Randy Reece has loved model trains since he was six years old. Now he is all grown up and his hobby has grown with him.
"It's a moderate size, 12 x 16 old gauge layout. It's not as big and elaborate as they do up north but it works for me," he said,
He's modest. He's brought a town to life with tiny details. He imagined a place set in the late 1950s.
"Not really Knoxville, not any place, but a lot of everything I remember and seen pictures of prior to me being here," he said.
Growing up, Randy always shopped for trains at Dan's Trains and Classic Toys in Powell.
The original owner, Dan Myer, opened it in 1986. Randy was his customer, then his friend and then his right hand man to repair model trains. He eventually became Dan's partner and finally the sole store owner after Dan died.
Randy kept the store's name.
"I think it's the right thing to do," he said.
Randy is keeping Dan's Trains and Classic Toys on the right track. The inventory is more than trains. He also sells accessories.
"You get to come in here, you get to feel it, touch it, look at what you're buying instead of versus online hope that's what you got when you get it if it's not broke all to pieces," he said.
That hands-on experience helps him compete with the internet. Updating his inventory helps attract the younger generation.
"Just try to keep the hobby growing and keep them out of video games and cell phones if we can," Randy explained. "I have customers from 105 to 6-years-old."
Some new train sets use apps to control the speed.
"Well, it's probably not easier for the older generation but it's quite easy for the young ones," he said.
He stays young at heart with his model train set at home. After all these years, it is still a work in progress.
"I don't think it's ever finished," he said.
Dan's Trains and Classic Toys is open from noon to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday.