The Top 10 Model Train Shops In Illinois

For the past year I’ve been compiling a list of model train stores for my model railroading website. These shops all look like fantastic places to visit, but what are the most popular? Here is a list for the great state of Illinois.

The most popular model railroading shops (based on online chatter) in the state of Illinois are:

10. Ace Hobby Place in Chicago

9. Hammers Hobbies in Springfield

8. Woodstock Hobbies in Woodstock

7. B and G Train World in Elgin

6. Denny’s Trains and Things in Oswego

5. Americas Best Train Toy and Hobby Shop in Itasca

4. Prospect Bikes and Trains in Mount Prospect

3. Spring Hill Northern Train Supply in Richmond

2. Chicagoland Hobby in Chicago

…and the most popular shop for model trains in Illinois is…

1. First Hobby in Decatur

Hobby shops not quite making my top 10 were Al’s Hobby Shop in Elmhurst, Atomic Toy Company in Galena, Berywn’s Toy Trains and Models in Berwyn, Choo Choo Connection in Schaumburg, Des Plaines Hobbies in Des Plaines, Ed’s Hobby Warehouse in Palos Hills, Golden Spike Train Shop in Burbank, Grayslake Hobby World in Grayslake, Hands To Work Railroading in Alsip, Hauff Hobbies and Train Repair in Glenview, Hill’s Hobby & Collectors’ Shop in Buffalo Grove, Hobbies R 4 U in Bradley, Hobby City in Berwyn, K-10’s Model Trains in Maryville, LaGrange Hobby Center in La Grange, Leisure Hours Hobbies in Joliet, Mike’s Scale Rails in Peoria, Oakridge Hobbies and Toys in Downers Grove, Past-Time Hobbies in Brookfield, Pat’s Hobbies Oak Lawn, Pizza Express LGB Train Shop in Carterville, Rossville Depot Railroad Museum in Rossville, Royal Hobby Shop in Rockford, Sweetname Hardware and Model Train in Peoria, Thunder Road Hobbies in Moline, Tom Thumb Hobby and Crafts in Evanston, Trains and Toys of Yesterday in in Morton Grove, Venture Hobbies Wheeling, Wabash Junction in Springfield, and Walt’s Hobby Shop in Joliet.

Also in Illinois be sure to visit some of the great railroading museums including Chatham Railroad Museum in Chatham, Chicago Great Western Railway Depot Museum in Elizabeth, Illinois Railway Museum in Union, Kankakee Railroad Museum in Kankakee, Monticello Railway Museum in Monticello, Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, and Union Depot Railroad Museum in Mendota.

I compiled this list by searching for the hobby shops listed on a number of search engines and ranking them by the number of web pages, discussion forums, photos, videos, etc that are available online. I further screened this list to include only pages that mentioned model railroading.

Local Website Development Company Celebrates Milestone

The company, whose clients range from local small businesses to regional and national companies, has flourished since moving into the bespoke offices in April 2011. It has been one milestone after the other. states owner Colin Harris. We have grown so much in such a short space of time, from just myself to 4 of us. It seems like every week theres something new to celebrate but none of this would be possible without having such great staff and brilliant customers to work with.

We are constantly looking to offer more to our clients. We now offer a Print and Design service, help customers with Social Media and are creating our first ever mobile applications. Our aim is to help business increase their returns or add value. Having a website is no longer enough we are helping businesses to make the most out of them.

John Brown, who is also celebrating a first year anniversary with the company, works as a website designer for Colin. He also lives in Amble and sees the importance of having growing businesses in his home town. Its great for both Amble and me that there are such businesses like this to work for. The last 12 months have been very good and challenging and Ive enjoyed the projects I have worked on.

There are no plans to slow down in Year 2. Colin is currently recruiting for 2 additional members of staff to bring up the total to 6. The values of the company will however remain intact. Our focus is always with the customer – what clients want, servicing them as best we can and helping them to make the most out of the web for their business. says Colin. As we grow, so do they. Many of our clients are taking their websites to the next level on the back of work we have done previously and you cannot have a better endorsement than that.

You can find out more by visiting the companys website at www.colinharris.net.

Emerging Market Investment Advice Tips

The emerging market describes a broad range of markets from second and third world countries. It encompasses economies such as China and Brazil, together with countries in Africa and Asia. Generally, the term emerging markets represents economies which are as yet not fully developed, and subsequently an investment in an emerging market can often be high risk but has the potential to yield great returns as their economies are still developing.

If you are considering investing in emerging markets, these advice tips are worth considering.
Do not put all your eggs in the one basket: No financial portfolio should be tied up with just one investment, and any investment in the emerging market should not comprise a dominant percentage of a portfolio.

Long term view: The emerging market has been likened to investing in America in the 1920s as over forty years an investor would have gained a substantial return on any investment. In that time he would have seen prices drop through the floor. This is similar to emerging market investment today, so be prepared to take a long term view to good returns.

Advice: Obtaining general advice on the emerging market is essential, especially if you are new to financial investment. Financial advisors, banks, and other institutions seem like good places to gain valuable advice on the surface. More often than not however, the investor who seeks guidance from these places often pays for advice they do not need, as many of the best decisions can and should be handled by the investor.

