We’re Giving Up Traveling: Our Next Venture

By |2018-04-01T03:31:42+00:00April 1, 2015|Categories: Our Travel Life|45 Comments
wall drug sign

We’re hoping some day to be the French equivalent of Wall Drug.

Kris and I are tired of traveling. We’ve been on the go more or less full time for five years now, and it’s just getting to be too much.

We’ve decided to settle down. Just not in the United States.

We’ve just signed the lease on a small shop and bar in Paris, just outside Euro Disney. Our idea is that Europeans who go to Euro Disney in search of an authentic American experience are missing the point. Disney is fantasy. Our place will offer genuine Americana to those Europeans who haven’t ventured across the pond yet.

Because, where there’s a space in the market, we’re there. We’re setting up to be a tourist draw on the order of South Dakota’s famous Wall Drug.

So, we’re proud to announce the imminent opening of Tom and Kristin’s All American Bar and Souvenir Emporium only a few steps from the entrance to Fantasyland. Both the bar and souvenir shop will be themed up the wazoo: all American, all the time, with special focus on reality TV, real people, real homespun American thinking, and of course with an eye on the almighty dollar.

First, the bar. I have to admit we’ve sort of stolen the idea for the bar decor from any number of American sports bars we’ve barely stuck our heads into. That means, of course, a menu of chicken wings, cheeseburgers, and Freedom Fries with loads of ketchup. Bud Light will be the house beer.

For those interested in the back room operations, we will, like any American restaurant, be hiring undocumented foreign workers to wash the dishes and fry the burgers. After all, we will be striving for authenticity.

But, it’s the souvenir shop that we’re really counting on to bring in customers by the tour bus load. I’m really proud of our innovative ideas for the merchandise we will be carrying. With just a few exceptions, all of it will be American made. Not by union labor, of course, because that is hardly American these days, but we’ll try to outsource the bare minimum to China or Bangladesh.

For example:

Lots and lots of American flags will festoon the premises of both the bar and the souvenir shop. (Chinese made, of course. It’s not like Betsy Ross is still in business.) Don’t worry, you fans of the losers in our Civil War, we’ll also have plenty of Confederate battle flags for you, too.

The flags, along with about a hundred sports team jerseys and banners, are just attention getters, though. We’re going all out to stock other commemorative items inspired by American history. We realize we’re going to need to keep this simple, since not that many Americans actually know any American history, and Europeans, or course, only keep track of American culture back to the Clinton Administration.

There will be the Monica Lewinsky Collection of blue dresses from the Gap. Sizes 12 and smaller will be specially priced because we’ll be able to pick those up from the unsold racks in the United States.

There will be model cars, because what says America more than cars? I’m thinking Chevy Suburbans, Hummers, and Ford F-250s (the ones with the dual wheels in back) are going to be big sellers. For the kids, we’ll have replica Dodge Minivans with little car seats in back, so our European customers can see how American children spend their formative years. All the Minivan models will have free soccer ball stickers pre-affixed to the rear windows, btw.

And we’ll have an entire section of car accessories. For example the various iconic bumper stickers, e.g. “My kid can beat up your honor student.” We’ll of course have fuzzy dice for your rear view mirror, and those clever hanging, banging testicles for your trailer hitch. And, we won’t forget those Playboy bunny mud flaps.

And t-shirts. Aside from the obvious plethora of NY Yankee paraphernalia, there will be many with some of our best jingoistic slogans, such as “USA, Back-to-Back World War Champions,” and “Number of countries who still use the English measurement system: 1, Number of countries who have landed on the moon: 1.”

There will be lots of other iconic American merchandise, too. Here are a few samples:

Bobble head dolls of Americans’ favorite reality TV stars. And we’re not going to stop at the Kardashians. We’re going all out, and ordering custom replicas of the stars from Pawn Stars, 16 and Pregnant, Chopped, and Cake Boss.

Baggy sweatpants from Walmart for those days you really want to dress like a typical American. They will come in all the popular colors, e.g. bright red and royal blue. For an extra two Euros, you’ll be able to get the ones with the American flag on the butt.

Pringles, Froot Loops, and Pop Tarts, for when just sitting in your baggy sweatpants watching TV is your idea of a real American vacation.


It doesn’t get any more American than John Wayne.

And for such days, of course we’ll have all the DVDs of Americans’ favorite shows such as I Love Lucy, Mary Tyler Moore, Different Strokes, and Friends. And, for the older folks, we won’t be caught short of John Wayne movies. There will also be a full line of John Wayne memorabilia, including 10 gallon hats, leather vests, and playing cards. We’ve purchased a full sized stuffed horse as a display mannequin.

Speaking of John Wayne, that brings me to the topic of what is really going to make our American souvenir emporium both genuine and distinctive. Yes, we’re going to sell guns. But we’re not going to stop at just stocking any guns. I mean, you can buy guns anywhere in America. Since Europeans don’t really understand Americans’ fascination with guns, we’re going to have to think of what would make our gun department distinctive–something to really sell the idea of what you can do with America’s favorite toy.

This is the idea we’ve come up with. We’re going to sell actual working replicas of guns used in famous killings in America.

