London's Treasures
Author: Fox Wild

Chapter 2
Chapter 2 of 12

“None of the keys we have work in this door; it’s rather intense for a basement door, and lock, that’s for sure.  I think we’re going to have to have a locksmith open it Denver.”  Shelly told her husband when she came upstairs from trying every key the realtor gave them and the ones they found around the old store.  “Maybe we should contact the family and ask if there were any keys the owners gave them that we don’t have?”

 

Denver paused in what he was doing and looked off in front of himself for a moment; he set down what he was holding and looked to Shelly considering what she had said.  He started shaking his head slowly.

 

“No.  Probably not a good idea.  And if what’s in there is something valuable, it may cause trouble, they may try and claim it and drag us into court.”  He looked back to the piece of junk he was cleaning up then picked it back up.  “We’ll see if a locksmith can unlock it; he can unlock it and not open it, then we can see what’s inside.  Probably more junk, or just an empty room.”  He sighed.  “Another expense.”

 

Shelly sighed and flapped her arms.  “Can’t you just cut the door open?”  She suggested hopefully.

 

He shook his head.  “Not unless I used a torch.  That thing’s solid steel; shit, it’s like a vault door.  Probably left over from when this building used to be part of the bank when it was originally built a hundred years ago.  Who knows.  Maybe we can pay for the locksmith by selling the door for salvage weight.”

 

His wife scoffed and shook her head.  “Such the optimist.  Maybe it is left over from the bank, and there’s stacks of mint condition notes we can sell.”

 

“With our luck lately, it’d probably be confederate currency.”  He surmised.

 

She smiled at him.  “Hey, that stuff’s worth a lot of money now days.”

 

Denver smiled and let the piece in his hands fall down on the bench.  “Yeah, that is true.  Doubt there’d be confederate currency this far north though.  Probably get us in trouble considering the social troubles around anything from the days of the confederacy.”

 

“I just want the door opened, even if it’s just another empty room, rather have the space then leave it locked.  And what do you mean ‘with our luck lately’?  Over all I’d say things have been going good.  The only shit thing that’s happened was with Jim, and even that has it’s own silver lining.”

 

Denver shrugged then turned around and looked at Shelly before looking off to the floor for a second.  He looked back to her and half smiled.  “Yeah, I know, you’re right.  Things have been going good.  We have almost all of the crap organized, two apartments are rented now.  Store is organized, we could open almost anytime now.  Would like to have some new stuff in here that’s… you know, not junk left over from when we bought the place.  Some real finds.”

 

Shelly laughed lightly.  “Oh Denver, we do have some real finds.  Some of the pieces from the basement have real value.  That piece I was able to confirm really was from the fifteenth century, that’s worth eight thousand dollars, easy.  And I’ve contacted the vender Jim gave us the card for, he’s coming by tomorrow.  And Wanda has contacted a couple people for some more contemporary and modern merchandise.”

 

“Yeah but… that piece will be hard to sell for that much around here.  Maybe on the internet we might get close to that, and that’s another thing, we need to get our website up and running.  Haven’t had time to work on it.”  Denver replied.

 

“Wanda…”  Shelly smiled now.  “she’s been working on the web stuff.  She’s got someone to help with getting it online, she’s done most of the design.  We’ll be able to sell stuff from the shop thru the website when they’re done.”

 

Denver nodded.  “Good, that’s good.  Make sure they have the phone number and address right on the front page; hate it when you have to hunt for that on a site.”  Lifting his head he looked fully at Shelly.  “Oh, and speaking of that, we’ll need to look into shipping, bigger and awkward sized boxes will cost a lot more.  Won’t want to put stuff that will cost hundreds of dollars to ship on the webpage.”

 

Shelly nodded now.  “Yeah, that’s true.  That’ll limit us a lot.  Won’t be selling floor lamps that’s for sure, or furniture.  Curio stuff for the internet.  But that’s not our major concern now, even getting the door in the basement isn’t, we need to get the front doors open.  We’re heading towards the tourist season soon, want to have our groove going good before then and we still don’t have our point of sale set up yet.  We aren’t going to be hand writing receipts and using a ledger to manage our revenues.  There’s two different cash register companies around, and three different tech companies that handle that kind of stuff.  Need to get a hold of them and schedule something… credit cards and cash, no checks.”

 

“Right.  I’ll leave that to you; HVAC guy should be here soon, I’ll handle that.  There’s the sign for the place too.  Have we decided on a name?”  Denver asked.

 

“Yeah, I think you’re right about going with a lighted sign…”  Shelly was saying when the sound of the backdoor opening caught there attention.

 

Wanda came through the back, her arms loaded with boxes and cardboard tubes and papers held in her right hand.  She moved past them smiling, said ‘hi’ then moved to a table with some open space and began setting what she was carrying down on the table.

 

“What’s all that stuff?”  Denver asked sounding somewhat put off from the thought of more stuff to deal with right away.

 

Once Wanda was done setting everything down and positioning things for whatever reason, she turned a smiling face towards Denver and Shelly.  “Mockups for signage on the windows, instead of painting things we want to advertise, I was thinking about going with window stickers, you know, the plastic things that cling to a window; easy to remove, no mess, quick, simply and relatively inexpensive.  Found a company online that makes them through Amazon.  For less then three hundred bucks, we can get everything you guys talked about wanting on the windows done and when we want to change stuff, you know, for Christmas, Halloween, Saint Valentines day, peel off the old one, put up the new one in minutes, no washing the old paint off and repainting.  Lots of graphic and font choices too.”

