 - Sitting here in my condo in Cape Canaveral, Florida, I just noticed a perfect mushroom cloud across the Banana river. A thunderstorm forming. I love thunderstorms and this is a beauty drifting slowly our way. But it probably won't hit us because we haven't had rain since last week. I really hope this thunderstorm doesn't hit us as the last thing we need right now is more rain!
Moving sounds so exciting when you are first making the decision to do so. My wife who decided to retire this year from teaching and I decided to mull over a move to Florida where we had owned a condo for several years. We love it down there and had planned on moving there anyway maybe when I retired, but this was so appealing that we decided to do so now rather than later after a month of talk.
I can tell you now that I almost wish we would have mulled it over a little longer, but not because I am unhappy with the decision. I guess we are still in the midst of moving even after having been here two weeks.
But the move really started that day we made the decision to do so. Immediately we started talking with a Realtor. I sincerely wish at this point we had talked to several Realtors and done some more homework because although the market nationwide isn't that great, in our town of Erie, PA the market is steady and houses on average still sell in under 90 days.
We are going on six months now and the three properties we are trying to sell though our Realtor are still for sale. That makes for a negative opinion on moving at least now. Maybe in a couple of months after we have change Realtors and have sold the properties it will be a little more positive!
It seems like we have been moving for longer than six months and in reality we have been. Boxes packed, boxes unpacked, oh boy please let this end.
Packing the store and offices was one thing. It was a never ending chore. First we tackled the basement which took at least 15 hours alone. I didn't really keep track, but I'm certain it was much more than that. Then each room and the store were packed one by one over a period of weeks. Loading the truck I thought would be a snap. We'd have it done probably by noon.
Well at 7 PM after having to unload half of the truck and re-pack it to make some sense, I personally was exhausted. And I had so much more to do that night to get ready for the trip.
The trip for me itself was interesting as well. Two weeks ago today at around 6:45 AM in the morning myself, my son John, his sister Kathy, her cousin Joe, his cousin's dog O'Ryan, and his buddy Dawn the turtle took off on an adventure in a 24 foot truck that was filled beyond capacity, and two automobiles. One of the automobiles were pulled by the truck which made for a very, very overloaded truck!
I thought to myself as we left Erie that morning Beverly Hillbillies. I don't know why I thought of that. Possibly it was a modern version!
Everything went fairly smoothly until we hit the mountains in West Virginia. I was driving the truck and going up hill was murder as sometimes the truck slowed down to 25 miles an hour. That was bad enough, but then many times the engine light came on. Going down the hills was like a runaway train! I did everything I could to not toast the breaks, but if you didn't get on them somewhat plain and simple you went too fast! I didn't want to die.
Never had I been so happy to arrive in North Carolina where those hills and mountains simply straightened out. From there the truck drove like a dream even though the engine light continued to come on for no reason at all.
We had planned on reaching Cape Canaveral around midnight. However with the mountain situation, finally when we got a little past Columbia, South Carolina, we decided to call it a nights trip as we were well behind our schedule.
After a great night's sleep with our dog and turtle, we figured it would be a snap to arrive in Cape Canaveral by 1PM. We did arrive finally by 4PM.
Then the marathon of unloading started. It was hell, but someone had to do it. And I complimented Joe and John on their unloading technique as I watched with approval.
The next day we went to our new offices and then the major unloading began. I actually helped there as that truck was absolutely jam packed with inventory, shelving, office equipment, and lots of stuff!
I'm tired just thinking about it even today, two weeks later. It was only yesterday that we had the offices in pretty good shape although we still aren't completely finished. But it is nice working in an environment that is relatively neat and organized.
But I'm not done with this tale yet as last week the movers arrived with the truck full of personal items and furniture. Oh yea that truck was full as well with so much stuff! Thank goodness I could watch as the movers did most of the work with John and Joe helping. And yes they unloaded that truck right in the middle of Fay. It was raining so hard you couldn't see. It was raining so hard that the elevator stopped working due to overflow of water. Thank goodness most of the items had found their home already, but there were items that just had to be left in places they didn't belong.
The movers decided to call it a night and come back in the morning once the elevator was working. I was so relieved. All I wanted to do was find my bed and go to sleep. Honestly the mess our condo was in it was not an easy task to find that bed!
The next day I woke up to the sound of a roar ever 5 seconds or so. As it turned out I finally figured that was the wind from the tropical storm that was flooding us with water. How much water you ask? The weather channel reported that Cocoa Beach which is just down A1A from us received the most rain of any community involved. Thirty three inches of rain. I've been in storms with 33 inches of snow. Rain is something altogether different. There was so much water that I took a chance that morning in leaving my condo through knee high water. I made it out going a short cut. But people were standing around looking at each other somewhat amazed that my car cut through that water without stalling.
There was so much rain that when I got up that morning instead of the pitter patter of my feet hitting the rug it was the slush of my feet hitting the soaked rug which was getting worse and worse.
