Wood Working: Taking care of business makes for happy campersI’ve a message for would be entrepreneurs that I’ve learned from long experience.
By: Dave Wood, columnist, River Falls Journal
I’ve a message for would be entrepreneurs that I’ve learned from long experience.
First, I’m not an entrepreneur.
My last try at that was when I delivered the old Republican Herald out of Winona to 85 customers in Whitehall.
The Republican Herald was a fine newspaper and that’s why it needed three paperboys for our little town.
Today, it barely circulates at home because a huge corporation took it over and proceeded to ignore it.
My later brushes with entrepreneurism were mostly anecdotal. Stuff I’ve picked up over the years.
Years ago, for instance, we found an ad for a mom-and-pop resort in a well-known northern Wisconsin town and bit, unlike the fish we didn’t find in its lake on the following week.
We checked in at the office, which smelled so powerfully of cat urine that I left the building with my eyes watering.
My Beautiful Wife and my sister and our niece entered the cabin to find worn linoleum on the floor, sofas with springs protruding from filthy upholstery, and one of those metal shower stalls covered in rust that went BOOM BOOM whenever our butts hit the walls.
I had to lasso my fussy sister to keep her from walking home to River Falls. I sat her down, made her a slice of toast on the finger-burning little toaster the owners had bought with Green Stamps and told her to make the best of it.
(We did that by spending every evening at expensive supper clubs to ease the depression that set whenever we entered our cabin, which was bedecked with Biblical posters that warned us to “Be Prepared to Meet Thy God,” etc. etc.)
On the bright side, I won the weekly prize for largest fish. A two-inch sunny that earned me a coupon to the downtown masseuse, which my sister quickly commandeered to solve the ache in her back from sleeping on the rollaway in the living room.
Pretty obviously, we never returned to Edenic paradise. And were about to swear off further trips to Wisconsin’s north country.
And then, almost by accident, we discovered Barb’s Last Resort in tiny Mikana just north of Rice Lake.
It, too, was a mom-and-pop affair.
Just a few cabins that had been recently renovated turned out to be just the ticket for two couples and a weekend adventure.
Larry and Jane Harred and Ruth and I have been going to the Last Resort every Labor Day and every Memorial Day for the past five years. And not one spring has sprung out of any upholstery since we began.
Moreover, every year, the place gets better and better. That’s because Barb keeps remodeling even though she’s just remodeled a year or so before.
One of our favorite cabins had just been redecorated when we plopped down our suitcases last month.
New paint job, new cupboards, new bar and, would you believe, a new gold toilet seat next to the new sink and the beautifully tiled shower with new fixtures.
Normally we eat out lots in the Mikana area because the supper clubs are various and reasonable.
On the first night we partook of walleye across from our cabin at Quillan’s Black Bear, an archetypal Wisconsin eating palace with stuffed bears staring down on you from every nook and cranny.
But our cabin was so pleasant we took most of our meals on the premises, which sported new glassware, a fine TV and a toaster so sleek and technological that I thought it might be taking off for the moon.
Barb stopped by to say hi as we sat on the newly power-washed and sealed deck.
She asked if we needed anything and Ruth, who takes all questions seriously, said “We could use some towel bars in our bedrooms.”
(Oh come on, Ruth. Don’t you think Barb has enough to do on Memorial Day weekend?)
In the morning, Barb saw Ruth and waved her towel bars in the air.
And that’s my entrepreneurial story for the year, and that’s why we’re still going up north to Barb’s Last Resort.
Dave would like to hear from you. Phone him at 715-426-9554.