Super Senior: Harold Porter - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Super Senior: Harold Porter

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Before trucks and cars ruled the roadways, there were buggies and bikes. The horses are mostly gone, but pedal power is still spinning. And when a bicycle needs fixing in Swanton, they bring it to Porter's Bike Shop.

Owner Harold Porter has a motto: "If I can't fix 'em, it ain't worth fixin'."

He's been saying it for years.

The family business was started by his dad in 1917. In its heyday, the town had three bicycle shops. Porter's is the last one to survive.

Reporter Joe Carroll: Business has declined though?

Harold Porter: Oh yes.

Harold says people buy cheap bikes at the box stores, but when they need fixing...

"Good luck getting it repaired," he said with a laugh.

The 76-year-old worked most of his adult life away from the business, from trucking to construction, but he never had a retirement plan. The bike shop is Harold and his wife Pauline's nest egg.

Joe Carroll: So do you enjoy working or do you have to work?

Harold Porter: Both.

But he is slowing down.

"I'm trying to pass it on to this guy, number one," Harold said.

His son Jim is the third generation to work in the small shop.

Joe Carroll: What do you think of your dad?

Jim Porter: He has his days... (Harold laughs)

Just like his dad did in the past, Jim works full time at another job. He helps out at the shop as much as he can.

"I learned some of it from my dad, I learned some of it from my grandfather, I learned some of it from my brother," Jim said.

"Another 50 years and he'll be alright!" Harold joked.

In the early 1970s, Porter's Bike Shop had a devastating fire, the business burned to the ground.

Harold's dad, Henry, went through the debris, got all the tools and started the business again. That kind of work ethic continues to this day.

"You name it, I try to do it," Harold said.

And Harold's work has made it on the big screen. He's reconditioned about 150-200 bicycles over the years for period movies. He tears up the bikes, adds parts and paints them. It's turned into a good part of the business for the last 20 years.

His latest project is a big one, reconditioning a 1930s pedal-powered cart-- also for the movies.

"You have to be creative, that's for sure," Harold said.

"The frame is in excellent shape, yeah," Harold noted.

Jim hopes to get the business in excellent shape, too, by catering more to the growing number of bicyclists who use the trails around Northern Vermont. But one thing he won't bring back from his grandfather's era: "We don't sell the bait and stuff like he used to, but we still sell the bicycles," Jim said.

A local institution, close to celebrating its 100th birthday, gearing up for the next century.

And there is a fourth generation, too. Jim's son Matthew also helps out in the store.

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