Selling at the show

Becoming an Exhibitor


Since 1972, The Great Midwest Train Show has been the leader in model railroading events in the Chicagoland area. Our staff is dedicated to providing the best events that truly promote the hobby in a positive way. We want people attending our shows to leave so excited about model railroading they can't wait to come back next month!

Whether you have 10 trains or 1000 trains, the Great Midwest Train Show is the perfect place to sell them.

We understand that a show promoter’s job
is to promote!


People need to know about the show to attend the show. On average we spend over $6500 per show on advertising including…

  • 14,000+ show reminder emails to previous customers.
  • 12,000+ postcard reminders to previous customers.
  • Magazine advertising including Classic Toy Trains, Model Railroader, Model Railroad News, Railroad Model Craftsman, O Gauge Railroading and many more.
  • Newspaper advertising in the Daily Herald, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun Times.

When you spend your money and time to be at a train show shouldn’t the promoter advertise the show to potential attendees? We take our job as promoter seriously and want people to attend so you do well.

Outside Selling Space

In the warmer months a pleasant option is to sell in the parking lot in front of Building 5. Outdoor selling space is available on a non-reserved, first come, first serve basis the morning of the show. Cost for an Outdoor Seller's Permit is $45.00. The cost does not include tables, chairs, or electric. (Our contract with the fairgrounds forbids us from using their tables outside so if you want to set up outdoors on tables you must bring your own). The equivalent of a parking space is the typical outside selling space. Obviously the weather is a determining factor in the number of sellers who set up outside but even in the coldest months there have been a few hearty souls who endured the harsh weather.

Selling FAQ

Is Building 1 the best building to sell in?

There is a misconception that Building 1 is THE building to be in if you want the best sales. This is not the case at all. The serious buyers go to every building. They walk the aisles like the Terminator scanning the tables for new and bargain items. Word travels quickly the morning of the shows as to where the new exhibitors are located and where the deals are.

You will likely see no difference in sales because of building location if you have the right items at the right price.

Every building has permanent exhibitors, many of which have been in the same locations for 30+ years, that wouldn’t change locations for any reason. They know the buyers go everywhere and see everything.

What are the exhibitor set up hours?

Exhibitor set-up starts at 6:00am when the fairgrounds gates are unlocked.

You should be at the fairgrounds by 8:15am (the show opens to the public at 9:00am).

Do you provide the tables and chairs?

Yes, for tables reserved in advance inside the buildings we provide the tables and chairs.

If you are setting up as an outside seller you must bring your own tables and chairs. We are contractually prevented from using the fairgrounds tables and chairs outside.

What are the size of the tables?

The tables are 30 inches wide by 8 feet long.

What do tables cost?

Normally tables are $48 each in Building 1, $42 each in Buildings 2 & 3, $40 in Building 4, and $42 in Building 5.

We are running a sale right now and tables are only $38 each in Building 1 and $30 each in all the other buildings. When reserving just write “Sale Price” on the application and we’ll apply the sale rate to your order.


What are my trains worth?

We get asked this quite often. If you inherited a collection of trains you may feel overwhelmed and not sure where to start understanding the value of what you have.

While there are literally hundreds of people at the show who can assist you, we have a list of about 30 people who specialize in particular aspects of the hobby who have expressed their willingness to help customers understand what they have. The list is available, along with a show floorplan, in the show office located in the northeast corner of Building 1.

If you bring a few pieces of your collection, or photos of your trains, to the show it will help determine things like the scale, era, and condition of your trains which then helps determine the value.

The best thing you can do is educate yourself on what you have. In addition to speaking with people at the show, you can check eBay by looking for similar items to what you have and see what they sold for. Books like the Greenberg price guides are somewhat useful as well – although prices have fluctuated in the past several years and since the books are printed they can only show you the estimated value at the time the book went to press.

The one thing we always stress is to not sell your collection to the first person who makes you an offer. We can’t emphasize this enough.

If you have decided you want to sell your trains there are really two ways to approach it. If you sell your trains yourself piece by piece on eBay or at a train show you will get the most money out of the collection because you will be selling to the end user.

If you sell your collection in one lump sum to a reseller you may only get 50 cents on the dollar since this person has to sell everything piece by piece, carry the inventory from show to show, and pay out a large amount of money to you in advance to purchase the collection.

There are way too many stories of people only getting 5 to 10 cents on the dollar from a reseller because they didn’t know the value of what they had.

It pays to do your research and understand what you have!

Fairgrounds Map

 The show is located in 5 buildings on the grounds of the DuPage County Fairgrounds.

Fairgrounds map of the train show (PDF version)


Click on the map for a larger version.

2020 Exhibitor Application

Use this form if you want to reserve tables by mail or fax

More Info

Illinois Sales Tax Form IDOR-6-SETR

Illinois tax form for selling. PDF form.

More Info

Illinois Sales Tax Information

Link to the State of Illinois tax website

More Info


List of hotels near the fairgrounds.

More Info

Show Floorplans

Most of the tables on the floorplans are permanent, which means that the exhibitor has reserved the same tables for every show. Some tables have been occupied by the same exhibitor for decades. Temporary tables are the ones that tend to change from month to month.

Here are some sample floorplans from previous shows to give you an idea what the show looks like.

November 11, 2018 floorplan (PDF)

The Great Midwest Train Show is a production.


Our mission is to promote the hobby of model railroading.