As a young boy, Rainy Hamilton Jr.’s dreams were filled with model trains, intricate winding tracks and the lifelike scenery that surrounded it all. The passion that continues to fuel his love for model trains also serves as the driving force behind recently opening of his very own hobby shop – Rainy Day Hobbies.
Located at 22961 Woodward Ave. (in downtown Ferndale), the 2,000 sq. ft. store will serve as a retreat for “kids of all ages,” featuring merchandise to cater to both the veteran hobbyist or those just entering the exciting world of modeling, a time in Hamilton’s own life that will not soon be forgotten.
“My father, Rainy Hamilton Sr., started my interest in model trains one Christmas, and from that moment, I was hooked,” said Hamilton, a founding principal architect at Detroit-based Hamilton Anderson Associates. “I looked for every opportunity to earn a little extra allowance, and as soon as it was in my pocket, I jumped on my bike and rode straight to the hobby shop.”
Those trips to the hobby shop gave Hamilton time to dream about the day he’d walk into his own hobby shop – a place where he would be able to share his love of all things steam and diesel with the community.
“My vision for Rainy Day Hobbies is to create a getaway for those who revel in model building and model railroading, which is ‘the world’s greatest hobby,’” said Hamilton. The space also contains a multi-purpose gathering area that can be used for socializing, as well as workshops, training sessions, viewing videos and even holding birthday parties.
Hamilton added that people generally still enjoy building things with their hands.
“People still enjoy using their imaginations to create model trains and planes,” he said. “The whole thing is about the hands on, and imagination is really what the store is about.”
He noted that items found in his shop would make great stocking stuffers.
“We’re finding that parents are buying their children these products and the children are holding on to them for their children,” Hamilton said. “(Models) encourage problem solving and that’s really what we should be considering in this economy.”
Hamilton encourages parents and children to stop by. “I would encourage people to come out and see what we have,” Hamilton said. “We’re going to cater to what our customers want. Within the next month we’re going to have more rockets and radio controlled planes, cars and helicopters. They’ve been a big hit.”
Upon entering the shop, patrons will become energized by the bright walls, splashed with primary colors that pop against the light wood floors. Racks of wooden puzzles and books are nestled in the front of the store, surrounded by wood trains, cars and planes, perfect for children as young as 2 years old.
The store’s long walls are lined with the latest in HO train cars and locomotives, including those in both O- and N-scale. A massive model schooner is perched atop one of the store’s tall shelves, and mounted on the wall is a clock that welcomes each new hour with a train whistle and trip around its clock face by a bustling locomotive.
Rainy Day Hobbies aims to be a one-stop shop for all hobbyists, and while the majority of the merchandise will pertain to building model trains, the store also will carry supplies for those who enjoy building model planes, boats, submarines and cars.
In addition, there will be many options for children, including Melissa and Doug products – a line of educational toys specifically geared towards children ages 2 and up – and a variety of Atlas and Life-Like train sets, each one accompanied by instructions for beginning and building a set. Experienced sales staff will be on hand for assistance in putting together a more customized first set.
In a world where most children – and even adults – interact through various means of technology, Rainy Day Hobbies offers a chance for customers to test-run and even touch a product before purchase. Its goal is to preserve the method of hands-on model building while encouraging imagination.
“Model railroading teaches you not just about scenery building and track laying, but also about transportation, logistics and history,” said Hamilton. “I hope that this new store will not only serve as a getaway for modeling enthusiasts but also become an asset to Ferndale and metro Detroit as a place where imagination and creativity are cultivated.”
The store carries products for model trains, planes, boats, submarines and cars, including accessories for layouts such as scenery and digital control. Most repairs can be made on-site. The store features a multi-functional gathering area that is used for socializing, workshops, training sessions and parties, as well as free Wi-Fi.
Hamilton believes that though the current trend has been moving towards more online purchases, patrons still want to feel items in their hand.
“We are trying to offer savings on all of our products under the manufacturer’s suggested price,” he said. “They still want to touch the product when they buy. That’s why I enjoy going into a hobby shop. People are maybe spending more time at home, maybe looking for things to do as a family. It allows for families to come together and everyone gets satisfaction out of creating.”
For more information on Rainy Day Hobbies and its products and services, visit www.rainydayhobbies.com or call (248) 545-5667.