Since Aug. 20, 2011, a local hobby club has been working on the railroad on a smaller scale.
The Grand Strand Model Railroaders, founded in 1986, welcomes the public to check out its model trains – in HO, N and O layouts – for free 4-7 p.m. Mondays, noon-4 p.m. Wednesdays (through at least year’s end) and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturdays at its store site in Myrtle Beach mall, near Briarcliffe Acres.
Getting in the Christmas mood, the club also will open its doors two extra days this Thanksgiving weekend: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday and noon-5 p.m. Sunday.
Speaking just after Veterans Day weekend, Edward Sharrett of Myrtle Beach, president of the club, said more than 36,000 visitors have stopped by the site. That figure impresses club members even more because the store space is open generally just 10 to 14 hours a week, all on a volunteer basis. Drawing “2,700 to 2,800 people a month on average” who visit the train displays, the club also has doubled its membership rolls to 41 from 19 since 2009, Sharrett said, including four winter residents from New York state and New Hampshire.
Never having grown out of a model train fascination that took off from a Christmas gift received in 1941, Sharrett said his wife also later surprised him with a train kit when he was stationed with the United States Air Force in Turkey.
Filling a niche
Kim Dayvault, the mall’s specialty leasing manager, also rode the rails in sharing praise for the club finding a year-round niche among the corridors, three doors from Bass Pro Shops: