Wednesday, July 12, 2017

My Life With Comic Books Part # 207









A brief introduction:
My name is Paul Howley, owner of the Eisner Award winning pop culture collector’s store known as “That’s Entertainment” in Worcester, Massachusetts and a second store in Fitchburg, Massachusetts. Some people have called me the “luckiest man in the comic book business.” (I’m not) My stores have been around for over thirty years and it’s been a long and interesting combination of events and people that have brought these stores to this current place. It is not my intent to boast or brag about my store or my life. I just want to tell you my story. In many instances, my wife remembers things a little differently, but this is the truth as I remember it.
The Current Cast of Characters:
Paul Howley: age 48
Mal Howley: age 48
Adam Howley: my son, age 21
Cassy Howley: my daughter, age 18

MY LIFE WITH COMIC BOOKS: THE HISTORY OF A COMIC SHOP:  Part #207

   As our planned house-hunting time in south Florida was nearing its end, even though we had visited dozens of interesting homes, we hadn’t found a house that we were ready to buy. Mal and I carefully reviewed the listing information sheets of many of the homes one night and then, with no decision made, we went to sleep. The next morning, Mal told me that she had prayed for some insight and when she woke up she felt that she wanted to go back to see the property with the guest-house.

   Grace Noble, our real estate agent, dutifully took us back there. As we remembered, the house wasn’t very dynamic looking but it could meet our needs. It had a nice lot of nearly two and a half acres including lots of tropical south Florida vegetation that created a nice wall of privacy between the house and the neighboring homes. The completely screened-in swimming pool was a nice full-sized pool (not the usual small suburban Florida pools we had seen in our house hunting). The house was one of only five homes on a private unpaved road and it was conveniently located within walking distance to a shopping plaza that contained a grocery store, restaurants, a bank, a video rental store, a cell-phone store, and a full-service mobile Post Office van. At first, we were a bit concerned that this shopping plaza might be too close by but there were enough trees to completely block the plaza from view. The guest house was the biggest “negative” thing about the property for us. We certainly didn’t need this extra space and the property “asking price” reflected the inclusion of this guest-house.

   The owners had listed the home for sale at $529,000.00. The property had only been on the market for eleven days and the real estate market in south Florida was pretty strong at that time. We decided to make an offer of $464,300.00 for the property and we were actually shocked when the owners accepted our offer. The only contingency would be a satisfactory home inspection. Normally, I don’t hire home inspectors because I’m pretty good at spotting potential problems but since Florida is quite different from any other area I’ve lived in before, especially because of the potential for termite infestations, I hired a professional. The report came back indicating that things looked pretty good. We were feeling confident that this was the right property for us to buy.

   We had a couple of days left before had to drive back to New Hampshire and we had a lot of little details that needed to be completed to ensure that the home purchase would smoothly move forward. One issue was obtaining home-owner’s insurance. I assumed this would just take a quick phone call to a local insurance agent and I was surprised when I was informed that no insurance company would be interested in selling me insurance on the property because it was considered to be in a “hurricane-zone.”  The property was only six miles from the ocean, and even though there hadn’t been a hurricane in Jupiter, Florida in over forty years, the devastation of Hurricane Andrew in south Florida was still too much for insurance companies to overlook the possibility of another hurricane hitting Florida. We called our real estate agent and told her that we obviously couldn’t buy the property if we couldn’t get insurance on it. She called the sellers and they called their insurance company and convinced them to offer us an insurance policy on the home. Instead of the $500 per year that we were accustomed to pay for an annual insurance premium, this policy was over $6000 per year with an $8000 wind-related deductible! We wanted the property enough so we purchased the insurance and set everything in motion to buy the place. Grace would get everything taken care of and we could complete the transaction through the mail since we needed to get back to New Hampshire now.

   Next chapter: The summer seems short as we prepare to leave our amazing friends.

Monday, April 17, 2017

My Life With Comic Books Part # 206



A brief introduction:

My name is Paul Howley, owner of the Eisner Award winning pop culture collector’s store known as “That’s Entertainment” in Worcester, Massachusetts and a second store in Fitchburg, Massachusetts. Some people have called me the “luckiest man in the comic book business.” (I’m not) My stores have been around for over thirty years and it’s been a long and interesting combination of events and people that have brought these stores to this current place. It is not my intent to boast or brag about my store or my life. I just want to tell you my story. In many instances, my wife remembers things a little differently, but this is the truth as I remember it.

The Current Cast of Characters:

Paul Howley: age 48

Mal Howley: age 48

Adam Howley: my son, age 21

Cassy Howley: my daughter, age 18

 

MY LIFE WITH COMIC BOOKS: THE HISTORY OF A COMIC SHOP:  Part #206

 

   Once Cassandra’s high school graduation and graduation party were done, Mal and I packed our suitcases and planned to drive to Florida to try to find a place to live that was about a half-hour away from Cassy’s chosen college, Palm Beach Atlantic University. I had hoped that a big move away from everything that reminded us of Adam might help ease the sadness of losing him.