 

Denver and Shelly looked at each other for a moment before looking back to Wanda.  Denver took the lead.  “How are those going to work when it’s below zero?  They’re going to fall off the windows.”  He reasoned.

 

Wanda’s smile became tight.  “These aren’t the cheep window clingers you get at the dollar stores, they’re guaranteed to stay put in any weather, on the inside that is, and the windows are fairly new; triple paned low E glass, no worries.”

 

“Okay…” Shelly started, “but what if we want to change something, for a sale, specials, we don’t want to wait two weeks to get stuff…”

 

“Won’t be two weeks.”  Wanda cut in with.  “Two days, express mail it to us.  We call before noon, put in our order, two days, it’s in the mail and on the window.”

 

Denver made and approving face and bobbed his head.  “Sounds good to me.  Two days, would take us that long to clean the window off and repaint it.”

 

“Yeah, but how much?  Two hundred dollars?  That would make painting a better option.”  Shelly interjected not fully on board with the idea yet.

 

Wanda laughed lightly.  “Two hundred ninety four dollars is the cost for the large window clings and all the listed stuff you guys mentioned, all of it.  Most of the extras would be around thirty to fifty dollars, less for smaller things, their minimum order is twenty five dollars and that’s for a fifteen by twenty four inch clinger, three pieces.  I’m telling you, this is the way to go, and how often are you going to be putting specials on the windows like that?  Three, four times a year?  Major holidays right?  That’s what, Christmas, Thanksgiving, fourth of July…”  She looked off thinking and counting.  “If you include things like Easter, don’t know why, Saint Patrick’s day… eight?  A year.  And they’ll look professional.”

 

Denver shrugged and looked to Shelly again.  “She’s got a point.  I’d be the one painting the letters on the windows, any pictures we want to go with them… yeah, right, not in my wheelhouse.  Then there’s the cost of the paint and brushes, our time involved… I’m all for it Shell.”

 

Shelly rasped her throat and sighed while flopping her arms at her sides.  “Fine, you’re both right.”  She raised her chin and smiled at Wanda.  “I’ll give my buy-in on the idea.  You guys are right.  They’re not that expensive from what you said and they’ll look better then what we would paint on.  I wanted to keep a small town look and a mom and pop feel, but looking professional, you’re right, That will make people take us more seriously.”

 

“Great!”  Wanda exclaimed.  “The signs will be here next week.  I knew you’d like it, and I’ve got more.”

 

Denver and Shelly scoffed and shook their heads finding out that Wanda had already ordered the signs for the windows expecting her logic to win.

 

Putting his hands on his hips Denver inquired, “Alright punk, what else have you committed us too?”

 

Wanda held up her hands towards them as she turned her face away for a moment.  “Hey, that was just the logical option, I knew you’d go for it.  The rest… ah… it’s more involved and I think, well, I think it will help bring people into the store and spread the word about us more; there’s also an option that will bring our business right to where people live.”  She looked over at a table that they used to have lunch and coffee at and pointed towards it.  “Why don’t you guys sit down, I’ve got coffee and stuff in the car; we’ll want to sit down and talk about this.”

 

Denver and Shelly looked at each other again and shrugged then started moving towards the table.  “Okay.”  He said then Wanda headed for the backdoor.

 

Wanda returned with three to-go cups of coffee beverages in a carry tray and a bag in her other hand.  She looked at each cup when she arrived at the table and set one down in from of Shelly and Denver respectively then took the last one for herself, setting it down by where she would sit.  “Pastry?”

 

Each took something from the bag she offered them.  Once they had their treat to accompany their coffee, Wanda sat down and Denver and Shelly looked at her suspiciously and waited.

 

Wanda took a sip of her Cappuccino then looked at the cup with a thoughtful face.  “These guys do a good job with their coffee.”  She looked to Denver and Shelly.  “The names cute too.  Grammatically Correct Coffee, their last name is Grammar.”

 

Shelly spoke up now.  “We are not putting in a coffee shop.  We’re an interior decoration and gift shop, collectables, antiques, not a coffeehouse.”

 

Wanda made a shocked face, clearly staged.  “I never said anything about putting in a coffee shop.  Wow, so suspicious.  Would you at least hear me out?  And their coffee is a lot better than what you get at the Mister Doughnut shop down the bock which is slightly better than the excuse for coffees you get at the convenience store.”

 

“Yeah, that’s true enough, but I’m with Shelly on this idea, no coffeehouse in our store.  We’ve already been pushed into more than we wanted by renting out the apartments.”  Denver stated coldly.

 

Wanda gave a smirk showing her reception of the slighting Denver had given her and reflecting her feelings on the two not even willing to hear what she had to say.

 

“Funny you should mention the apartments, which are bringing in revenue, by the way.  One of our… well, your tenants, Mark Grammar, his parents…”  Wanda started to say.

 

“Let me guess, they own the coffee shop.  No.  No coffee shop.  Thanks for the initiative, but no.”  Denver cut in saying.

 

“Fuck!”  Wanda ejected harshly then stood up.  “You know what, fine.  If you’re not even going to listen, give me a chance to say anything…”  she looked around the shop and raised her arms with her palms up from bent wrists, “I’ll just go back to California then.  I did go to collage for this kind of shit before I ended up being little miss assistant investigation dick.”  She pushed her chair away and started to leave.

 

“Wanda, no!”  Shelly called out to her as she gave Denver a look.  “Please sit down, we’ll listen.  Won’t we Denver?”

