Somerset County News

Big Little Railroad Shop in Somerville Runs Out of Steam; Store Closing

750592fbb5f82fdb8c6e_sompixbiglittle2.JPG
Jen Lush, owner of the Big Little Railroad Shop in Somerville is closing the store after 27 years in business. Credits: Rod Hirsch
187be9fb7cedb2243550_sompixbiglittle1.JPG
The signs in the window tell the story. Credits: Rod Hirsch
0e4363a79fbf675734a6_sompixbiglittle3.JPG
Jen Lush, owner of the Big Little Railroad Shop in Somerville is closing the store after 27 years in business. Credits: Rod Hirsch
750592fbb5f82fdb8c6e_sompixbiglittle2.JPG

SOMERVILLE, NJ – The Big Little Railroad Shop, an iconic retail store for 27 years and a fixture on Main Street most of those years has run out of steam.

The hobby shop for serious model railroaders, which first opened in 1991, is selling out its inventory at reduced prices and will close its doors at 63 W. Main St. for the final time on Sunday, Feb. 25.

Owner Jen Lush and her husband Jeffrey had opened the store in 1991 and moved three times, including a few years in Hillsborough before returning to Somerville.

Sign Up for E-News

It wasn’t supposed to end this way, according to the longtime owner, who continued to operate the business after her husband Jeffrey several years ago.

“I had been working with someone for at least a year-and-a-half who was going to purchase the store,” she explained. “I’d work two days, he’d work three and vice versa, and all of the sudden on Memorial Day, he just walked out of here,” she continued. “He never told me he wasn’t going to buy the store; I heard that through other people that were conduits to me.

“Once that happened, my head told me ‘we’re going to get out of here;’ I’m 76, old enough to retire,” she said.

The store shelves are beginning to look empty as word spreads about the store closing.

“I have to get rid of all these display cases, racks and things like that,” she said. “So far, it’s been word of mouth. A lot of customers have come in and said they want this or that.”

Lush has also been in touch with an auctioneer who will help clear out what doesn’t sell by the time the store closes.

Lush has few regrets about closing but says she will miss the day-to-day interaction with those who come into the store.

“I’m going to miss the people here something fierce; I have the world’s greatest customers,” she said. “I will miss them terribly but that’s the way life goes.

Though she says she will retire, Lush intends to continue doing “a lot” of volunteer work – she has been a long time supporter of the 4H Model Railroad Club – and, she wants to get a part-time job – “With a paycheck,” she emphasized.

“I want to work retail, that’s the part I love about this store, talking to the people, finding out all about them, seeing what they’re doing, suggesting what will work for them. I will miss that,” she said.

“But I definitely want to get out of here,” she added.

The business had been good, but there has been a gradual decline in the number of people walking through the door.

Part of that she blames on the Internet, where model railroaders can purchase whatever they need for their layouts.

But a bigger problem is that kids are no longer interested in model railroading, according to Lush.

“What took a toll on the business is video games; kids are not interested in doing hands-on things anymore. with trains you have to build things, use artistic talent, learn carpentry, electricity; the kids aren’t interested in things like that today unless granddad did it and brought them along into the hobby, then there’s a shot they may stay in the hobby.”

The store will be open for its final week beginning Wednesday, Feb. 21,  11 a.m-6:30 p.m.; Thursday and Friday, Feb. 22-23, 11 a.m.-7 p.m.; Saturday, Feb. 24, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sunday, Feb. 25, noon-4 p.m.

Further information is available online at www.Biglittle.com or by calling (908) 685-8892.

Sign Up for E-News to get top stories delivered daily to your inbox. 

Download the FREE TAPinto App!  Click here for Android - Click here for iOS to get news as it is happening.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

Sign Up for E-News

Franklin Township

Reduce Your Risk for Colorectal Cancer

April 25, 2018

Morristown Medical Center’s Carol G. Simon Cancer Center presents “Protecting Your Colorectal Health” on Tuesday, May 1 from 6:00 to 8:00pm at the Morristown Medical Center Health Pavilion, 333 Mount Hope Avenue in Rockaway. Admission is free.

This popular, educational program presents an opportunity to hear up-to-date presentations from leading ...

East Brunswick's Rachelle Francois Missing Since Friday

April 25, 2018

EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ - Rachelle Francois is a missing and endangered person from East Brunswick.

She was released from Maimonides Hospital in Brooklyn, NY on Friday, April 20, 2018 around noon.

Francois was placed in a taxi cab by the hospital and then went to an unknown address in Elizabeth, not to her home in East Brunswick.

Ms. Francois requires medications, and it is believed ...

Piscataway Officials Announce Plans to Build New Community Center

PISCATAWAY, NJ – Piscataway residents and visitors can now look forward to swimming laps, shooting hoops and showing their creativity in a central gathering space as plans are under way to build a new community center in town.

Piscataway officials announced on Monday that construction is expected to begin at the end of the year on a center that will include three swimming pools, a ...

