Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Fast forward

Well, now you know all about the beginning.  Now I'm going to fast forward to the middle. 

After having lived on the East coast for six years, we decided to move back to the Chicago area.  With the help of my brother in law, we found a great location to open a liquor store.  It was right next to a Walgreen's and Walgreen's had just decided to stop selling liquor.  We thought it was a perfect location and we would be able to capture the market of customers that had been buying liquor from Walgreen's.

 It was so good to be back in my home town, surrounded by family.  It was a very exciting time. We were searching for a new home & we were working on the store, plus, I had just started a new job.

We rented the store as an empty box.  My Mom, sister and I  rolled up our sleeves and painted and scrubbed floors, while the guys were out buying coolers and shelving.  It was a lot of work, but it was worth it.  When we finally opened the doors, the store was beautiful.  It has always been very important to keep the store spotless, well lit and smelling nice.  We always want out customers to enjoy their visit.  We also found a radio station that seems to appeal to everyone.  It's music from the  80's- who can resist?

Harry ran the store & my mom helped out for a few months in the beginning.  Harry found his calling.  He really loved running a small family business.  He loved the interaction with our customers and being part of the local community.  I was working full time and doing a fair amount of business travel. Thank God I had a job because it took some time to build the business to the point of actually making a profit.  In the beginning, the little strip mall was empty except for a dental practice.  It wasn't until a couple of little stores opened that we started getting more customers.  Many people didn't even know we were there. 

Our big break came when a fantastic Polish Deli opened a couple of doors down.  It was always busy and many of their customers would stop in our store for their liquor needs.  We started to carry an extensive selection of Polish beer and vodka.  The owners of the deli were really nice people who ended up being good friends.  They are gone now, but the deli remains.  The strip mall is actually full now.  We have a vitamin store, gift shop & dental practice. 

The economy hit us hard, like most other businesses.  Plus, I lost my job.  Like many people, I tried to find another job- sent out thousands of resumes-got little response and then kind of gave up.  I started to focus on my writing .  I became the 'Chicago Alternative Health Examiner' for the Examiner online publication.  It pays by the number of people that read your article.  I make about $50 per year : )

I also wrote a book.  I wanted to write a book geared towards adolescents/ young adults.  I was and still am an avid reader and when I was a child I loved mysteries.  My favorites were 'Trixie Belden' and 'Nancy Drew'.  My book has mystery, mysticism , a love story and of course there is a morale to the story.  It's called 'Hirens Magical Adventure' and some of it is based on Harry's own experiences as a child.  It's about an American Indian boy who is sent to India for the Summer to learn about his heritage.  Let's just say he gets more than he bargained for ; )  I published it as a E-book.  Maybe some day it will be in print. 

Right about then we encountered another challenge with our store.  I mentioned that the reason we chose our location was because it was right by a Walgreen's and that Walgreen's had stopped selling liquor, so we hoped to serve those customers.  Well, Walgreen's has decided to start selling beer and wine again.  As a huge corporation, they have major buying power.  We could never compete with them on price.  They can offer sale items at below our cost!  So, even though excellent customer service has always been a priority, we realized we had to offer something extra to our customers.  

I thought it would be a good idea to focus on our wine drinkers.  I have coordinated two wine & food tasting seminars so far.  I really enjoy the whole process.  I am learning so much as I go along.  We are really lucky to have the support of our friend Jason Tulloss.  He runs the Schaumburg Wine Club and is nice enough to post our events on their website.  Most of our participants have been from the wine club.  They are a great group of people. 

I'm trying to think of some ideas for the next event.  It will probably be something related to entertaining over the holidays.  I'd better get to work on that- the month of October is almost gone!

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