 

She looked back over her shoulder at the couple.  “Yeah, you’ll listen but you won’t hear a thing I say.  I’ve got some good ideas; screw it.  California’s better than here.  Good luck.  Make sure you don’t try anything to make your business grow.”  She commented then started walking away.

 

Shelly gave Denver a mean look telling him to stop her.  He looked down and sighed hard.  “Wanda… stop, please.  We don’t want you to leave.  I’ll listen to what you have to say.”  He looked up to Shelly.  “We both will, we’ll give you an honest listen, alright?”

 

Stopping in her tracks, Wanda raised her head, inhaled deep then sighed hard letting her shoulders slump.  “You promise you’ll really hear what I’m suggesting, take it to heart and honestly consider the potential and not just let me talk then say no anyways?”  She asked then looked back over her shoulder at them.

 

Shelly looked at her husband with a look of both encouragement and scolding.  “Yes Wanda, I’ll listen to what you have to say, hear what your saying and take it under advisement.”  Denver replied.

 

Wanda turned back towards them then returned to the table and sat down.  She looked between Denver and Shelly a few times then returned to her explanation of her idea again.

 

“Like I said, there isn’t another coffee shop on this side of town outside of shit coffee.  I was talking with Mark the other day; he works in their coffee shop, makes coffees and does a lot of the baking.  He told me his parents are thinking about opening up a second shop, and want to bring their business down to where we are, in the business district.  They don’t want to have the second shop as big as their main shop since they’ll be selling to employees of the shops downtown where we are.  There won’t be much business much after noon, maybe up till about two in the after noon.  Think of what I’m suggesting as more of… hosting a coffee shop, not opening one.  They’d bring in the equipment needed and make the coffee here.  We have plenty of space, and they wouldn’t need much room.”  Wanda explained.

 

Denver tried to listen and be open, but his face was hard and closed.  “Wanda, that would mean giving up floor space, and the other thing is we aren’t licensed to sell food.  That would be a whole ‘nother set of hoops to jump through, fees, all that happy crap.”

 

“Hold on Denver, no it wouldn’t.  We wouldn’t be making the food here, only the coffee.  They’d be making the food at their shop and it would only be displayed and sold here.  We wouldn’t need anything extra for doing that.  And see, that would bring employees from the other shops into our store, they’d see what we have and, well, word of mouth you know.  Best advertising there is.  They’ll end up talking about our store to their customers, yada yada, you know.  Most of the coffee sales and such would be just people grabbing something to take to their job.  We’d only need to have a small sitting area for them while they wait to get their order, and for the few people that will read a paper or cruise the net for a bit before leaving for work.”  Wanda explained.

 

Now it was Shelly’s turn to dash the idea.  “Coffee bar service area, and a sitting area, with magazines and newspapers, wi-fi, that is a lot of wasted space that we could use for sales just for some word of mouth that may not even bring people into buy.  People talking about the store is nice, but that doesn’t mean it will add sales.”

 

Wanda was undaunted.  “The sitting area, would also be display space.  The local papers are a must, but the magazines would be decorating publications that would feature ideas and designs that encompass things like what we carry here.  And there’s still more that involves the Grammar’s.  Mark’s oldest sister is married to a man that owns a custom kitchen cabinet manufacturing and instillation company.  She works in the design end with potential customers, and is expanding into interior design and decorating.  She’d use part of the coffee shop area as her office away from her office in the kitchen place.  Having her in here with her clients, they get to see stuff that we sell, and the couches and tables in the sitting area and where she would consult with people, all for sale and more on a virtual sales floor via the internet.  If we work with these people, we’ll have a lot of traffic through here, traffic that will turn into sales.  It may take some time, but it’s free advertising that’s better than any we could buy.”  Wanda further extrapolated on her ideas.

 

She paused and looked between Denver and Shelly several times.  They were quiet and looking at the top of the table.

 

“Also, we’d be getting thirty percent from the proceeds from the coffee shop.”  She ended with.

 

Shelly and Denver looked at each other without saying anything for a bit.  Denver was the first one to speak.

 

“That actually sounds… well… good honestly.”  Denver admitted.  “And it would give us exposure, and tie us with the community, having people that have lived here all their lives and that are well known.”  He looked to his wife.  “What do you think Shell?”

 

She looked from Denver to Wanda then back again.  She released a deep sigh as she shook her head a bit in a small motion.  “I… I… I don’t know, it sounds good but…”  Shelly trailed off looking at the floor.

 

“As far as the coffee shop, it’s perfect for them, and us.”  Wanda detailed.  “They really can’t do a full blown shop downtown, renting space would be expensive for the hours they’re looking to operate; and this removes us completely from running it.  The whole shebang is in their lap, we’re just allotting space for them.  And with Denise using part of the area for the coffee shop part as her consulting office…”

 

“Give us a couple days to think it over and consider things, okay lover?”  Denver said, trying to take some of the pressure off his wife for making the decision now.

 

Wanda shrugged.  “Yeah, of course.  Mark still has to talk to his folks and his sister and brother in-law.  We just came up with the idea last night.  Told him I’d talk with you guys, see if there was any interest, and he’d do the same to his folks.  Be a couple days before I hear from him anyways.”

 

“We still haven’t fully decided on a name for the store even.”  Shelly began commenting.  “Have to have the sign made, Denver and I decided we wanted to go with a lighted sign on the front of the store; that’s more important right now, what we name ourselves so we can start selling these treasures we have.”  She rationalized from her thoughts.

 

Wanda smirked.  “Well, there’s your name right there.”

 

Shelly looked up with a confused expression.  “Huh?  You want to call the store Treasures?”  She snorted when she finished.

