Joe Spodick works at his Frankville clock shop, repairing clocks of all sizes and shapes from throughout Southeastern Wisconsin.
BY KATIE MATTESON
Quick! When is the busiest time of the year for a clock shop?
For Spodick’s Clock Shop in Franksville it’s when daylight saving time ends.
“People run into trouble when they try to turn their clocks back,” owner Joe Spodick said. “Things get crazy around here for two to three weeks at that time every year.”
Spodick admits that he’s really pretty busy all the time, since he’s “the last man standing” for clock repair in Southeastern Wisconsin since he hung out his shingle 30 years ago.
Joe and his wife Tammy had returned from a year traveling around the United States, when his Uncle Cal Sustachek suggested at a family picnic that Joe go back to school to study clock repair at Milwaukee Area Technical College.
Prior to the road trip, Joe had worked at Walker Manufacturing as a tool and die maker for seven years, achieving his journeyman’s card the last year.
Joe trusted Uncle Cal’s advice because he was a master watchmaker and owned Rasmussen Diamonds in West Racine.
Joe knew early in the year-long program at MATC that he’d found his passion, something not everyone in his class experienced. There were only eight students who graduated from the program out of the 22 students who started.
Joe opened his first shop at 1124 High St. on June 1, 1988. He had the confidence to go into business for himself after running a $3 ad in the Pennysaver while he was still in school and receiving 16 messages and 11 clock repair orders in one day.
The certified clockmaker, member of the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors and grandfather clock specialist has built a career selling and trading clocks, selling clock parts and installing watch batteries, repairing antique and newer clocks, packing, moving and setting up grandfather clocks and doing house calls by appointment.
On Oct. 1, 2000, Spodick’s Clock Shop moved to more spacious quarters with better parking in Franksville at 3143 Roberts St. It’s also closer to Joe and Tammy’s home in Raymond, where they raised their now adult sons.
Both boys hung out at the shop and learned how to operate a lathe and a soldering gun at early ages. Although neither one decided to join the family business, they both have applied their natural mechanical aptitude to other careers.
Son Andy is a technical writer at CNH and son Eric is an apprentice steamfitter.
Beyond the mechanical aspect of repairing clocks, Joe said he really enjoys interacting with his customers and learning the family history surrounding their clocks. “I’m a people person,” he said.
Joe became emotional when he told the story about a clock he repaired for a woman who wanted him to restore a clock that had been stored in her attic for several years. Once it was fixed the woman shared that the clock was a gift from her son right before he went to serve his country in Vietnam, where he was killed at the age of 19. The repaired clock became part of a memorial to her son.
He also shared the story of an autistic boy who visited the shop and was enthralled with one of the cuckoo clocks. His father told Joe that his son had never been that quiet.
And speaking of cuckoo clocks, Joe said he’s dubbed Tammy the Cuckoo Clock Queen as fixing these finicky clocks has become her specialty since she joined him in the shop after staying home to raise their sons. This is in addition to her role as the bookkeeper, website, Facebook and Instagram manager for the business.
Her advice for those wanting to buy a cuckoo clock: “Beware the $10 cuckoo clock.” She laughed that she’s seen the same clock in the shop multiple times – presumably passed on through multiple rummage sales.
She’s also taken on primary responsibility for the quartz clocks and designs small wall clocks for sale in the shop and on their website, spodickclockshop.com.
Joe and Tammy have no plans to retire anytime soon, but would like to repeat their yearlong cross country trip someday. But this time in an RV, not in a conversion van.
The shop is open on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and most Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon. For more information, call (262) 321-0102.