  

   I had done some Internet searching for suitable homes and I was surprised at how reasonable parts of south Florida seemed to be. We didn’t want to spend a lot on a Florida home because we still owned our home in Alton Bay and we wanted to be able to keep it so we could spend summers in New Hampshire with our friends and relatives.

  

   After contacting our excellent Realtor, Judy McShane, she connected us with Grace Noble, a real estate agent located in Jupiter, Florida. We explained to Grace that we had no idea what kind of house we were looking for nor how much we wanted to spend. Driving us around Jupiter looking at houses ranging from $150,000 to over $600,000 must have annoyed her; however, she never seemed bothered by it. She noted our likes and dislikes and took those ideas into consideration in suggesting other homes. We looked at about ten homes each day, making notes on the listing forms so we’d remember certain details about each house. When we got back to our hotel each night, we would review them. Many could be eliminated right away so Mal would draw a big “X” through the page. Although we saw some houses we really liked, we were surprised at how small most of the house lots were. Being accustomed to having a decent-sized lot (usually 2-3 acres) so it seemed odd to have a huge home with a neighboring home literally twenty feet away.

  

   We visited a housing development called “Abacoa” in Jupiter that was modeled after the Walt Disney “Celebration” development near Orlando, Florida. The homes were really beautiful. All of the yards were meticulously maintained and had beautiful flowering bushes and plantings. One nice feature was that the garage for each home was not visible from the streets. The garages were all accessed from a small private road that ran behind each home. Homes in Abacoa usually sold the day they went on the market. When the developer “released” new lots, a hundred people would show up and the “lucky” twenty buyers would snatch the lots up on the first day they became available. The developer would tell you exactly what style home you could build on that lot and there weren’t many options because the neighborhood was really pre-planned. Our biggest concern was that this particular neighborhood charged nearly $300 per month for Homeowners Association fees!

  

   We looked at an equestrian neighborhood called “Jupiter Farms.” Apparently, when this neighborhood was initially started, there was a demand for larger lots so that horse owners could keep their animals on their own property. The house lots were a minimum of one and a quarter acres and they were heavily treed and had lots of tropical vegetation. The home we looked at was interesting. It was a “Florida-style” home that had four bedrooms, two bathrooms, a living room, dining room, family room, and a small kitchen. The home was on a small private road and it had nearly three acres of land. There was a nice-sized, fully enclosed swimming pool. (These fully screened coverings keep bugs and debris out of your pool area and they’re quite common in Florida) This property also had a completely separate guest-house that had a huge bedroom, a full bathroom, a living room, a laundry room, and a full kitchen. Mal and I liked the area but we had no interest in having a guest-house so Mal drew a large “X” on the listing paper. We still had several more days to look at other properties and Grace was still willing to show us more.

 

Next chapter: We’re running out of time.

 

Thursday, January 26, 2017

My Life With Comic Books Part # 205


A brief introduction:

My name is Paul Howley, owner of the Eisner Award winning pop culture collector’s store known as “That’s Entertainment” in Worcester, Massachusetts and a second store in Fitchburg, Massachusetts. Some people have called me the “luckiest man in the comic book business.” (I’m not) My stores have been around for over thirty years and it’s been a long and interesting combination of events and people that have brought these stores to this current place. It is not my intent to boast or brag about my store or my life. I just want to tell you my story. In many instances, my wife remembers things a little differently, but this is the truth as I remember it.

 

The current cast of characters:

Paul Howley: age 48

Mal Howley: age 48

Adam Howley: my son, age 21

Cassy Howley: my daughter, age 18

 

MY LIFE WITH COMIC BOOKS: THE HISTORY OF A COMIC SHOP:  Part #205

 

   So, we’re at my daughter’s high school graduation (and I’m about to be the invited speaker) and she’s just finished introducing me as “…and my father, Doctor Paul Howley.” There are hundreds of guests in the audience who’ve never met me before and know nothing about me so I’ve got let them know I’m NOT a doctor.  Here’s the message: 

 

 

  
Interesting footnote: 

   The next year, Cassy and I attended the local public high school graduation and the speaker explained to the students that although high school graduation is an important event in their lives, it will seem less and less important as time goes by. The students will move on to college, full-time employment, military service, or they could begin to raise a family. In fact, he continued, although you might remember some of the speech you heard, you probably won’t even remember who spoke at your graduation. As we were walking out of the auditorium, Cassy said, “He’s right! I don’t even remember who spoke at MY graduation last year.” 

  REALLY Cassy?!!