Owner of Papa Ben’s Train Place maintains store now in its 20th year

Trains used in the layout are all Z scaled, at a scale ratio of 1:220. (Hunter Marrow/Community Impact Newspaper)
Trains used in the layout are all Z scaled, at a scale ratio of 1:220. (Hunter Marrow/Community Impact Newspaper)

Trains used in the layout are all Z scaled, at a scale ratio of 1:220. (Hunter Marrow/Community Impact Newspaper)

Image description
Papa Ben’s Train Place owner Allyn Perlman and his dog, 8-year-old greyhound, Sonoma, can be seen greeting customers. (Hunter Marrow/Community Impact Newspaper)
Image description
Near what was known as Union Station area in downtown Houston, club members of the N’Crowd Model Railroad Society created several detailed layouts in Papa Ben’s Train Place. (Hunter Marrow/Community Impact Newspaper)
There are not many stores left in Houston like Papa Ben’s Train Place.

The store sells a variety of model train paraphernalia, including scenic displays as well as locomotives, cabooses and passenger cars at six scales, from its smallest offering Z scale—1/220 of real size—up to a G scale — 1/22.5 of real size. The store also showcases its own layouts—the land and cityscapes around a track—including ones showing parts of Houston.

The most popular scale at the store, however, is HO, approximately 1/87 the size of the original.

“It’s still our most popular size,” said owner Allyn Pearlman, who has been running the store since 2008 at its location on Bellaire Boulevard. “There is just more variety.”

Old and new customers patronize the store, including those from outside Houston; a customer even ordered from Australia in early September.

The train store’s loyal following was established in 2000 at its first store on South Boulevard, when it was owned by Allyn’s brother, Ben. His grandson called him “Papa Ben,” which inspired the name.

Ben died of a heart attack in 2006, leaving ownership to his wife, who then transferred ownership to Allyn in 2008 with one requirement: to get a cancer screening. Turns out, he did have cancer, though it was detected early enough for removal.

After 12 years, the store is thriving, even during the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced it to close for over a month.

“We’ve been doing OK,” he said. “Actually, business has increased.”

Meanwhile, Allyn and his 8-year-old greyhound, Sonoma, the “Train Dog,” greet customers while following health and safety guidelines.

“We have a very loyal following,” Allyn said. “A lot of people want to see and feel the product instead of ordering online.”

Papa Ben’s Train Place

4007 Bellaire Blvd., Ste. E, Houston



Hours: Mon.-Sat. 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Closed Sun.

By Hunter Marrow
Hunter Marrow came to Community Impact Newspaper in January 2020. Before that, Hunter covered local news in Ontario, OR for three years, covering municipal issues, crime, and education across Malheur County and across the border into Idaho.


Mayor Sylvester Turner issued a warning to bars and nightclubs across Houston and said he plans to go after any establishment seen disregarding capacity guidelines. (Screenshot via Twitter)
Mayor Sylvester Turner calls out concerts, clubs operating over capacity

Turner also reported 1,964 new cases of COVID-19 along with 17 virus-related deaths.

The North Bellaire Special Development District located at the former Chevron campus at 4800 Fournace Place is in the review process by Bellaire’s Planning and Zoning Commission. (Hunter Marrow/Community Impact Newspaper)
Bellaire P&Z mulls changes to create north Bellaire zoning district

Almost a year in the works, Bellaire has a new zoning ordinance up for consideration.

At a Jan. 15 emergency court hearing, officials came up with a plan to try to reduce the inmate population at the Harris County Jail that centers on hosting more bail reduction hearings. (Courtesy Brian Jackson/Adobe Stock)
With open beds dwindling, officials look for ways to reduce Harris County jail population

The inmate population at the Harris County Jail is rising, and officials are looking for ways to quickly ease the pressure as concerns grow over the ability to quarantine and restrict the spread of the coronavirus.

Bocca Italian Kitchen serves seasonal, Italian-inspired dishes, such as polenta and various pastas. (Courtesy Marco Torres)
Italian eateries open in Generation Park; Houston bike lane fines enforced and more local news

Read the latest business and community news from the Houston area.

Minute Maid Park
Houston Health Department vaccine appointments fill up in 16 minutes

The department will administer 5,000 doses at Minute Maid Park on Jan. 16 and 17.

Officials expect demand for the vaccine will be huge once it opens to the general public. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Montgomery County plans vaccine distribution; FDA warns of false negatives and more top Houston-area news

Read the most popular stories from the past week from the Houston area.

Houston ISD
After impasse, Houston ISD trustees delay officer election

The board voted 8-1 to postpone their decision to Jan. 21.

Man riding bike in city
Houston’s grace period for bike lane parking fines ends

Houston residents now face a $100 fine for parking in bike lanes.

The Randalls store in Bellaire has already begun the liquidation process as it looks to close in February. (Hunter Marrow/Community Impact Newspaper)
Grocery chain Randalls to close Bellaire store in February

The company is working to place as many employees as possible in other locations.

Despite a global pandemic, Houston home sales broke records in 2020 and saw 10% more sales overall compared to 2019. (Courtesy Houston Association of Realtors)
Report: Houston home sales surpassed 2019 volumes despite pandemic

2020 single-family home sales surpassed 2019’s volume by more than 10%.

La Cocina de Roberto launched its second eatery in The Woodlands area in January. (Courtesy La Cocina de Roberto)
La Cocina de Roberto restaurant opens in The Woodlands and more Houston-area news

Read the latest business and community news from the Greater Houston area.

River Oaks District
River Oaks District launches farmers market this weekend

The Market at the District will be held 11 a.m.-3 p.m. on the third Sunday each month.