Blasts from the Bloomery . . .

© Rob Edwards

published in ANVIL Magazine, January 1997

It's been about 12 years since I was teaching farrier science at a junior college in Colorado. Of the general education courses the students were required to take, a couple were business classes. And did they ever hate them! Doing foundered pony feet was far better than sitting through a boring, gawd-awful business class. Ugh . . . spinach!

A couple of years ago I happened to be visiting a friend of mine at his father's house, a horseshoer of some thirty-plus years. His dad's friend of thirty-some years was there as well. He is also a horseshoer. They were telling us how they had managed to run all the other horseshoers off over the years, thereby keeping most of the local horsehoeing business for themselves. They were exchanging reassuring nods back and forth, obviously very proud of the monopoly they had established.

But all was not well in the kingdom. Alas, both were reaching the maximum number of horses allotted to each of their bodies and both were only 58 years old. Stooped over, they were both obviously aching here and there from the years of hard use. It would be four years before they would be eligible to collect Social Security. . . years that looked as though they were going to be pretty painful. Both of their wives had started working several years earlier when the future became all too clear to them.

I just couldn't help asking for the secret of their success in capturing all the local horsehoeing work. Well, they explained, as they nodded confidently back and forth, they both made it a point to charge less than any of the newcomers, so naturally there was never a reason for their customers to switch. Why, between the two of them, they had probably shod more horses than any other two horseshoers in the state for thirty years.

This month we are focusing on business and with features by Chris Gregory, Doyal Teel, Scott Simpson, Linda Ralston Jones and Bob Peacock, there's plenty of spinach. Eat up . . . it could save your life.

The reason people pass one door
To patronize another store,
Is not because the busier place
Has better silks or gloves or lace,
Or cheaper prices, but it lies
In pleasant words and smiling eyes;
the only difference, I believe,
is in the treatment folks receive.

© Edgar A. Guest

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