So did you ever have one of those moments when you find an answer in just the right moment in time? That happened to me today. In case you haven’t been reading here before, my husband and I opened a thrift/antique store last month. It’s a side business in a small building we have been unable to sell in the down economy. The building has been and is currently inhabited by the previous owners spirit. His name was Mike. Chairs move, footsteps are heard, swings swing all by themselves at a steady pace for almost an hour… and the little boy that rented upstairs had an invisible older playmate that occupied much of his time. Mike used to run a music studio and give lessons. In fact, while renovating, an old guitar fell from the drop ceiling right smack onto my head!
Business was slow when we first opened the thrift store, and once we said, “Hey Mike, can you drive some customers in here so we can keep the lights on?” And within 30 seconds, a steady stream came in making purchases. Since we’ve opened we’ve had a little sign taped to the cash register that says, “Ask Mike to send customers and thank him”. And we do also talk to him every day we are there. “Good Morning, Mike” , “How ya doin’ , Mike”, things like that.
Well anyhow, I am generally the one who works the store four days a week. This is addition to running our mainstay business (a window cleaning company), working on my zen FB page, blogging and most importantly – taking care of my family and house. It’s quite exhausting sometimes but any way to bring in a little extra income is a must these days… well you all know that!
I came home yesterday afternoon thinking, “do I really want to do this anymore?”
I even told a friend just this morning that I feel like I’ve got my hands into too many things and I’m unable to give my full attention to any of them. So I dragged myself down to the store this morning and pulled up the window blinds for my 5 hour stint. I took a book off the bookshelf of dollar books and plopped down in my chair. I still contemplated in the back of my mind if I wanted to continue this venture or not. People trickled in and out and I made two small sales, not enough to pay for the electricity for the day. A nice lady came in wanted to purchase a bunch of old 78’s for a Victrola but didn’t have enough cash, so I went against my own policy and accepted a check. An older man popped his head in the door and asked if we buy things. I told him not generally (you should see what people want to sell you sometimes) but I’d take a look. *all the while thinking all I had was $20 in the register and a check that I’m not even sure is good*
Well I ended up buying an old camera and three old railroad lanterns from him for the $20. Two of the lanterns were a hot rusty mess but one was in okay shape. Now, I can strike up a conversation anywhere, and this guy was looking for someone to unload his life story on so we began an hour long conversation. We laughed about life, we talked politics and religion, and he told me stories of his days as a Navy Seal in Vietnam. He slowly pulled down his sock and showed me a badly healed wound in his ankle while his face puffed up and his eyes began to tear as he recounted how poorly he was treated upon his return home.
I also discovered he’s been writing books but has never talked to a publisher. I told him I self publish and how it’s the way to go now, and gave him the information that got me to where I am now in my writing. I felt like he was an old friend by the time he left. I began to think about how much I liked it when people like this came in. To hear their stories, and in many cases tofeel them. The laughter, the tears.
I was just about to close up when another lady came in. She bought some old window shutters last week and was picking them up. She arrived five minutes before closing. I felt a silent groan but welcomed her with a smile. She chatted for 25 minutes, well past closing and people walking by saw the door opened and filed in. The shutter-lady smiled and whispered “sorry, it’s my fault you are still here… but maybe one of these customers will be good for you!”, and she was on her way. No one bought anything and as soon as they left I hurried straight to the blinds and turned the open sign around to closed. I had one more blind to draw when I saw a van pull up. Ughhh, really? I peaked my head through the door, smiled, waved, and mouthed “it’s okay, come on in”.
The couple said they were from out of town, but still in our State. They happened to be driving past and wanted to stop and see the building – and that the man’s father had owned the building previously. “Ahhh, I said… Mike!”, then I looked at him while widening my eyes and said,“you know… you’re dad is still here.”, and I proceeded to explain all the little noises, bumps, chair pushing and happenings in the place over the years. I even showed them our “ask mike sign” by the cash register. They were quite fascinated and I was really happy to have met them. I also explained how when I brought the old guitar back (that cracked me in the head) and hung it on the wall, the activity seemed to calm down a LOT. While the couple looked around at all the renovations, and recounted old times, we talked about all the spirit happenings some more and I offered them the guitar. They said they think Mike would like it to remain there. The man purchased a few rock and roll/music items and they gave me their contact information for when either I was ready, or they were ready – to receive their dads guitar back. Mike’s son wished me all the best success and said it was nice meeting me. Then before closing the door he smiled a bit of a smile, looked around and said, “Goodbye dad“.
So my a-ha moment, as the dear Oprah would call it, was that I’ve opened this store for a purpose of earning a little extra cash and helping to upkeep this money pit of a building… and in doing so I’m meeting new people, hearing wonderful tales, and enjoying old souls.