EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP - The sign over the Shore Mall store has one just one word - "Trains."

But this is no traditional store, because the dozens of electric trains running around the tracks in there aren't for sale. They're just for show, on layouts built lovingly - and lavishly - by members of two local clubs, the Atlantic Shore Model Railroaders and the South Jersey Garden Railroad Society.

Oh, and it's all free.

The Shore Mall has been letting the two clubs use the storefront - across from the state Motor Vehicle Commission office - for about five years, says Charlie Morgan, of the Atlantic Shore club. The trains run Wednesdays and Saturdays, but the clubs have counted more than 108,000 visitors so far, he says.

Many of them were kids, of course. And many of those kids have come on rainy days, adds Wayne Richter, who has trains on display in the store and also leads the Atlantic County 4-H Model Railroad Club.

"When it's a cloudy or rainy day, we kind of gear up for it, because our attendance is doubled or tripled," says Richter, whose 4-H group is hosting a free train show and sale in the mall's old Value City store - next to the trains storefront - Oct. 9 and 10.

The clubs change their setups constantly, which gives visitors something new to see every time they go back.

Martin DeAngelis

If you go

Location: Shore Mall, Black Horse Pike, Egg Harbor Township

Hours: 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Wednesdays and Saturdays

Cost: Free

What moms want to know: Stroller friendly? Yes. Bathrooms? Yes, in mall. Food on site? In mall. Play area? Yes, Thomas (and friends) trains.

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