And that morning the movers finally were able to get the truck to our condo with luck as they had to go through the same river that I had earlier. But still the elevator didn't work making it much worse having to go up and down the stairs to our third floor condo.
I was so happy when finally they were gone. What great guys they were as they bent over backwards to help us even though they were getting farther and farther behind their schedule. They did tell me that our move was the most ﾑinteresting' they had ever had.
As I look away from the beautiful thunderstorm over the river which is closer now, I turn my head into our condo to look at all the unpacked boxes that still sit here waiting for us to give them attention. And quickly I turn my head toward the thunderstorm again which is much more appealing!
So if you are thinking of moving, well think hard. Think very hard because it's just not fun!!!
The moral to this story is please buy trains from us because the move cost around three times more than I had planned!!! Please!!
6/5/08 - I received a call from an ebay representative today who informed me of another ingenious change in their format.
I learned today that in July sellers will be forced to declare a shipping value with each auction placed. From a buyer's point of view this might sound like a good thing. No more guessing, you will know exactly how much it will cost you for shipping and handling.
From a seller's point of view, this is absolutely ridiculous! First of all since we start all of our auctions at $2.00 and don't really know where they will end, there is no way to estimate the insurance cost for items. Second, no one knows who is going to win the auction. They could be near or far, or very far out of the country. I'm not sure how ebay thinks a seller can estimate what it will cost to ship, let along give an absolute price.
One theory that I have is that ebay wants it's sellers to stop charging shipping at all. Unfortunately that won't happen especially with the escalating cost of oil with is affecting shipping prices greatly. There is no way to build in shipping costs unless you have a store with a fixed price. You can bet those prices will be inflated more than actual shipping.
At the same time if sellers are forced to declare a value for shipping when placing the auction, you can bet they will estimate on the high side for the most part. Thus the buyer loses in most cases.
While I was talking to the representative, I brought up the subject of ebay eliminating negative feedback. I feel that this is a horrible mistake in that positive and negative feedback are essential. I feel that for whatever reason ebay is making these changes at the detriment of everyone using their system.
I'm not certain what advantage ebay sees getting from these changes as the negativity from dealers and sellers is going to be enormous on both issues.
I can assure you that choochooauctions.com will always have positive and negative feedback and will never try to force issues on it's patrons such as declaring shipping costs before it is possible to do so accurately or within that companies policies. We respect our customers and try to give as much freedom as possible in selecting the way you want to do business as a seller.
Unfortunately it seems as if ebay is becoming somewhat of a bully in my eyes with their medaling in areas which should be left alone!
We have finally set a time table for our move. This isn't absolutely written in stone, but we (traincity) will place our last auctions at our old location on July 17th. This will give one week for those auctions to end, and then another week for everyone to pay up. All auctions will have to be paid for by July 31st with absolutely no exceptions! We will start our moving process on August 1st. I am hoping to have been moved and open for business by September 1st or sooner.
Please note that choochooauctions.com and traincity.com will be up and functional throughout our move. Others place auctions on choochoo, so there will be some activity on the site even when we are not placing auctions.
We will stay in touch throughout the move and give updates on both sites.
We would like to thank all our friends and customers from the greater Erie area and visitors to our store for your past business. I sincerely hope you will continue to do business with us through our web sites. One positive thing for Pennsylvania residents is that we will no longer charge Pennsylvania sales tax once we have moved to Florida!
Our retail operations in our store ended May 31st. We did this so that we could set up a situation similar to that in Florida. We are trying to get this set up so that the transition can be as smooth as possible.
Our open sign is still on most of the time while someone is working. We have it open to buy trains and will continue to buy trains and collection in our store and across the country until we close on July 31st. I'd love to find a large collection somewhere between Erie, PA and Florida the first week of August so we can pick it up on the way down. We'll see how that works out!!
Thanks to everyone for your support over the years. Sorry for any inconvenience. We will get things back to normal as soon as possible!
5/19/08 - We would like to give our best to Mary Brooks who recently left us. If you talked with her over the phone, you know what I mean when I say she will be missed.
Tentatively our move is scheduled for the beginning of August. Somewhere in that time frame we will close all auctions that we have running on ebay and choochooauctions.com and close up shop for maybe a month. We may be open in a shorter time frame than that but it will take some time to move everything and set up in Florida. We will keep you informed of our progress on our web sites as they will stay up during our move.
I just returned from a trip to New Orleans with Ebbie Shores. It was sort of a grueling trip as we purchased a large collection in Louisiana, then drove it back by truck. That said, we still had a pretty good time Despite my almost driving the truck into a gas pump and us having to pass on Big Jim's Boobmania in Tennessee. Ebbie really wanted to stop but I wouldn't let him!!! (Not to get Ebbie in trouble what really happened was we both just looked at each other, smiled and said nothing as we passed it by!)
