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On the Spot: Archer Di Peppe
Depending on your point of view, Archer Di Peppe is either the conscience of the Fredericksburg area or one of the region's most annoying residents.

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Date published: 6/17/2003

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Archer Di Peppe was driving about 1,000 miles a week as a drug rep for a pharmaceutical company when he caught a TV show on PBS one night.

Bill Moyers was interviewing writer and mythologist Joseph Campbell. The interview would change Di Peppe's life. Campbell told stories about Norway and Eskimos and Egypt "and it would all be the same story," Di Peppe said.

The story of hopes and dreams and fears and love. Moyers then asked Campbell what he thought life was about.

Find your bliss, Campbell answered. Find what you love to do and go do that. "It was kind of like a real epiphany for me," Di Peppe said.

Within two weeks, he had rented the building that now houses Neat Stuff on Amelia Street in Fredericksburg. He had quit his job as a traveling salesman. And he went from making $40,000 a year to earning roughly $4,000 in his first year as a shop owner.

Di Peppe—who also taught school for about 10 years—had always loved history and collecting, and a store that combined both was his personal bliss. Today, he also earns money as an appraiser.

Di Peppe, of course, is known as much—if not more—for his activism. Depending on your point of view, he's either the conscience of the Fredericksburg area or one of the region's most annoying residents.

He's attended dozens of public meetings, marched down city streets and was part of a group that sought the removal of City Council members. He has organized and led grassroots movements that influence elections, call for open government, question development and support preservation.

He wants folks to know he doesn't hate the Silvers, developers of Central Park and the planned Celebrate Virginia tourism campus.

He just thinks the Silver Cos. and other developers have more influence than the average resident, and that bothers him. "I will continue to fight that battle as long as I'm here," he said.

-Brian Baer, fredericksburg.com

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