A few financial investment companies have realised this and take a hands off approach and only step in with general advice if needed. These are the companies to turn to when guidance is needed.
Commissions: It goes without saying that any financial investment company is going to charge commissions, and subsequently it makes sense to look for a company that charges low rates. Some offer 0% commission initially, and this is a good place to start.

Risk vs. Return: Any investment into the emerging market is high risk. The returns however, have the potential to be considerable and subsequently an emerging market investment becomes a viable option. It is possible to invest in a country or into a fund which in turn is managed by a fund manager.

The latter becomes a question of faith and trust in that manager to do the right thing with your money, so the decision to choose a financial investment company with a view to fund management should not be taken lightly.

Currently, China and Brazil are often seen as good choices for emerging market investment.

Ultimately it is important to realise that as an investor you need to be in control of the fund, even if it is supervised by a fund manager. Some financial companies give you that control, and it is worth spending sometime to find a financial investment company like this.

The Top 10 Model Train Shops In Virginia And West Virginia

For the past year I’ve been compiling a list of model train stores for my model railroading website. These shops all look like a lot of fun to visit, but what are the most popular? Here is a list for the states of Virginia and West Virginia.

The most popular model railroading shops (based on online chatter) in Virginia and West Virginia are:

10. Rick’s Hobby Shop in Roanoke, Virginia

9. Chesterfield Hobbies in Midlothian, Virginia

8. Riders Hobby Shop in Sterling, Virginia

7. Whistle Stop Hobbies in Alexandria, Virginia

6. Trains Etc. in Lorton, Virginia

5. Engine House Trains in Virginia Beach, Virginia

4. Main Street Trains in Barboursville, West Virginia

3. KMA Junction in Manassas, Virginia

2. Piper Hobby in Chantilly, Virginia

…and the most popular shop for model trains in Virginia and West Virginia is…

1. Locust Grove Trains in Locust Grove, Virginia

Hobby shops not quite making my top 10 were Awesome RC and Hobbies in Fredericksburg, Virginia; Craftech Hobby Shop in Norfolk, Virginia; Davis Hobby Supplies in Portsmouth, Virginia; Debbies RC World in Chesapeake, Virginia; Dunn’s Toy and Hobby in Manassas, Virginia; Hobby Works in Fairfax, Virginia; Leesburg Hobbies and Collectibles in Leesburg, Virginia; Rail Yard Hobby Shop in Roanoke, Virginia; Staunton Trains and Hobbies in Staunton, Virginia; Train Depot in Manassas, Virginia; Train Town Toy and Hobby in Ashland, Virginia; Walt’s Hobby Shop in Petersburg, Virginia; Cain’s Trains and Hobbies in Bunker Hill, West Virginia; Fountain Hobby Center in Charleston, West Virginia; Kid Country Toys in Charleston, West Virginia; Nitro Hobby and Craft Center in Nitro, West Virginia; Patrick’s Trains in Wheeling, West Virginia; Stephens Outdoor Railways in Vienna, West Virginia; and West Virginia Hobbies and Crafts in Teays, West Virginia.

So, there are lots of great model railroading shops from all over Virginia and West Virginia, but clearly Virginia dominated the list with nine in the top ten. This isn’t too surprising as Virginia is a bigger state with a bigger population and more hobby shops than West Virginia.

When in Virginia and West Virginia be sure to visit some of the excellent railroading museums including Eastern Shore Railway Museum in Parksley, Virginia; Fairfax Station Museum Railroad Museum in Fairfax Station, Virginia; Virginia Museum of Transportation in Roanoke, Virginia; Princeton Railroad Museum in Princeton, West Virginia; West Virginia Railroad Museum in Elkins, West Virginia; and Williamson Area Railroad Museum in Williamson, West Virginia.

I compiled this list by searching for the hobby shops listed on a number of search engines and ranking them by the number of web pages, discussion forums, photos, videos, etc that are available online. I further screened this list to include only pages that mentioned model railroading.

Company Car Or Company Car Allowance – Which Should I Choose

If you have the choice of a Company Car or Company Car Allowance, you should check out how much Company Car Tax (or Benefit In Kind Tax as it is also known) that you would pay if you accept a company vehicle, and then decide whether to go for the Company Car or cash. You could be better off taking the car allowance and leasing a car yourself, even though the allowance is taxable.

The Cash for Car scheme has become increasingly popular with both employers and employees in recent years. Employers save time and money in not having to source, maintain and administer a fleet, although they must always be aware of their Duty of Care and Health & Safety responsibilities. And as an employee, you have more freedom to choose the car you drive, and you could even be better off if you dont spend all of the company car allowance you receive. However, some employers do stipulate the type and age of vehicle that is acceptable, according to the job you are doing.

If you choose to accept a Company Car Allowance, its worth considering Car Leasing vs Buying. Car Leasing (also known as Contract Hire) is simply the hiring of a vehicle for an agreed period of time for a fixed monthly rental. Unlike Short Term Rental or daily rental, a car lease is usually for 2-5 years, after which you can simply hand the car back with no further commitment or, in some case, you may be able to purchase the vehicle if you wish. Car Leasing is a convenient, cost-effective and hassle-free way of financing a new vehicle, and there are many benefits of leasing a car. It enables easy budgeting of your motoring costs, and the fixed monthly payments can even include servicing and maintenance. Also, theres no need to worry about depreciation or disposing of the vehicle at the end of the contract.