I am very sad to say that Ebbie Shores, Jean Beck, and Lonny Bowersox will not be able to make the move with us to Florida. Thus we will be looking for new staff in the Cape Canaveral, Florida area. Please pass the word, we'll be looking for a shipper and secretary immediately when we get there in August. If anyone knows anyone especially with some electric train interest in that area, please pass this info on to them. Anyone that contacts us will be considered.
I placed some of my own personal collection on ebay yesterday. Just click on the ﾑTraincity Ebay Auctions' link under Links on the main page of choochooauctions or click here to see them. Please note that there may be other traincity auctions running at the same time.
I've only had one person so far ask me why we are going out of business. We are not going out of business, we are moving!!!
I've had a number of people ask why we are moving. Well yesterday was May 18th. I drove out to my country club to play some golf with the guys. We sat there in the locker room and watched the weather channel for around a half hour hoping that the cold rain would stop. It didn't so I went to work. That is one of the reasons we are moving to Florida. But now I'm told that a year from now on July 18th I'll be sitting in the locker room at the local country club watching the weather channel hoping for a cold front. Gee, you just can't win can you??
4/29/08 - Over the years I have found that probably the biggest reason people sell their train collections is because they are moving.
I am no different I guess. As you probably know by now we are moving from Pennsylvania to Florida. I have decided rather than moving my train collection I am going to sell it. Not that it is a huge collection, but it is very high quality and I don't want to take the chance of something getting damaged (especially boxes) during the move.
My collection consists of the best of the best from many of the post and pre war collections I've purchased. Many items in my collection are actually excellent+, like new, and new. My prized possession I guess is the #53 snowplow with the rare correct ﾑa'. This is probably one of the best examples of this item anywhere grading absolutely new in a very nice box. There are many other pieces like 773's, GG-1's, F3's, and just a little bit of rolling stock such as 6464 cars, etc. Like I said most are like new to new. I believe everything has the original boxes with maybe one or two exceptions.
You can click here to see some of my collection. I've added many items to it since I made this page, but this will give you an idea of some of the items.
I will be placing the collection little by little on choochooauctions.com and some on ebay. I will start in early May and will make note of the fact that they are from my collection in the auction.
I'm trying not to sound egotistical, but if anyone who wins an item from my collection would like a personal letter from me stating it was in my collection I would be happy to do so.
I've very much loved putting this collection together and am sort of saddened that I am going to be selling it. On the other hand I am very happy that I never need to see snow again!!! I guess I will know how people feel when I pull out of their driveway with my truck and their collection!!
Who knows though I may start another one when we are finally situated in Florida.
4/7/08 - We had a computer crash today which threw us off a little as far as productivity. Jean's computer which we use for many auction functions blew completely today. Thus we were scrambling to send auction emails, etc. Ironically Jean was off today so I guess it was a good day for this to happen. We had to purchase another computer but were able to get most of the data off of the old hard drive so hopefully we'll be 100% back in business in two days. I hate computer problems but they are inevitable so we try to deal with them as fast and efficiently as possible.
I have leased offices in the port at Cape Canaveral. I still don't have a time table of the pending move. I am hoping to stay open here in Pennsylvania through at least most of the Summer, however that could change depending on the sale of property. The store property just went on sale today. I'm not sure how long it will take to sell, but if it does sell earlier than expected we will have to move sooner than hoped. Anyone want to buy a great location for a train store?
2/26/08 - I would like to make a correction to some of the statements I made about consignment last time as I found some facts which are very refreshing!
I stated that Pennsylvania had a law that you needed an auctioneer's license to consign items on auction sites such as ebay and choochooauctions.com. I was wrong, as far as I know at this time it is not law. However there seems to be a lobby from the PAA to require a license to consign and sell them on-line. Their reasoning is a very good one! Fraud has been ramped from companies and individuals taking consignment items such as ebay stores, etc, then suddenly disappearing with the merchandise.
Basically the PAA wants to require a license to businesses and individuals who place consignments on-line. It would not be a full auction license as I indicated last time. It would be a special license. I am all for this as there are too many problems in this area with fraud.
If it stops snowing at some point I am flying south for a week. What started out to be a short trip for a little golf and a condo association meeting has turned into something else!! I will be buying a collection in Florida and another one in Virginia. I was planning on flying back, but now obviously I will be driving a truck. And that is fine with me!! The bonus in this is that I will be able to transport the other two collections I bought last month in Florida and had to leave there. Finally we'll get them back here to snowy Pennsylvania where they belong!
The last month we have been inundated with train collection lists. I am working on them as fast as I can, but obviously I am behind. This is a very good sign though as a couple of months ago we were very dry as to inventory. We go through it so fast that sometimes I can't buy enough!!
