For over 25 years, my father, brother, his wife ran the family business, a garden center. I worked there while going to college. It was expected of me that I not go on spring break if I expected any kind of financial support to go school. I didn’t resent it though. I accepted my fate as a necessary evil and in turn it kept me out of serious trouble.
So in the second year of my marriage, when my brother and his wife announced they could no longer run the business, I eagerly offered myself up and my new husband came along for the ride. It was a strange sort of thing and I don’t know why I exactly ran to the responsibility.
You see, growing up in a retail environment was not easy at all. Any parent of a school mate that came to shop treated me as if I were beneath them, after all I did play in the dirt for a living. I’ll never forget a woman exclaiming to me after she learned I had a college degree, “So why are you working here?”
I witnessed my brother’s weight gain being the center of conversation when shoppers talked about the latest TV interview or commercial featuring him. How rude! He stopped being the go-to person for TV reporters wanting the advice on how to take care of their newly installed plants when bad weather was predicted. He withdrew from the spotlight that he really enjoyed. I felt bad for him.
Also, this was a 24/7 job. To get a week off or even a weekend off was impossible. You were there before 8:00 and left after 5:00 pm every day, rain, sun, sleet, snow. There were always emergencies it seemed.
So why did I feel this strange compulsion to go back?
When my husband and I investigated the books, we found that the business could not go on another year as it was currently being run. I must admit, as much of a jerk as my husband was to me, he was a helluva business guy and he knew it.
Within 5 years, he’d turned the business back into being profitable. From borrowing money every winter to having money left in the bank to get us through to the next spring. This was a huge accomplishment in a very short time period.
He was a great salesman and keen eye to the books but not such a great partner to me. And after 5 years, he announced to me he could no longer do this. He told my parents, with little discussion from me that we were going to close the family business.
Next Chapter- The End of Summer