Much To Mark’s Chagrin, It’s Still Winter Here


You may recall that a few weeks ago, I promised my husband Mark that he could retreat to the balmy weather of Florida if, when my new store opened in Independence, Mo., it was still below 35 degrees. I figured that was a safe bet, seeing as how we had been hearing about the mystical approach of something called “spring” for an entire month.

Mystical, or perhaps mythical?

Independence set a world record last week for hitting a low that was 10 full degrees below its previous low. It was 31 degrees, but it had never gone below 41 on April 14 before!

Weathermen were as giddy as Florida weathermen are when a hurricane is approaching. They touted this record-setting as if the united citizenry of the greater Kansas City area had worked hard to achieve it. I was impressed by their ability to turn lemons into lemonade for the viewing public.

Mark was not impressed at all. “You said I could leave if it was below 65,” he stated. (He had negotiated in an extra 30 degrees, but it was pretty much a moot point by now.)

“OK, go,” I said. “Think of me when you’re on the beach.”

“You mean you’re not coming with me?”

“I have to mind the store, at least until we find a manager,” I said.

His shoulders slumped. I didn’t have the heart to tell him I was having a great time in the store. It didn’t even feel like working. And I should’ve known this would happen because, when I was little, I liked playing store. When I was a teenager, I worked in a store. I put myself through college clerking at a store and, when I first moved to Florida, I sought out a job as manager of a store.

When stores go away due to the ever-increasing popularity of online shopping, I will be sad. I will also be stuck with two buildings perfectly adapted to retail. I knew I was betting against the odds. Even Walmart has been trying to sell its extra buildings to prisons, or so I hear.

But me, I’m hoping retail comes back, and that people will decide they want to see and touch things before they buy them. In the meantime, I’m thinking of diversifying my portfolio to include a cardboard-manufacturing plant and the trucking industry. All these cardboard boxes! All these deliveries!

Another good thing to do would be to start planning ahead on how I can convert my two perfect retail buildings to cardboard recycling facilities. I mean, where do all the empty boxes go? My heart goes out to hoarders, those collectors of all things useful and useless, well-loved by antiques dealers everywhere. If anyone has a Superman #1 comic book, it’s them — not that they could get to it.

But what are they doing with all this cardboard they get “free” with every online purchase? They’re saving it, of course, but where? Are there storage units full of nothing but FedEx and UPS boxes? Are we facing a tree shortage?

And, if we are, how can I best convert a retail storefront into a tree nursery?

I’m always looking for the next big thing. I’d say, “I’ll be rich someday,” but time is running out.