Our business has been stationed here in Erie, PA now for over 25 years at the same location. A couple of months ago my wife and I realized that she can retire this year. It's hard to believe but it has been over 30 years now since she started teaching. This led to other thoughts because we do own a condo in Florida. To make a long drawn out, extremely stressful story short, we have decided to move to Florida. We will be moving Train City, Inc. to Florida as well later this year.
I'm still in shock by our decision because as we get further along into the process I realize more and more that I'll be leaving my home town and many friends, which is a little emotional.
If things go as planned this should not affect business until around mid Summer when we will have to shut down operations for 4 to 6 weeks. Although we will not be able to place auctions during that time, I will be buying as always. We'll need inventory for when we open in Florida. Our two web sites choochooauctions.com and traincity.com will stay open throughout the process since they are not physically located in Erie, PA. Anyone will be able to buy and sell there. We just won't be able to while we are moving.
Our business will be located in Central Florida on the East coast near Cape Canaveral, around 50 minutes due East of Orlando Airport. (A little over an hour from Disney World.)
To be honest I'm not sure if we are going to have a storefront or not although I want a small storefront if at all possible.
And as always even though we will be in Florida we will travel anywhere to purchase a nice sized train collection!
I should have more information about our move next time and will continue to fill you in on our progress through this enormous task ahead of us!
1/27/08 - It has been a busy week as I have purchased a couple of collections in Florida and another nice one up here in the north just yesterday. Unfortunately the two Florida collections weren't big enough to transport by truck, but too big and bulky to ship back to myself, so they will have to stay in Florida until someone in the south sells me a large collection so that I can transport them up at the same time.
Recently I have learned that the Pennsylvania Auctioneers Association is causing havoc in the train world. Actually I suppose it is possible other state associations are doing the same thing. As I understand it they are trying to enforce a rule that states that consigned items cannot be placed on auction sites such as ebay without having an auctioneers licence.
I have mixed feelings about this subject.
The state of Pennsylvania has two ways you can obtain an auctioneers license. First is to apprentice with a licensed auctioneer for two years then pass the state test. The second is to go to a college for auctioning, complete the course, then take the state test.
For most of us who are already working or established in business the first option isn't really feasible. The second is more attractive and I've actually considered doing so until I found that there are only two colleges where you can study auctioning in Pennsylvania and they are both on the other side of the state.
I believe the PAA makes it purposely difficult to obtain an Auctioneers licence especially for people already established in business or out in the working world or who live on this side of the state for that matter. It really doesn't look like the courses are all that difficult. I have seen some ﾑprofessional' auctioneers in this state that look and act as if they didn't graduate from high school let alone a college course of study! Last year I was at an auction where the auctioneer started insulting the crowd. I thought that was a smart way to get them to up their bids, don't you?
So what is the big deal if Joe Blow places some items on ebay for a friend? Well from the PAA's point of view, those are items that should have been placed at a live auction. In essence they are afraid that ebay is taking business away from them. And they are right. But then again ebay has taken business away from many, not just auctioneers! Only those that chose to try to work within the system haven't been hurt too badly by ebay.
I hate consignment myself. The worst thing you could do when liquidating your collection is place it on consignment with a friend or business for that matter.
There are so many horror stories concerning consignment it isn't really even funny. I doubt very much that your good friend who offered to sell your items on consignment is going to be much of a friend once he loses the money he got for your collection.
This actually happened with a person I purchased a collection from recently. He told me he had left a number of big ticket train items at a dealer friend who was to sell them. Evidently they were sold and the money was put in a safe place. When he went to pick up the money, mysteriously the money had disappeared. I could tell you a number of similar stories about consignment, but I'll stop there. It should be pretty evident that unless the person you are dealing with is a professional dealer or a professional auctioneer that it isn't a good idea. The key word here is professional with a good reputation.
Personally I very rarely take consignments, however I have and will continue to do so. Although I would much rather purchase outright. The only reason I've consigned in the past is because it was inventory I wasn't particularly familiar with. Then it makes sense for me. But I am sure consignment items have constituted much less than one hundredth of a percent of our sales over the years.
A real good friend of mine recently told me that another friend of mine had consigned some trains to him. The funny thing is that my other friend had also inquired about selling the same trains to me outright. Ironically I guess consignment affects everyone!
Even so, I would love to hear how the PAA intends to enforce their ﾑno consignment without an auctioneers licence'! Are they going to form the auctioneer police?
The collection I bought yesterday is a honey! Make sure you check out both traincity.com (for new items), and choochooauctions.com over the next several days.
And last but not least. Even with this collection we still do need inventory. We are particularly looking for larger collections, and are paying more to get them. Don't consider consigning your trains. First of all it is illegal! Sell to a professional dealer. You won't regret it because you will receive your money before your collection leaves your possession. It is a much more secure transaction and just makes sense. Go to a casino if you want to gamble!
12/27/07 - We have been pretty busy and that is why I haven't updated this page for a while. It is amazing how busy it gets around here. Today was particularly busy, but that is because Jean was off for a couple of days and we are more or less playing catch up.
