An American Toy Legacy: Lionel Model Trains | North Carolina Weekend | UNC-TV
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An American Toy Legacy: Lionel Model Trains | North Carolina Weekend | UNC-TV

November 19, 2019


[rapid, twanging music] – When you approach the store,
there’s large glass windows, it’s a very bright interior,
and a stone archway, a tunnel, that we built to emulate
the train experience, so you kind of come
through the tunnel, and you’re really transported
into the world of Lionel. We picked this location because
Concord Mills is the single largest tourist destination
in all of North Carolina. We have operating layouts
throughout the store. At any given time,
we could be running north of 15 or 20
different trains. Our goal is really
to have engagement. Our product is best
seen being used, and best sold being used. We have a slogan that
no Christmas tree is complete without a
Lionel train under it. – [Narrator] And for more than
a century, Lionel’s trains have made their way to
many a Christmas tree. But just as real life trains
have seen their usefulness challenged over the
years, Lionel’s toy trains nearly fell from grace
a generation or two ago. – I think ’90s was where
you started to see a shift from smaller sort of
town-based stores, hobby shops, to larger big box
retailers, and Lionel wasn’t really part of
most big box retailers. – [Narrator] Then, in
2012, Lionel moved from its 112 year old home in
New York to Concord, where it had dramatically
widened its fan base with the recent acquisition
of NASCAR collectibles. – Lionel, in addition
to making model trains for almost 120
years, in 2010 became the official die cast of NASCAR. And for folks who don’t
know what die cast is, it’s very important to
the sport of NASCAR. It’s like a jersey
is to an NFL fan. So a NASCAR die cast car
is as close as fans can get to owning the race car
of their favorite driver. – [Narrator] The Lionel
train store is less than three miles from
Lowe’s Motor Speedway, where two of NASCAR’s biggest
races happen every season. And there’s always something
motor sports-related going on regardless
of the time of year. So this makes Lionel’s
new concept store a worthwhile stop on
any race fan’s day trip. – So NASCAR fans can expect
to see everything that we make on the die cast side,
every brand that we make, whether that’s our high-end
elite model that has close to 200 parts and
pieces, our action racing collector’s model that is
sold at every race track that they go to at the merchandise
callers, we have that here. – [Narrator] And if you’re
lucky, you might also bump into one of the many drivers
or race car team members who work, live, or visit
in the Concord area. – We have had a couple
drivers come in here. Joey Logano has come in
here, we’ve heard from our store staff, who brought his
son in just to look at trains, and we have had a
couple drivers’ parents come in and wanted to know where their
kid’s cars were, so that’s always fun. You just never know who’s
gonna come in because you’re in the, you know, the heart
of racing country, right? – Both the race car fans
and the Lionel fans, they really wanna see this
company and this store succeed, so they’ll visit all the time. When there’s race
events in town, we have people come
in from all over. We have a couple of train events
that happen throughout the course of the year, those
people come in here and visit. It’s a destination. – [Narrator] Trains and
cars with new technologies, and some with vintage appeal. The Lionel concept store
at Concord has just as much to satisfy the big kids as
it does the little ones. – [Deborah] The
Lionel Train Store is at 8111 Concord Mills
Boulevard in Concord, and it’s open Monday through
Saturday from 10 AM to nine PM, and Sundays from noon to seven. For more information, give
them a call at 704-886-2735, or go online to
lionelconcord.com.

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