"It's Hot Out Here"
“Ice cold, ice cold,
too cold to hold, almost froze,
need to be sold,
straight from the North Pole,
if I don’t make no money, I lose control.”
Chances are, if you’ve been to a sporting event in the last 25 years, you know James Lake. He’s been a hawker at Tim McCarver Stadium, the Liberty Bowl, Memphis Motorsports Park, the FedEx Forum, and Autozone Park. “I ain’t new to it. I grew to it,” James explains.
He lost his little toe, and his balance, three years ago due to diabetes, so now he’s a vendor with a permanent spot behind home plate for all of the Redbirds’ home games. He sells beer, water, soft drinks and peanuts, but he’s known for that ice cold beer.
“Ice cold, ice cold, too cold to hold, almost froze, need to be sold, straight from the North Pole, if I don’t make no money, I lose control.”
When asked how he came up with his signature sales pitch, he replied, “As long as I been doing it, it’s like a person writing a book. The more I sell, the more I can tell.”
After talking with him, it’s easy to see why he sells more beer than anyone else in the park. “I’m the best in the West,” he says, explaining that he’s had his customers so long, they’re certified. “You don’t get my customers, go get your own.”
James loves his job, because he loves being around people. “I don’t discriminate. I like old people, young people, kids...I treat people the way I like to be treated, and my customers remember me.”
James will be 62 in November, and says he grew in up Collierville before they put the “C” in it. “It was nothing but a square and we rode in a wagon,” he says. He loves baseball and basketball, but he spends his free time cooking. He has his own catering business, Great Lake Catering, that specializes in ribs, turkey legs, brisket, whole shoulders, whole chickens, and cajun catfish.
There’s no website as James stays busy just by word of mouth. “People are constantly calling and I got my hands full. I’m only human and can only do so much. Like my grandfather said, ‘No use overloading the wagon if you can’t pull it!’”
But back to the Redbirds. James’s advice for enjoying a game? “Come to the game and come visit Great Lake. I’ve got the coldest beer at the park for real. Stop thinking and start drinking.”
Look for James at any Memphis Redbirds home game. 2017 games are scheduled through the end of August. www.memphisredbirds.com