Dont forget that if you choose the company car instead of the company car allowance, all your motoring costs (except private fuel) will be taken care of by your employer including insurance, road tax, servicing and repairs. If you choose the company car allowance, you will have to pay for these things yourself.

If you choose a company car allowance and lease a vehicle which you use in the course of your job, youre entitled to claim from your employer a mileage allowance for each business mile travelled. H.M. Revenue & Customs approves certain mileage rates that employees can claim for business travel, and the current rate is 40p per mile. Check the HMRC website for the latest information.

Part way between the company car and a company car allowance is something called Employee Car Ownership. This is where your employer gives you a car allowance, but the company organizes the finance deal and takes care of insurance and running costs. This may also be worth considering if your employer offers such a scheme.

Small Business Development And Marketing Strategies

Since most small businesses have suffered during the past several years due to declining sales generally caused by a chaotic economy, it should be helpful to explore the most practical and realistic marketing strategies available to them. Improving business development efforts is desirable during any financial and economic environment, but there are extra benefits to doing so when sales have declined for whatever reason. Because a typical small business owner does not have the luxury of choosing from many strategies available to larger companies, the marketing improvement process for small businesses is necessarily restricted to a relatively short list of business development alternatives. While the choices will vary from case to case, here are three marketing and business development strategies which will often be considered by small businesses:

* Advertising
* Increasing sales staff
* Business proposals

For most smaller companies, declining revenues have led to some financial challenges and the need to reduce operating expenses already. Therefore it is likely that a common limitation and goal in any marketing decision will be to keep the costs reasonable. When dealing with limited funds, small business owners should evaluate which marketing strategy is the most cost effective method. Business proposal writing usually emerges as the leading choice for small companies when cost effectiveness is taken into account.

There are several kinds of business proposals, and not all of them will be realistic options for each company. Here are the two business proposal types which are likely to be worth reviewing closely:

* Formal proposal solicitations
* Informal and unsolicited proposals

Of these two types, the second (unsolicited and informal proposals) usually deserves the most attention by small businesses. Formally solicited proposals are typically announced by a Request for Proposal (RFP) process and are subject to more public awareness and competition by other companies. Depending on competitive circumstances, it is certainly possible that responding to an RFP might be well-suited to some small business situations. In other words, look carefully before deciding to ignore the RFP possibility.

An informal or unsolicited proposal process potentially offers the most freedom for a small business. Timing is frequently a major problem for an RFP because the company or government agency issuing it determines in advance when it will publish the Request for Proposal and in turn will also determine the deadlines for responses. The timing for unsolicited and informal proposals is effectively under the complete control of the small business which is preparing a proposal. The combination of reduced competition and scheduling flexibility usually makes this a compelling approach to business development and proposals.

Go to Portugal Shop for Your Equestrian and Embroidery Needs

Like many online retail shops, the Portugal Web’s shopping arm, the trademarked Portugal Shop is owned by the private Portuguese company Portugalweb, Lda. It is a secure online retail site that offers the many wonderful Portuguese products introduced in the main Portugal Web site right in the comfort and privacy of your homes.

It is easily accessible as the site’s name is precisely what the site is about here at www.portugalshop.com/.

Apart from pricing the many Portuguese equestrian products under the Lusitano brand, it has embroidery products as well and the site has its 2010 Product Catalogue ready for downloading with just a click on the catalogue cover image.

Site Features

As an online shopping portal, Portugal Shop has its own shopping cart and purchase ordering, payment and tracking system developed by Shark/mm of Portugal, a leading multimedia company that provides global and local web based IT solutions from its team of web designers, developers, conceptual planners and IT systems engineers. Payment security is provided from Redunicare which uses 3D secure protocol using secure SSL encryption.

Shopping is easy as you only need to click on the merchandise item you want to get it included in your shopping cart. Once done, you can proceed to view or shopping cart where you can finalize your purchase or amend the information and continue shopping.

But you need to register with Portugal Shop to be able to conclude your order which is the same as filling out the personal details before closing the transaction in other e-commerce sites to determine shipping and payment details.

Only Visa and MasterCard are accepted for card payments in its secure online payment function. Alternatively, the site also accepts non-card payments such as bank transfers with the bank transfer costs shouldered by the buyer. Once the back transfer succeeds, a copy of the transfer receipt is emailed to the buyer with the order’s reference number.

Domestic and international shipping are supported. Portugal Shop uses Chronopost Classic with rates starting at 9.31 for shipments done within Portugal and EU member countries and delivered within 1-5 business days.

Outside of EU, international shipping is done via FedEx international priority starting at 28.0 and delivered within 1-3 business days. There are factors that could prolong shipping times like customs clearance and the fact that most Portugal Shop products are handmade and will require lead times to finish after you order them. GP

For more information regarding Portugal Shop, visit Portugal Shop