 

“Yeah, well, bit more than just Treasures, that would be stupid, but, we’re all London’s, so, London’s Treasures.  Ya know.”  Wanda extrapolated on her thoughts.

 

Denver was smiling when Shelly looked at him.  She could tell he liked the idea, it did work, all three of them shared the same last name, and it did work on another level, that being the city name and they were selling antiques, made for a bit of a play on words.

 

“I like that, that works, gives it an old world flair, kind-a.”  Denver responded.

 

Shelly chuckled.  “Well, it’s better then Denver and Michelle’s pit O’ shit.”

 

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“Thank you for taking time to meet with us mister Oddheim, Denver and I appreciate you making the trip to our store.”  Shelly greeted Barron Oddheim as Denver shook his hand.

 

Barron Oddheim was a stately looking gentleman in his mid sixties.  He wore a dark three piece suit and a fedora hat and walked with a walking stick, also black, with a silver engraved ball on the top.

 

“Oh, thank you my dear, it was really no trouble at all.  I, ah, well, it was really no trouble at all, I assure you.  Always happy to visit with potential customers.”  He stated with a smile.  His eyes betrayed a nervousness that seemed out of place.

 

“Please, have a seat, we aren’t open yet, hope to be soon though.”  Denver said as he motioned towards an area towards the east side of the building where couches and easy chairs were now set up where they had led him towards.

 

As they sat down, Wanda came from behind a counter with a cup of espresso for each of them and offered the first one to mister Oddheim.

 

“Oh thank you dear girl.”  He looked back towards the counter.  “What is going in there?  Hardly looks like a sales counter, not the right place for one either.  That is what is near the front entrance I take?”

 

Shelly nodded.  “Yes, for our store, we decided that we would allow a local coffeehouse to use part of our store as a satellite shop for downtown.  We actually just set that counter up this morning.  Wanda,”  Shelly gestured at her, “our daughter, brought in her own espresso maker.  The proprietors of the shop will be bringing in their own stuff starting tomorrow.  We hope to be open ourselves next week.”  She explained.

 

She, like Denver, had noticed the rather nervous look he had when they first came into the shop.  Unlike Shelly, Denver was more direct, because of his former life.  “I take it you know Jim, James Bird?  He’s talked about us?”  He directly interrogated.

 

Barron Oddheim’s jaw tightened though he didn’t become nervous this time.  He looked directly and intently at Denver.  “Jamian actually, and yes, we have spoken.  As to talking about you, no, I’m afraid not, outside of that you were opening this shop.  I tried talking to him before I came here, but he wouldn’t take my calls.  He only sent message that he retracted his original intention that I conduct business with you, stating that he was in error.”

 

The air in the room became awkward and tense.  Wanda broke the impending silence that surely would have followed, or rude expulsion of their guest.

 

“So how do you know Jim Bird?  You’re not related, are you?”  She inquired bluntly.

 

Barron Oddheim flashed a short quick smile at her as he looked to her.  “No, not related at all.  My grand parents and his were both held together in the same concentration camp in Poland, Stutthof.  It was liberated by the Russians; they first went to Russia, then later made their way to Switzerland then to the United States.  They remained friends and though our two families now are rather removed, we still know of each other.  There were a couple marriages between our two families, but related, mister Bird and I are not.”

 

Denver was the next one to ask a blunt and direct question.  “Barron, is that your name, or a title?”  Shelly shuffled her hands nervously while this continued.

 

Mister Oddheim looked ready to leave, but answered the question.  He began with another quick smile at Denver.  “Both, actually.  For me it is a name, given to me in honor of a German Baron that was an officer at the concentration camp my grandparents were held at, who’s first name also was Barron.  It is because of him, many Jews survived the camp; though it was a forced labor camp, many were still executed or worked to death.”  He responded, then turned to more relevant matters.  “Now, about your store, from what I have seen, you are in need of my help unless you plan on being nothing more than a secondhand shop.”  With that he raised his valise and set it on the table and opened it.

 

From the valise he removed three catalogs and handed one to Denver, one to Shelly, gave Wanda a look then offered the third one to her.  They each took the catalog offered to them, opened them and looked inside.

 

“In the listing you have missus London, are original pieces that we have.  The prices are the suggested retail prices, I have a booklet with the wholesale costs for each piece.  The other two catalogs are replicas that we offer, one is from a company that manufactures them, the other, the one you have mister London, are ones that I make at my facility.  These are of far greater quality and are hand crafted.”  He looked to Shelly.  “Naturally, once an original piece is sold, there isn’t another typically.  If there is more than one, the current quantity is listed on the bottom right of the picture and at the end of the description in parentheses.  You can check the status of a piece on our private website that you will have access to should you become a sales partner with my company.”  He explained.

 

“So why have two different replica lines, I’m sure there is a difference in price, but why offer a cheaper line from someone else?  Why not just…”  Denver shrugged, “make them yourselves I guess.”

 

Barron smiled honestly.  “The ones we make are exact copies, true replicas of actual pieces; whereas the others are similar replicas, more designed for interior design.  I included those since you indicated when we spoke that you were operating in that capacity.  They offer more inexpensive options in style instead of realistic copies.”

 

Denver looked thoughtful and nodded.  “Makes sense I guess.”

 

“These actually look fairly decent, most of them.  Some…” Wanda interjected and wobbled a hand side to side with a mildly repulsed face, “well, not something I’d buy, but, I suppose someone would.”  She ended with.

