The staff is reasonably helpful and responsive. It can suffer from small shop syndrome at times where there is one guy working there and he happens to be helping someone else when you walk in, so you may have to wait. More often than not, I'll head in and be the only guy in the shop, so that's rare. The staff is always friendly and very helpful without looming and annoying.
As an N-Scale guy, I'm pretty happy at Chan's, however the selection can be a little lite with small items like cars and figures. They have them, but not much. As a matter of fact, on my November 13th, 2011 visit, the primary selection of cars they had were firetrucks. A lot of firetrucks. They carry Woodland Scenics and the usual terrain fair and have a great selection of KATO track. Again, it's not like N is a huge pull for train people, so the selection they offer - while somewhat limited in parts - tends to be more than what most shops in the Bay Area have unless you roll into FEATHER RIVER TRAIN SHOP which is primarily an N shop.
All in all, there's a reason Chan's has been in business since 1973. They do it right!
CHAN'S TRAINS and HOBBIES 2450 Van Ness Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94109
Neighborhood: Marina/Cow Hollow (415) 885-2899
OPEN 7 DAYS A WEEK! Hours: Monday - Saturday: 10 - 6pm Sundays: 12 noon - 5pm