Kurt Steiner, a Holocaust Survivor, tells Life Story as 106th Birthday Draws Near

CRANFORD, NJ – In a quaint white house near the border of Cranford and Garwood, 105-year-old Kurt Steiner sat at his dining room table, surrounded by cabinets that held his collection of Viennese glass and antique Limoge plates. At his table, he had his carefully taped together passport and exit papers from Vienna, Austria, stamped with a large “J” and “Jude,” the ...

New Brunswick: Water Department workers guilty in scheme costing city $500,000

NEW BRUNSWICK – Two city Water Department employees have pleaded guilty to charges of falsely reducing water to about 50 different properties in exchange for bribes, costing the city about $500,000, state officials announced.

Joseph “Gordo” DeBonis, 55 of Toms River, a suspended senior account clerk, and William “Billi” Ortiz, 56, of North Brunswick, a meter ...

Police Investigate Bias Incident in Montgomery, Seek Help from Public

MONTGOMERY, NJ - Somerset County Prosecutor Michael H. Robertson and township Police Director/Capt. Thomas Wain are asking the public for help in the investigation of what is being considered a bias crime.

Detectives assigned to the investigation released that the following information based on the preliminary and ongoing investigation, which continues to evolve as investigators interview ...

Area Rotary Club Fair: Fun Place to Do Business

HILLSBOROUGH, NJ - The Rotary Club of Hillsborough will provide local businesses multiple opportunities to showcase their services and connect directly with customers at its 11th annual Rotary Fair, scheduled this year for Aug. 14–19.

More than 15,000 people from Hillsborough and surrounding communities are expected to visit the weeklong family event held at the Hillsborough Promenade, ...

East Brunswick's Rachelle Francois Missing Since Friday

April 25, 2018

EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ - Rachelle Francois is a missing and endangered person from East Brunswick.

She was released from Maimonides Hospital in Brooklyn, NY on Friday, April 20, 2018 around noon.

Francois was placed in a taxi cab by the hospital and then went to an unknown address in Elizabeth, not to her home in East Brunswick.

Ms. Francois requires medications, and it is believed ...

Piscataway Officials Announce Plans to Build New Community Center

PISCATAWAY, NJ – Piscataway residents and visitors can now look forward to swimming laps, shooting hoops and showing their creativity in a central gathering space as plans are under way to build a new community center in town.

Piscataway officials announced on Monday that construction is expected to begin at the end of the year on a center that will include three swimming pools, a ...

Kurt Steiner, a Holocaust Survivor, tells Life Story as 106th Birthday Draws Near

CRANFORD, NJ – In a quaint white house near the border of Cranford and Garwood, 105-year-old Kurt Steiner sat at his dining room table, surrounded by cabinets that held his collection of Viennese glass and antique Limoge plates. At his table, he had his carefully taped together passport and exit papers from Vienna, Austria, stamped with a large “J” and “Jude,” the ...

New DMV Facility in South Plainfield Should Ease Crunch in Somerville

April 23, 2018

SOMERVILLE, NJ  - B. Sue Fulton is just beginning to find her away around her new office in Trenton , but the newly-sworn director of the Department of Motor Vehicles found her way to Somerville Saturday at the invitation of state Sen. Christopher Kip Bateman for a visit to the local DMV office on Roosevelt Place which has been causing headaches for neighborhood residents.

She arrived 45 ...

Somerset County Town to Close Library

WATCHUNG, NJ  - The Watchung Borough Council voted on Thursday night, before packed chambers and over 500 watching on Facebook live,  to close the Watchung Library and explore redevelopment of the library site on Stirling Road.

After years of discussion and debate, the council decided not to renovate the existing library or construct a new library. Mayor Stephen Pote ...

Somerset Resident Wins Gold at the 2018 New Jersey SkillsUSA Championships

BRIDGEWATER, NJ – On April 14, Somerset County Vocational & Technical High School students competed against other career and technical education students from around the state at the 2018 New Jersey SkillsUSA Championships. 

Out of the 94 students from SCVTHS who competed, 63 received medals including 27 gold.  The gold medal winners are now eligible to test their skills in ...

New DMV Facility in South Plainfield Should Ease Crunch in Somerville

April 23, 2018

SOMERVILLE, NJ  - B. Sue Fulton is just beginning to find her away around her new office in Trenton , but the newly-sworn director of the Department of Motor Vehicles found her way to Somerville Saturday at the invitation of state Sen. Christopher Kip Bateman for a visit to the local DMV office on Roosevelt Place which has been causing headaches for neighborhood residents.

She arrived 45 ...

Somerset County Town to Close Library

WATCHUNG, NJ  - The Watchung Borough Council voted on Thursday night, before packed chambers and over 500 watching on Facebook live,  to close the Watchung Library and explore redevelopment of the library site on Stirling Road.

After years of discussion and debate, the council decided not to renovate the existing library or construct a new library. Mayor Stephen Pote ...