Wednesday, July 12, 2017
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.