 

Barron smiled.  “Exactly.  They offer a much larger selection of style, copies of modern pieces, not just real antiques.  Our replicas are limited by the fact that we don’t reproduce anything that is less than three hundred years old, and most of what we offer is from a much older time period.  We focus on historical pieces for our replicas.”

 

“So how much of your stuff, your replicas, would we have to keep on hand?”  Shelly questioned with a hard face.

 

Looking around where he was at in the shop, Barron thought for a moment.  “For a store this size, I would recommend three displays with our most popular pieces, two six foot displays and one eight foot.  We would also provide you with an interactive web link display for customers to peruse the rest of our inventory in both the replicas and the original pieces; the latter though would require a sales staff member to assist the customer as we don’t allow interactive access to those, nor do we list the prices.  The sales person would provide that.”

 

Shelly nodded.  “What about the other companies stuff?”

 

“You could put a display of theirs up as well, they offer four, six and eight foot displays if you desire.  Most of what they do is through electronic displays in stores.  These offer higher quality items that are not sold over the internet; they are only available through retail outlets.”  Barron informed them.

 

“Interesting.”  Denver commented.

 

“So what’s to stop us from dealing with them directly?  Why do we need you to do business with them?”  Wanda queried. 

 

Barron smiled again.  “You can’t deal with them directly.  Only certified agents such as myself can set up their displays.  That is why they don’t list what goes into stores through their internet sales site.  As a matter of fact, the only reason I can offer their services to you is because you were referred directly to me.  Otherwise, you’d be dealing with the district sales agent for this area.  It all has to do with the licensing for use from the artists and designers that they contract with.”

 

“Oh.”  Wanda responded.  “Since we’re out of your region, maybe we should be dealing with him, them, instead of you.”

 

Denver and Shelly looked fast to Wanda as Barron Oddheim replied to her.  “Well, you could.  However, you would still have to deal with me if you wished to carry anything I offer.  Makes it a bit easier for you if I handled both sides if you will.  You would only have to deal with one agent.  But it’s your choice in the end.  I’d be more than happy to turn your account over to him, if that is what you’d like.”

 

“We don’t know if we’re going to be using either of the lines in our store.  And if we did use theirs, since you made the effort to come to us, we’d want you to have the commission.”  Denver informed Barron with a hard glare at Wanda who shrugged when he looked at her.

 

“What about what Jim said about us, retracting his referral?  How does that affect you doing business with us?”  Shelly asked.

 

Barron Oddheim’s face dropped when she asked this.  Her question was rather dampening to the mood which had seemed to move to a more positive air.  “Mister Bird has nothing to do with my business.  I know of him, we’ve met once, maybe twice; he’s rather a peculiar man.  Whatever it is between you three and him, is of no concern of mine.  Putting it simply, not doing business with you because of his opinions, would be bad business.  His personal issues are just that missus London, his personal issues; and from what I’ve heard of him, he has many.” 

 

“Good.”  Denver commented.

 

They talked on about the products that mister Oddheim carried and what he would do to help their store become a success.  What was required of them, financial considerations and everything else that a business arrangement encompassed.  It was a little over two hours later they concluded their meeting.

 

“Thank you for inviting me into your shop.  I do hope we can do business together.”  Barron Oddheim said to Shelly and Denver as he shook each of their hands respectively.

 

“Well, I can tell you honestly, I like what you’ve shown us Barron.”  Denver told the man.  “We’ll talk it over and be in touch.  Give us a few days and we’ll tell you one way or the other.  Alright?”

 

“Very good.  I do hope you consider me favorably.  I think you’d do well with what we offer in this area.  Not much north of the Twin Cities for what we carry in Minnesota.  You’d be the only game in town honestly.  And with what you have planned for internet sales, I think you’d do well there as well.  Just remember, make sure you’re not selling allocated items beyond your region if you decide yes.”  Barron stated.

 

“The software they provide helps with that, right?”  Wanda asked as she walked up to the group.

 

Barron looked over at her.  “Well… yes, to a degree.  Some of that you need to watch from the origin address and the shipping address.  The software can only do so much.  As long as the sale is within your region, that being the payment origin, you can actually ship to anywhere.  When we set things up, my logistics person will go over all of that with you.  She’s much more knowledgeable than I am on that part of the business.  I’m the salesman.”  He said with a smile.

 

“Thank you again for coming, you’ve been very helpful mister Oddheim.”  Shelly offered.

 

With a smile Barron told her, “Please, Barron.  Mister Oddheim is so formal, I think we’re friends now.  I look forward to hearing your decision.”  He said then they walked with him and chatted about the store as they made their way to the door out.

 

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Opening day was a smashing success.  They selected a Saturday for their official opening to the community at high noon with snacks and free coffee beverages served with tours of the store and one of the proprietors talking about what they were selling and what their store was all about.  They contacted a local radio station, WLAK, Lakeland radio, to come and interview them and talk about the store throughout the day.  They would be opening at six in the morning weekdays, because of the coffee shop, and would use the time before regular customers came in to clean and do whatever was necessary to the place when it was quiet.

 

Their official Grand Opening event was slated for the weekend of the fishing opener and would feature ‘Walleye Widow’ specials like many of the stores in the area were.  Fishing opener was a big event in the area as the city was surrounded by lakes and resorts and campgrounds along with the snowbirds and weekend warriors that filled the area during the summer months.  Denver and Shelly figured they had timed their opening perfectly to bring in the summer profits that would carry them through the slow winter months.

 

It was now the Monday after their opening day, Wanda was managing the store herself along with Mark whom was running the barista counter.  Most of the people that were in the store this morning were there for the coffee and pastries they offered.