I am very happy with the way Fedex has worked out. I wasn't sure what to expect, but we've had very few glitches in getting used to their system. You should be receiving email notices when we prepare your shipment. If you don't, please email us and let us know. The only way we can't email you with the shipping info is if you haven't provided us with an email address.
On January 1st we will be incorporated. We will be known as Train City, Inc. There are several reasons for this change. I am still 100% owner, so other than the name and changing our book keeping around a little, everything should still work about the same.
Our inventory is low right now. Many years it gets this way mainly because the Christmas season sucks it away. We are trying to re-stock and are paying generous finder's fees as well as higher buying prices right now. If you have trains for sale, or know of someone who does, this might be a great time to contact us. Feel free to call me at 814.833.8313 (ask for Charlie), or email me at email@example.com.
Thanks to all of you who bought or sold trains from us this past year. We sincerely appreciate your business and hope this coming new year is a great one not only business wise, but more importantly personally for you and your families.
By the way, if you didn't do business with us this past year, may you rot in hell. (No, just fooling!!!) Doesn't matter if you do business with us or not. Really doesn't matter what your religion is or where you are from. Doesn't matter if you are rich or poor. Doesn't matter what race you are. Happy New Year from the bottom of my heart and all of us at Train City!
12/01/07 - Hello, hello, hello!! Sorry this has been so long. To say the least we've been a little busy here in choochooland!!
We are in need of inventory. We are particularly looking for large collections. We will pay a nice finder's fee for anyone helping us purchase trains as always. If you happen to see anything that I might have not already have been offered, please direct them our way or let us know. We pay more when our inventory is on the low side.
Speaking of buying trains, I just had an experience in our store that I'd like to share with you. Truthfully I try my best to be a gentleman when it comes to business. I like to deal with our customers buying or selling with understanding and respect. But sometimes a nut is let loose in this world and I just had one in my store!
I had been talking to him on the phone about coming up and selling me some trains. We need inventory so I was looking forward to it and was ready to give him a good offer for the trains he had. Actually I did give him a good offer!
I knew I was in trouble though when he picked up the 52 fire car and said something to the affect of ﾑwell look at this car, it's a $450.00 car if it was in a little better condition.' I looked at the car, saw that the roof was disconnected from the body, the generator was missing and I tried to explain that we had to deal with reality. And then he went on to a couple of other examples like these three cars are worth $600.00!!! Well the three cars he pointed out were worth maybe $200.00. Possibly had they been new in the boxes they would have been worth that sum!!
OK so I took his list and went to my office, doing some work on the collection. Took me a long time actually because I wanted to make certain I gave him the best offer I possibly could.
Returning I gave him an offer of which he immediately refused, although he wanted to sell me three MPC cars. I told him all or nothing.
I was at least the third person he had contacted and it was apparent to me as he was leaving that probably unless my offer had been 12K or something like that he was just fishing for free info. Or he was in an out of body experience and was hoping for dancing candy canes. (Wow that's heavy! LOL)
I did mention to him in as polite a way as at all possible that possibly instead of wasting people's time he should sell them on ebay himself. (I really did good. I was a little upset and I did it politely!)
Seems like I've had a lot of tire kickers lately. I'm not sure why, maybe it's my karma or something!
I am buying a nice sized collection in a couple of weeks, but now we have a nice warehouse and I'd like to fill it up, so please if you know of any non-tire kickers, please let me know!
One of these days (I keep telling myself this) we are going to update our traincity.com tour. We have a completely new staff now except for Jean and me.
Well let me mention who's working now. And I might add that this staff now is the best, the most fun to work with, and most productive we have ever had.
Jean is the auction administrator. Many of you know her. She's been here for several years and sometimes doubles as the office manager. Sometimes she is the collector too. You don't want to owe us money because she can be very convincing if you know what I mean!!!
John is my son and handles most of the ebay auctions. He is more or less learning the business so that at some point several years down the road I can retire gracefully. John graduated from West Virginia U and is actually at the Pitt, WV game today. He's hoping the West Virginia wins and goes to the national championship. I'm hoping too for his sake, because he is also a Buffalo Bills fan and you know how much suffering and disappointment he's had rooting for those Bills!!!
Lonny is the chief packer. He's been doing a great job and fits into the staff excellently!! He is actually one of the reasons we switched to Fedex which seems to be working out well.
Mary is one of our store clerks and helps with shipping. She's really, really a nice person to work with. Even though she makes mistakes every once in a while. (I never make mistakes! LOL) Just fooling she makes very few mistakes.
We have a bell in the store. Well we ring it when someone makes a mistake. (Actually I don't, the staff started this.) It is so funny working in my office and hearing that bell go off. I cringe!!
