Preface: My first job was in a knife store in Los Angeles when I was 15 and I kept with it until I was about 22 when the shop closed. The owner was an old veteran from Chicago. I basically had run of the place provided I didn't do anything inordinately stupid, or if I did, I cleaned up afterwards.
So me and one of the guys what got hired during Trial By Combat were working an outdoor swap meet, cause we do that. It's an LA thing I guess. We'd brought yer standard collection of swords, knives, antiques, and weird crap that may or may not be vaguely related to any of that. We're doin' our thing when up comes this bloke. He doesn't say anything, he's got himself a little cart, I "howarya" as a means of proximity alarm, and go back to helping other customers. He's looking around for about half an hour, which is a good trick in a 20x10 booth.
Bloke: "Can you help me?"
Me: "Surely can, what's up?"
Bloke: "I need a lot of swords and guns."
Me: "That sentence just upgraded you to my new favorite person. So what exactly do you need?"
Bloke: "Are you familiar with Pirates of the Caribbean? I need a lot of stuff like that, sabers, cutlass, flint locks, maybe some weird looking daggers."
Ah one of those. Small productions, pretty sure it's going to be the next big thing despite all evidence to the contrary.
Me: "Yeah, that is completely a thing that can happen. How many are we talking about?"
Bloke: "Probably about 70 pieces all in all. And this is going to sound weird, but big, shiny cartoon looking stuff would be best."
Me: "You're right, that does sound weird, but we can do it. Can you come by our regular shop? What you see is what I got here but we've got a lot more there. Though we'll still have to get a shipment in for an order that size."
He said it was fine. I gave him the address and off he went. The shop was closed Mondays (unless I got bored and opened it anyway) so I didn't find out until Tuesday what happened.
The guy went to the store the same day we spoke, which is impressive since it was over an hour away at that point. Sure enough he ordered 74 items, replica pistols and rifles, and a bunch of swords. They all needed to be antiqued (made to look old) and he wanted us to deliver them to his warehouse as soon as possible. He didn't quibble about the price and paid everything upfront, cash.
I won't go into excessive details but it was a fun week. We had to visit a couple of supply warehouses, which always makes me a little giddy, and then there was applying all the cosmetic changes to make the stuff look old and worn. We finally go to deliver the stuff and I'm figuring warehouse is some storage facility or something uninteresting like that, and holy s**t it's the Disney Staging Grounds for the theme parks!
Bloke: "Oh yeah, didn't I tell you? This is for the Pirates ride. We did some updating to match the movies and decided to replace the props."
Now I grew up in production houses, I'm no stranger to backlots, but I'd never seen anything like this. Incredibly complex animatronics in various stages of assembly, the machinery behind some of Disneyland's optical illusions, and a metric ton of other stuff.
I might have started drooling a little. Plus Jack Sparrow without skin, so that was neat.
I wandered while the boss and the Disney crew looked over everything, even chatted with a few of the engineers who were happy to discuss what they were working on. When all was said and done we were given a couple passes to check out the ride when it was done.
We did some more work with the park once in a while; replaced the weapons used in the Peter Pan show at one point. Sadly our contact, the Bloke who had set up the initial deal, retired, and his replacement decided to deal import stuff from China instead of deal with us. But it was fun while it lasted.