All aboard! Model railway business on track for bumper year

Great Eastern Models have been busier than ever since the first Covid lockdown.

Great Eastern Models have been busier than ever since the first Covid lockdown. - Credit: Archant

Wistful folk trapped in their city homes turned to travel in a new way during the pandemic - in its most miniature form. 

A model railway shop which expected to see it's bottom line destroyed by lockdown instead saw the business firing on all cylinders. 

Owner of Great Eastern Models Anne Martin, 48, said business "boomed" as people were forced to spend time indoors.

Owner Anne Martin outside the shop in Plumstead Road, Norwich.

Owner Anne Martin outside the shop in Plumstead Road, Norwich. - Credit: Archant

She said: "We've never been so busy. We really took off.

"Everyone was at home with nothing to do. People found their old train sets and business boomed."

Like all non-essential businesses, Great Eastern Models in Plumstead Road was forced to change.

Ms Martin said the business started to offer a mail-order service and a click and collect service at the door.

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She said: "Having been in business for 35 years, we've built up a strong local base.

"We told people when we were in the shop and demand surged."

The shop offered a mail-order service and a click and collect service at the door during lockdown.

The shop offered a mail-order service and a click and collect service at the door during lockdown. - Credit: Archant

The business is run by siblings Anne, Rob and Helen having originally been set up by their dad in 1986.

And during her time with the shop, Ms Martin said she has welcomed visitors from all over the world - even as far as Australia.

She added: "It gives you a special kind of feeling to know that people have come from places like Australia, Canada and America to see us.

"We just think of ourselves as a little family business in Norwich. It's amazing to welcome people who travel from so far away."

Ms Martin is also keen to try and get rid of the stereotype that the hobby is only for a certain age group.

Great Eastern Models has been established since 1986.

Great Eastern Models has been established since 1986. - Credit: Archant

She said: "There's always been a perception that it's for old men in their sheds but it really isn't the case.

"We are now starting to see younger people of both genders take an interest as well as adults who used to do collect trains when they were younger and are rediscovering that passion." 

After the shop's "exceptional January", Ms Martin said she believes there are several key reasons to its success.

She said: "We're a friendly family business. We all have such enthusiasm for model railways and try to offer that knowledge to everyone who comes in.

"We're a community, not just a business." 

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