 

The chime for the door announced another customer had entered the store.  Wanda looked up and smiled even though she was expecting the gray haired gentleman would be heading to the coffee bar; he didn’t though and walked towards where she was working with a shelving display.  He was fairly tall, looked to be in his middle seventies with a tanned and age lined face.  He was stately looking, he looked like he could be a congressman or head of a major corporation in her assessment of his appearance.  He looked down at her as she knelt on the floor arranging items on the small freestanding shelf.

 

“Hello, are the owners around?  Or a manager perhaps?”  The gentleman asked politely in a baritone smooth voice.  His voice reminded her somewhat of Morgan Freeman.

 

Wanda stood and faced him.  “No, the owners aren’t here, but I’m their daughter and business manager.  Can I help you sir?”

 

He smiled kindly and extended his hand to her.  “Yes.  I’m Horace Goat.  Pleased to meet you, miss?”

 

“Wanda London, pleasure mister Goat.  That’s a different last name.  Goat.  Unique is what I mean.  You don’t hear Goat as a name much.”

 

He smiled larger as he shook her hand.  “Maybe not around here, but where I come from, it’s a fairly common name.”  He stated releasing Wanda’s hand then looking around the area they were in and at the stand she was setting up.  “I see you are doing business with Barron Oddheim.”  He commented as he looked the display over.

 

Wanda looked back at the stand a second then returned to mister Goat.  “Ah, yeah.  We do business with quite a few vendors.  We have Ashley Furniture as well.  What can I help you with mister Goat?”  She returned bluntly.

 

He held out his left hand to her with a card in his fingers.  “My card miss London.  I am in much the same business as mister Oddheim, only a bit different.  I deal in more early American relics and replicas as well as the more gothic Victorian, designs that Barron would never carry honestly.  Against his religion or something.”  He ended with a chuckle.

 

With a light sigh Wanda reluctantly look the card he was offering her.  “Well mister Goat, honestly, we aren’t looking for more stuff.”  She motioned around the store.  “As you can see we’re pretty well stocked right now.  And Denver and Shelly intend on finding and restoring the majority of the items they sell.  We’re just using retail items to fill in the gaps right now.”

 

Mister Goat remained positive despite her rejection.  “Yes, I can see that.  When will the owners be back?  Perhaps I can talk to them instead.”

 

Wanda took on a cold edge now.  “Don’t know, they went out picking.”

 

Mister Goat’s face became a question.  “Picking?”

 

“Yeah, you ever seen the show ‘American Pickers’?”

 

He chuckled.  “No, I’m afraid not.  I don’t watch television I’m afraid.  Nothing I’m interested in.”

 

“They’re out at second hand shops, junk dealers, looking for old stuff they can fix up and sell for a profit.  That’s called picking.  You know, looking for rare or valuable pieces in out of the way places.  Lot of places like that around here.  Sometimes you find valuable things that you can buy dirt cheap.  You must do that for your business if your selling relics from early America.”   Wanda surmised.

 

Mister Goat smiled knowingly and chuckled lightly.  “Yes, but I have people that do that for me.  I own the business and manage the sales side of things.  Much like you’re doing here.”  He offered trying to make a connection between Wanda and himself.

 

“Yeah, well, I’m sure you say no to a lot of people then too.  Like I said, we have more than we need and we aren’t looking to take on any new vendors.  Thanks but no thanks Mister Goat.” 

 

He pointed to a sign in the coffee shop area.  “Please, call me Horace.  I see you offer interior decorating services.”

 

Wanda looked back towards where he was pointing.  “We have a consultant that uses space here.  We don’t actually do any of the design, that’s strictly her bag.  We just allow her in here to draw people in so they see the store and hopefully buy stuff for their homes.”

 

“Well, do you think it is fair to deprive your customers all the options you can offer them?  You are in this business to make money, correct?”  He asked but continued before she could respond.  “And that is what I am here to help you do, make money.  And my way of business encumbers a considerable less amount of space than any of your other vendors, and offers a much higher return on sales.  You haven’t even seen what I have to offer.  Please dear girl, allow me to help you.  I can show you what will increase your profit margins on the laptop I have with me; I don’t take up valuable resources with primitive catalogs.”  Horace told her as he held out his briefcase.  She didn’t remember seeing him with one when he came in, but he had one now, and it was very stylish for someone his age she thought.

 

Horace led her over to one of the tables in the coffee shop area and set a laptop down on the table and raised the lid.  “Here, it’s already set up.  Please page through my inventory, see if it’s something you or your parents would be interested in.”  He told her then walked to the barista counter.

 

He returned a moment later with two fresh cups of coffee beverages, placing one near Wanda.  “Mocha caramel with whipped cream and nutmeg, correct?”  He said to her.

 

He was only gone a moment, and she didn’t remember him ordering anything, or asking her what she wanted.  “Yeah, right, my favorite.  How…”

 

“Ah, yes that piece is very nice.”  He said pointing to the screen.

 

Wanda looked, she must have moved to another picture, this wasn’t what was on the screen when she looked up.  “Oh wow, that is nice.  Is it an original?”

 

Horace smiled.  “That one is not I’m afraid.  The original is the property of the Smithsonian.  I have exclusive rights to replicate it though.  He clicked on a link and a different but equally intriguing picture of an artifact came up; this one clearly listed it as the real piece.  “This one is authentic, and available at a steal of a price.  Seven hundred and eighty dollars American for a true piece of history.  A rare find I can assure you.”

 

Wanda continued to look through the pages on the laptop.  What she was seeing now was considerably more interesting and captivating than what she’d originally been looking at; which struck her as mostly junk and looked like it needed to be restored, if it was even worth restoring. 

