Insight on Business

November 2015

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38 | I NSIGH T • N o v e m b e r 2 0 15 w w w . i n s i g h t o n b u s i n e s s . c o m I t isn't oen you see an online business transform into a brick and mortar store, but for Tom and Judie Lehman, it was truly full steam ahead. e Lehmans' Clipper City Trains, formally known as Lake Shore Choo Choo, is the only model train store in Manitowoc. With more than four years of selling model trains on eBay, it is no stranger to the hobby and its enthusiasts. When the opportunity presented itself to move from e-commerce to a physical store, there was little trepidation. "Tom came home one day and said, 'Honey, we bought a store,'" Judie says. "I was hesitant at first but I was surprised with how fun it actually is." e inventory was purchased from Lake Shore Choo Choo, which was owned by Albert Nelson. He says he is happy with the new store and owners. "ese are great people, and the store looks great," Nelson says. Although taking over the store was scary at first, Judie says there is a lot of fun in the new role as store owners. ere was a void in the couple's life aer retirement and they say the store has given them a new reason to get up and go. "Retirement was supposed to be fun, but this place has given us another purpose to get up each morning," Judie says. All the parts From larger train models to the tiniest of parts, Clipper City Trains claims to Model train company takes its online business to brick and mortar Full steam ahead in focus { s m a l l b u s i n e s s } B y A n d r e w S c h a i c k offer almost anything to model train enthusiasts. And if the Lehmans do not have something in stock, they hold true to their motto, "If we don't have what you need, we will order it." With a focus on, but not limited to electric model trains, the store offers a variety of in-stock items including new train engines, locomotives, tankers, box cars and more. e business as a whole operates as two parts: the store, and the eBay account. Each part contributes 50 percent to the overall sales of the company. With a passion for all things regarding trains, Tom says they get customers from all over the country and worldwide. "Besides customers from here in the states, we get customers through our eBay site from places such as Japan, and a lot from Australia," he says. "Sometimes the price of shipping is more than the actual product they buy." e Lehmans say taking over the business happened during the course Clipper City Trains in Manitowoc offers merchandise from model trains to electric train parts. P H O T O B Y A N D R E W S C H A I C K

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