Where are you from?
“I live in Seaview but I’m from Surfside. I was born in Gig Harbor and we moved down here when I was about two. My dad asked my mom, ‘If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live? And she said she wanted the ocean in her front yard and the beach in her backyard.’”
What’s your work history?
“I’ve done everything under the sun. I’ve worked in fast food, construction, roofing, machine shops and tire shops.”
How long have you worked in retail?
“I’ve worked for Stormin Norman’s for over a year now. I’ve been working at Carnival Gifts for the past five months. Last summer they bounced me around a lot — I was at a different store different days.”
Are you glad to be in one spot?
“Yes, and this is the second biggest store [that Russell Maize and the late Chris Summerer own].”
What are some of the primary products on the shelves?
“We have a lot of Kikkerland products and Schylling toys. I’ve been trying to get more of the Schylling retro toys. I had a kid come in the other day and he didn’t know what a Yo-Yo was. I was a Yo-Yo master when I was a kid so I had to show him some tricks like ‘Walk The Dog’ and ‘Around the World.’”
What are the most popular items?
“What do I sell the most? Sweatshirts. I sell a lot of shot glasses, coffee mugs and magnets. But really sweatshirts are the number one seller— we sell them like crazy. Toys and sunglasses are big. We also sell a lot of swimsuits because a lot of hotels have pools or Jacuzzis and nobody brings their swimsuits.”
What part of your job do you enjoy the most?
“Talking to people, definitely. I love this job. I get to talk to so many cool people and deal with so much cool stuff. The bike brings in a lot of people too.”
What’s the most egregious thing a customer has ever done?
“I would have to say the snow globe story. We have little, magnetic snow globes and sometimes when people turn the rack they fall and break, then they will hide it instead of picking it up. It drives me nuts because a little kid could grab it and cut themselves.”
OK, so tell me more about the bike and why you wear a top hat.
“You can’t imagine how many people I talk to just about the hat and the bike. I was, once upon a time, the guy that just wanted to blend into the crowd. I didn’t want my picture taken or anyone to know my name, I wanted to be invisible. Then one day I thought, ‘well that’s stupid, that’s what everyone else is doing,’ so I put on a top hat and embraced my mechanical love for the world. I love to build stuff like my bike and other contraptions.”
What are your other contraptions?
“I also have a 1967 John Deere lawn tractor, ‘The Dapper Mobile.’ It’s really rare. When you hear it running it has a big ‘Weeeeeeee’ sound, that’s the straight-cut gears talking. It’s a beautiful sound. It was on a pile about to get thrown away. It’s not that dapper yet, but it’s in the works. I’m going to do some pin striping, headlights and taillights and auxiliary fuel tank.”
And you drive it to work daily. Why not a car?
“When I was 24, I was stupid and drove a car into a ditch doing 80 mph because I was drunk. I have not gotten my license back because I have a sailboat and thought I didn’t need a car or license to go sailing. Since then I’ve decided to sell my sailboat.”
Where did your interest in building things begin?
“My grandfather owned a semi truck company. When I saw that wrench on the wall, I was inspired. I never went to school or college, I learned it all myself. I grew up in my dad’s shop and he had a Volkswagen and a Meyers Manx Dune Buggy. We put a 1600 CC Volkswagen engine in it and bore it out. We put a five-speed bus transmission in it. It would stand up and pop wheelies.”
What does the future hold?
“I’m going to buy an old school bus, turn it into a cabin and make it fully electric with solar panels. It’s going to be an off-the-grid bus and I’m going to go travel the desert to a place called Slab City (In the Sonoran Desert in southern California). I’m going to try to start ‘Mad Max’s Air Conditioned Bar.’ I’m going to bring my own still and brew my own booze. I’ll charge people to come and drink booze in my air-conditioned tent. We’ll see, maybe I’ll change that idea in another month. Life is an adventure.”