2 weeks ago
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Some recent Twitter discussion made me think of something. This story is irrelevant and weird, but still worth telling. It's about a guy named Petter Bruflat who runs a hockey store in Oslo and I felt like telling you guys.
Back when I was a kid and started playing hockey there was really only one hockey store in Oslo. Sure, sports stores had some skates and hockey stuff, but if you wanted a good selection, you had to go to a guy named Kurt. He was a nice guy and had a store near where I live now. Just by the arena of the team I hate the most, Vålerenga. Then, he moved a few kilometers and a guy named Petter Bruflat took over his store. They had some healthy competetion for a while until Kurt's store went bankrupt. He then moved to another store, but I dunno if he's in buisness anymore. Anyway, this lead to Petter being the main man when it came to hockey equipment in Oslo for a while. Nowadays there are one or two competing stores. One might even be better and I know Petter sold a couple of years after he moved his store a block down the road to become an equipment manager for a team. Anyway, my story is about the time when his store was the only one that mattered in Oslo.
Petter was a nice guy. He loved to talk. He loved to talk so much people called him Petter "Prate" which means Petter "Talk". He'd been equipment manager for a team or two in the Elite League before he opened the store, so he had a vast knowledge of everything related to equipment. And everything about hockey in Norway really. He talked to every customer and shared info with every customer. He'd help you find the stuff you needed and then tell random news and anecdotes from the Norwegian hockey world before pumping you, or rather your dad, for information about how you were doing, how your team was doing etc etc. I swear, he knew every fucking team around Oslo. He new every age group on that team, how good they were, which players were good, everything. And he'd talk a hole in your head about it.
Hockey stuff is expensive. We all know that. But Petter would give special discounts to everyone he knew. Which was probably 98% of his customer base. And if the equipment arrived later than promised (which it usually did), you'd get even more of a discount. So he usually ended up selling stuff for just about the same price he bought it for. He worked 10-6 all day and I'm not sure he ever made a dime off his store. I think he went in minus at times, even at best. But he kept on working. Alone, sometimes with unpaid help from young hockey players who liked to hang out there and help out. They'd maybe get a stick or a discount on something in return if they helped him enough.
In the 9th grade, when we are 14-15, every student has to have a week of work practice. You basically work unpaid at some place for a week. Me and a guy I went to school with who played for my rival team both worked for him. It was awesome. He was nice to us, let us do our thing and treated us to burgers and Coca Cola every day. He even let us answer the phone (which he sometimes disconnected cause it annoyed him) and even sometimes help customers. When he went out we manned the store alone. If someone needed some tape or some small thing we didn't know the price of we were just told to make up a price. We'd also spend much time every day putting together sports bets and watching the 1994 99 All Stars vs. Norway All Stars game.
Our first job each morning was to make the store tidy. It was a small store and way too much stuff in it. It'd be a mess. We'd maybe spend two hours tidying up and organizing. And later we might for instance have to organize and cathegorize skates. The next morning it'd be as messy (imagine Hiroshima in a hockey store) and we'd have to go to work again. He'd just drop stuff when he didn't need it so equipment was floating all over. In the afternoons we'd play floorball IN the store. It was an awesome week. At the end I got a discount on a helmet, a Tac stick and a discount so I got a TPS Response for 80 bucks (they usually cost 250 back then). It was also pretty fun when our teacher came to look for us. She was kind of a MILF, but stuck up and me and her kinda hated each other's guts. She was very, very proper. He was very, very messy and forgetful. And what did we find out? They'd been a couple when they were young and saw each other as "the one that got away".
So, here you had an eccentric, nice, talkative guy who spend 6 days a week working hard and having fun in a hockey store he never made money on. How could he do that? Why did he do that? The answer is. He was stinking filthy rich. His parents owned a lot of shit. His brother went to Yale and Harvard. Petter himself was a ship broker, but decided it was boring. So he started a hockey store that he made no money on, and got his cash off a REALLY successful party tent business that rents party tents to the biggest events in Oslo. But that he did in his spare time. I don't know where I'm going with this story and what the point is, but I guess I just wanted to tell the story of a man here in hockey-dead Norway, who could have had an easy, relaxing life, but chose instead to work all day at a hockey store he made no money on cause he loved the game and stories about the game so much and who still does the same, just from a position as equiment manager (can't remember which team).