ASHLAND, Va. -- Whenever she feels the earth rumble, Suzanne Hemingway rolls out the red carpet, welcoming strangers passing through on trains, moving through downtown Ashland several times a day.
“It is so exciting. It is like you’ve never seen it before.”
Suzanne holds a soft spot for everything trains big and small. She is owner of, or rather, the conductor of Tiny Tim’s Trains and Toys in Ashland.
"It is a comfort rather than being a noisy inconvenience,” Suzanne says of the loud locomotives.
Inside Suzanne’s store smiling customers find a knowledgeable owner.
“Welcome to my passion,” Suzanne says. “And if you look at my sign outside it says ‘Do not wander by. Come in reminisce.’”
Suzanne opened this spot two and a half years ago. Suzanne moves like a locomotive through her 1,200 square feet of tightly stocked space.
Suzanne shares a wide-eyed wonderment of miniature trains with her customers both young and old.
“If I have you in complete sensory overload then I have done my job,” she says.
This is no hobby though. Suzanne toils away 60 hours a week.
“It is just overwhelming. And so enjoyable. And addictive I guess?”
And did we mention this is her second career? After working nearly thirty years as a pharmacist, she switched rails.
“It is definitely a good vibe,” says Suzanne. “I don’t feel like I’m new. I feel like I have been here forever. It is home.”
Now, Suzanne is all aboard from engine to caboose.
“I love the artistic part. I love the design part. I love history.”
At this junction in life the end of the line certainly isn’t in sight.
“I don’t think I will retire.”
Because for Suzanne Hemingway pure bliss is found when steel wheels move the ground beneath her feet.
“City lovers love city. Country lovers love the country. I love being by the railroad tracks.”
If you want to meet Suzanne she is easy to find. She’ll be the one waving at the trains outside her shop located appropriately on South Railroad Avenue in the Center of the Universe.
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