Recently, I had a conversation with Mr. Jim Humphrey. He is the Co-owner of A.V. TROPHY & UNIFORM CO, along with his wife Mary. This business is located at 44805 Beech Avenue in Lancaster, California and has been operating since 1956. When I asked him about the history of Lancaster Blvd., he paused and thought for a while and then said: “back then, life was less complex”. Mr. Humphrey has been working there for fifty two years.
He has mixed feelings about the changes happening at the Blvd. On one hand, he loves to see more families and people assisting to the events sponsored by the city. Those people support the local economy. At every event they park by his business, making it more visible since it is near the Blvd.On the other hand, he sees a lot of danger when driving there during the week; people just cross the street without looking at the road, they just focus on their cell phones, and that’s the concern of many businesses owners.
Mr. Humphrey is a man with tremendous experience and he knows that his business doesn’t have a lot of foot traffic; his store is not for impulse-buyers, when people need his services they will find him, especially since he has served many of the same families for generations.
I asked him about his experience when his photo was taken by our team member, Jane Szabo, for #CountMeIn. He really enjoyed it because photography is one of his hobbies. He watched very attentively how she prepared before taking the photos. She really knows what she is doing and it’s nice to have people in our store learning about what we do here for our community.
When I asked him about the census, he paused, drank some water and then told me that it is imperative for our entire state to have a realistic view of what we are dealing with. This is not a blue or red issue, it is about how people’s lives are going to be affected. You see, he said, the government will try to provide for our needs but only if we participate and are counted.
What do you think would be the best way to bring this message to our community, I asked him? His expression changed before giving his answer. “I think it is probably a bit tricky, particularly because being a big city, we do not have a local TV station, can you believe that? I used to go home and religiously watch what happen in our beloved Valley and the newspaper, not being what once was and how expensive it is now days, it is very difficult to be informed.” What you are doing is refreshing, you are informing us and by doing so, we can share that information with our customers; look at the window, I posted the flyer for #CountMeIn where people can see it.
His message to the community is to keep investing in local businesses, shop in our city, make us grow strong, and, if you want a change, register to vote and be counted. With a big smile he said, did you know Lancaster is one of the friendliest cities to do business with? As our conversation was coming to an end, the phone rang, it was a customer asking for an especial order. Mr. Humphrey listened very carefully and. when she finished, he said “unfortunately we don’t do this type of engraving” and explained why. Then, what he said next, surprised me: please, call this number, it is from our friends in Palmdale, they have the equipment you need for your special order, they are very professional and I highly recommend them. Before I asked, he said “we are the only two businesses of this kind in the Antelope Valley that have survived, and sharing this information keeps us in business”.
Our conversation was supposed to be about ten minutes, but it lasted about an hour and forty five minutes instead. I learned so much from him; in fact, I learned that he is probably one of the few people in our community using the MS-DOS operating system on one of his machines. He allowed me to take some photos of him with his favorite trophy.
I thanked him for his precious time, for sharing with me that success comes with hard work, and for showing me first hand that community means “all of us.”