On a recent weekend filled with deliveries for the countless fund raisers our children have participated in, not to mention household chores, homework reminders and a headache I was trying to ignore, all I wanted to do on Sunday afternoon was sit down, turn on some Elvis tunes and stare out the window for a little while. Instead, I put my shoes back on and went to the open house retirement celebration for Erv and Bernie Krosch.
The couple recently sold the Morris Dairy Queen after many, many years of owning and operating the business. And how else to celebrate a long history of providing treats than to once again have treats?
Of course, there was coffee and cake, but the real treat was a table full of photographs and newspaper clippings that documented the business' growth, the changes in staff and the relative lack of change in Erv's hairstyle.
It was a blast to see who had worked at the DQ over the years and the different uniforms they got to wear. But the most laughs came from the pictures of those frog races and Crazy Days costumes. Wow!
While I expected both Erv and Bernie to be excited and relieved to put those 90+ hour work weeks behind them, they were as much nervous about the future as thankful for the opportunities.
They both spoke about the importance of working hard, networking, ethics, service to your customers and family. With his children standing nearby, ready to offer another piece of cake or a cup of coffee, Erv readily admitted that being a business owner bring with it sacrifices, especially related to family. But there's no better way to teach your children the value of an honest day's work than to show them.
What was tremendously obvious is that these folks liked to work.
Erv was already missing the day-to-day interaction with customers/friends at the store. He noted who always ordered the chicken salad and how he could tell what time it was by the folks at the counter.
I laughed and agreed that there is a certain rhythm and continuity to the town.
Then it hit me what the Kroschs' retirement means for me. I'll have to remember to call and order the cake with a penguin on it for my husband's birthday this year. For the last few years, Bernie has simply made one, expecting that I'll rush in late in the afternoon on the day of Jim's birthday, hoping she had one. Which of course, she did. That kind of service is, to borrow an oft-used commercial phrase, priceless.
And yet it is one of the many perks of living in a small community. You know the people working in the stores and they care about you. This is more than they care about your business, this is a genuine concern for you and your family, your work and your interests. At no extra charge.
These two business owners have put the sweat equity into their own success and no one deserves a little time off more than Erv and Bernie Krosch.
The problem might be that they're not sure how to wake up later than the crack of dawn or how to drive anywhere but to the store.
Now, I know that the Kroschs' story isn't that unusual among business owners. Long hours, hard work and a commitment to the community are necessary elements to any successful venture. But it seems that we're all so caught up in our own long hours, hard work and community obligations that we often forget to recognize and appreciate that others are making the effort as well.
Congratulations and best wishes to Erv and Bernie Krosch on their retirement.
And thanks to the many, many other hardworking business owners in Morris who make this a community, not just a place to live.