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Following my recent holiday camping in Churwalden, canton Graubunden, I thought I would record my experience of shops selling model railway equipment in eastern Switzerland.

We managed to find shops selling model railway kit in Chur, Zurich, Schaffhausen, Rorshack, Bergun!, St. Moritz, Vaduz and San Gallen.

The first thing to say is that every shop sold Maerklin. In fact only the model shop in Markt Gasse in Zurich and the toy shop in San Gallen had respectable stocks of any other HO scale models.

If you are the son or daughter of a Swiss banker (Zurich) or the jet set (St. Moritz) then Maerklin HO in 3 rail AC is what you are going to get. In Zurich there is a large toy shop which has a modest entrance on Bahnhof Strasse (which we missed) and a larger one on the street at the back. The model railway section is quite large and well stocked so long as it is Maerklin you want. The shop also stocks HAG but I assume that this is all the AC variants. There was no sign of Trix or Fleischmann in this store. The toy store in St. Moritz had a reasonable selection of Maerklin.

Another point to make for "shop til you drop 24/7" residents of the UK is that shops on the continent actually close. This strange phenomenon starts early-ish on Saturday, persists through Sunday and usually through all of Monday too. The Markt Gasse model railway shop in Zurich observes this pattern as we discovered last year, so this year's trip to Zurich was made on a Tuesday. Not only was the shop open, this time the weather was bright and sunny so we were able to appreciate what an interesting city Zurich really is rather than peering at from under an increasingly useless umbrella.

The Markt Gasse shop probably had the widest range of manufacturers of all the shops we encountered. It even had a Hornby Britannia on display and quite a lot of Skaledale inside. Somehow I managed to ask if they had any Roco SBB 1st and 2nd class "vanilla" double deckers in stock and established that everyone is waiting for new production from Roco. I also unsuccessful in sourcing some Fleischmann HUPAC rolling road wagons - the end ones.

The toy shop in Chur had a whole 5 Trix items, the rest were Maerklin. They also had a good range of Bemo HOm but being the centre of the RhB, that was to be expected. What was totally unexpected was seeing a good range of Bemo HOm RhB kit in the window display of a sports shop in Bergun. Bergun is not a large place but being at one end of the railway path from there to Preda must generate some kind of interest in locomotives that cost over £200 each.

The toy shop in San Gallen is located in the main part of town on a corner. There was no hint from the windows that it stocks model railways although one side was completely hidden from view by their fireworks stall; Swiss National Day, August 1st, was the following week so a large number of stores were selling fireworks. We walked inside and the floor guide told us that model railways were several floors up. Once we got there, we were confronted with a comprehensive selection of model railway equipment in scales from z to G and in both AC and DC flavours. There was no sign of Hornby, so Zurich is one loco up on them. British companies were represented by Peco, mainly in the form of their 12mm gauge HOm track. I scanned the shelves for the elusive Roco SBB double deckers but saw none. I guess I'll have to wait for my back order with ModellBahn Kramm to come in.

I can't comment on the shops in Rorschak (Zubi) or Schaffhausen as we were there on Mondays, and in the case of Schaffhausen, the shop was also closed for annual holidays.

Although this is not a scientific survey, we did walk enough streets to find wool shops in most of the towns visited. In other words we found the smaller shops which presumeably had rents that specialist businesses could afford.

The impression I am left with is - "Maerklin rules!"

David
 

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Makes interesting reading David. What would you say provision of specifically N scale was like? I assume not so good in 3-rail Maerklin shops! It would be great to have further surveys carried out in different places...next time I'm in Vienna and have the time, I will try and conduct a survey.

When last in Austria, Rainer in Innsbruck was very good for H0 and had a good N scale selection although no sign of the Roco Eurofimas I was after...they had sold out quite quickly and are being reproduced (extraordinarily for a so-called one-off series!) this year in August my sources confirm. I think visiting some shops can be very hit-and-miss in terms of what they have on the day, especially for those shopping whilst on holiday - perhaps a good idea would be to contact them in advance and ask them to have it ready in the shop on such-and-such a day for you. Locomotives can be inspected in person before buying and one can save on the postage/not risk Royal Mail kicking your parcel round a warehouse on one of their strike days. (That is if they're not too busy spinning the excuses for closing your local PO and trying to make it look like an improvement to local services...)

Do you know if there is a model shop in Locarno? (Canton Ticino (Kanton Tessin)) Since it is a quick train journey up the side of Lago Maggiore from northern Italy where I'm sometimes on holiday...Milan being a bit too expensive a place to shop for model trains! (The real thing is very good north of Milan I have found, and local/regional trains are really quite cheap, and the occasional tilting Cisalpino service is always fun for thrillseekers...)

