Today was my final day of working at the Four Dog Stove booth.
The friendly, playful exchanges between owner Don Kivelus and the potential customers standing on the other side of his expansive three tables of survival and wilderness wares kept passers-by within spending reach.
Don, his friend Mike McClelland and I spent all day selling items and supporting the hikers in various ways.
Don would occasionally react with unexpected generosity to a customer, creating additional good will with the hikers. He did this with a group of Boy Scouts who swooped down upon the sheath knife selections. I was watching them out of the corner of my eye while Don was busy selling a Bushcooker LT1 set- up and suspected that there would be concern about sending these young guys walking away en masse with deadly sharp implements of laceration. Don eventually engaged with two of the boys, kindly informing them that they would have to bring over a parent to agree to any knife sales. Dejected, they left, only to return a bit later with their Scout Master who agreed to assume responsibility in supervising the application of knife skills. Don sweetened the pot after a half dozen of them purchased $15 Moro-type fixed blade sheath knives by donating to the troop several instructional booklets on knife sharpening as well as a copy of “Bushcraft” by Mors Kochanski, a book considered by survival experts to be on, if not on top of, the list of most useful resources in terms of bush skills.
Later Don befriended a lanky young thru hiker from Holland, and sat him down inside the booth, where Don fed him sandwiches and home made energy bars and wished him the best on his hike to Maine.
We sold most of a large box of titanium tent stakes at $1 a piece, demolishing the competition who were selling them for $2.50 each. Many people came into the Four Dog fold after seeing the sign for discounted stakes. Four Dog is currently the only US maker of titanium tent stakes, allowing for much lower price to consumer due to bypassing import costs from China. Don fabricates the stakes from a supply of titanium wire that is purchased in bulk. One competitor praised Don for his business acumen, even after the vendor purchased a handful, after admitting that he, and at least one other vendor weren’t selling many of their own $2.50 ti tent stakes this weekend.
I have a bit of the carnival barker in me too, and surprised a lady who had been pestering Don for three days in her personal quest to barter him down, on the $1 tent stake deal, of all things. He wouldn’t budge, but I pulled a dollar out of my pocket, and bought a stake that I gave her, praising her for her persistence. It made her day. She gave me a big hug and thanked us for providing her with so much fun over the course of the weekend.
Working in the Four Dog Stove booth this weekend allowed me to observe an angle of Trail Days that was previously oblivious to me, when I participated as a hiker.
I could live in this town. I wonder how hot it really gets here in the summer?