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Old standbys, new models at hobby store

Dispatch/Argus Photo By Gary Krambeck

Major Art and Hobby, Davenport, is a mecca for hobbyists. A mainstay in downtown Davenport since 1954, owner Tom Magers offers a floor-to-ceiling selection of train sets, models and supplies.

Major Art and Hobby in Davenport is a heaven-sent purveyor handling a plethora of hobby supplies, a place that kids of all ages love.

For area hobbyists, the Major Art and Hobby store IS heaven, with a floor-to-ceiling assortment of items, including electric train sets, miniature towns and painting supplies.

From the classics, like Ertl, to the new, high-performance, nitro-powered remote-control monster truck, this hobby store has adapted to the times.

Major Art and Hobby has been on the corner of Second and Ripley streets since 1954. Tom Magers, who purchased the store from his parents, has seen the store triple in size over the years.

``We used to have a toy store in the basement, then a drag strip for the kids,'' he said. ``Then we moved it to the second floor.''

When the discount stores moved in, bringing discount prices on toys, he closed the toy department and the drag strip.

Now, the basement is quiet, but the upstairs is an art gallery, Studio 15, where local artists showcase their work. The main floor of the business includes a custom picture-framing and art-supply section, managed by Mr. Magers' 26-year-old daughter, Jane.

``I'm always looking at the mix of merchandise that I carry,'' he said.

He still carries all the tried-and-true favorites: Tyco electric trains, race car sets, Ertl models and paint-by-number sets.

These days, models feature NASA spacecraft, Star Wars themes, animals and -- a big seller lately -- ship models, including the Titanic. Another big seller these days: wind socks.

``You just never know what's going to be hot next,'' he added.

Mr. Magers has tried all kinds of hobbies over the years, including models, flying radio-control planes and electric train layout, but after awhile, they lost their luster.

``When I look at model cars and railroad sets all day, when I go home, I've had enough of those kinds of hobbies,'' he said.

His favorite hobby these days is golf.

``Well, there's just something about the game of golf,'' he added. ``I really enjoy it.''

That's the common thread that binds hobbyists of all kinds, whether it's model cars, model trains, or golf, a hobby provides a release for people, said Mr. Magers.

``A hobby is usually something that a parent passes down to their son or daughter,'' he said. ``A lot of kids these days get electronic games to play with, and they don't have a chance to experience the hobbies their parents had.''

-- By Lisa Lansman (January 26, 1998)

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