My business failures



I am very proud of the accomplishments of my three sons.

My oldest son, Joshua, is in retail management. He’s been doing that for maybe ten years.

My middle son (he’s actually a twin), Jordan, is a videographer/editor for WGN in Chicago. He has won, I think, four Regional Emmy‘s for his work on “Chicago’s Best,” a program that spotlights Chicago area eateries. I’ve been binge watching it for months now. I think I’ve gained some weight!

My youngest son (Jordan’s twin), Jesse, is also a videographer/editor and he owns his own company producing video for other businesses. He is highly successful at this. He provides for his wife and three girls and owns a home. I am equally proud of all three of my boys.

But Jesse has accomplished something I’ve never been able to. He has his own, highly successful business. He is making his living doing what I always wanted to. I’ve tried a lot of things, and none of them has ever made me a living. Back in about the mid 1970’s I acquired a Real Estate license. I worked part time at that for about fifteen years. In that time I sold exactly three homes, and listed four. Some people say, “Oh, you have to work full time to make Real Estate work for you.” Well during the last year I was still in Kankakee, I did work at it full time. Total sales during that period: 0. My grandson Isaiah is selling Real Estate now. I hope he is doing better than I did.

About 1989 or so, on the inspiration of some men I met in Scouting, I took a correspondence course in Locksmithing. I was pretty good at it too. I set up a mobile business and in 1990 I purchased a half-page color advertisement in the local phone directory. I had done the research and there were only two other locksmiths in the area. I thought with my well known surname and a clever twist (“The Keymaster“) I would get all sorts of business. The phone rang twice. In three months. One interesting development was that I was no longer the only new Locksmith in town. There were twenty – 20 – of us. Since the ad in phone book was costing me a substantial amount (like way, way more than I was making), I closed up the business.

It was around this time that I decided to try Real Estate full time. My marriage was going south and the internet was a new thing. I met Qadisha on GEnie (a pre-internet communications thing) and a romance sparked. She was a *“writer,” and she had her own *“video production house” (just like Jesse, BUT NOT AT ALL). So I hoped a plane to San Francisco, where she picked me up and took me to her home in Santa Cruz. It was a remarkable visit. About a month later, I picked her and her daughter up at O’Hare in Chicago, and the next day, after good byes to the boys, I drove her across the country with a lot of my stuff back to Santa Cruz.

Once there we shopped the B&H catalog for video stuff. We purchase a lot of high-end, High8 video gear (on my credit cards). We rented a studio down on 7th Ave (by Twin Lakes) and set up shop. We actually did pretty well starting out. Mostly, it was Weddings. We had a commercial here and there, but mainly Weddings. We produced a commercial for ourselves and ran it on local cable. The phone didn’t ring any oftener though, and I had to take a part-time job at Radio Shack.

Qadisha did not like doing Weddings. After a while she refused to do them. Since it’s a two person job (for the most part) that was pretty much the end of the business. I ended up going bankrupt for the credit cards of course. That was the end of my stellar credit rating (and to this day I still haven’t recovered).

In 1998 we moved from Santa Cruz CA to Ashland OR. My relationship with Qadisha was deteriorating rapidly, but I made the move anyway. After a few months, I had established what would eventually be called the Southern Oregon Pagan Network, a loose collective of Pagan souls. Through this I met Ceridwen, who in 1999 was living in Santa Cruz and thinking about moving up to Ashland to work at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. One thing led to another, and soon I was in love. Ceridwen came up for a visit. We hardly left the bedroom. She moved in with me about a month later.

Together we started the Rogue Valley Celtic Society. About once a month or so we would contract with Celtic musicians and hold a concert at the Ashland Unitarian Church. We never broke even, and the last concert with Ceridwen’s friend, David Nigel Lloyd was a disaster. We had made friends with the members of Silverhand, Chris and Lisa. They showed us where to post posters, list our concerts — basically everything we needed to get the word out. Maybe Celtic music wasn’t Ashland’s thing? No, because another lady did the same thing we were doing (even using the same venue) and although her music choices were more eclectic, her Celtic concerts were well attended. Over coffee with a local writer one day, I was informed that “no one knows who you are, so no one will support you.” In other words, Ashlanders were so nativist and elitist that they would pass up good music if they weren’t familiar with the organizers. This endeavor ended with us in debt to a number of people.

In late 1999 we moved to a little cabin in above Grants Pass. I took a job managing a Furniture store. In November of 2000 Ceridwen and I were legally married. In March of 2004 we moved back to California to Eureka.

As a part of other activities, we started an online business, Avalon Risen. Basically we sell items of interest to the Pagan community. We carry no inventory. Everything is drop shipped to our customers from our distributor in Middlefield Massachusetts. Our total overhead runs a little over $20/month. This business generally pays for our overhead, but not much else. My inclination is to give up, but since the overhead is so low, I keep thinking maybe something will break. It’s only been 17 years now. I keep hoping.

What is wrong? I don’t know. I’ve done everything I am supposed to do (within budget restraints) and this is true of every business I have attempted. Could I be under a curse? I don’t believe in curses. There is some Jewish blood in my family line (my mother’s side). I guess I didn’t get the “business gene.” My brother got that one. I will turn 64 in November. It seems to me like I should have hit pay dirt by now. Most people are thinking about retirement at my age. This is not to say I’ve been a total failure. I founded the Order of the Mithril Star (1995) and co-founded the Reformed Druids of Gaia (2006). In addition to the Southern Oregon Pagan Network (1998), I co-founded the Sequoia Pagan Alliance (2004). All of these non-profits were/are wildly successful. None of them have ever made any money, but they weren’t supposed to. All but one of these is still operating. So, it’s not like I have no track record. It’s just that when it comes to money making ventures, I suck at it. I could really use some extra cash. <sigh>

Posted 13 May 2017