Some days I don’t even want to get out of bed but on this recent Friday morning I woke up and was just ready to go. My wife, Cathy has been looking at car web sites for a new minivan and I decided that today we were going to buy a new van. It simply felt like the right day to get it done!
We are in show business. No, not actors on a stage nor even movies, but we produce Gun Shows or Arms Fairs as we like to call them, and have had our share of TV notoriety over the years. The only reason I digress a bit about our business is that it seems that is all we get to do – do business.
So, no exception today, up early but a lot of questions to answer from phone messages, computer Emails plus advertising to check on – all just a routine day that eclipsed an early morning into almost noon; let’s go get a car, we’re wasting time!
Of course, just because I wake up and want to do something surely doesn’t mean that I am going to have it go my way. After all, today we were supposed to meet someone in Glens Falls to buy a collection and on the way also stop at a repair station in Saratoga and have our springs checked on our minivan. And, of course, take care of the rest of the routine that all small business owners must do daily. Working for yourself doesn’t necessarily mean that you can do what you want to do, like “go fishing!” Forget about it!
A light breakfast, some coffee, some business, let’s go; about noon-thirty we were out the door, then bank, post office, then head north from Stillwater. It was a beautiful sunny day, dry with a slight chill for this late May time period and the drive around Saratoga Lake was quite nice. We noticed the absolutely stunning homes that have been built where old camps used to be and commented to each other on how the area has changed so much since the 1980’s when no one even wanted to buy a place on the lake. Today you could spend $100,000 or more just to tear down some old camp and build a dream house mansion. What a different world our kids will live in, certainly a more clean and beautiful one in this area.
We were at Matt’s about 1:00 but all their bays were in use so our Chrysler Town and Country couldn’t get the spring inspection we wanted. I didn’t realize that every Tom, Dick and Harry auto repair couldn’t do suspension work – or wanted to. Years ago we bought our “Old Bess” 16 foot box truck from Matt’s Service Center to haul our tables to gun shows and have done business there for years, all pleasant I must add. Well, we told them we would be back in a half hour or so.
We still had plenty of time to make our 4 PM appointment up north so we continued up Route 9 to Nemer Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram of Saratoga to see a vehicle or two. Cathy had downloaded a half-dozen offers from various dealers through Edmunds.com and she had already spoken to Lindsey at Nemer to look at a 2015 top of the line Chrysler in black, with all the whistles just like what we are driving now but in silver. Cathy likes blue.
We travel a lot to our various Gun Shows and I load up the car pretty good with iron in gun cases so we need comfort, performance and room. I found that the Chrysler Stow ‘n Go feature with the heavy duty hauling package is an ideal vehicle for a Gun Show dealer. Automatic doors and tailgate make it easy to load and unload and the interior floor space can fit a 4’ X 8’ sheet of plywood flat and straight. With that amount of room we can distribute a heavy load evenly with a very comfortable and smooth drive.
Well, regardless, when I enter a car dealership I naturally have an attitude of me against all of them! With stern face and aggravated body language (glancing around like this was a den of vampires) some unfortunate lady asked if I needed help. I informed her I was looking for Lindsey, who she would go and find. After greeting Lindsey, who happened to be standing next to the sales manager, I said, “I’m here to buy a top of the line Chrysler and I want to dispense with all the crap and be on my way!” Manager Jamie said he would make sure we got what we wanted and we started looking at cars.
A young fellow was directed to bring up a 2015 Town and Country; Cathy nearly puked, $30,000 and tan? “What happened to the $40,000 black one with the works?” she asked. “That is what we came up to see!” Then Meghan took us out back to “the lot”. There was her black car but with a $32,000 price tag.
We looked in and out, no trailer hitch, no power folding rear seat, no sun roof, no Michelins – no good, I thought! But I sat in the driver seat and played with the buttons while Cathy went looking for something else. I pushed the shift to reverse and the back-up camera screen showed me how much room I had to park this thing – so I did. Meanwhile, Cathy had Meghan pull out another Town and Country next to my black one. Hers was blue! Hers had a sun roof and Michelin tires and everything she wanted – including the $40,000 price tag – with 10 miles on the odometer, but it was a 2014! Cathy found her car. We took it for a quick drive to check for wind noise and ease of handling and it was fine, including the blind spot sensor feature in the mirrors.
