A GUIDE FOR THE INDEPENDENT TRAVELER IN THE AMERICAN SOUTHWEST
"With the completion of the Interstate Freeway System, it became possible to travel all the way across the country, from coast-to-coast, and never see a thing...." Charles Kuralt
THE RATTLESNAKE SUPERMARKET
John and Sandy Weber wanted to get as far away from the big city and life in the corporate fast lane as they could. And they couldn't have done much better than here.
Here being the brutally hot summer desert about 14 miles east of Tombstone, Arizona
"Just decided we wanted to leave our paper-shuffling jobs," said John, "and do something different in our lives. Well, this is kinda' different. Yeah, I'd say so. This is an alternative life-style in spades." He laughs. "We tell people we're downwardly mobile"
They don't get a lot of visitors in the summer. It puts a lot of stress on the radiator coming out here. We'd heard about John and sorta' had an excuse. One guy did wander in but he wasn't real sure where he was. He stayed around for awhile, fascinated by the collection of hanging, rusting memorabilia on both sides of the road. Stuff John and Sandy have collected from area ranches for almost 20 years. Stuff that makes a God-awful noise when the wind blows. Stuff NOT for sale.
But over in the green trailer is where the interesting stuff is. I came to call it the rattlesnake supermarket.
"Over the years we've, oh, gotten some pretty unique items," said John. "All made from rattlesnakes."
And they are real close to their chief supplier. Just out the door, matter of fact. This desert is full of rattlesnakes, more snakes than I even want to think about. See the picture of Sandy holding the stuffed snake. They killed it just around the corner of the trailer there.
John nods his head up and down. "Yep, we use just about every part of the rattlesnake."
Earrings are made from the snake's fangs, rattles, vertebrae and ribs.
The skin makes billfolds, credit card holders, cell phone holders, belts, bracelets...and women are their best customers.
"The women really go for the originality of some of these things," said John, "the uniqueness."
It didn't take too long for John and sandy to get tired of hanging around waiting for customers to show up. It smacked of being a little too structured, little too corporate.
"Whatever we were going to do, it wasn't going to involve and 8 to 5 job sitting around behind a desk 5 days a week."
So...they instituted an honor system. You want it, we aren't here, just drop your money or a check in the box and take it. It wouldn't work anywhere else in the world, but out here, the system seems to work fine. They've always been paid for whatever was taken.
A shopping tip for the really discerning buyer...for that special lady on your list...
"Well, we went out and picked up some jack rabbit drops (that's poop to you city folks) and made 'em into earrings." John Laughs. "The next day we sold a pair and we can't keep 'em on the shelf, so to speak. When you buy a gift out here, it's usually pretty unique."
The Weber's store is open every day dawn to dusk. They are 16 miles east of Tombstone, AZ on the road to Gleeson. Look for their sign and turn off on the Double U Ranch Road and that road goes right through their place.