Returning To My Florida Store Was Bittersweet With Little To Do


After two years spent battling everything from not being able to find decent help to a homeless problem in the woods behind the store, my Missouri antiques shop is finally up and running — humming along actually.

I wrote a letter to the mayor, and the homeless were moved (at least temporarily), and I hired a few people who could actually tell me what 10 percent of 100 is without reaching for a calculator.

Finally able to take a deep breath, I was free to spend some real time in the Florida store. I marched in with a real “Hon-ey! I’m ho-me!” exuberance, and they looked up from the cash register long enough to ask, “What did you bring us?”

Turns out they don’t need me anymore, just my inventory.

It’s bittersweet.

I’d like to take credit for training them well, inspiring them creatively and instilling in them a good work ethic. Nah. My manager, Bonnie, did all that. She really knows how to bring out the best in people.

Previously, after the clerks would go home, I’d march around importantly with my clipboard, listing everything that needed to be spiffed up. At the end of the tour this time, the only note I had written read, “Looks great.” It was almost a letdown.

I had gotten used to returning from one trip or another, walking in there and having my senses insulted by the way things had been “let go.” Things were clean, but they were disorganized. It looked like, well, a typical antiques mall. Where was the design, the glamour, the pizzazz?

I would then stay up all night happily fiddling around — switching things up, swapping the kitchen area for the beach area, creating new vignettes and having a good old time.

Now, I no longer wanted to touch anything, in case I ruined it.

Instead, I glumly emptied the trailer — hot, sweaty and alone — loading new merchandise into shopping carts for the clerks to put onto the sales floor wherever it “belonged.” Humph.

Then I sat at my desk for a couple of days and did paperwork. Humph.

Then I double-checked their banking (it was perfect) and paid all the bills (that, they leave to me). Humph.

Then I tried to cheer myself up. “Aren’t you successful!” I bragged to myself. “Haven’t you built this store up over the last 17 years from virtually nothing to a mainstay of the community? Can’t you be proud of yourself?”

“Sure,” I answered myself, pouting. “I’m a real, live businessperson.” Then I shouted, “But where’s the fun in that?”

Then it hit me. I had an attic full of Christmas inventory! While the clerks were home, asleep, I’d put that stuff out! Never mind that it was mid-September and 90 degrees outside. Christmas is coming! It’s right around the corner!

When I told my husband of my plan, he nodded uncomprehendingly. He had always thought I started up these stores to make money.

Silly boy.

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