With sunshine, 60 degree weather and green mountain tops instead of white ones it’s hard to imagine Christmas and New Years Day are so close. I’m sipping iced coffee but in the background I can hear the Peanuts Gang singing Christmas carols so it must be the “Season of Good Cheer”. As corny as it sounds, just like the stock market (usually), no matter what crisis the media is milking, this time of year I feel an emotional uptick. I’m more upbeat, hopeful, thankful and happy. I hope you feel the same energy.
No the emotional uptick is not based on forth coming Christmas gifts. I don’t want or need anymore stuff. However, I am improving something I already own, my touring bicycle. I bought it on eBay used and it did great on our ride from Portland to Flagstaff but it is more than thirty years old.
When I was young I dreamt that when I grew up I would have a custom bicycle built just for me. It would be perfectly proportioned for my short arms and stubby legs and be dressed in a color of my choosing. Well, I’m as “grown up” as I’ll probably get but I don’t feel I need a custom bike anymore. I’m happy with this old steel frame which I can tweak until I die thanks to the large collection of Campy, SunTour, Cinelli,… components I’ve accumulated over the years. What more could I want? Well, how about a few braze-ons to customize that old frame followed by a powder coat of my choosing? It’s recycling with a little bling. The great thing is I can obtain all those services locally in Flagstaff.
Another bike shop. This one is located next to Flagstaff’s running store.
of a bike shop/espresso bar, all located on the Original Route 66
Flagstaff has about one bicycle shop for every ten thousands citizens and just about as many frame builders. I’m working with Bryce Wright at AZ Bikes for the braze-ons and Iron Horse for the powder coating. Both businesses are walking distance from my hotel and since they are small businesses, in each case I’m working with the owner directly. After reviewing my wishes with each businessman, I gave them the bike, we shook hands, exchanged phone numbers and they started work. No contracts, deposits or credit card numbers, just a handshake. Sadly it’s not the typical way to do business in America anymore and having been in business for myself I understand why but nonetheless I found the experience refreshing and it seemed to be in keeping with the spirit of the season.
How can a business owner and customer be comfortable with just a handshake and verbal agreement? I think it hinges on reasonable expectations. Since the tasks to some degree are being performed by a human and not a machine I expect them to be done well but not “perfectly”. They on the other hand expect reasonable payment for their services. The pride of ownership and putting your name on the product is a powerful force for doing things right and something we see too little of today. Even if I was unhappy with the end product I think they would try to work things out so I’ll take my chances with a handshake.
If you have a chance to support a locally owned business this season go for it. Locally owned businesses not only provide jobs and pay local taxes that help maintain your city’s infrastructure they often support local athletes and the arts, donate trophies to the 4-H fair and volunteer in community service clubs like the Lions and Rotary. If we don’t support our small local businesses they will disappear and our only choice then will be far-away-store.com which doesn’t make any of above investments in our communities. It’s just a suggestion and I known it’s not practical for everyone or for every product you need but if you do use a local business your community will benefit.
I hope you find joy in the season and thanks again for following my blog.