If the government ever decides to chuck the Federal Reserve note and base the currency on hubcaps, Dale Cooper and Carl Woerner will be set for life.
They're sitting on a mountain of hubcaps. Exactly how many is a matter of some controversy. Carl figures they have 15,000 hubcaps on any given day. Dale, on the other hand, is convinced they have a lot more than that - although he admits he never sat down and counted them.Likewise, there is some debate regarding the name of their enterprise. If you're heading south, the yellow letters painted in the window read "Hubcap Daddy." If you're coming north, you see a sign over the door that says "Hubcap Heaven."
Dale and Carl are tired of explaining it. It used to be Hubcap Heaven, Dale says, but they changed it to Hubcap Daddy because it rhymes with Cincinnati and they liked the sound of "Hubcap Daddy of Cincinnaddy." They just haven't gotten around to changing the sign over the door.
Either way, the slogan printed on their business cards is "The Haven for Homeless Hubcaps." Which pretty much describes the place. Here and there you'll see a brand-new hubcap - a '39 Hudson, a '56 Corvette or a '50 Chrysler with a cloisonne emblem. But for the most part these are hubcaps that have been culled from junkyards, abandoned at body shops or orphaned along the Great Highway of Life.
"We have a few old men who find them when they're picking up cans along the interstate," says Dale.
"If they're not too scratched up, we'll give them five bucks," Carl says.
"Then we turn around and, if they're clean, sell them for maybe half what you'd pay at a dealership," Dale says.
"I imagine there've been times when we've sold a guy's hubcaps back to him," Carl says.
"Probably so," Dale says.
The first thing you learn in the used hubcap industry, they say, is that your customers don't tend to be happy people. For one thing, they have a hard time understanding how a crummy hubcap can run $50, $75, even $100. For another, they're absolutely certain their old hubcaps were stolen.
"That's a big misconception," Dale says.
"Ninety-nine percent of the time, they've hit a big bump or a pothole and didn't hear the hubcap fall off," Carl says. "They'd rather think their hubcaps were stolen, even though only one is missing. Why can't people face reality?"
"But it works out great for us - especially now," Dale says. "Springtime is our busiest time of the year. You've got a lot of potholes out there, and people are thinking about fixing up their cars."
"Yep. It's a sad day for us when the city starts filling in potholes," Carl says.
From a hubcap perspective, the worst kind of car to have is a Pontiac 6000, which spits hubcaps like an AK-47 spits bullets. They're just no good, Dale says.
"We keep a stack of Pontiac 6000 caps under the counter for convenience' sake," Carl says.
"After a while, your Pontiac 6000 owners get sick and tired of replacing their hubcaps," Dale says.
"That's why a lot of them are going to custom wheels, which don't fall off," Carl says. "Custom wheels: the wave of the future."
Dale and Carl shake their heads. There are dark times ahead in the used hubcap industry, they say. The whole world is moving toward custom wheels, they say.
Before long, everyone will have them. And it won't matter when the city starts filling in the potholes, because all the potholes in the world won't comfort the Hubcap Daddies.