A driving instructor has swapped big wheels for little wheels after successfully launching a new business in Gloucester.
Jill Stevens ran Jill’s School of Motoring in Ledbury and Hereford for 12 years until she was forced off the roads by the pandemic.
During lockdown, Jill and her partner, Steve Hunt, decided to clear out the spare room of their home in Newent in Gloucestershire where they have lived together for four years when they came across a forgotten black bin liner of miniature trains.
After giving a few trains to Steve’s grandson, Jill decided to put the rest on eBay and was amazed by the response.
That sparked an idea for a new business – and Jill’s Trains was launched on eBay to sell miniature trains, tracks and accessories.
It has proved to be such a success she has now moved into a 357 sq ft unit at Space Business Centre in Gloucester and will be selling items ranging from Hornby to Bachmann and Playcraft to Wrenn.
Jill explained: “When lockdown happened, like a lot of people, I was stuck at home thinking what to do and we started sorting out a spare room. We found a black bin liner of model trains – Steve is a builder and had worked at a recycling centre where somebody had left it and he had asked if he could take it.
“We gave a few trains to Steve’s grandson and the rest we put on eBay – everything sold really quickly so last summer we decided to buy similar items online from auction houses.
“A good friend of Steve’s, Jim Street, carries out any repairs and we appreciate his work because we couldn’t have progressed so quickly without his skills and we have learnt a great deal – and there is still much so much to learn from him.
“I have been working from home in our spare room but the business has been so successful that I needed somewhere bigger.
“Steve heard about the units at Space Business Centre so we went to have a look and have decided to go for it.
“It is also going to mean I can increase the stock I sell because companies such as Hornby won’t deal with you unless you have a business address.
“I’m still buying from auction houses and flea markets and I’m really enjoying it. I loved being a driver instructor but if somebody had said to me a year ago, I wouldn’t be an instructor, I would be selling model trains, I wouldn’t have believed them.
“My dad died a few years ago but I know he will be looking down at me and smiling because he was very much into trains and he would have found it amusing.
“Space Business Centre is great for businesses starting up because the only overhead cost is your rent and other services. I have started with a smaller unit but I would like to progress to a bigger unit because I have already been able to get trade accounts with bigger companies to it is already opening so many more doors.”
Space Business Gloucester is owned by property investment company AC Lloyd, and is one of their two centres in Gloucestershire which offer flexible, easy in and easy out, multi-use units ranging from 275 to 775 sq ft.
Katy Lawson, site manager at the Space Business Centres, said it was fantastic Jill’s Trains was proving such a hit with model trains enthusiasts.
“Lockdown has led to many people considering their future careers as well as taking up new hobbies or reviving their interest in old hobbies,” she said.
“Jill’s Trains is a train heaven for model enthusiasts and I felt like the fictional character Sheldon Cooper from the hugely popular television programme The Big Bang Theory when visiting her unit and being surrounded by so many trains and tracks.
“Jill stumbled across her new business adventure by accident but it is already paying dividends and we wish her the best of luck in her new transport career.”