Ebbie has been with us about the same amount of time Lonny and Mary have give or take a month. Ebbie loves trains. As a matter of fact since he has started working here I think he's bought more trains than I have paid him. I like that!!! There is always room for another train nut!
I promise I will have pictures soon. Give or take a couple of years.
Well I had better get back to work. I hope you and yours have a very merry holiday and a fabulous new year. Hopefully I'll be able to write something here before that time comes as I have a lot to say!
10/23/07 - Hello everyone. Hope all you that went to York had a great time. I almost went, but couldn't get away.
I'd like to share a story with you that is so unbelievable, I am still scratching my head that it actually happened.
OK, before I start that story I have to say that we are back at full staff. We are now shipping packages either the same day or one day behind. And I think you will see that the packaging is much better thanks to our staff who are once again taking the attitude, pack it right!
A couple of months ago we shipped a package to a good customer of ours who when he received it told us that the box was received with a huge gash in it that had been taped shut probably by UPS.
When he opened the box he found that six items were missing out of the box. Of course he contacted us about it and I filed a claim with UPS knowing that there would be no problem with missing items.
A week later I received a call from Crawford Insurance who is actually the insurance company that by all rights is UPS's insurance. They insure themselves, but through their own insurance company.
At first the lady was polite and asked me questions about the package. Around half way through the conversation her tone turned and she said that she needed to know exactly how the package was packed or she wouldn't be able to pay the claim.
That sort of threw me into shock as I originally had thought this would be a no problem claim since the box had obviously been almost ripped in half by UPS and then taped back together.
I tried to explain that I didn't pack the box, and the person who did was no longer with our company. And besides I asked what does packing have anything to do with missing 6 items out of a box because the box was ripped open in UPS's system. They had the box, it was corrugated as they require.
This frustrating call upset me greatly especially since the woman started to act more like a gestapo officer than a professional insurance claim person as the conversation evolved.
I was mad. I was actually trembling when I called my UPS representative who I talked to and told her my story.
The next day she dropped by my office and we discussed it further. She did a trace in their overgoods section and actually found four of the missing cars.
So then at her advice I filed another claim for the other two items of which since the total I claimed was under $100.00 I was confident that this claim would go through and the problem would go away.
That was around a month ago, and I haven't heard from my UPS representative since then, so I have to assume that claim was denied as I told her I did not want to talk with that nasty claims agent again.
We've been with UPS now for well over 20 years and have built up a business that started with a little UPS sign in the window when we needed them to stop for our one or two packages to at least lately shipping 20 to 50 boxes a day. My current UPS bill for September is $4,500.00. That's over $50,000.00 yearly that I am now paying UPS. And they can't pay an $80.00 claim that was clearly their fault in the first place?
Either UPS is missing some bolts up there in the head or they are about as arrogant a company as any I've ever heard of. Basically what they have done is refused to pay an $80.00 claim to lose a very long time customer who pays them over $50,000.00 a year and growing almost every year.
And lose me they have. They really gave me no choice. Let me clarify that in that we are going to temporarily (at least) go with Fedex ground. I've told a couple of people about this and they were actually happy with my decision. I didn't realize this but I understand now that Fedex ground delivers on Saturday's as well.
At any rate we will start out with five packages a day for the next week or so, then if everything seems to work well in their system, we will make a complete change.
I told our UPS driver yesterday and his initial comment was, ﾑgood for you'! He also said that UPS will not care that we are leaving. I know we are probably but a speck in their system, but in my opinion that is stupidity on their part. They place the stupid commercials with the guy drawing on the board to gain new customers, but yet they don't care that they lose long time customers to their relatively new competition!
This isn't the only reason we are leaving UPS. The main reason however is related as they throw those packages around like a football. This is partly because they are just too busy being the number one package carrier. It is time for a change, and hopefully this works out with Fedex ground. At least I hope they take better care of our packages and treat their customers with a little more respect. I've always tried my best to hold down costs and have avoided like the plague to raise our shipping costs. I want you to know I am not raising shipping costs at this moment, but we are doing a study to see how much of a deficit we have in that area. This year not only UPS but all the carriers went to a system where they factor in the dimensions of packages and of course raised their rates and the famous fuel surcharges. Where last year we stayed pretty much even with shipping costs, this year we are falling behind. And that is not even considering handling costs.
If it was up to me I'd lower our shipping and handling costs that you pay. But unfortunately then comes reality. I'm not sure where this is going to end. Unfortunately they know they have us who buy and sell through mail order or the Internet by the cabooses if you know what I mean. Now some companies can avoid raising prices of their products to cover shipping costs. However since most of our sales are generated through auctions, that would be impossible.
I don't know where this is going. I don't know what it will cost to ship items say 10 years from now. I wouldn't be surprised if shipping charges were double by then. I think UPS and others are simply playing their hand and charging what the market will bear. It will be interesting to see what happens. Possibly shipping prices will rise to the point that people start buying at train shows again!!
