What is the Best Lionel Starter Set?

Now that we have passed the holiday season, I find that I am looking forward to the next Christmas shopping season with some
anticipation.This last Christmas season was the first time that we had considered a Lionel train as a gift.
So in anticipation of gift giving in the future, what in your opinion is the best Lionel starter kit
Is Trainsounds an option that should be considered?
And I am interested in learning just what stores do sell Lionel other than the LHS? What stores are you aware of that sold Lionel this holiday season? Is this seasonal or do they sell year around?
Finally since these questions are in respect to buying future Lionel items for gifts, when are the better times to buy Lionel inexpensively and where?
Thanks
TMT
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*snip*

Try your local yellow pages and hobbyretailer.com. Without having the town listed in the post, you're probably not going to get much better than generic pointers.
Chances are if your yellow pages lists something under hobby shop that's not a true hobby shop (such as a bicycle dealer), they're doing Lionel. That's my rule of thumb anyway.

Around my area, it's November and February. We have a show at ICC in Washington, IL that has a bit of everything.

Puckdropper
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