So long, Eco Relics! I’m hanging up my steel toes. About two and a half years ago, my wife and I bought a fixer-upper in a Riverside neighborhood not far from where I grew up. We bought it from a flipper who got cold feet after getting a few estimates and just wanted to get his investment back, which was about what a person might expect to pay for an empty lot of a similar size. The market had determined that building didn’t actually have any value.
I’ve been fixing, scrubbing, hammering, taping, bolting, gluing, sanding, polishing, painting, and waxing for about as long as I can remember. When I saw the 1920s bungalow with the covered front porch, I looked past the toilet falling through the floor, the dicey wiring, the unsalvageable kitchen, the rusted out water heater in the attic and the signs of water damage below it, the hulk of a non-functional oil heater beneath the holes in the floor, the enormous rotting oak tree growing just inches off the roof, overhanging the whole house like a guillotine, and the associated drainage problem where the base of the tree met the foundation.
I looked past all that and more because, although this was the biggest project I had yet taken on, I had plenty of experience bringing things back from the brink, doing the repairs landlords won’t do for tenants in a certain rent range, rescuing abandoned bicycles, keeping my truck running, and the like. I decided that with a DIY attitude, lots of sweat, and less money than anyone would reasonably assume, I could whip this house into shape in short order. I gave myself six months.
Ah, the boldness of youth. Six months later, the house had certainly transformed but it still had a long way to go before the city would deem it habitable. I was getting started on windows and doors, every single one needed attention. (See my article on rehabbing your double-hung sash windows!) A couple of the sashes were rotten beyond saving and my efforts to locate a replacement 5-panel door on the cheap were coming up nil. I reached out to a contractor buddy, someone who does a lot of historic restoration, and he asked me if I’d been to this new place, Eco Relics.
Eco Relics! It was a godsend! Oh I got my sashes and door, alright. I also scored cabinets and decorative shelf hardware for the kitchen, plumbing fixtures for the kitchen and bathroom, medicine cabinet, cast iron tub, enough old growth heart pine to patch up the trim and floor throughout the house, and more. I found historically appropriate materials from a local supplier! And I saved enough money on the lot to cover overruns in other budget areas and then some. But I also got priceless advice and genuine interest in my project from the impressively knowledgeable and enthusiastic staff.
I had budgeted for a six month stint that was clearly going to stretch out past a year and it was looking like I’d need to pick up a part time job to stay afloat in the meantime. That was over two years ago, and I’ve been working at Eco Relics ever since. It was a perfect fit. I have never said that about a job before. Annie and Michael, the Eco Relics founders, convinced me that what they are building here is more than just a business. They found good people and let them do their thing. Along the way, those people developed a culture of hard work and camaraderie that corporate chains never manage, no matter how hard they try to whip it into their employees. With Eco Relics approaching a three year anniversary, it is becoming clear what the Eco Relics crew can do.
My coworkers never cease to amaze me. I’ve gotten to know some of them a little better when I’ve written “Meet the Crew” articles for the newsletter. But many more haven’t gotten that attention yet. Can you imagine every item at Eco Relics having important data attached to it? What is it? Where and when did we get it? How much did it cost? EVERY SINGLE ITEM! One single person keeps the books at Eco Relics. You might not ever see her when you cruise the warehouse, but Cassy is up in the office keeping records that would make a team of accountants’ heads spin. And she manages to smile throughout the day, regardless.
Remember our little cat named Pearl? She was having a hard time with Eco, our feline mascot and known cat bully, and it looked like she just wasn’t feeling at home as an Eco Relics cat. So Angie decided to take her home, displaying the kind of soft-heartedness the whole crew has grown to love about her. Angie also decided to make herself a lighting expert and organize the entire lighting department just because it was something she thought needed doing!
In my short time at Eco Relics, I’ve also watched my friends Nate and Billy work their way into management positions and I’ve seen the positive effect their leadership has had. I’ve made friends with local legend Eddie Cotton, a terror on the six string and Eco Relics’ finest conversationalist. My colleagues, one and all, are fine people that I have grown to love and appreciate. They have collectively built Eco Relics into a working family.
Truth time. You’ve read this far and you deserve a little gossip. These last two-plus years amount to the longest I’ve ever held a job. When I don’t like things, I move onw pretty quickly. Burning bridges is my specialty. Before this gig, I was an adjunct history professor for a wink. Architectural draftsman before that. I pretended I was going to play politics in college (the first time), ended up as a bicycle mechanic. I’ve made a few bucks with music on the side. There’s been plenty of other jobs I’d rather not remember. But Eco Relics is the only place I’ve worked where I am sad to go. Thanks for everything, everyone!
Although I won’t be punching the clock in the break room anymore, I’ll still be around Eco Relics. I still have work to do on my house, after all. Look, I’m not a marketer. I won’t be writing for another company after this. The only reason I could write the things I have written about Eco Relics is because I believe in what I have written. My real life full name is on every post. That’s the bottom line.
Fare thee well, Eco Relics!
David Podris, Eco Relics Crew for Life