This week during my drive to work, I noticed the forlorn vacant Oreck Vacuum shop on South Lake Avenue. When did that close? I glanced into its empty storefront, one of how many in the stretch from San Pasqual to California Boulevard? Eight?
I know most of us don't have particular affection for vacuum stores, but the departure of Oreck leaves me a little sad. Some years ago when I was part of a two-income lifestyle, I bought myself a snappy little Oreck upright. Lightweight, smart, accompanied by the perks of an Oreck iron and an Oreck mini-vac, my new vacuum convinced me I would now houseclean like Samantha from BEWITCHED. I pampered my Oreck and I took it to the mother store for annual tune-ups. The clerk would show off my vacuum's prowess on their thick green plush and I felt a certain consumer's pride rise in my chest. But I haven't taken my Oreck in for its tune-up for about 18 months. And now there is no specialty shop devoted to the pride of Mr. Oreck. My reasons for shopping on South Lake are disappearing faster than you can say Pete's Grandburger or Smith and Hawken.
However, if you travel to the east side of town, there is another distinguished vacuum repair shop, Tanner's Valley. I know it sounds indulgent, but I have a second vacuum cleaner. It's a Cadillac to me. This one is a big red Sanitaire, circa 1990 maybe. It's the type professional janitors admire: heavy, serious, with a cord long enough to traverse three rooms. I love the Sanitaire because it belonged to my mom. She had to wait a long time in her life to acquire some of the nicer things, and I count this king of vacuums among them. The Sanitaire I take to Tanner's Valley for its tune-ups because it is an old-timey shop with a love of old-timey machines--Hoovers, Singer sewing machines, Mieles, and come to think of it, I just saw a little clique of Orecks standing around together among the other repaired vacuums awaiting their owners. When I took the Sanitaire in for its checkup last week, the lady who clerks told me the parts themselves are very valuable to scavengers, and not to sell it at a garage sale for $20! Now it's entirely possible I have paid more for tune-ups over the years than the initial purchase price. But the Sanitaire seems eternal so far, and I think my mom would be proud of me for maintaining it.
I may go to pick up the Sanitaire today. It should be standing at attention with its fellows, handwritten tag on its neck. After the lady apprises me of its needs and remedies, I will lug it out to the Honda curbside and take it back home. Next month when I get paid again, I am going to bring the Oreck here. Some things in life just need to be maintained, and that goes for machines and memories.
Tanner's Valley Vacuum Center
2610 E. Colorado Blvd.