 

“If the owners would allow, I could place a display much the size of the one you were working on when I entered; we also have a kiosk that shows everything I have to offer.  I don’t limit what customers can see from a kiosk like some vendors do.  I like people to see what is available without having to take up sales staff’s time.  The items sell themselves; you simply write up the order and reap the profits.  Much better way to do business I think, don’t you Wanda?”

 

She was engrossed in the display, taking in what she was looking at.  “Yeah, sure.  How can you sell this stuff so cheap, if it’s authentic?”  She questioned.  The prices she was seeing were exceptional.

 

Horace chuckled confidently.  “It’s my business principle.  Buy low, sell reasonably and allow the stores to make the majority of the money.  That way, I move more items, the more I sell, the more I make.  I’d rather make ten thousand dollars while your store made seventy five thousand.  And do that at a hundred stores over making five thousand while the store makes ten thousand from say twenty stores.  Makes sense doesn’t it?”

 

Wanda nodded, she wasn’t really listening, she was more interested in what she was seeing.  “I’ll have to talk to Denver and Shelly.  I think they’ll like this.”  Now she looked at Horace.  “How can I show them this stuff?  You have a website?”

 

He looked at her with reservation and somewhat dismissively.  “Well, I do, but that can only be accessed by members of my organization, and since you aren’t one of those yet, I’m afraid not.  You have my card, I tell you what…” he reached into a pocket and pulled out an SD card, “this has some samples on it, I’ll let you have that, and you can show it to your parents.  I’ll stop back in a day or so and visit with them.  Until then, you can encourage them.  Tell them about what you have seen.  I’m sure they trust you and your opinion will weigh highly with them.”

 

“Yeah, it will.  Thanks.”  Wanda said as she took the small data card.

 

With that, Horace stood up, closed the laptop and returned it to the briefcase.  He smiled at Wanda’s dazed face.  “Good day Wanda London.”  He said then walked out the door he’d entered from.

 

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Wednesday Denver and Shelly were alone together in the shop, there weren’t any customers in the place currently, business had been slow.  Most people that came into their business came in the morning for coffee.  2:13pm, Horace Goat returned to their store, he walked up to the sales counter both were behind. 

 

“Hello, you must be Denver and Michelle London, I’m Horace Goat, where would you like me to set up the display at?”

 

Denver and Shelly looked at each other for a second before looking back to Horace Goat, Denver spoke for them.  “Excuse me?  What display?”

 

Horace chuckled and gestured with his hands.  “I’m sorry, I thought Wanda had told you.  I promised her I would bring in a display, she was most interested in my wears.  She asked for a sample of what I would bring, I provided her with an electronic card with the display on it; she assured me she would provide this to her parents.”

 

Shelly reached under the counter and retrieved the SD card Wanda had given them.  “She did, but there’s nothing on it, it’s blank.”

 

“Oh.”  Horace said with a disbelieving face.  “Are you sure?  I made sure everything was on it before I gave it to her.”  He stated then came around the side of the counter to take the card instead of reaching across.  While it was still in Shelly’s hand he looked at the computer beneath the counter and motioned towards it.  “May I?”  He asked.

 

“I’m telling you, it’s blank.”  She said as he took the card and she stepped back.

 

He placed the card in the reader slot in the front of the computer, then clicked on the icon to open it on the screen that popped up.  “There, I knew everything was on it.”  He said as he looked to them from the monitor with the display he was to set up on it.  “Please, take a look, I’ll go get it.”

 

Denver looked over at him as he walked towards the door.  “Hey, hold on, we never agreed to this.  Whatever Wanda said, we have the final say, we own the place, not her.”

 

Horace stood fast with a dejected look.  “Oh, very well.  She believed she could make decisions since she was the manager.  I’m very sorry.  That’s alright.  The business across the street was very interested.  Since you’re not, well, Ben will be very happy to have my display there then.”  He stated then started walking for the door.

 

In a whisper, Shelly called Denver’s attention to what was on the computer.  “Look at this stuff, and the prices!  We can’t let them set this up over there, they’ll kill our business Denver!

 

He looked into his wife’s urgent eyes.  “Mister Goat, wasn’t it?”

 

Horace stopped walking and looked back.  “Yes, but please, call me Horace.”

 

“Horace, bring your display in, we’ll at least give it a look; I mean if Wanda asked you to, we should at least see it before we tell you no.”  Denver told him to appease Shelly.

 

With a smile Horace nodded.  “I’ll be right back good sir.”  He said then left.

 

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“So what do you think mister London?  Do we have a deal?”  Horace asked now that the display was fully set up and filled.

 

With an impressed face Denver asked, “And this is your display shelf?  I think people might want to buy that itself.  What is that, granite?”

 

“No, it’s a type of firestone, not common around here, however, where I’m from, it’s very common.”  Horace answered.

 

“Oh, where are you from?”  Denver asked.

 

“Have I shown you how the kiosk works yet?  I don’t think I have.  Here, let me show you.  It links directly to your point of sale registers.”  Horace proclaimed then moved them to the computerized display with his special order items on it as he explained.  “It’s very simple really.  Customers select what they want, as many items as they desire, and when they’re ready to purchase, they click here and the demon link software does the rest.  It prints out their order number with a barcode that they can take to a sales person; they simply scan the barcode and the sale comes up on your system.  Enter their credit card, or select a cash option, and, that simple.”

 

“Demon link software?”  Shelly questioned.

