NORFOLK, Va. - The building at 5880 Poplar Hall Drive in Norfolk looks like an ordinary shop from a passing glance, but inside it's extraordinary.
Beyond the clickety-clack of spinning wheels, you'll find a treasure trove of trains.
Perfectly preserved in time, Dale's Train Station is the product of 43 years of hard work.
"He just had a huge passion for life and for people and for trains, and he was able to combine all of that and create a place for people who felt the same way," said Gloria Stocks.
Dale Stocks, the conductor of it all, died a few months back. His shop is one of the last authentic train shops in the Tidewater area. Now his wife, Gloria, is privileged with keeping it on the tracks.
News 3 was there as Gloria strolled around the station, looking at cabinets lined with decades-old toy collectibles and shelves stacked with Lionel Train boxes.
She said she feels Dale and how he embraced the power of nostalgia. She said that feeling can transport others as well.
"There are customers who come in and pick up an object and say, 'I had this when I was 8 years old.' [They remember] the year they got it for Christmas, and they can tell you who gave it to them and that they wish they had it, or they still have it, and if they have it they want to talk about the condition or if it needs to be repaired," Stocks said.
Beyond what you can buy from the store, they'll also do repairs, which accounts for about 40 percent of their annual income.
Stocks said they get very busy around the holidays, so if you have an old train set or trinket that needs to be repaired, now is the time to bring it in. If you wait until the week before Christmas, there is no guarantee you'll have it underneath your tree.
The family-owned business isn't just navigating through a pandemic, but now a profound loss. However, each day they keep in mind why they continue to show up.
"The smiles you see - even with masks - eyes are still crinkled and chuckles are still had," Stocks said. "I could have lost my husband and no one noticed, and that will never be the case with him."
Because there is always a light at the end of the tunnel.