Photos by Richard Schumacher
IGA (Independent Grocers Alliance) is a franchise organization of family-owned local grocery stores originally founded in 1926 by 100 local stores in New York and Connecticut. By 1930 there were more than 1,500 IGA stores in 36 states. Today IGA has over 5,000 independently owned and operated stores in 46 of the United States and more than 30 countries, commonwealths and territories around the world. IGA stores are an important part of many small towns, and Woodland Scenics J. Frank’s Grocery will make a perfect addition in one of them on my Saint Louis Southern layout.
Woodland Scenics Built-&-Ready® structures feature distinctive architectural details, hand-painted finishes, signage, interesting added details, and basic weathering. These pre-assembled buildings are ready to add to your layout, and I have purchased a number of them over the years.
The J. Frank’s grocery has an outstanding paint job, with two main brick colors and individually accented bricks on the front. The front display windows have nice product advertisements, awnings, and a printed interior recessed behind the glass. This interior calls out to be lit. Three warm white LEDs would highlight the included grocery interior.
Each side of the store has weathered dry transfer signs. The windows have blinds. The rear door has a shade. And downspouts are installed on both sides and the back of the store (although the standing water on the roof is nowhere near the downspouts – likely why it is there). I love the architectural detailing of the brickwork around the top of the store.
The most visible building part on most model railroads is the roof. J. Frank’s features a rolled roof with an air conditioning unit, an access hatch, assorted vents, a beautiful sign, and standing water. Two pigeons stand watch at the front, likely hoping for a shopper to drop their bread.
It’s obvious someone has been working on the roof, since their mop and buckets are still there. This may be an opportunity to add a figure grabbing the mop handle.
The loading dock includes a dolly, a truck bumper, stairs for workers (with handrail), and a (non-working) light. One LED would light the dock, and a couple of figures with some produce boxes would complete a great evening scene.
There are many added details on both the front and back of the store. The gumball machine in the recessed front doorway brings back childhood memories of trips to the local market, while the back features a dumpster and an electric meter.
My favorite detail is the “Lone Rider” kiddie ride at the front. These rides have tortured parents for generations, with pleas of “please let me ride!” Some of Woodland Scenics’ added details have been a little oversize on their earlier Built-&-Ready® structures, but they have all the details proportioned right on this model. One very cool detail is the printed shopping carts on the display windows behind the kiddie ride. A very effective touch.
Mini Metals also offers the perfect vehicle to park out back, an IGA 1946 Chevy delivery truck.
I purchased my J. Frank’s Grocery from an online hobby store. All of the Woodland Scenics Built-&-Ready® structures come in a transparent fitted package, which is shipped inside a cardboard box. J. Frank’s is also available in N and O scale versions. The HO model retails at $79.99.