Now to the haggle, I wanted $10,000 off – after all it was a year old and blue -- and without a trailer hitch. Well, with some negotiations of give and take, Cathy got her car. Literally – got her car that same day – within hours of when we came in we were driving her new car to our appointment in South Glens Falls on its first business trip!
With a phone call and return fax of our insurance certificate, and Nemer being set up to grant a temporary registration (permanent one comes in the mail), then they installed new license plates as we did still keep the old silver lady, they detailed the 2014, filled the tank with gas and then Cathy’s checkbook made it all happen. I never knew one could buy a car and drive it off the lot the same day – what a new world I am discovering!
Buying at Nemer Motors was like visiting family you knew you didn’t like but then discovering they were really nice relatives. We actually enjoyed buying a car at Nemer. And, of course, we talked about guns and our Saratoga Springs Arms Fair we have produced at the City Center for the past 32 years. I think I may try to get them to exhibit at our next event in August and show a vehicle to our gun folks.
Pretty good day so far. An hour late but we still made our appointment to buy a collection of Autumn Leaf china made by Hall Company and sold decades ago through the Jewel Tea traveling salesmen. We buy and sell more than collector and investment firearms, we also buy several patterns of Hall china. Our NEACA.com website shows pieces of Hall we offer for sale as one of the largest dealers of this pattern. And we also collect. Well, we came, we saw, we bought, we left – all without lunch and just a light breakfast; Cathy and I were famished and now it was nearly 7 PM.
We needed to stop again at Nemers to pick up our other Town and Country and we remembered passing the Wishing Well Restaurant so on our way back down Route 9 we stopped there for dinner. We entered through their bar, which was very nice, with a “horsey” flair because of the proximity of the Saratoga Race Track, a few miles down the road. We had never been to the Wishing Well before.
After greetings, our very pleasant hostess sat us at a table for four – what I like – with elbow room and comfortable chairs. Next to us was a gentleman who greeted me with, “I know you, Gun Shows!” Told you we were in show business – celebrities too! I thanked him and said, “I wish you had already ordered so I could see what is good on the menu.” I usually look around in a restaurant to see what the folks have ordered and generally start a conversation with strangers. Hey, after all, it’s a night out; might as well meet someone, you never know where a conversation may lead. Besides, we are friendly people, and evidently, celebrities!
Started off with my usual Jack Daniel’s Manhattan, dirty rocks on the side, Cathy with a single malt Rob Roy. I was impressed when the hostess showed her an extensive Scotch list, Cathy settled for 12 year old Glenfiddich; never ruin the 18 year old with vermouth! Then some simply delectable New England lobster bisque with a touch of Sherry. A real close competition to my own but I am slightly biased! Being famished we also needed the Escargot, four in shells and 5 bathed in a very nice butter and garlic sauce, just enough to share as hors d’oeuvre. We both were also half sauced with one drink after not eating all day so we were definitely ready to order; Cathy picked the pair of 4 ounce filet mignons and I had a pair of Maryland crab cakes. Both came with green beans and potato croquet so we also shared each other’s paired course.
You could not wish for a more melt in the mouth, tender steak and their perfect crab cake than we had at the Wishing Well. Their sign says fine dining and we certainly dined finely. The service was terrific and our excellent waitress, Kylee, was super. The atmosphere was of a fine dining experience among friends and we were well pleased, especially when Bob Lee, the proprietor stopped by and inquired of our meals and satisfaction, something which is rather rare in today’s world.
We conversed about the food and our business, I told him that some of our Saratoga gun dealers raved about the food here and how they visit when they are in town at our Arms Fair, but that today was our first experience even though we have done business in Saratoga for years. With that Bob offered a courtesy drink which we declined so we ended our meal with great desserts on his bill; Crème Brulee for Cathy and a combination of two of my favorite snacks, an iron skillet baked, fresh chocolate chip cookie, topped with butter pecan ice cream.
What a great meal, then we talked guns – Bob had told me that he and his son were at our past March Saratoga Arms Fair and also had a half dozen long guns hanging over his back bar and asked if I would take a look and perhaps apprise him of any information, which I obligingly did. Turns out the bartender also lives in Mechanicville and used to work at the old Clover Leaf Tavern, only a few blocks north from our Hudson River Trading Company shop on North Main Street.
A fine meal, seemingly small world, great people we’ve met, some business mixed with pleasure, new acquisitions to our collection, talk of my favorite subject – guns, a terrific new “blue” Chrysler Town and Country Limited Platinum and full tummies; we could not have planned better for such a really great day.