Hodge: Business closure marks loss of communal gathering spot

For two decades ‘Super Dave’ Stratton plied his trade of antique furniture restoration by day, camaraderie by night.

The closing of yet another business in Kelowna probably went by without much notice.

But the closure of Super Dave’s Craftsmen on Dayton Avenue marked the end of an era for his many friends and customers.

For two decades ‘Super Dave’ Stratton plied his trade of antique furniture restoration and repair to the pleasure of thousands of clients in the Okanagan Valley.

During that time, a cavalcade of characters were either employed or became regular visitors to the shop.

For many of us Super Dave’s was much more than just a furniture restoration business, it was a unique place to gather after hours for some fellowship and frivolity.

When a workday was done one (and sometimes two) large work tables were converted into snooker tables with the removal of the thick plywood sheets that covered their top.

An eclectic, mixed bag of characters would gather to shoot pool and shoot the breeze.

For eight years or so, I was a regular and admit my pool game was greatly honed by the experience.

Of greater value were the variety of fascinating individuals I came to know simply through that connection.

Stratton attracted a diverse plethora of people, fellows from priests to politicians, teachers, millionaires, bikers and street people.

Each was treated with the same amount of respect and friendship by all who gathered for the fellowship.

It’s surprising how a couple of pool tables and a fridge of homemade beer can become a magnet for folks from such varied business backgrounds and lifestyles.

Sign makers, house painters, graphic artists, musicians, magicians, doctors, hotel owners, business owners of various genre, lawyers, doctors, writers…the list was endless. So was the laughter.

Four-footed friends were just as welcome if not more. Everyone brought their dog to the shop for pool night.

It was not uncommon to have more dogs at the shop than people.

In most cases, the dogs were better behaved. I remember one evening when 13 guys and 16 dogs showed up.

Many of those gathered had first come into Stratton’s life as clients or employees or subcontractors.

They in turn introduced others and the circle continued to grow. It was around 2001 when I first returned from Vancouver Island that my buddy Jim Krahn invited me.

Jim’s neighbouring business shared a spray booth with Super Dave’s.

When I walked in the door, it was much like a homecoming since I knew the majority of those around me that night.

I can’t begin to count the number of nights when I would return home with my stomach sore from laughing so hard.

It’s true that not much proves more healing than laughter. It was that healing that drew many to the shop as they went through changes in life, career, health or fortune.

It was also a place one could go to either talk about or forget about your bad day, broken heart, or bad mood.

It was difficult to stay depressed around the crowd at the shop.

Regardless the reason, there was always an open door, cold beer, and warm conversation awaiting.

Visiting Super Dave’s was akin to walking into ‘Cheers’—everyone knew your name and a hearty welcome greeted you as you came through the door.

It was not only a place to laugh but a place to learn and sometimes just a place to leave it all behind. Indeed it was a special place.

I had recently completed my biography on Howie Meeker when I first frequented Super Dave’s, so on a visit to town I invited Howie to join me.

A natural athlete with incredible hand-eye coordination, Howie never blinked at the suggestion and faster than one could say, “golly gee whiz” we were in the car headed for Super Dave’s.

While a number of characters were in brief awe and surprise at the presence of Mr. Meeker in their midst, it did not take long before Howie was just one of the boys.

Especially after he kicked a few butts in pool and the kibitzing began.

Years later, Howie still asks me how the boys are at the shop.

So last week when Stratton finally closed the doors to his business, it literally marked the end of an era.

Dave is not done. He will resurface (excuse the pun) somewhere. At well past retirement age, he intends to downscale his work. Stay tuned for his new location.

The change also meant relocation of Jim Krahn’s JK Fine Woodworking.

Krahn builds things you can’t find anywhere else and he builds them well.

A gifted artist and sculptor, Krahn applies his same skill and craftsmanship to his work, as can be witnessed with some of his restoration work currently taking place at St. Michael’s and All Angels Anglican Church.

No job is too big or too small for Mr. Krahn, but job requests are now made by appointment only.

For contact information on either individual feel free to email me at charliehodge 333@gmail.com.

To Dave and Jim, and the many others, thanks for the memories.

 

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