Friday, December 8, 2006

Finally woke up on a morning, without feeling like my tail is dragging. 3 nights of moving fixtures and putting up shelving really knocked the stuffing out of me. The store looks great, and I'm hoping that I'm finished with all the changes for awhile.

Used to be, I'd routinely put that much physical labor into the store, and it would hardly affect me. Which brings me in a roundabout way to the title of this blog -- the 'best job' part and the 'middle aged' part, and the 'minimum wage' part.

Most of my regular customers are 15 to 25 years younger than I am. Ironically, that was true when I started at 31 years old, still true now that I'm 54 years old, and I'm suspecting that I'll be a 64 year old guy selling comics to 45 year olds.

Just really don't see kids buying comics (or books) these days. Kids are pretty much the same as they were when I started, except for that one thing. For a person who can no more imagine not reading than I can not breathing, it seems very strange. One of these days I'd like to talk about why I think kids don't read (video games!), but back to the age thing.

So in some ways, by constantly talking to customers younger than me, I've never really felt my age. (I know that's a cliche.) I'm very up on pop culture, not just because of my business, but because it's my inclination. Let's face it, I'm a nerd. If I could go back to my high school days, I'd tell my younger self; "Embrace you're inner nerdism! Quit trying to be different, you can't NOT be different."

So in a way, my store has become my little clubhouse. Those people who like what I'm doing, come back, those that don't, don't. As I've matured, I've tried to broaden the appeal of the store...after all, I've always been interested lots of things, not just the nerdy things. My eyes glaze over at most talk about super-hero's, or Star Trek, or someone's D & D game, but I love to talk about who might be the best current writer who carries on the tradition of Dashiel Hammett, or Raymond Chandler, or whether the new James Bond movie is the closest to the book. Politics, religion, books, movies, comics, business, all are fair game for discussion.

So I enjoy my store. I figured out early on that there are only two reasons to own a business -- for the fun, or for the money. If you aren't getting either, then look for something else.

I've always had fun, if nothing else I've enjoyed being in charge of my own destiny. But it is easy to accept a minimum wage when you are 34 years old, it's a little annoying to still be making minimum wage at 44, but at 54 for it starts to become alarming.

It is possible to live pretty close to a middle class life at minimum wage, if your wife is also earning an income, if you live very, very modestly. We lucked out and were able to put a down payment on a house a few years ago, just before the current run-up on prices. I drive a 1990 Toyota, my wife drives a 91 Toyota. We don't eat out, our recreation is walking, Luckily, my reading and entertainment are pretty much taken care of. I'm really not complaining.

Thing is, the store has always had tons of potential. If such and such happened, if things went right for that amount of time, and so on....The store STILL has tons of potential. There is money to be made, and if it isn't being made, it's because of choices I'm making. I'm still hoping I'm won't be a 64 year old earning minimum wage. But I'm willing to take the chance. because of the "BEST JOB" part.


Jen said...

I disagree with your generalization that "kids don't read anymore". I think that parents and teachers have to work harder to get kids reading. There are so many distractions from books, no matter where you go. Even the library offers video games and Internet access in the children's area... in addition to books.

My kids love reading and are growing to love literature. I believe that is at least partly because I set the example by reading at home - and not just watching TV. There are also rules guiding how much TV, video game, and computer time they are allowed. They can read whatever they want - comics, newspapers, books... as long as they read. We also read aloud, even though all of them are capable of silent reading alone.

Duncan McGeary said...


This is a huge subject, that I want to write about. But for now...

What you say is something I hear from lots of parents. All I can say is, that just isn't what I'm seeing in my store.

I routinely watch parents drag their kids out of the store, kicking and screaming, because the kid wanted a toy, or a card, or a game. I've never once had a kid dragged out of the store over a book. (If it ever happened, I'd probably give the kid the book.)

In fact, in the six months that I've been carrying kids books, I haven't even had a kid turn to a parent and say, simply, "I WANT this book."

Some of the kids and young adult books I'm carrying are: NARNIA; LORD OF THE RINGS,HOBBIT; HIS DARK MATERIALS TRILOGY; THE ABHORSEN TRILOGY; ERAGON AND ELDEST; THE EDGE CHRONICLES, THE CHRONICLES OF PRYDAIN; THE TRIPOD TRILOGY; THE WRINKLE IN TIME SERIES; WATERSHIP DOWN; THE SPIDERWICK CHRONICLES; THE BARIMAEUS TRILOGY; most every classic young adult science fiction series (Heinlein, Asimov, Clarke,) etc. and on and on. Not a clunker among them.

And not one kid has expressed the slightest interest....

So if kids are reading, and I hear that they are, it is all hearsay to me.