just procrastinating

Saturday, November 27, 2004

I saw this story on the Today Show over the weekend. Apparently Alan Aerts has this great Christmas spread at his house every year. He also has an annoying neighbor who hates the traffic that this causes and decided to use city government to shut him down.
MONTE SERENO, Calif. — For six years, Alan and Bonnie Aerts transformed their Silicon Valley home into a Christmas wonderland, complete with surfing Santa, jumbo candy canes and a carol-singing chorus of mannequins.

Visitors loved it. After NBC's "Weekend Today" last year featured the $150,000 display of custom-designed props, more than 1,500 cars prowled the Aertses' cul-de-sac in this upscale San Jose suburb each night.

The merry menagerie stayed indoors this year, though. Instead, on the manicured lawn outside the couple's Tudor mansion stands a single tiding: a 10-foot-tall Grinch with green fuzz, rotting teeth and beet-red eyeballs.

The Aertses erected the smirking giant as a protest against the couple across the street — Le and Susan Nguyen, who initiated complaints to city officials that the display was turning the quiet neighborhood into a Disneyesque nightmare.
This guy is my new hero. When I was watching it, I wondered what this guy did that he could live in such a huge mansion. He doesn't quite fit the profile of a rich Silicon Valley dude. Here is the answer. He owns and leases vending machines.
This is the world of Aerts, the vending king of Silicon Valley. A former bread delivery man and grocery store clerk, Aerts has built a fortune by placing soda machines and candy bar dispensers in virtually every commercial area in the South Bay. Now, he lives at the top of the hill that used to be the site of the Claravale Dairy, in a six-building estate that caused a stir in a neighborhood of big houses.

When Aerts couldn't get the square footage he wanted in the new house by constructing a cavernous basement, he added outbuildings following completion of the main, 6,400-square-foot house. A small movie theater, a pool house, weight rooms and several garages went up, all in a Monte Sereno loophole that doesn't limit auxiliary buildings.

In a good year, Aerts says he pulls in $15 million, in a bad year $5 million. Even in the economic slump recently, he's been adding sales routes as smaller distributors go belly-up.

"Things are pretty sweet right now," he says.

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