There will be a faithful reproduction of the .44 caliber Derringer that John Wilkes Booth used to kill Abraham Lincoln. The 6.5 mm Carcano Model 91/38 carbine, that Lee Harvey Oswald used to blow off JFK’s head will also be in inventory. But, hell, anybody can have those.

We’re taking the next step and will be stocking examples of guns that have been used in more “every day” crimes.

We’re calling that line The Charles Whitman Collection, in honor of that “Motivated Marine” who killed 16 and wounded 32 in 1966 from his perch on the tower on the campus of the University of Texas in Austin. Our inventory will include the Remington 700 ADL (6mm) rifle, the Universal M1 carbine, the Remington M 141 (.35-caliber) pump action rifle, and the Sears model 60 Semi-automatic shotgun (12 gauge) which he used for his first kills at the tower, a couple of teenaged brothers. All weapons will of course be engraved with a relief of Whitman’s face, along with the date, August 1, 1966, and the numbers 16/32.

There will be other commemorative weapons for sale, as well, including the engraved firearms from such signature events as Columbine High School massacre, the Aurora, Colorado movie theater shooting, the Omaha department store where eight were gunned down, and the famous Edmond, Oklahoma, post office shooting of 12, from which we got the term “Going Postal.”

But I’m predicting our biggest seller will be our exclusive Sandy Hook Set. We’ll be offering engraved commemorative replicas of the a .22-caliber Savage MK II-F bolt action rifle that Adam Lanza used on his mother before he drove on to the Newtown, Connecticut, elementary school where he killed 20 first graders and six school staff with a Bushmaster Model XM15-E2S semiautomatic rifle. And, let’s not forget the 10mm Glock he used to kill himself when the police showed up.

These three engraved commemorative weapons will be sold as a set, or individually.

Within the gun shop area, we’ve already contracted with the National Rifle Association to feature a membership sign up booth for all Europeans who want to belong to the quintessential American club. As an incentive to spur membership, NRA members in good standing will receive their choice of a 10 percent discount on any firearm in the store, or a free box of 9mm hollow point bullets.


  1. Tim April 1, 2015 at 8:20 am - Reply

    Nice post. It was an enjoyable read at the start of my day.

    • Tom Bartel April 1, 2015 at 6:27 pm - Reply

      Thanks Tim. I always enjoy reading well though out business plans, too.

  2. Josie April 1, 2015 at 10:23 am - Reply

    Hey Tom,

    Good one. You did it up to the hilt, my friend!


    • Tom Bartel April 1, 2015 at 6:28 pm - Reply

      The essence of Americana is going too far, don’t you think?

  3. Juergen | dare2go April 1, 2015 at 10:31 am - Reply

    My first question: April Fools Day post or are you serious?

    • Tom Bartel April 1, 2015 at 10:35 am - Reply

      Juergen, you’ll be getting a personalized invitation to the grand opening.

  4. Cathy April 1, 2015 at 10:40 am - Reply

    Can’t wait to come visit you in Paris. Will trade — for one night’s stay on your futon — our entire collection of tiki mugs. Made in America, of course.

    • Tom Bartel April 1, 2015 at 10:43 am - Reply

      Tiki mugs! Why didn’t I think of that? We will have some tiki torches somewhere in the back room, though.

  5. Suzanne Stavert April 1, 2015 at 11:49 am - Reply

    Very clever!

    • Tom Bartel April 1, 2015 at 11:51 am - Reply

      Suzanne, we’re all about jumping on any good business opportunity we can imagine.

  6. Kathy Streitz April 1, 2015 at 11:54 am - Reply

    The Onion?

    • Tom Bartel April 1, 2015 at 12:10 pm - Reply

      Kathy, I’m told by our food manager we will be stocking those delicious Vidalia onions that taste so good on salads and hamburgers.

  7. Anne Reilly April 1, 2015 at 11:57 am - Reply

    I’m thinking this just might be an April Fool’s Day post. But, if you really are going to do this, I hope you’ll have a moose head, with antlers up on the wall.

    • Tom Bartel April 1, 2015 at 12:10 pm - Reply

      Anne, we discussed this, but we’re going with a jackalope head instead.

  8. Yasha Langford April 1, 2015 at 12:01 pm - Reply

    I confess – you did get me! I got as far as “Both the bar and souvenir shop will be themed up the wazoo: all American, all the time” and decided I wasn’t in the least bit interested in this post.
    Later I noticed Donna’s comment on BTB and realised I’d been ‘had’, and returned to read the rest.
    I’m Australian and we make these sorts of jokes about Americans – nice of you to feature some of my favourites!
    But the gun section is a sad indictment of the American culture which urgently needs to change.
    Great post, Tom

    • Tom Bartel April 1, 2015 at 12:12 pm - Reply

      Be assured Yasha that the store will stock books of Australian jokes, along with books of jokes that offend every other ethnic group we can think of. That’s true Americana. (Thanks, btw.)

  9. Paula McInerney April 1, 2015 at 2:18 pm - Reply

    I don’t see this as necessarily an april fools joke, but more it is an expose or an indictment of what many Americans seem to value. This is a deep post and one where you have taken a good hard look at some core values. Good one ..regardless.

