I went with the family, including my parents, to the California State Railroad Museum yesterday in Sacramento. This is a place I take my son several times a year and a place my parents took us once when I was a kid. There's something magical about trains. I'm a car guy, but cars are accessible, possessable, and are about the now. Trains are gigantic relics of the past, a technical marvel that's tied to history and community. Cars are about individuality and personal empowerment, but trains are something you can be proud of as a people. The museum was full of Californians but also tourists from around the US and other countries. One group listened in rapt attention, through their Russian translator, as a volunteer explained how mail was delivered by train.
I talk about trains as if they no longer exist nowadays, which is true in the US except for commuter varients. Amtrak is as much a relic as the old steam locomotives in the museum. It's a slow, ponderous, expensive mode of travel, with poor service and many delays. I would suggest that it's for the elderly with lots of time on their hands, but the trains aren't kind to the disabled or lesser abled. The last long trip I took on Amtrak was from the East Bay to Orange County, a 10 hour trip that cost twice as much as a plane ticket and with many delays. Rather than being scenic, the trip mostly went through the graffiti covered junk yards of California. Most of the delays came from making way for freight trains. Freight rules the rails, while passenger service is an amusing sideline (literally). Rail travel is alive and well in many countries, and I've experienced excellent rail service throughout Europe and India. I would much rather take a train in these places than a plane.
Game stores could probably take a lesson from train stores. There were several in old town Sacramento, and like train stores everywhere, they had a "live" display of moving trains, complete with beautiful terrain. That's something I would like to do at our store, create a large display of say, a 40K battle in progress. This would go either in the window or better yet, in the miniatures section separating the minis from the toys. The toy department would be shrunk to make space. We have miniatures on display now, mostly painted models in display cases and our Warmachine demo table, but it hardly does justice to the huge amount of wall space covered in lead. A fully painted, full size miniature game with terrain is really a site to behold. I'm not looking for a demo table, but a static display with plexiglass preventing theft and damage, a regular problem with our Warmachine table. If anyone wants to build such a thing, let me know and we can come to an arrangement.