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Located at the crossroads of Marshall and Cleveland in St. Paul in the Merriam Park Neighborhood, Choo Choo Bob's Train Store has been around since October of 2005 and was opened by Choo Choo Bob himself, Bob Medcraft. Bob sold the store to its current owners during the summer of 2019. In January 2020, the store switched to a pay-to-play model, charging $5 per child who wanted to play with the train tables.
Choo Choo Bob is a staple in our home since a friend of mine introduced me to this perfect little toy shop for families who love trains. And our family loves trains. Even though my boys love trains more than my girls, they all look forward to hanging out at Choo Choo Bob's.
In the words of Bob Medcraft, "Choo Choo Bob's is a toy store that features trains".
He says this because some toy stores say they are train stores because they have a little Thomas and a little Brio or Chugginton. Other train stores are definitely not toy stores, have not ever been toy stores, and will never be a toy store built for a young train enthusiast.
Choo Choo Bob's bridges the gap for train lovers of little hands and big hearts. Behind the desk made to look like an engine (coolest desk ever), scale model railroad cars are displayed. The history of trains in Minnesota and throughout the United States is recorded in books available for purchase. I honestly didn't know there was so much to know.
- model railroad displays (at the children's level). More than just one. There were at least three on display if not more than that.
- seven train tables in the back of the store with set ups for the youngest train lovers to use.
- rentable and nostalgic party rooms. These party rooms replicate the Choo Choo Bob Train Show clubhouse and stations located in TV land's Bobville. They add to the decor of the play areas.
- shelves and shelves of railroad accessories, railroad toys, a tv monitor with a train video playing.
4 Highlights of Choo Choo Bob's Train Store
- The store is not particularly huge, and every inch of space is used effectively. The front of the store is used for the big-hands train lovers, and the back two thirds are used for the little-hands/big-hearts train lovers. I am starting to enjoy small stores that welcome little ones.
- You can rent the train station party rooms for birthday parties. The birthday parties include a goodie bag, a wooden train craft, use of the room for 2 hours, gourmet train cake from a local bakery, all the necessary table supplies (and clean up crew), and beverages.
- Engineer Paul and the rest of the staff. Engineer Paul has become a local celebrity and is one of the most loveable reasons to go to Choo Choo Bob's. What I love most about his story is that he was a retired grandpa looking for something to do, saw that Choo Choo Bob's was going to open, applied for a job, and asked to wear an engineer uniform to work when he was offered a job. And now, he has been thrown into the world of TV production playing Engineer Paul on the Choo Choo Bob Train Show. You can meet Engineer Paul himself sometimes when you go into the store.The Choo Choo Bob Show will be part of the fun for Family Day at the MIA
- Individual pieces of wooden track are for sale. This may not be unique, but it's helpful.
2 Disadvantages of Choo Choo Bob's Train Store:
- Marshall Avenue is a busy street. There is a small parking lot in the back which is super helpful, but if you visit during storytime or a Saturday morning, you may need to find a parking spot along the street.
- Since the store is small, it can get pretty crowded inside. Most people are very polite and understanding, but you need to be willing to be cramped a little and help with the sharing of the train tables. This may be less of a disadvantage now that the store is charging admission.
The Choo Choo Bob Show
Birthday Parties at Choo Choo Bob's Train Store
Note: While Choo Choo Bob's still offers birthday party packages, our information is from before the ownership change. The website does not contain prices and we have not had any real responses to our requests for updated information. We recommend calling or emailing for information until the dust settles.
A young train lover's delight. Birthday Party packages start at $150 for up to eight friends. $5 for each guest after the initial eight. Birthday Parties include:
- a private train-themed party room
- 2 hours of unlimited train table play
- a train craft
- a custom-made, gourmet birthday cake from La Patisserie in St. Paul
- goodie bags for guests
- food supplies: napkins, plates, cups, plastic-ware
- Apple juice and water
- Clean up crew
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