Business & Finance

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

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

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 in to 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.

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 grand dad did it and brought them along into the hobby, then there’s a shot thye 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 or by calling (908) 685-8892.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

South Brunswick-Cranbury

Police Blotter

South Brunswick and Cranbury Police Blotter

August 9, 2017

Sponsored by Reilly's Collision Center in Monmouth Junction. Click here and scroll down for the latest updates and alerts from South Brunswick and Cranbury Police.

See the most recent messages from South Brunswick Twp Police Department, powered by Nixle.

Rutgers voices support for proposed state budget

March 14, 2018

NEW BRUNSWICK - Rutgers University officials have often been wary of the governor's annual budget message, wondering what type of budget cuts the university may sustain and how it would potentially impact tuition and the overall quality of education.

This budget message, delivered March 13, appears to be a sigh of relief.

Pete McDonough, Vice President of External Affairs at ...

Middlesex Democrats Endorse Menendez, Pallone, Watson Coleman, Rios and Narra

METUCHEN - The Middlesex County Democratic Organization today endorsed Robert Menendez for Senate, Representatives Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-6) and Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12), Freeholder Director Ronald Rios and Freeholder Shanti Narra for the Board of Chosen Freeholders.  Over 300 committee people came out to participate in the convention. 

“From Washington to New ...

Nationally Recognized Golf Management Firm Billy Casper Golf to Oversee Three Middlesex County Golf Courses

CRANBURY - The Middlesex County Improvement Authority (MCIA) has selected innovative golf management firm Billy Casper Golf (BCG) to manage clubhouse operations at Middlesex County’s three golf courses in north central New Jersey.

One of the largest privately-owned golf course management companies in the U.S., BCG will use its proprietary staff training, marketing and other ...

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote (Random House, 1965)


In Cold Blood is, quite simply, the grand-daddy of true crime writing, dubbed by Capote, himself, as the first non-fiction novel (although Norman Mailer argued the point when he published The Executioner's Song in 1979.) The conditions under which I read In Cold Blood for the first time were pretty weird, which was another ...

Ian Hockley Visits New Jersey to Introduce Program to Empower Youth

This week I am taking a departure from book reviewing to share an important program that has been introduced to New Jersey this week by Mr. Ian Hockley, founder of the Dylan's Wings of Change Foundation. On December 14, 2012, Hockley's five year old son, an autistic child named Dylan, was gunned down in his classroom in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. Dylan, a shy and adorable ...


March 16, 2018

WASHINGTON, D.C., March 16, 2018 – Despite her rhetoric, U.S. Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, D-12, failed Wednesday to deliver on her promise to make schools safer for our children.

The two-term congressperson was one of only 10 representatives that voted “nay” Wednesday afternoon on the STOP School Violence Act of 2018.

The bill passed the U.S. House of Representatives on a ...

Republican congressional candidate Daryl Kipnis For Congress Campaign Kickoff Reception

Come enjoy an evening on Farrington Lake in North Brunswick in support of the effort to elect Daryl in NJ’s 12th Congressional District and send A Force For Freedom to Washington.

*Dinner & Open Bar*

7-9 p.m.

Monday, April 9th, 2018
130 Washington Place
North Brunswick, 08902

$100 Ticket Price
$250 Silver Sponsor
$500 Gold Sponsor
$1,000 Platinum Sponsor
$2,700 ...

Celebrate National Ag Day at the Middlesex County EARTH Center

EARTH CENTER, NORTH BRUNSWICK, NJ - Consider this: just about everything we eat, wear and use comes from agriculture. That is why America’s farmers and their crops are celebrated each year on National Ag Day, which falls this year on March 20.


To honor this day, the Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Middlesex County has planned a new seminar entitled The State of ...