Don Julwang could not decide if he wanted to open up an organic local-foods fruit and vegetable store or a roller rink, and so he did both—Don’s Local Foods and Celebrity Roller Rink– and it was doing pretty well, considering. Mainly because of his advertisements, in which Don stands in front of his store holding a melon, and while he’s talking, the camera pans down to show that he’s standing in a gravel parking lot wearing rollerskates.
“Hi. I’m Don Julwang and when you’re ready for organic produce, which you probably are right now, there should be no question about where you want to go, and that’s Don’s Local Foods and Celebrity Roller Rink. Where all the vegetables are organic and the only celebrity is you, and that’s okay. Grab some celery and pairs skate to Wanna be Startin’ Something. We’ve got delicious tomatoes and why not stay a while and try the limbo? The snowball skate goes great with fresh organic bok choy from those amazing Hmong people who have no written language. How do they get their vegetables so perfect, you might ask? That would be like asking why you skate so fast to Rush’s song ‘Tom Sawyer’. It doesn’t matter why. Don’t ask questions, just go with it. Stay fresh, stay jazzed. At Don Julwang’s Local Foods and Celebrity Roller Rink.”
So it was like that for a few years. Then business started to taper and Don added the laundromat element. And it was Don’s Local Foods and Celebrity Roller Rink and Suds Farm. Which, unfortunately, started to bring in an element that Don wasn’t particularly happy about. Because the kind of people who end up at the laundromat in the Midwest…unlike in big cities where NO ONE has a washer/dryer, outside of Hudson, Wisconsin, this was not such a good thing. So to counter that creeping problem, Don added a pet grooming service. Because people who groom their pets tend to have some money, and so then the business was Don’s Local Foods and Celebrity Roller Rink, Suds Farm, and Pet Clips. A few years later he added a wine bar. After that went in the back acreage where he dug a few man-made ponds and stocked them with trout, so that people could catch a fish while waiting for their laundry to dry, and then at-risk teens hired from the local juvie hall, who were learning how to become productive citizens, would fry up your trout and make you a fish sandwich and by the time you were done eating that your laundry was probably dry, and then you could stick that in your car right by your bag of organic produce and head back inside for a few laps around the roller rink, with or without a glass of wine, depending on your age. At that point it was Don’s Local Foods and Celebrity Roller Rink, Suds Farm, Pet Clips, Fish Binge and Wine Gulch.
Some people asked why Don didn’t just open his own mall, to which he said, “because this isn’t a mall” and he left it at that.
Everything was going gangbusters until one of the at-risk teens turned out to be truly at risk, and he burned down the laundromat and the wine bar and half the pet grooming service one night when he brought a bunch of friends in to hang out and the smoking got out of control.
So now the at-risk teens are not a part of the deal anymore. At least not for now. “At least until they can get to be a little bit less at risk, you know what I mean?” said Don as he was interviewed by a reporter from the local paper, who seemed to Don to be a little smirky about the whole thing. But that’s the Midwest. They don’t like achievement, thought Don, especially when that achieivement is being done by somebody else.
In the meantime, Don is focused on rebuilding. “This is an opportunity,” he told the reporter. “A time to re-evaluate what’s working and what’s not, and we’ll go from there.”
The reporter looked down on her way to her ’95 Honda Civic and noticed that Don was still wearing his roller skates.