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Tradition ticks on: Time-honored professions give new life to old treasures
By Sam Boykin Somewhere along the way, the concept of fixing things has gotten passé. We live in such a disposable, fast-paced society that it often seems easier to toss aside an old or broken item and buy a new one rather than have it repaired. The business owners below are carrying on despite this trend. Using a combination of skill, elbow grease and old-fashioned artisan flair, they restore and mend treasured items and beloved heirlooms. The Clock Shop A bit of tragic serendipity led to Jim VanOrsdel’s 30-year career as proprietor of The Clock Shop in Matthews. He was serving an apprenticeship with the company’s founder, Floyd Wilson, who opened the store in 1968. One evening, Wilson invited VanOrsdel over for dinner and offered him a full-time position. The next morning, when VanOrsdel showed up for work, the store was closed and there was a wreath on the door. Wilson had died of a heart attack the night before — just hours after offering VanOrsdel the job. “His widow offered me a position with the company, and I ended up buying it from her later that year,” VanOrsdel said. Thirty years later and he’s still at it, doing everything from fixing broken wristwatches to restoring historic timepieces, including the clocks at Asheville’s Biltmore Estate, some of which date back to the 1680s. Other notable projects include restoring UNC Chapel Hill’s 172-foot Morehead-Patterson Bell Tower clock and the 1904 tower clock in the Monroe County Courthouse.