Montville

Farewell, New Jersey — Hello, Virginia

Best of Britain show at our first east coast warehouse, Montville, NJ.

It was during the first light October snow fall when I backed a U-Haul into my new neighbor’s garden wall. The rear tires slipped on some wet melting snow and bam, a twenty-something kid from Moss in California crashed his way into the state of New Jersey—poor folks. Twenty-seven years and three locations later, we have closed the books on our New Jersey facility.

I wish I could remember the square footage of our first Montville location. It was an old farm building in a park-like setting. The inventory was so small, before moving we actually set up the warehouse, shelving and all, in some disused space in California. This gave us a chance to test our order processing and inventory control systems in a managed environment.

Everything went well enough, but there were still some lingering doubts. On our first day of operation in New Jersey, the two-man crew consisting of Pete Cosmides and myself were given three orders to ship. We spent five minutes (maybe 10) pulling, packing and shipping the orders; then we spent the rest of the day hanging out. Life got busier from there on in.

Best of Britain in the snow. Everyone squeezed into the Dover shipping department.

After a year in Montville, we needed a new warehouse with more room to grow. An old mill, located on the Rockaway River, became our second home. A sluice gate diverted river water through a turbine mounted under what was now our loading dock. In the spring, snapping turtles would meander up out of the stream and into the warehouse. Experience suggests it is advisable to approach a large snapping turtle from behind, or with an appropriate weapon. Push brooms work well.

During the Rockaway era, our association with folks like Greg Prehodka and Jerry Keller led to an ever growing early spring car show and swap meet, which eventually became known as the Best of Britain show. Little did I know it then, but a career shaping move for me came in the form of a melted-down computer terminal.

Darryn McLaughlin at the Rockaway sales counter, circa 1985.

I shipped the dead terminal back to California with a note explaining how the terminal died because the smoke escaped. The idea was blatantly cribbed from an article in a local club newsletter, but it proved the catalyst for my eventual move into writing, editing and marketing.

Almost three years to the day after arriving, I was shipped back to California. Over the course of the next few years we moved again, to our final location near Dover, and Darryn McLaughlin became manager.

Fast forward two decades and we’ve taken a giant leap to our new home in Virginia. Through all those many years Darryn ran a reliable, well oiled machine. We will sorely miss both Darryn and all the friends we made during our time in New Jersey. But as often happens with children, they grow up and move out…and then don’t call often enough. Sorry Mom.



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