Sunday, May 24, 2015

Something's up

My employer had one of his periodic foaming shit fits yesterday. I heard his words, what he said he was absolutely shaking with rage about, but I also know from long experience that he only goes off like this when other stressors have put a bigger squeeze on him than the issue that hits the detonator.

Memorial Day Weekend appears to be a snooze this year. I was actually given the day off today -- Sunday -- because the register wasn't ringing lustily enough to justify full staff. The frigid Saturday could have suppressed customer activity, although we sold hats and socks in the morning. The afternoon was pretty dead in the whole neighborhood.

Today is supposed to be much warmer, with summer-like temperatures moving in tomorrow. I can't imagine that the one cold day kept people from scheduling a weekend getaway if they really wanted one. The deeper chill in people's finances is probably nipping most of that crop. We see a few people with smiles and money, but nowhere near as many of them as we saw ten and twenty years ago. It was a gradual and then a precipitous decline. The town never bustles the way it did in the '80s and '90s. We have our little surges, but no sustained festivity and merriment.

The surge of repairs has died out. The torrent of check-ins didn't dwindle. It just stopped. Another will come, but the shrinkage of repair requests puts us in a nervous, depressive holding pattern while we wait.

The collapse of the Sunday road ride group may not represent a huge financial loss, although it did spawn a lot of steady maintenance -- chains, cables, minor adjustments, creaking frames. It signals a loss in the local road biking community that shifts our business even more to the out-of-town visitor, who may arrive at any time or not at all. Our local riders mostly come from the rail trail crowd. We have to adapt our stock of repair parts to reflect the most likely needs, while still trying to stay prepared for the more technically oriented riders in other categories. You never know for sure who will come to the area to do what.

Our seasonal billionaire who used to pedal has now gone over completely to e-bikes. These two-ton behemoths arrive in huge boxes. "Assembly" is usually pretty simple, unless something arrives broken. But any subsequent service call requires a bunch of heavy lifting for our aging staff, as the octogenarian billionaire can only lend so much of a hand. He's willing, but limited. And the whole process of dealing with Stromer and chasing down electronic or hydraulic issues eats a fair amount of time for distinctly limited financial returns. Even those vanish if nothing goes wrong on the battery-powered marvels.

With unexpected time at home, I can do a few more fix-it projects. For instance, I got tired of the toilet roll holder coming apart, so I fixed that today:

It's classy work. That's a Campy skewer. Now to vacuum up a couple of bushels of cat hair, hang some laundry and head out to the grocery store. One thing about a lackluster holiday weekend: the store shelves won't be as devastated as usual.

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