Vacations are those costly events where we go someplace and worry about the projects and clients back home. Obsessive? Yeah...
They are also events that teach us something if we're willing to listen and learn. So it was on our recent trip to Indian River, Michigan and a morning visit with Roger Jacobs. I'd never met Roger. It was his store that intrigued me. The last time I had visited my Mother I had told myself that I really needed to see what was inside. So...I pushed open the door, camera in hand.
Roger has operated Northland Sports Company since 1960 when he and his parents purchased the store and contents. For over 40 years the white stucco building, that sits directly on the Indian River, has been a source of income and his home. He has, and does, sell firearms, fishing gear, tomato plants, and just about anything else a person wants or needs outdoors. He gives away free advice on where and how to fish, what rivers and lakes have the best scenery plus a little social commentary. His inventory, of everything he sells or gives away, is astounding.
"It's different today," says Jacobs standing near a 130 year old wood stove that heats the place in the winter. "People just don't get out as much. They hang in their houses or motels watching TV and playing them video games. It's a waste of time not getting outdoors and enjoying nature."
But people are drawn to his store. Maybe they've heard about the incredible lure collection that dates back generations. Maybe they've been told "how the guy knows everything about the north-woods and lakes". Maybe they've heard, "If you can't find it there, you can't find it." Or maybe, like me, they are drawn to connect with a simpler place and time. A chance to learn a little and listen to experience. Here's a sample:
Spending Money: "Credit cards, we don't take 'em", exclaims Roger. "Some guy called me last week to sell me on the idea. Do you know they charge a percentage of the sale back to you.? I'm havin' none of that."
The Internet: "I've tried it and I've got an e-mail address but I don't use it much other than keep up with the kids. I enjoy talking and listening to people, not typing."
Work: "I love to work but I work when I want. If things are slow we close. Winters get kind of rough around here and I get to travel a little but this is my life and I enjoy being my own boss."
Friends & Family: "My friends always know where I'm at. They come in, sit for a bit and talk." (Mr. Bones, a former auto industry executive, made such a stop while we visited. I learned his wife came from the same little town in Michigan where my family settled. She had even worked at Cape's Ice Cream...where I worked at age 16 in my first "real job". Small world.) "My kids sort of like the fact that I'm as independent as I am and so do I."
Thanks Roger. I just wish we had more time to spend at the fishing spots you told me about and use that old cane pole my wife had to have. Maybe we could have even gotten the line wet.
But...we had to get home...work to do.
Michael Libbie - Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications gosh it's great to learn from others...now to put some of it in practice. Thanks again for reading.