Tuesday, November 22, 2011

"Yeah, we've got that"

The incessant water running from the bathtub/shower faucet couldn’t be ignored so I called the building mechanics.  Taken apart I’m told I need a new cartridge and that no, I won’t be able to get it from any of the nearby hardware stores.  So an hour ‘L’ ride and short walk finds me in front of a nondescript, narrow brick building on N Elston. 

The Faucet Shoppe is not much bigger than my bedroom.  On the customer side of the counter are a multitude of toilets in various states of completeness.  Behind the counter stand two guys in what I presume are their mid-thirties taking care of customers in rapid succession.  Behind them are shelves and drawers from floor to ceiling.

I was told to tell them that my part is from a Kohler but this proves to be unnecessary becaude by the time I place it on the counter it’s identified and I’m told the part is “one of their best sellers” (good job Kohler!).  In the span of five minutes I have the replacement part, told the price—“yeah for that amount you’d think it’d be all brass, but Kohler isn’t what it used to be”—wished a happy thanksgiving and my charge rung up.

Well it is almost worth it to come across this business which is far more interesting to me than the type that gets covered in Business Week or Fortune.  There is only a hint of any kind of organization here, but these guys know where everything is and know the parts and repairs they’re dealing with cold.  And obviously business is good.  There were five customers before me when I enter and about two or three waiting when I’m done and this on a Tuesday afternoon.

I'd love to ask them what revenue and profits are, how the business got started (their dad or so I'm told) and how they keep a handle on inventory.  I'd also love to have a business just like it.

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