Ryan James Leclerc
Posted October 30th, 2010
Indy’s first steps.
There are some businesses, such as apple orchards and football stadiums, that are busy in the fall. Our shop is not one of them. On a given day in mid November, there’s a good chance the ghost of Colonel Jacob Davis, the original settler of our little city, will walk through the front door before a living customer will.
As a way of drumming up some business during this slow time, I’ve suggested planting a few apple trees outside our front door and installing a JumboTron on the side of the building to broadcast NFL games, but apparently, because both would compromise the historic integrity of our location – the JumboTron, for example, would need to be bolted to the building, which would compromise its historic bricks and mortar, thus rendering them unhistorical – the downtown zoning committee won’t approve it.
And even though we carry all sorts of fantastic merchandise that is geared towards the cooler weather, shorter days, and bone-chilling rain, such as cozy merino wool sweaters, shiny headlamps, and waterproof/breathable rain gear, we simply don’t experience the droves of customers, as we do during bike or ski season, that flow in like football fans at a playoff game.
There’s an inevitable gap due to a seasonal paradox where it’s too late in the season to buy a bike – even if it is a 70-percent-off crazy closeout super special – and it’s too early in the season to buy a pair of skis or snowshoes. So, as employees, all we can do is wait it out, which means a lot of organizing, reorganizing, taking long coffee breaks at the coffee shop, taking short naps in the camping section, etc., until the business kicks back in when the snow starts to fly, or three weeks before Christmas, whichever comes first. Fortunately this fall, there have been a few highlights that have lifted our spirits during these slow days. One was a milestone involving a beautiful baby girl, and the other was a milestone involving an 11mm wrench.
The beautiful baby girl is Indy Rae, the 13-month-old daughter of Bart, one of my favorite fellow coworkers. Indy Rae is an amazing baby who looks a lot like her dad, only with more hair. If she has inherited his staggering athletic talent, she’ll be tele skiing by next winter and winning mountain bike races to the top of Mount Mansfield next summer. She’s probably a natural at her dad’s beloved game of Beer Pole, but hopefully she won’t discover that talent for another 20 years. As far as her personality, I’m hoping she gets more of that from her lovely mom. Bart quite often gets irritated with certain people, namely me, and he’ll say it’s because I deserve it. I’ll admit he’s not the only person who has ever felt that way – I am special after all – but I don’t need another person around who shares this sentiment.
Whether or not I irritate her was probably the last thing on her mind the other night as Indy reached a milestone in her life while at the shop, which, according to the boss, was a first since we opened for business 35 years ago. Right on the sales floor, in front of a small group of folks including her mom, the boss, and Phlip, one of my other favorite fellow coworkers, who filmed the moment, Indy took her very first steps. She did a great job, and even though she was a bit wobbly, she managed to avoid knocking over nearby displays of cozy merino wool sweaters and shiny headlamps. After five minutes, she was already walking straighter and with more control than many of us do after one too many games of Beer Pole. A few minutes later, she was heading for the door.
Another glorious shop moment, which was also a first, as far as I know at least, occurred recently with Snack, one of our younger generation whippersnappers, and one of my very favorite fellow employees. While working on one of the 70-percent-off crazy closeout super special bikes that we recently purchased from a shop that went under, he discovered another use for the 11mm wrench. If you’re one of the six or seven people who have read this column before and are reading it again, you may recall a column I wrote last year where I described the glorious day when I finally discovered, after 25 years of wrenching on bikes, the purpose of the 11mm wrench, which is for tightening the fender bolts on a Columbia 5-speed tandem. Strangely enough, I wasn’t even at the shop when this breakthrough occurred. Snack however, was at the shop when he made his discovery, and even though it took me as many years as Snack has been alive to figure out the purpose of the 11mm wrench, he discovered, so early into his wrenching career, that it is also used to tighten the seat rail clamping bolts on a 70-percent-off crazy closeout super sale bike.
There may not have been as much rejoicing upon this ground-breaking discovery as was the case when Indy Rae took her first steps, but the moment was equally monumental, in my opinion at least, in the history of the shop. I like to think that Colonel Jacob Davis, may he rest in peace, would be happy to know that monumental moments like these are still occurring here today, 223 years after he built his log cabin on the west side of the North Branch. He’d also be happy to know that there won’t be a JumboTron or any apple trees coming to our historic little street, and therefore the historic integrity of the little town that he named, as was fashionable at the time, after a city in France, remains intact.
Ryan James Leclerc has worked in retail longer than you. Although he has recently made the move from the sales floor to the office of Onion River Sports, he likes to reminisce about the good old days using the present tense narrative. He lives in Burlington with his lovely wife Mckalyn. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.