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This week, we continue our garden show saga, the second of three parts. If you need to catch up, here’s a link to the first part of our story called “The Fightin’ Flowers.”
Even though they owned Cooper’s General Store jointly—an inheritance from their Dad—Andy and Charlie Cooper had settled into an amicable division of labor when it came to its day-to-day operations.
Andy enjoyed the hands-on part of it all, making displays, ordering the seasonal items, relating to the customers (or not, as the case may be), and managing their employees.
Charlie, for his part of the deal, took on the paperwork part of the operation—watching over the accounts, calculating the correct profit margins on the items sold in the store, and taking care of all the legal ins and outs of running a small business in Vermont (of which there are many).
Each brother thought he had the better part of the deal so they were both content.
Charlie, now that he was semi-retired from his legal practice, made a habit of ambling through the back door of the Coop about mid-morning every Wednesday. He’d pour himself coffee from the community urn, nod and say hello to anyone who passed by, and then he’d heat up the computer to go through the finances.
Sooner or later, Andy would show up and after discussing the latest Red Sox game, the brothers would get down to business.
But today, Charlie skipped their detour into baseball and plunged right into the numbers on his meticulously kept spread sheets.
“What is this?” he asked, pointing to a rather large figure. “We’ve never sold that much compost, mulch, and potting soil in the whole history of the store. Is that figure correct?”
Andy chuckled, gave his tea a good stir so that the honey in it was evenly distributed throughout the mug instead of pooling at the bottom, and then sat down next to his “baby” brother.
“I’ve discovered a secret weapon in the town’s gardening wars,” he confided.
A small smile snaked over Charlie’s mouth when he recognized the onset of one of his brother’s storytelling moments.
“It’s name is G.G. Dieppe.” Andy sucked in a big slurp of tea.
“Anthony’s Dieppe’s wife? The millionaire of Mount Merino?”
“Yep, her. It seems she’s decided to enter the Home and Garden Tour with the idea of winning the best-in-show trophy,” Andy said. He slurped some more while waiting for Charlie to catch up.
“Ah, so that’s why Agnes is whirling around in our yard from dawn to dusk like a mad dervish,” Charlie said with a chuckle. Charlie’s life partner is Agnes Findley, widely acknowledged as the most meticulous gardener in Carding. “Do you know, she hardly came in long enough for supper last night. And I’d made her favorite pasta dish.”
Andy nodded. “Yep, they’ve all gone mad this year. Personally, I don’t think Edie or Ruth or Agnes cares if they win or not just so long as this G.G. character doesn’t.”
Charlie looked down at the spread sheets on the desk. “It’s been mighty good for business.”
“Yeah, and most of that is her,” Andy said. “I don’t think she’s ever picked up a trowel in her life. She just keeps saying that ‘all it takes is money.'”
The brothers Cooper shared a blue-eyed stare and then they both started to laugh. “Oh, this is going to be fun to watch,” Charlie said.