In January, myself and business associate are still hunting for retail space to move our pipe shop into after three plus years in one location. As with any new small business, the first few years are rough while building the brand and just as St. Johns Crystal Cathedral begins reaching new heights the property owner decided to hand out a 30-day notice stating, “…you are not good tenants.” This falls on dumfounded ears as rent is paid on time according to the agreement signed and dealing with a property owner who is not concerned about the wellbeing of tenants taking four months just to repair a leaking roof; it took a threat of not paying rent to get action. She declined making bill paying easier for three adjoining office rentals (ours one of them) by not installing separate utility meters, one leaseholder agreed to setup the accounts in their name and each month we battled as to who owed what amount; nobody ever paid the correct amount. The owners of that business conspired with said property owner to have us evicted (the third company moved to better location by this time) under the false pretense that we were not paying our utility bill this after eight months of paying, there are canceled checks from us to them signed and cashed. I believe GREED to be the common factor with the neighbor wanting to monopolize the corner as their dispensary is on one end, us, then their grow shop on other end somehow convincing property owner to side with them; legal action pending. That alone is enough trauma for one year and be glad it is over, but wait there’s more!
In St. Johns, Oregon there is no shortage of vacant spaces with the footage we require however, the owners we queried turned us away stating they want a family type business once discovering what we are selling. I sense a Reefer Madness mentality here even though the business is retail tobacco pipes. If you have not seen the movie it is pure propaganda about alleged harmful effects of hemp, some say backed by William Randolph Hearst as he grew trees for paper which compared with hemp paper is inferior. All this nonsense caused delays as we had to vacate by May 1 fortunately, in early April 2015 a brick and mortar becomes available via one of our vendors although in dire need of
cleaning, painting, plus connection of power. Once a mini-mart but closed up and used for storage for several years the roof leaks in numerous places, the tile floor is blacken in mold, and the interior walls painted in three different colors. To reopen, a mountainous task lay before us then with hard work and generous friends, we were back in business by the end of May, except no power. Just when we thought good landlords found their true identities became apparent as thou reeky, fat-kidneyed, malt wormed owners, and electrician, kept promising and promising but due to thou’s lumpish, flap mouthed, mumble-news electricity is never connected from the meters to building laying fault on the power company and the city of Portland. As summer turns to fall with winters’ cold close behind this becomes direly important when out of the setting, autumn sun a knight in shining armor atop a white horse comes to the rescue. Sound the trumpets! A property owner whose space we thought too small for the business last year walks into the malt wormed owners place asking if still interested in renting for his current tenant is moving out. Before thou could say Ticonderoga affirmations all around and an exodus to electricity plus warmth however at the worst possible time for a retail establishment, the holiday season! It must be done.
In February 2015, under chilly, rain threatening skies, whilst driving 60mph along State Highway 14 in SW Washington the 390 engine, four-barrel Edelbrock carburetor of my 1965 Ford Galaxie 500 drinks gas as if only $.35 a gallon suddenly sputters, hesitates, then all combustion is lost, then roars back to life. No, no, no not now come on baby get me off the freeway I lovingly mutter not knowing if the nearest exit I can make. Fortunately, I do lowering the anxiety level but not much as there is no place to pull over on this two-lane road if mechanical death comes calling. A parking lot I reach safely and a friend mechanic I call running he gets the car but one mile later a loud bang, loss of power; quickly I turn off onto a side street coasting to a stop in front of a red, 50’s style ranch house friend right behind. Some minutes of head scratching pass then determine the fuel line along with fuel pump should be replaced. Three hours later the ignition key is turned, the starter cranks the engine but no burst of power so with cold, darkness and rain setting in the Ford gets a tow home to continue with diagnostics. Unable to afford a licensed pro the friend turns my garage into a mechanics’, pools of oil, carburetor parts, intake manifold, pistons, crankshaft, in addition to other engine parts litter the floor, then a small crack in the combustion chamber is discovered. Stomach acid is checked half way up the esophagus as the crack can be bored out but must go to a specialists’ shop, so an appointment for treatment is scheduled. Just a few hours later a diagnosis comes back: replace the engine as there is a second, six-inch crack in the block beyond repair. This is disconcerting news when will it end.
Two long cccooolllddd months of stressful endurance plus hitching rides with friends to and from the pipe shop waiting between one to three hours for a ride home tested me yet there is little I can do. To pass this phase and ease apprehension I watch plotless television show hosts peddle gasless grills, knives, and cheap looking, plastic containers and a PBS host pushing the sale of his travel DVDS through donations. By the time of shop relocation in May, the Galaxie 500 has its heart transplant thus resuming its voracious appetite for gasoline reducing, but not eliminating, my irregular body functions caused by ongoing events. Curious for further innards’ relief I input symptoms into the internets finding what is known as BART which is nothing to do with mass transit instead, a diet of Bananas, Applesauce, Rice, and Toast designed to curtail stomach churning and other associated aliments. Substituting the stewed apples and browned bread, I mix fruit with yogurt topping with a touch of honey boosting health benefits enormously. Soon sweet sleep returns, intense, pounding headaches lessen, and churning acid decreases returning the morning constitutional to a fabulous state.
May through mid-October the unforeseen effects of thou clouted, clay-brained, rude growing property owner drained savings set aside to sustain personal needs as the business builds leaving thyself searching help-wanted ads for extra income. I realize starting a business is a crapshoot and money invested may not come back due to the public’s lack of recognition, from poor management, or thou mangled, rump fed, nut-hook of a property owner. After three months’ worth of online applications and interviews I became an Event Specialist handing out free samples from a cart to the herds of people in major grocery and warehouse stores. The objective is to educate consumers on any given product encouraging purchasing on the spot. While this job is ideal with retirees I, a non-retiree, love the task at hand even the behind the scenes details of pushing cart from storage to sales floor, setting up signage and merchandising the display, breaking it all done at shows end, and returning cart to storage. There are few downsides to this the biggest it is only part time weekend work however, talk is of changes hopefully more hours. Fingers crossed.
2015 closes, thankfully, and 2016 begins with firm, warm feet on the ground, lights from above, forward motion, and a brand new 390 gas guzzling engine; it can only get better.