  10. Val RVLuckyorWhat.com April 1, 2015 at 3:12 pm - Reply

    April Fools! You had me until undocumented workers.

    • Tom Bartel April 1, 2015 at 6:28 pm - Reply

      Oh, I’m not fooling about the undocumented workers.

  11. Larry Berle April 1, 2015 at 5:13 pm - Reply

    How bout a business venture that incorporates your history, intellect and talents..maybe a new magazine– featuring lots of interesting writers and fabulous stories– call it Sweet Potato.

    Or how bout an institute of higher learning — thats something you know about– maybe in Rome
    How about Latinist University? an online university– The naming rights for the new Vikings Stadium may even still be available

    Or maybe a beer festival in Munich Germany

    Let me know if you need any further ideas

    • Tom Bartel April 1, 2015 at 6:31 pm - Reply

      Thanks for the suggestions, Larry. I’ll drop them into the box for further consideration.

  12. Laura Graf April 1, 2015 at 6:33 pm - Reply

    Very clever, Tom and Kris. Since you are both journalists, I’m sure you’ll want to correct the spelling of that postal town in Oklahoma. It is Edmond, not Edmund. My former husband was from Oklahoma City; several of his family are buried in Edmond. (Not a lot else to do there. . .)

    • Tom Bartel April 1, 2015 at 6:44 pm - Reply

      Thanks, Laura. I wouldn’t want to have anything in that post that would undermine our credibility. It’s been corrected.

  13. Sue April 1, 2015 at 7:23 pm - Reply


    Loved your post on the Glouchsurfing thread, but you’ve gone a bit too far on here. It was funny until you started on the weapons, IMHO. Happy Avril le Fou.

    • Tom Bartel April 1, 2015 at 7:53 pm - Reply

      April Fool on you I guess. You thought I was going for funny.

  14. Leigh April 1, 2015 at 10:45 pm - Reply

    Brilliant post and great rundown of American culture.

    Then I remembered the date. Guess you’re actually continuing with the travel lifestyle?

    • Tom Bartel April 1, 2015 at 11:00 pm - Reply

      If the shop doesn’t work out, we probably will keep traveling. I’m having a little trouble right now with the permits in France. Seems like the European countries don’t think it’s a good idea that anybody can get an automatic weapon. Who knew? I guess they just don’t value their freedom like we do.

  15. Steve Strong April 2, 2015 at 2:58 am - Reply

    Sheesh…I was going to send you our resumes, until I realized the date! Good one, Tom

    • Tom Bartel April 2, 2015 at 8:38 am - Reply

      Thanks, Steve. And the nice thing is that, in France, you’ll qualify as an undocumented alien. You’ll fit right in.

  16. Shelley April 2, 2015 at 11:44 am - Reply

    Hilarious Tom! Are you open to franchising?

    • Tom Bartel April 2, 2015 at 8:35 pm - Reply

      Shelly, I’m sure we’ll need branches in all the EU countries eventually.

  17. Anita @ No Particular Place To Go April 2, 2015 at 12:43 pm - Reply

    As with all great humor, sometimes reality touches a little close to home… Great April 1st post!

    • Tom Bartel April 2, 2015 at 8:35 pm - Reply

      I’ve always thought the essence of humor was going too far. Of course, Kris disagrees with me on that.

  18. Carole Terwilliger Meyers April 2, 2015 at 1:58 pm - Reply

    At first I thought this was real, but as I continued reading . . . Of course, I DID read it on April 2.

    • Tom Bartel April 2, 2015 at 8:38 pm - Reply

      If you don’t read it til April 2, it is real.

  19. Curt April 2, 2015 at 6:56 pm - Reply

    I knew right away this was a joke. An authentic American experience requires a TSA checkpoint.

    • Tom Bartel April 2, 2015 at 8:34 pm - Reply

      Curt, you got me there. I can’t believe I forgot that. I wonder how much one of those machines costs that can see through clothes.

  20. Cathy Sweeney April 3, 2015 at 4:08 pm - Reply

    Cheeseburger and Freedom Fries, please. 🙂 My goodness, this is an inspired bit of writing! Must have been totally fun to write, too. Fun to read and much food for thought. Guns, Monica Lewinsky, and lots of flags — something for everyone. Belated April Fools Day greetings!

  21. Sue Reddel April 4, 2015 at 4:24 pm - Reply

    Hey what about the blooming onion? Very clever post Tom and I love clever.

    • Tom Bartel April 4, 2015 at 10:54 pm - Reply

      Blooming onion? Isn’t that a product of that faux Aussie restaurant chain? No Aussie stuff in my shop!

  22. Vicki Winters June 2, 2015 at 5:47 pm - Reply


  23. Tom Bartel June 3, 2015 at 1:26 am - Reply

    Thanks, Vicki. I’m having a little trouble with the permitting here in France. Do you know anyone?

  24. susan April 1, 2018 at 1:17 pm - Reply

    Okay, so you had me for about a nano-second. Paris? Sure. Americana near Disney? Oh, I get it . . .

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