Theodore (Ted) Klein 1935-2020

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Bruette

Well-Known Member
In Memoriam - Theodore Klein 1935-2020

It is with great sadness and a heavy heart that we write to you today about the passing of our friend, mentor and colleague Ted Klein.

Mr. Klein was an outstanding businessman and leader. His vision and business acumen served him well early in his life when he convinced his father to move away from the declining hardware business and embrace the burgeoning model railroad industry. His foresight built the foundation for the company that today is the premier source among the model railroading community for model railroad equipment and supplies.

Additionally, Mr. Klein always understood and appreciated the value of M.B. Klein’s employees, and knew that without their hard work, loyalty and support, his company could not have enjoyed such success. It was his fervent wish that M.B. Klein continue to serve as a leader in the model railroad community, and as a source of support for its employees.

We take that spirit and determination with us to ensure the continuity of M.B. Klein, Inc. now and into the future. We collectively offer our sincere condolences to his family and close friends and we thank you in advance for your continued support as we strive to perpetuate the great legacy of the Klein family.

Frank Wrabel
Director of Operations
M.B. Klein Inc.
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From the Model Train Stuff website.

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About MB Klein, Inc.

In 1913 Morris Benjamin Klein founded M.B. Klein, Inc. as a general hardware store and locksmith shop.

In the 1960's Baltimore began to expand and a new highway, Interstate-83, was built to help relieve the downtown traffic congestion. As a result of this, the store's original location was absorbed into the construction site of the highway and the store was forced to move from its original location to make way for I-83.

The store relocated a block south to 162 North Gay Street.Over the years, Morris Klein's only child, Ted Klein, joined his father at the store, working side-by-side, learning the business."I was running across the street to a hobby distributor, Kramer Brothers, and buying the trains at wholesale," Ted recalled, "Then I'd run back, and we'd sell them at retail. Finally, I wondered, 'Why am I doing this? And I convinced my father to put in more trains. Ted slowly converted the hardware store to a model train store. At this time period, a Lionel train set was the quintessential toy children dreamed of receiving during the Holiday Season.

In the mid-1970's the store was completely converted to trains. HO Scale started to become more popular and M.B. Klein, Inc. continued to expand the variety of products offered to the model railroad community. This included trains, and their myriad accessories so that the model railroader could build a town with homes, apartment houses, sky scrapers, parks, trees, rolling lawns, police and fire departments, jails, city halls, big towns, bigger cities, lakes, mountains, prairies, bridges, tunnels and national monuments! Throughout the 1980's M.B. Klein established itself as the Model Train Headquarters for all model train enthusiasts, young and old. During the Holiday Season, a common sight in Baltimore would be houses throughout the city with train layouts running in the windows. The firehouses throughout Maryland would have large train gardens and the neighborhood children would walk through the display with wide-eyed enjoyment. Practically everyone in Maryland knew that the place to get the greatest selection of train supplies was down at Klein's.The 1990's would be a decade of great expansion. Mail ordering became a common practice for many stores and M.B. Klein was no exception. New scales like N Scale and Z Scale were added to the growing selection of products.

The development of the Internet in the late 1990's brought with it a great opportunity. The staff of the store began building a now-established website to offer the store's wares to a worldwide community. M.B. Klein's dedicated, knowledgeable staff now sells to tens of thousands of hobbyists throughout the world! M.B. Klein, Inc. relocated to a new 10,000 square foot location in Cockeysville in the summer of 2007. We added an additional 5,000 square feet to the facility in 2008 expanding warehouse and showroom space. Our new location allows us to stock all our merchandise on site. We are able to ship out our customers' orders daily as they place them using our real-time inventory website. Customers can now see exactly what we have in stock and order with confidence. Our growing abilities and our well-established network of vendors allow us to supply our patrons with one of the largest ready to ship inventories. We are constantly upgrading and expanding our capabilities and continue to look forward to serving the Model Railroad Community.

MBK-IT - February 03, 2020 23:31
 

Selector

Well-Known Member
Condolences to all who knew and loved this man. He was courageous and faced some important realities when he knew it was time to do so. He leaves a respected and heavily patronized business with many loyal customers. And rightly so.

RIP
 

Bruette

Well-Known Member
When I was 11 years old other hobby shops would not bother to give me the time of the day. I went to MB Klein at Christmas time and was treated like a million-dollar customer. I only had a few dollars to spend back then, but many years later when I was able to buy high-end Lionel locomotives MB Klein was the place, I went to first. I only dealt with Ted Klein a dozen or more times, but he always treated me like his best customer.
 

tootnkumin

Well-Known Member
Staff member
In my relatively short (although it's now over 10 years) train buying history, I soon learned ModelTrainStuff.com. would be my #1 go to, Being a long distance away, care in packaging was high priority and the best prices to offset the international shipping prices. Always came up on top and even on the very rare case when a price got bettered, it was slight and the trust in the service and that packing, guaranteed I stayed with MBK. I can only recall one carton that had some damage, but everything inside was safe and sound. The standout though for me was the real time stock record.

May he rest in piece and his business live on to serve even more modelers in the manner to which I have become accustomed.
 

Bruette

Well-Known Member
Ted had been mostly retired since the store moved from east Baltimore to Cockeysville. He did often stop by the store, but less and less as time passed. I was told he often monitored the store cameras. I would always wave hello to the camera when I went in.

His intention was to close the store and retire, but his customers and employees were so disappointed he decided to move the store rather than to close it.

I think it was in 2016 that the board of directors hired a General Manager and that is when the personality of the store changed. You could see the atmosphere had also changed, the store had little staff, usually just a cashier. When there was a staff member in the store, they would be busy.

I missed being able to talk trains with the staff, but It was no longer the slow paced, friendly family store I had known. Even though I only live about 20 miles from the store in Cockeysville I seldom made the trip after the changes beginning in 2016. They have always had great shipping rates and it was no longer fun to go to the store, why bother? Now MB Klein is run like the corporation it is, but they still have good customer service.
 

beiland

Well-Known Member
I use to visit that downtown store quite often when I was first getting back into the hobby. They always had a big and interesting selection of used trains at pretty good prices.

Wonder if someone has a picture of that store?

Never visited that suburb location that many times. The ambience had changed.

Hope they stay in business, we are losing too many old shops.
 

Bruette

Well-Known Member
Ted had been mostly retired since the store moved from east Baltimore to Cockeysville. He did often stop by the store, but less and less as time passed. I was told he often monitored the store cameras. I would always wave hello to the camera when I went in.

His intention was to close the store and retire, but his customers and employees were so disappointed he decided to move the store rather than to close it.

I think it was in 2016 that the board of directors hired a General Manager and that is when the personality of the store changed. You could see the atmosphere had also changed, the store had little staff, usually just a cashier. When there was a staff member in the store, he would be busy.

I missed being able to talk trains with the staff, but It was no longer the slow paced, friendly family store I had known. Even though I only live about 20 miles from the store in Cockeysville I seldom made the trip after the changes beginning in 2016. They have always had great shipping rates and it was no longer fun to go to the store, why bother? Now MB Klein is run like the corporation it is, but they still have good customer service.
 

Bruette

Well-Known Member
I use to visit that downtown store quite often when I was first getting back into the hobby. They always had a big and interesting selection of used trains at pretty good prices.

Wonder if someone has a picture of that store?

Never visited that suburb location that many times. The ambience had changed.

Hope they stay in business, we are losing too many old shops.
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