Free Temporary Layout Space
An interesting idea to get some free temporary layout space is to contact the management of a mall with some vacant store space. The Lincoln N-Scalers did this with East Park Mall in Lincoln, Nebraska in 1994 and 1995. Unfortunately, the mall is all leased out this Christmas season and so this year looks like the modules will be relegated to reside in individuals' basements and spare rooms. The following describes some of the details of the arrangement and some tips on getting the mall management to go for it.
Christmas and model trains just seem to go together. Therefore, the best time of year to try to set this up is in the fall for the Christmas season. The N-Scalers arrangement went for the whole month of December each of the two years they did it. The time commitment was pretty heavy, but this was required to get the mall to agree to give up free space. The club was responsible for having the layout available to the public Tuesday and Thursday night, as well as the weekends while the mall was open. Although the mall didn't lose any rent (the place was vacant anyway), they did have to pay for lights, heat, and so on. They wanted to get some extensive use of their "investment"
One very important selling point of the whole idea was that the club could and would vacate the store on very short notice if a paying tenant was suddenly found. The portability and quick tear down of a modular system was very important to the mall, and needs to be stressed as to how this differs from a traditional permanent layout.
The mall allowed the club to be in the space any other time, including late nights. The store had a separate back entrance and the club was given a key. They did ask that if there was obvious activity on the layout while the mall was open even if the club wasn't scheduled to be open, to please let the public in as a courtesy. However, the club wasn't required to do this.
The club was responsible for keeping the store clean, as any tenant would be. The club was also responsible for shutting off the lights, locking the store doors, and keeping everything in order. This was reasonable as it was expected of all tenants.
The mall did let the club stay around after the Christmas season with a much reduced schedule of open times; a few hours on the weekend. The club was asked to leave when a car show came to the mall and the store space was going to be used for the show. The mall would have probably let the club back in after the show but by this time, many club members were ready for some "down time" and work on their modules at home.
This was an arrangement that benefited all, the club, the mall, and the public. It might be worth a little effort. Give it a try! To see some pictures of the mall layout, check out track plans and pictures.