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Valley man repays debt from 24-year-old scam

The entryway to Stinkweeds in Phoenix is shown. (Bob McClay/KTAR)

PHOENIX -- It was a typical busy day for a Valley store owner last Saturday but after one customer's visit, it was a day she'll never forget.

Kimber Lanning has owned Stinkweed's record store near Central and Camelback for nearly 26 years. She gets to know her customers pretty well, so it was no surprise that she recognized the man who came in on Saturday.

"He walks in the door, and he said ‘I haven't been in here for a long time,'" said Lanning. "I said, 'Yeah, I know, but I remember you.' He said, 'You're kidding me!' He looked around and said, 'I have kids now and I don't get over here very much.'"

The man's name is Bob. He doesn't want us to use his last name. Lanning said Bob came to the cash register and asked her for change for $20.

"I gave him a ten and two fives. Then he gave me the ten bucks back. I said ‘What's this?'"

Then Bob told her a story.

"He said ‘Twenty years ago, I price switched on you. I took a record that was really expensive and I stuck a used sticker over it, and you sold it to me at the discounted price because you didn't know. It's been bugging me ever since, so here's your ten bucks back.'"

Lanning and her sales clerk were shocked.

"We stood there and were just saucer eyed, you know?"

Lanning said that Bob then bought a 25th anniversary Stinkweeds t-shirt for $25 and walked out of the store. Before he left, she told him "Wow, man, thanks a lot!"

Bob doesn't know what the record was that he shortchanged Lanning on so many years ago but he said that he remembers doing it.

"It's just one of those things that just kind of stuck with me. I always thought about it and felt guilty about it."

As he was driving by Stinkweeds on Saturday, he decided to stop in a pay his debt. He feels a little bit of weight has been lifted from his shoulder. Bob said he switched the price tags 24 years ago, when he was just 16. Now, he's a 40-year-old father of three.

Bob's never told his kids about it, but now that he spoke with KTAR, he plans to. He became emotional as he said he hopes it's an example for them.

"I have three really good girls and I hope that we're doing a good job raising them," he said. "I can't even picture them doing something like that, you know?"

Lanning thinks his story is amazing.

"Think about that. He was thinking about that for 20 years," Lanning said. "I had no idea, but he was thinking about it for 20 years."

Bob's situation isn't unique at Stinkweeds. Lanning said that one day, she got a package with no return address. Inside was a CD, "The Ghost of Cain" by New Model Army. Also in the package was money and an anonymous note from someone saying that they were sorry that they had stolen the CD, wanted to pay for it and return it to the store.

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About the Author


Years with the company: I started on January 2, 2006.

Education: I was born in San Antonio, Texas, but we moved to Phoenix when I was one-year-old in 1957. I grew up here and graduated from Alhambra High School and attended Phoenix College.

Family: I am married to my wife Rene', who is a librarian in the Washington school district. During free time, I may be found playing basketball in the driveway with my son, Devin. He's also keeping me busy with school, Little League, and playing in chess tournaments around the Valley.

Favorite food: Lots of favorite food, but our favorite restaurant is Fajitas.

Favorite spot in Arizona: The Little America Hotel in Flagstaff.

Favorite news memory: We have to go back to October 15, 1979. I was a country music air personality at KROP Radio in Brawley, California, when we had a 6.7 earthquake. Thankfully, there were no deaths and only minor injuries, but the entire community was pretty freaked out and listening to the station on their transistor radios. I would not want to go through an earthquake again, but it sure was a great night to work in radio and see how it can make a difference in people's lives.

First job: Working as a stringer for 'The Arizona Republic' at high school football games. My first real job was flipping burgers at the old Sandy's Hamburgers at 51st Avenue and Indian School Road. My first radio job was as announcer at KALJ radio in Yuma in 1977.

First concert: Doug Oldham gospel concert in the 1970s at the old East High School in Phoenix.

Favorite sports team: Phoenix Roadrunners minor league hockey. My dad took me to a game when I was in grade school, and I was hooked. I wanted to be a radio hockey play-by-play man. I used to take my cassette recorder and sit up in the rafters of the Coliseum and do play-by-play. It was great later in life to also take my son to Roadrunners games. Too bad the team just folded, I'll miss them. (Going to the Coyotes is fun, but they're not "my" team.)

Outside interests: My family and I are active in our church - Northern Hills Community Church in Phoenix. We enjoy going to movies, sporting events, and like to vacation at the Beach Cottages in the Pacific Beach area of San Diego. And I love to play catch, basketball, football with my son.

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