Louisville Magazine

FEB 2019

Louisville Magazine is Louisville's city magazine, covering Louisville people, lifestyles, politics, sports, restaurants, entertainment and homes. Includes a monthly calendar of events.

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LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE 2.19 61 A-1 Vacuum You name it, Jimmy House has pulled it out of a vacuum cleaner. Cat toys, socks, undies. "I've pulled dead mice out of there," House says. He'll wash the vacuums in a big tub of deodorizer in the "dirty workshop" at the back of A-1 Vacuum on Bardstown Road, where there are cabinets for pumps and wheels, rows of various-sized replacement belts, and, one day before Christmas, 29 vacuums waiting to be picked up. "People come in here all the time and say, 'Clean my vacuum; it's dirty,'" House says. "We're working on other people's dirt." His grandfather was a Kirby salesman in the 1950s and his grandmother started the business off the trade-ins. House's father would fix them up in the garage and, in 1974, opened A-1 in the High- lands. When House was home sick from school, he'd go to the store and watch TV on the play mat behind his dad's desk. As a teen, he'd ride his bike over from Hikes Point. Now Jimmy and Matt, the older brother who has worked at A-1 for 16 years, take turns running the shop. Dad, now 71 and an expert on vintage vacuums — like the one from 1918 in the store that doesn't have any cords, just an air turbine that fills when you push it — works ursdays to help catch up on labor and to keep himself motivated. Out front, he stacks a delivery of Bissells onto a dolly. "A lot of people don't think a vacuum store can stay in business, but we're going strong. Our numbers go up every year," Jimmy House says. "You know, Amazon can't make a customer happy by repair, labor and customer service." As for the rest of the afternoon, maybe House will check out that vintage Shark steamer that came in. Maybe he'll finish fixing the vacuum he's checking for a bad motor; it looks like it's undergoing open- heart surgery — its belt, brushes and wiring all exposed. Maybe he'll update the company's Facebook page, which the brothers keep lively with funny pictures, like the one of the Purina dog food bag somebody used as a vacuum bag, a hole in the back for the tube that sucks up dirt. Or the one of House's newborn, sweetly swaddled next to a yellow Miele. 1523 Bardstown Road A-1 co-owner Jimmy House.

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