Speakboxx combines vintage, high-tech

Business ideas run in the family

If vintage, retro and classic are styles that ring your bell, but you still insist on high-tech sound quality, then Luke Nance, 23, has found his target consumer in you.

SpeakBoxx, a new concept in old-fashioned boom boxes, is about to hit the market and Nance, a Hood River native, is the creative spark behind the retro-fitted speaker system.

“I’m a music freak. I wanted to put out a product that is cool and the best possible sound,” said Nance, who got the brainstorm to repurpose vintage suitcases into portable sound systems, all using high quality digital amp technology to guide the sound quality.

“The digital amp I’ve chosen produces the rich, full sound of the old tube amps,” said Nance. “Plus, these become a cool piece of furniture for inside use, but can be taken anywhere.”

Nance looks for suitcases in antique stores that have character. He then recycles high-quality speaker components into his creative designs. Nance’s hidden secret, though, comes from his use of one particular digital amp that took him six months of research to find.

“The amp is about the size of a deck of cards, but the quality is great. I also try to repurpose as much of the original speakers as possible. This is all about creating the least amount of waste as possible. I guarantee all of the components.”

Nance plans on offering “custom” portable sound systems for people who want to turn their favorite toolboxes or old steamer trunks into stereo systems.

“The systems can run sound for iPods, Blackberries, iPads — basically anything that has a 3.5mm headphone jack.”

Nance’s SpeakBoxxes can be designed as mono or stereo systems and can include potentiometers to eliminate buzz from speakers. Nance is even looking at building guitar amps into vintage cases.

“I come from a very entrepreneurial family. I’ve learned to be as self-sufficient as possible and to find small-business ideas,” said Nance, who also owns a website design business. Handy, since his SpeakBoxxes will be sold primarily through his own website, SpeakBoxx.com, and social media referrals.

Nance returned to Hood River recently after five years in Hawaii working as a Le Cordon Bleu-trained chef at the high-end Kukio club. His sister Maria still runs her own business there producing “Kona Henna” — a top-quality, temporary tattoo product.

Nance and his father, Walt Nance, of Jack-of-All-Trades, are working together on two additional products which are still in the “confidential” stage — all while keeping the family handyman business hopping. And, according to Nance, there may be a food cart business in the near future as well.

While prices will vary for large or custom Speakboxxes, Nance hopes to keep the standard vintage suitcase models priced around $225-$250 each. The added bonus? No one will be wearing your same boom box atop their shoulders at that next beach party.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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