Beautiful Bud's has a story to tell
Tuesday, February 19, 2013 9:00 PM
Too many of us do it. We zip into the nearest big box store and pick up what we want. Then, when we have questions about how to use the item we just purchased we turn to the Internet or to a local friend or, maybe, to the local expert who owns a local shop.
As a result, most of those local stores have closed and more and more of the big name, big box stores have flourished.
One of those original mom and pop shops has survived to see the big box stores come (and go) to town. Beautiful Bud's saw Target close literally across the street and, yes, even outlived the heyday of the South Boulevard Mall which had J.C. Penney's on one end and Montgomery Ward on the other.
On May 1, 1969, the South Boulevard Sports Shop opened where it continues to do business at 404 E. South Boulevard, recalls owner Richard Britton.
"Dad was still working downtown," Richard said.
Richard's mom, Carol, and Richard opened the store at four in the afternoon.
"At 10 until 6 he walked through that door. Mom asked what he was doing here and he said, 'I got fired and I'm coming in to work.'"
Richard grew up in the store.
The first Thanksgiving after the shop opened, Carol made the family dinner and they all closed the shop to eat dinner at home.
"I told Mom, this is silly. Why don't we eat dinner at the shop?" Richard said.
A month later, on Christmas, that's what they did.
Not only did they enjoy their Christmas dinner at the store, but over the years they fed many people on those holidays. Police officers who had to work would stop by for some turkey.
I remember one year the guys who worked at the radio station were invited to visit Beautiful Bud's for some fellowship and a good holiday meal.
"We fed a lot of people over those years," Richard said.
At that time, Beautiful Bud's was one of the few stores in Crawfordsville that was open on Christmas Day and had batteries and milk and bread. Those batteries were a hot commodity for parents who forget to buy batteries for their children's Christmas toys.
Bud and Carol operated the shop until they died in 1998 and in 1999, respectively, Richard said.
"Beautiful" Bud got his nickname during the CB radio craze. Richard said Bud was talking about a handle at a local eatery and the waitress said his bald head was just beautiful, so they nickname stuck. Carol had to have a nickname as well, so she became lovingly known as "The Old Grouch."
To this day, shirts emblazoned with their nicknames hang on the wall next to the minnow tank.
Carol taught many people how to hunt and Richard carries on the tradition to this day.
People who buy from Beautiful Bud's keep the doors open but Richard is glad to help people regardless of where they bought their equipment.
He remembers a local man who wanted to become a deer hunter. Richard told him what to do and soon the man brought in a huge buck.
The man didn't realize what a trophy he had until Richard got excited.
"Your excitement got me excited," the hunter later told Richard.
Changing financial conditions have challenged all local stores, including Beautiful Bud's.
Five dollars in 1969 would buy family entertainment for an entire day. That would include gas for the family car, fishing bait and hot dogs and buns for lunch. Mom, dad and all the kids could have a wonderful time at their favorite fishing spot.
Taxes have skyrocketed since 1969.
Kids would much rather pick up a video game controller than a fishing pole.
As profits have eroded, Richard has turned from looking to the store as his source of income. Instead, he is grateful he can work at Nucor.
Want to know more? Call Richard at 362-0129 or visit Beautiful Bud's on East South Boulevard. You can't miss Richard. He, too has a "beautiful" bald head, just like his dad.
Frank Phillips has covered news in Central Indiana on radio and in newspapers since 1994. He continues to work in the local media as an advertising account representative for The Paper.