I do have a feeling that we will be forced to raise our shipping and handling charges probably sooner than later. I know we have lost some customers due shipping costs. I hope you understand though that this is not a way of us making extra revenue. Our shipping and handling structure has always been at a deficit to us especially when you factor in handling. Hopefully most people understand and believe me when I make that statement.
10/6/07 - Busy is not a word that can describe right now what is going on at Train City. It is way beyond that and actually driving us nuts. However I guess being too busy is better than not busy enough, so thank you to all who have contributed to our problem!
Recently we have noticed that the number of people who are accumulating massive amounts of winning auctions and having us ship them all at once has grown considerably. That is a practice that I would much rather avoid if possible. I know this can be more convenient for people to do it this way. However the bottom line is that this more or less slows our system down.
We have always tried to bend over backwards to accommodate customers. And of course this is the way we do business. However it has come to the point where we have to take some measures to alleviate this problem as much as possible.
Each and every one of our (traincity) auctions states. Please do not bid if you don't have the funds to pay for this auction.' That basically means that if you don't have the money to buy the item at the time you are bidding on the auction, please don't bid. We have run into some problems with people actually holding off from paying us for auctions until they can get the funds. This is aggravating and we will not allow this to happen anymore.
We are trying to sell trains. We do not want to get into the collection business! Please, if you can't pay for the auction within seven days of the auction ending, don't bid. It's that simple. We do not want to have to re-auction items, and we particularly don't want to have to ban people from bidding on our auctions, but we have, and we will if this practice persists.
On the brighter side the vast majority of you tend to pay extremely quickly. Thanks so much for that!
Many of you may realize that traincity.com has a shopping cart system. It doesn't get used nearly as much as our auction site. A couple of years ago I tried to get more use out of the shopping cart system by allowing people to combine auctions with their cart orders and receive a cart discount to the entire order. This never really worked the way that I had wanted it to, so I am eliminating that offer. After all an auction is the price you want to pay for an item. Why should we discount it further? So consider this policy scrubbed. You are welcome to combine orders however the discount will now apply only to the cart order and auction prices will not be affected.
I seem to be grumbling today, and I am truly sorry. But here's another one that I think everyone will be able to relate to....
I've been doing business with the Kalmbach publishing for a very long time. I've advertised in every issue of ﾑClassic Toy Trains' since the first issue. I advertised for years even before ﾑCTT' was even thought of. I consider the Kalmbach company to be one of the finest and has served both train collectors and dealers very well over the years.
However, (and I know you knew there had to be a however coming sometime), their price guides suck. I was trying to find a word that is more diplomatic, but to be honest with you I just can't think of a better word.
I received the new 2008 Lionel Trains pocket guide and the 2008 American Flyer pocket guide around three weeks ago. Now keep in mind I am really busy and haven't had much of a chance to look into this book in much detail.
Last year you might remember that in the modern section of the book instead of having the pricing columns described as Excellent and New, they used Good and Excellent. I suppose this shows you the vast knowledge the publisher of this book has. (OK I make mistakes too, so let's overlook that one and go on to this years problems.)
Making mistakes is one thing, but manipulating data to conform to a certain number of pages is a completely different thing.
First of all, I don't know where they are getting their prices. I actually talked to the publisher last year and he mumbled something about a formula they use. Formula??? What??? What ever happened to actual sales? OK let's get past this one. Wait a second I"m starting to hyperventilate. I have to go do some yoga to calm down. Just a second I'll be back to finish this in just a second..........
................ OK, I feel a little better now. Now what was I talking about......... Oh crap, the damn pocket guides.... OK, I'm going to be OK. I know I can get through this without having an attack of some kind.
Well, I'm not sure if I am the only one that noticed this, but last year's book had 320 pages. OK, so you would think that maybe this year's issue would have maybe 330 pages because you know new items added by Lionel, things like that. Well it turns out this new edition with more data than before has 319 pages. How could this be we all ask???
Well first of all (and they don't really tell you this or explain why) they left out the entire large scale section. So if you want information on Lionel G gauge, well you have been orphaned with no real reason.
But worse, throughout this new Lionel book there are individual items missing. I have not purposely tried to find missing items, but in the two weeks I have been using it for reference (stupid me) I have found the following numbers missing from this book that had been included in the 2007 edition. 9544, 9119, 6108, 9733, 6438. OK that is only five items, but I am sure there are more and maybe many more items missing.
So if they can't go over 320 pages instead of doing the logical thing and maybe making a pre-war/post-war book separately from the modern book, they decided to eliminate important data from their book.
I've said this before and I will repeat myself. This book is an afterthought. Accuracy means absolutely nothing in this book. This book is about simply making money the easiest and most convenient way that Kalmbach can possibly do so.
I sell these books in our store and I almost sent them back in disgust. As a matter of fact I may still do that.
