Dick Metzger took a crowbar to the massive train diorama last week as he and his family, who have owned the toy store for more than 50 years, move into a new era of delighting Huntsville kids and adults alike.
“Time marches on,” says Metzger bittersweetly, “but we’ve had a good time.”
Metzger has seen the Governors Drive space transformed from Huntsville’s downtown ice skating rink in the 60s into his toy and model train mecca which has expanded into an even larger venue over the decades.
“The tradition continues from Southerland Blueprint Company selling engineering and art supplies and slide rules to Lionel choo-choo trains – who woulda thunk it,” Metzger smiled.
Metzger is handing his proverbial striped engineer’s hat over to his daughter Nikki Skidmore and her husband Lowell, who will continue the tradition in a new spot, but one familiar to Huntsville bookworms.
The new location of Southerland Station, will be at 2362 Whitesburg Drive in the house formerly occupied by Shaver’s Books. That store opens Tuesday, April 1, 2014.
In addition to Metzger’s readiness to retire and get some more fishing in with his grandson, he says progress and change also serve as a catalyst for the store’s move and new ownership.
With the extension of Harvard Street and the completion of the Twickenham Square development, the landscape of Huntsville’s medical district is quickly changing and the future of his soon-to-be former store’s home is uncertain.
“A lot of this is changing back here and a lot of the buildings will be torn down,” Metzger says. “This one will probably still be here but it’s going to be turned into something other that a toy store.”
The original location at 402-B Governors Drive, just behind Captain D’s, will be open through May 1 as the family continues to move inventory. Store hours at the new location will be weekdays 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
“You’ve got to keep reinventing yourself to stay in business nowadays,” Metzger says. “But we’ve had fun and we’ve been blessed with all the good customers in Huntsville.”