Friday, May 14, 2010

My Life With Comic Books: Part # 96

The current cast of characters:
Paul Howley: age 39
Mal Howley: my wife
Adam Dean Howley: 15 years old
Cassy Howley: 10 years old
Chris: The manager of my company


When I was twelve years old I commented to my slightly younger brother Jay that I didn’t want to work past the age of forty. I have no idea why this crazy idea popped into my head at such a young age. When I was a kid it just struck me as a good idea. I had watched my father work very hard to support his family and I thought it would be more “fun” to be playing at home instead of working at an office. When my children were born I began to seriously consider the possibility of “early retirement.”

When I hired employees I hoped that these would be the right people to take over my comic book and collectible store when I ceased coming into work each day. Some worked out great and others not so great. I had employed dozens of people since I opened my Worcester store and I never had to fire anyone. Some of the worst employees left on their own and unfortunately, a few of the good employees left to either start their own comic book stores or left because they desired more money or decent benefits. I was now paying higher wages and we had developed a good benefits package so most of my employees were satisfied enough to stay working for me. I placed many of our best employees at the Worcester location since most of my earnings came from this larger store. My Fitchburg store was profitable and it was important to me, but my main focus was on the fast-paced activity and high sales of Worcester.

Chris was being “groomed” to be the overall company manager. He would oversee all employee-type issues and he would see to it that the inventory was properly balanced by moving stock between the two stores for the maximum sales potential. Chris also learned to do our basic bookkeeping and bill paying. He did a really good job of this.

David Hartwell was responsible for the ordering of all new comic book products, which still accounted for the majority of our annual sales. His job was to order enough to satisfy the needs of our customers without having any extra, unsold copies. Our slogan was, “Nobody ever went out of business by selling out, but lots of stores go out of business with unsold inventory.” David was also instrumental in our increase in sales of independent and alternative comic books as well as maintaining our high sales volume of mainstream super-hero comic books.

Jose Rivera was one of our most popular sales clerks. He had a love and enthusiasm for comic books, toys, and Japanese animation. Almost everybody loved Jose because of his helpfulness and positive attitude. Jose had been a customer of our Worcester store since he was a teenager and we were happy to hire him when he became available.

Ken Carson was spending most of his week at the Fitchburg store, working with Bernie, but as my fortieth birthday drew near, it was clear that he would be needed in Worcester.

We had quite a few other people working for us, including full and part-time employees, and I was fairly confident that this group could take care of my comic book stores in my absence. I was ready to actually retire from day-to-day involvement in the business that I had spent many years building. It was a strange feeling for me. I loved my business! I enjoyed my friends and customers and I still was excited about most of the different products that we dealt in. How could I possibly leave this business that was so much a part of my life?! I knew I wanted to be a major presence in the lives of my two children and I enjoyed spending time with my wife and kids even more than I enjoyed my stores. I figured it was worth a try. So, two days before I turned forty, I turned my business over to Chris Ball and the rest of the gang of “That’s Entertainment.” Chris had a cake for me and he had converted an action-figure into a miniature Frank Sinatra and stuck it onto the top of the cake to indicate that I had done it “My Way.”

Next chapter: My father’s 60th birthday gift and my wife goes away for far too long!

No comments:

Post a Comment