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TODAY

Monday, February 18

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Have you ever had visions of what a toy store should look like? In your mind, did you see elaborate puppets, row after row of model sets, building blocks, mini castles and stuffed animals, and trains? Oh yes, there had to be lots of trains. If you venture down Odgen Avenue to the town of Berwyn, you'll come across Berwyn's Toy Trains & Models and see the toy store that exists in your mind.

An independently owned and operated neighborhood toy store, Berwyn's Toy Trains & Models has been a Berwyn fixture for years, but prior to moving to Berwyn, I had no idea this place existed. Now, I am such a fan of the place I find myself recommending it to everyone.

If you drive by Berwyn's Toy Trains & Models (located three blocks east of Ogden and Harlem) you are immediately impressed by the window displays. In them, you can see Kettler tricycles, Radio Flyer wagons of all sizes, slot cars, beautiful vintage-inspired pedal cars and, the find of the century, an authentic 1980s Big Wheel in the classic red, blue and yellow color scheme.

Berwyn's Toy Trains & Models is like two stores in one. In one half resides a train shop for serious train enthusiasts and in the other, a great toy store where depending on the season you're likely to find a wide variety of tricycles and wagons or sleds, among other classic toys.

The staff at the store is great; they really know their products and have suggestions based on your child's age. What I really appreciated is that they are not breathing down your neck. They are there if you need them, but not following you around trying to get a sale.

The toy and craft section of the store features Breyer horses, Ty Beanie Babies, Lauri puzzles, various doll houses and furniture and an entire aisle devoted to Play Mobil sets. If your child is into Thomas the Tank Engine, they also have a vast selection of Thomas toys and products like hats, engineer outfits, dinner ware, videos and of course, trains!

Arts and crafts kits (painting, beading, clay) are available and a display of a beautiful selection of award-winning, detailed Folkmanis hand puppets are there to greet you when you walk through the door. For infants, many natural toys are available from companies like Lamaze and Melissa & Dave.

Children definitely welcome at Berwyn's Toy Trains & Models. Train play tables are set up for them (one Thomas the Tank Wooden Railway, one BRIO Wooden Railway) at the back of the store, where you'll usually find two or three kids playing quietly.

For the fans of old-time toys, Berwyn's Toy Trains & Models has Erector sets, beautiful marbles — I had no idea kids still play with marbles — and Smurfs! Dear Lord, Smurfs! There are no computer toys at Berwyn's Toy Trains & Models, these toys all run on imagination.

The model train half of the store is definitely geared towards the serious model train aficionado. Berwyn's Toy Trains & Models has everything you need, from scenery to lighting to accessories and more by Rail Kind, Tinplate Tradition, K-Line and Lionel to name a few. I have seen grown middle-aged men with their sons and daughters enthusiastically discussing model train schematics. This is definitely the place for hard core model train people, yet it still manages to not be intimidating to the novice.

At the center of the train half of the store is the pièce de resistance, a huge train display which, even if you don't care much for model train play, you shouldn't miss. The gigantic model train set has several buttons which allow you and your children to get the train going, flash lights and change bridges.

Every time I've shopped there, it's clear that many of the families in the store are simply browsing or letting their children play for a while. The store gives off such a welcoming vibe, you know they don't mind if you're just visiting. It is a nice change of pace from larger, chain toy stores.

So if you're jonesing for an old time toy store experience, some marbles, puzzles — or even a Smurf — put Berwyn Toy Trains & Model on your agenda.

Berwyn's Toy Trains & Models
7025 Ogden Avenue
Berwyn, IL 60402
708/484-4384

Monday and Thursday 10am - 7:30pm
Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday 10am - 6pm
Saturday 10am - 5pm

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About the Author(s)

Alejandra Valera is a new mom and writer. If there's a baby- or kid-friendly place, product or event you think she should cover, email her at .

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