The last place on earth one ever wants to buy a beach chair is at the beach. When you have a business open four months a year, markup has to cover the lean months. Naturally, being the prepared, forward-thinking individual I am, a week at a beach resort would find me in want of nothing other than food and drink.
However, a few years back, catastrophe struck. The comfortable but old chair I’d used for a decade popped its rivets, tore it’s seams, and was condemned to the rubbish barrel. To keep peace in a crowded, loud, sandy environment, I agreed to purchase a replacement.
Miles from any decent department store, we ventured into a local Everything Store to see if I’d need a payday loan to fund a replacement chair. Not surprisingly, options were limited. Plenty of cheap, flimsy imported garbage. A limited selection of sturdy but expensive domestic production. Time is money and the decision was easy. Hoy’s 5 & 10¢ would be able to pay their taxes through the winter.
For an extra $35, I could buy a sturdy, USA-made product. For the price of a couple of pizzas, I’d support a family business near the New York – Vermont border. A tradition of excellent manufacturing stretching back generations, offering employment in design, fabrication, marketing, and shipping. As well as the Five & Dime (established 1935) getting their cut.
Looking back, the purchase was an excellent decision. Six seasons have been kind to the chair, and my purchase price was about half the current list price. Buy once, cry once.
THE ROLLICKING ’20s were a grand time in Philadelphia. Luxury “flats” stretched entire blocks. Inside these aristocratic apartments, room after room unfolded in a maze. As an apprentice plumber, a kid in a man’s body, I once found myself on the 8th floor above 15th and Spruce, snapping a piece of 6″ cast iron pipe. We were replacing part of a cracked stack in just such a grande dame near the Academy of Music.
Snap! Crack! Ouch! . . . wait, what happened? The pipe jumped forward a funny way, and smacked my ankle. The boss, grinning through his cigarette smoke, christened me Hoppy, chuckling at the swelling. A few minutes later, he promised we’d visit Vern at the boot store. My health benefits were about to kick in.
Vern ran the local Red Wing Boot Store. For ten bucks, Vern handed me a used but serviceable pair of boots in my size from out back. I was now officially a plumber, with the boots to match. 8″ of leather protected my ankles. Sturdy soles protected my arches in the trenches, where I practiced the Art of Digging. I’ve been buying Red Wing exclusively ever since.
There is a city called Red Wing, in Minnesota. The heart of a country engrossed with mining, logging and farming needed the Right Boots. In 1905, local shoe merchant Charles Beckman, along with 14 investors, opened a shoe company to develop work boots to fill industry needs. A new standard for excellence was born!
My current pair was bought as closeouts a decade ago, and finally put into service a few years back. After the heels became mushy, I belatedly discovered these boots were not recraftable. New boots looked to be in order. However, a shoe genius located, at all places, the corner of 15th and Spruce, cut off the heels and glued on new ones for $40, saving me a thick stack of crisp Yankee dollars.
Red Wing is a city in Goodhue County, Minnesota, United States, on the Mississippi River. The population was 16,459 at the 2010 census. It is the county seat of Goodhue County.