Goedel
 

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QUOTE The impression I am left with is - "Maerklin rules!"

I too have been left with this impression from following the Continental modelling scene. They are very much the giant in the room. I guess this is why so many independant companies produce items that are compatible with the Maerklin system.

On another note sound like the pefect holiday going round model shops! I could do with some of that. Welcome back David, and I hope you had a nice holiday.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
QUOTE What would you say provision of specifically N scale was like? I assume not so good in 3-rail Maerklin shops!
I'm afraid that I don't really remember, but since Maeklin have a comprehensive N gauge offering and do Z as well, I think you would fare better than DC HO modellers. I do remember seeing good selections of N in San Gallen and Markt Gasse, Zurich.

QUOTE Do you know if there is a model shop in Locarno?
No. We didn't visit there. We did visit Lugano as part of our "Alpenrundfahrt" (to be blogged at some point) but that was one place we didn't find a model shop.

QUOTE On another note sound like the pefect holiday going round model shops! I could do with some of that. Welcome back David, and I hope you had a nice holiday.

Unlike last year, the weather this year was pretty much perfect, so that set the tone for the holiday. My wife has a liking for continental inter city stock and "lorry trains", so it's fun for both of us. I can't say the same for me visiting wool shops though
.

David
 

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QUOTE Toy shop in San Gallen

Do you mean St. Gallen? If so I bought some Minitrix SBB freight cars while I was there. Almost nobody carries Hornby trains in Europe ... ditto the US. But everywhere you'll see Marklin if they carry trains at all. In the US if they carry any foreign brand it will be Marklin 9 out of 10. Peco on the other hand you'll find at most shops in the US because their track is popular.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
QUOTE Do you mean St. Gallen?
Yes. Sorry for the mistake. It's a lovely city with many interesting buildings especially if you like Oriel windows.

David
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
QUOTE ... or libraries.

Very nice. Reminds me of one of the interiors at my old alma mater. In fact but for the curved balconies at the mezzanine(sp?) level, it could be.

David
 

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Actually it's considered one of the great libraries of the Western World that I made a special journey to visit.

QUOTE The Stiftsbibliothek of St. Gallen is the oldest library in Switzerland, and it is one of the earliest and most important monastic libraries in the world. Its
extraordinary collection of books shows the development of European culture and documents the cultural achievments of the Abbey of St. Gallen from the eighth century to the dissolution of the monastery in 1805.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
The SwissInfo website has just uploaded a new video "featurette" on the library at St. Gallen to their media page. For a week or two you will be able to get to it via the main news page. Part of the feature shows an 9th century manuscript which is being studied for the very faded comments on the margins.

David
 

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QUOTE (goedel @ 5 Aug 2007, 01:39) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>It would be great to have further surveys carried out in different places...next time I'm in Vienna and have the time, I will try and conduct a survey.

Goedel

Dear Goedel,

If you do come to Vienna, give me a call and we can maybe collaborate. Vienna has a lot of goods shops and I have only visited a few, mostly on my side of the Danube in the 21st and 22nd districts. In Austria, you usually find lots of Roco and Kleinbahn, which are locally made, but you also see items from Dolischo, Piko, Liliput, Fleischmann, Trix and Maerklin, so the range on offer is usually more than just Maerklin. Kleinbahn has at least 2 shops in Vienna, one is just opposite the Vienna International School in the 22nd district, although I think they are closing down some of their operations.

I buy a magazine called Scheinenverkerher, which is an Austrian magazine covering both the prototype (trains and trams), plus models. In there you can see some large Vienna shops advertised which would be worth a visit. The publisher of the magazine is Spurkranz and they have shop near the Pratersten which I have never visited, plus there is Tina's (12th district). Conrad, which is a general purpose shop for electrical and electronic items, has a limited range of railway items, mostly Roco.

Anyway, Vienna has many shops, so you would need plenty of time to get round them all.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I look forward to further information on Vienna. My wife spent a day and a half in Vienna at the end of a cycle trip from Passau along the Danube and is keen to see more of the city at a more leisurely pace. So one day we will be paying a visit.

David
 

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QUOTE (John @ 1 Sep 2007, 21:23) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>If you do come to Vienna, give me a call and we can maybe collaborate...Vienna has many shops, so you would need plenty of time to get round them all.
Hello John,

Sounds fun, perhaps we could arrange to be chased round in order to visit them all in time?!
I would love to do it I don't think I will be there again for a while alas...although I have got a suspicion that Tina's is run by a billionaire philanthropist (given their incredible prices) and would like to investigate!

Goedel
 
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