And last but not least, we offer a free Price Guide on both traincity.com and choochooauctions.com. This has nothing to do with trying to promote our guides. Unfortunately we aren't publishers and although the pricing may be more accurate, there is missing data, but that is explained in the guide. And besides it's are free for goodness sake!
Kalmbach is charging $17.95 for basically garbage.
I hope someone from Kalmbach reads this little rant and maybe starts thinking about doing a better job for next year or just doing us all a favor and cease production.
I still think they are a great company. I just think they need to re-evaluate if they want a quality price guide that is accurate. They are doing little service in continually publishing garbage year after year.
Whoops my veins are sticking out again. I'm going to go and do some more yoga!
9/15/07 - Well things are starting to smooth out here at Train City finally. I do apologize to anyone who was affected with our recent staffing problems. We have hired new personnel who are working out great!
This all started in June when Kathy left for personal reasons. She was nice enough to give notice and helped us for around three weeks which was nice.
We hired two additional people. One had some personal problems of her own and after only a couple of days she just failed to show up. The other I had to fire. So at that point we were left with Peter.
Jean helped in the store as much as she could. And we hired Mary who (cross my fingers) is still with us and doing very well.
Last week to make matters worse Peter quit without notice and we were left hanging once again. Some of you might remember Joyce who worked for us for years. She came in and helped out during this difficult time.
This past Monday Ebbie started and is working out great. Now I have only one more person to hire for packing when we are really busy. Hopefully I have already found him.
For the first time in quite a while we are caught
up on packing, and we should be back to normal for the most part
from now on.
It is nice to have a little breather and be able to update this log. Tomorrow will be better though as it's supposed to be sunny and I'm going golfing. You know I don't mind working extra hours due to our staffing problems, but when it starts to affect my golf game, well, that's hurtful!!
8/30/07 - I have been meaning to start a page that is sort of a blog that I can ramble about what is happening at Train City. I haven't felt comfortable about doing it on the front page of our auction site mainly because sometimes I go on rambling and rambling about things that probably shouldn't be said and I am trying my best to keep choochooauctions.com as professional as possible. On the other hand if you are familiar with the home page of traincity.com I have usually been a little more personal. I actually miss that type of communication with our customers and others who view our pages. I've actually had some requests for me to go back to the traincity.com format. So here it is! We will make this sort of a blog which I can vent when there is news or better yet no news at all!
You may or may not know we have had some staffing problems. Kathy quit in June or so and since then we have been trying to replace her. We've had a couple of bad experiences in replacing her, but I think we are on the right track now. Peter is still with us and doing a great job. Of course Jean the auction administrator and collector. (If you owe us money you don't want to mess with Jean better known as Guino!) My son John is working out great. He is busy learning the business in mainly listing items on ebay for us. John is a Buffalo Bills fan. I'm not talking that he just likes the Bills a little. No.. he likes them a lot. So last Friday he pulled me up to a pre-season game. Well actually I think the game is secondary. Actually the tail gate party is what he loves. OK I had never been to a tail gate party before. So we get there and there is this old Pinto sitting there with all this food cooking in grills on the car's hood. There is grease streaming down the hood of the car. There is a bowling ball sitting on a little table and a sign, 'Bill's best fan'. If you are a Bill's fan you know where I was. It turns out that the bowling ball is used to pour shots of liquor into the thumb hole. You drink the shot down, then you drop the bowling ball on the ground. If the hole is not straight up facing the sky you have to drink another penalty shot until you get it right. No I only drank beer thanks! I had to drive home. At any rate now I know my son is certifiably nuts. Well a Buffalo Bill nut. We had fun though. It's just a little different. Myself being a Pittsburgh Steeler fan, I still had fun!
OK back to whatever it was I was talking about... Oh yea... We now have Mary who has taken Kathy's place. She seems to be working out great and we are happy to have found her. We are now adding a position for a designated packer. I have already found someone and he will start Tuesday. So it looks like we are back in business. I'll tell you it has been not fun for us in this transition, but I think in another month or so we will be stronger than ever.
I've just purchase two sizeable collections this past week. One from New Jersey and the other from Michigan. We also have a lot of items left over from previous collections that we are trying to clean out. They will be in the form of junk type lots on both choochooauctions.com and ebay.
Well, I hope everyone has a great Labor Day weekend. I hate Labor Day because it means Summer is just about over. And I'm just starting to play some good golf. Oh well there is always Florida. And that brings up another sore subject! Why haven't I received any good train collection lists from Florida lately. It was a year ago since I purchased my last Florida collection. I'll be in Florida in September and November if anyone wants to give me a sensible reason to to down. Oh yea I'll be there in December too, but that is designated an official golf trip, so under no circumstances known to man will I buy any trains in December. Well, maybe I could extend my trip a day or two if you twisted my arm. Otherwise I plan on golfing a lot and doing a lot of other things that I probably shouldn't be doing! (They have floating casinos down there!)