Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.
A hundred timepieces count away the seconds. Each clock’s pendulum marks the moments in its own rhythm—more chorus than metronome.
That they tick at all is something of a miracle. Owner Mark Purdy has restored clocks dating back to the 1700s—their bodies inside blackened with age.
Purdy fits the part of a clock repairman. The soft-spoken man has graying hair, glasses, a blue apron and magnifying lenses he can pull down in front of his eyes to better see the miniscule gears he pieces together just so.
The profession is an acquired one, not something Purdy was born into. His brother started a jewelry store in Jamestown, N.D., that also did clock repair. Purdy started repairing clocks himself in 1991 and continued the work after his brother left the business. He opened Blackstone Manor in 2008—naming the company after a fixer-upper of a home he’d ironically christened with the same grand name.
Purdy devotes the same care and attention to his store as he did to that aging home—a fact recognized earlier this month when the Hopkins Business and Civic Association named Blackstone Manor its 2010 business of the year. Customers visit Hopkins from across the metro to have their clocks repaired at Purdy’s store, and each afternoon Purdy travels across the metro to repair clocks in people’s homes. For those without clocks, the store’s window has become a Mainstreet fixture. Passersby stop to peer at the museum pieces still ticking away.
“Being on Mainstreet Hopkins has been absolutely fabulous for our business,” Purdy says. “The small-town feel and the walking traffic have been fabulous.”
Blackstone Manor also repairs music boxes and other delicate pieces that require a fine touch. But the focus has always been on the clocks—old and new, common and rare. Sometimes the repairs cost more than the clock could fetch if it were sold. But that’s not the point. The pieces have emotional value far beyond their price tags.
“There’s a lot of attachment to the clocks,” said Blackstone clock repairman Joff Simmons. “(Customers) can’t wait to get it home. They’re thrilled that it’s up and running. Obviously there’s a variety of reactions, but mostly they’re just excited because it’s now working.”
The individual beats of the timepieces in Purdy’s store are the strongest testament to this—each move of a pendulum speaking to the care that the repairmen have lavished upon the clocks.
Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.