Saturday, March 15, 2014


The other day Priscilla and I were working at the trading post when a skinny fifty-something woman walked in. The woman was maybe 5' 10" and 130 pounds. She had shoulder length salt and pepper hair that hung straight down, big brown eyes aided by large, heavy rimmed glasses; her face was pleasant. She wore an oversized grey sweatshirt with "Oregon" printed across the chest, green straight-legged jeans and faded blue deck shoes with no socks. Priscilla greeted her and struck-up a conversation as the woman looked around the store. A few minutes into their discussion a man popped in, stood there holding the door open for a moment while he absorbed his surroundings and proclaimed, "I can't afford to be in here!" He promptly turned and started to leave. At that point, if I could have discerned the future, I would have let him go. Unfortunately I was incapable of doing so and blurted-out, "We don't charge to look."

Santo Domingo Indian Mountain Turquoise with Jacla Bead Necklace - Ray Lovato (#126)

The guy came in saying, "Well in that case . . . ." He was dressed in khaki shorts and a tan, button-down camp shirt. He too was fifty-something years of age and approximately 5' 10". His full head of hair was mostly white, as was his scraggly beard. He was easily 250 pounds and his clothes were wrinkled and looked well-worn. My wife would have called him "frumpy looking". Because he saddled right-up to the skinny lady, Priscilla and I figured they were together. We soon discovered the guy was hugely outspoken and that we should have encouraged him to continue his exit strategy when we had the chance. He soon let fly comments like, "Wow, I can't get prices like these for my beads." and "Honey, we should move here and set-up a store, we would be rich in no time." Before long I decided obnoxious would be a good word to describe the guy. The skinny lady just went on looking without a word, as if her beau was saying more than enough for the both of them."

My interest piqued, I asked curiously, "What kind of beads do you sell?" He walked over to the case containing Ray Lovato's turquoise necklaces, pointed out several and said. "Just like that, that and that." "You sell high-grade, natural turquoise?" I queried. "Yes," he replied, "just like those you have in the case." At that point I recognized a cloud of doubt passing over the skinny woman's face. It seemed she was fighting to restrain a comment. Seeing her reaction, and wondering at her thoughts, I queried on. The guy told me he had a bead shop on the Oregon coast and went to Tucson every year to attend the gem and mineral show to buy gemstone beads. "Who do you buy from?" I asked. He told me he bought Kingman turquoise beads from Marty Colbaugh and Sleeping Beauty beads from Dan Courvoisier. Mr. Frump went on to tell me it was unusual for him to pay in excess of $100.00 per strand. At that point things became clear to me."

"Well", I said, pressing my point, "I believe we are comparing apples to oranges. I know those guys and their product. They do not, will not, cannot, sell high-grade natural turquoise beads for anywhere near $100.00 per strand." I continued, "And that is to say nothing about them being made in the USA by Ray Lovato or any other prominent Native American artist." Mr. Frump "harrumphed" with disdain and said, "Well I will take your apple and eat your orange, because you are dead wrong." At this point I knew I was dealing with a fruit basket mixed with a hand-full of nuts. My thoughts were confirmed when the skinny lady walked up to her man, slipped her hand into his and squeezed lightly. Like her, I decided then and there it was time to change the subject and move past our disagreement. To get back on track we talked about their shop, what other products they sold and how they managed to be away from their shop for extended periods. I also discovered the skinny woman was an artist in her own right. By the end of our visit I figured we were back on good terms."

We said our good-byes, and as the couple headed out the door Priscilla and I heard Mr. Frump say to the skinny lady, "That guy was a real nincompoop!" Priscilla busted-out laughing and said, "You shouldn't argue with customers, even when you are right you are wrong." I snorted in acknowledgment, and told Priscilla, "That sounds exactly like advice I was given by a wise old sage when Laurie and I were married. He said, "Never fight with your sweetheart, because even if you win you loose." He was spot on! For the remainder of the day, whenever Priscilla thought back on Mr. Frump's parting shot she would say to herself, "nincompoop" and begin laughing all over again. I hate to be the butt of a joke, but in this case it seems well deserved."

With warm regards,
Barry, Steve, Priscilla and Danny; the team.

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