 

Horace laughed.  “Yes, that’s what the company that designed it calls it.  It’s very good software, one of their best designs, stable, never have had a lick of trouble with it.  They have wonderful tech support.  I’ve honestly never had to use them myself, the system is that good.  Anyways, once you have the sale finalized, you can offer in-store pickup or free delivery to their home on items three hundred dollars or more.  It’s really quick and simple.”

 

“Yeah, it looks like it.  A lot better than Oddheim’s system.  The sales actually go through his system, then we have to enter the sales manually into our system.”  Shelly commented absentmindedly.

 

“Yes, well, I’m more accepting of modern trends than Oddheim is.  That’s why I’m the more successful of the two of us.  Yes, well, anyways, if you have any questions, you have my card.  I really must be going now.  Thank you again, and tell Wanda I appreciate her faith in me.”  Horace told them while they looked the display over.

 

They were so entranced in what they were looking at, they hadn’t noticed he’d left until the door chimed as a customer walked in.

 

“Hello, can I help you?”  Denver asked the woman whom had just walked in.

 

She was looking a little confused and surprised.  She looked to be in her mid forties and well dressed.  “Oh, fudge, no, I must’ve been on the wrong side of the street.  There’s no way I’d shop here.”  She commented coldly then started to turn.

 

“I’m sorry, have we ever met?  We’re new here and just opened Saturday.  That was rather abrupt.”  Shelly said to the woman whom turned to face her.

 

The woman smiled defiantly back.  “I’m Lisa Miller, my husband and I own Miller Auto, the local Cadillac and GMC dealership.  My brother is Benson Dahl, you know, you evicted him from his store so you could put up this place.”  She stated still in her coldest voice.

 

Shelly scoffed at her.  “We did buy the building for ourselves, your brother had the same opportunity…”

 

“What is that?”  The woman asked cutting Shelly off and pointing.

 

Both her and Denver looked at what they thought she was pointing at.  Denver started to answer.  “That’s a porcelain Dalmatian from 1893, it came from a firehouse in Delaware to commemorate a firehouse dog that saved…”

 

“Not the dog, I know what a Dalmatian is, that!”  She scolded and pointing harder at something that was behind the Dalmatian. 

 

Both looked to see what she was actually pointing at, which was the screen of the kiosk.

 

“Bring that back up, it’s gone now, what that was showing last.”  She demanded with interest moving towards the kiosk.

 

“Ah… sure, um, let me…”  Denver replied as he moved to the display and tried to get the moving display to return to the last image it had up.  “There, that?  Is that what you were talking about?”

 

“Yes!  That is amazing!  What is it?”  Lisa Miller inquired.

 

“Ah, that’s the Polaris Signet, it’s ah, a Norse garden statue, for a Norse horseman god… ah, that is…”  Denver started saying as he tried to read the display.

 

“I can read, thank you.  That would go perfect in the center of our circle drive.  How much is it?”  She asked.

 

Shelly took over and brought the piece up on the sales screen.  “That is thirty eight hundred and comes with free delivery.”

 

“Is that actual size?  How big is it?  Does it say?”  Lisa requested excitedly.

 

“Ah, well, it’s just a picture, it’s ah… thirteen feet six inches in total height it says and weighs twelve hundred pounds, made from…”  Shelly was reading.

 

“I’ll take it.  How long till you can get it?” 

 

Shelly beamed a smile and pressed the sales button then took the printed slip to the register and scanned it in.  “It says, two weeks, and, that’s odd, that it will be delivered to the store for inspection before it is taken to the customer site.  Ah… so, two weeks.  There is a rush delivery option, that adds three hundred dollars…”

 

“That’s fine, rush it.”  Missus Miller demanded.

 

“Okay, great, can I have your credit card please.”  Shelly requested.

 

Lisa Miller dug in her purse, found her wallet then pulled out the card.  Shelly ran the purchase and after a few more steps, the printer started running producing the order and sales receipt.

 

“Alright, now I just need your address for the delivery.”

 

“Thirty one twelve, Forest Circle Drive, we’re the house furthest to the north in town, the big one on the end of the road, can’t miss it.”  The customer informed Shelly.

 

“Great, we’ll give you a call when it arrives to set up the delivery; just need a phone number.”  Shelly continued.

 

Once they finished the order, the woman left with a smile.

 

“Nice, what’s our cost on that anyways?”  Denver asked.

 

Shelly tapped at the keyboard for a minute or so, bringing up the order.  Her eyes became large when she looked at their cost.  “Eight hundred is our cost, shit!  We just made out like bandits!  And she said she’d never shop here.  Ha!”

 

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“Alright ma’am, your statue’s all set up, you can inspect it now, there’s also this.”  One of the men told Lisa Miller as he handed a box to her.

 

“What’s this?”  She asked taking the box.

 

The man pulled out a bundle of papers and read from them.  “Says it’s a miniature Polaris Signet exactly like the large one we just placed for you.  According to legend, you’re to place it in the further most northern room of your house for the best luck the statue brings.  Apparently it’s included with the statue.”  He handed the papers to her as well.  “Least that’s what it says on the paperwork.  I just need your signature on the bottom line there.”  He informed her as he pointed to the top page.

 

Lisa signed where she needed and handed the page back to him then went out to where the statue had been placed.

 

“We set it up, just like the directions said to on the concrete pad you wanted it on, it’s centered and I think it looks perfect.  Unless you need us to change anything with it, we’ll lock the crane down and be on our way.”  The man said to her as she looked the statue over.

 

“It is perfect.  Just what the drive needed.  Thank you, you can go.”  She replied.

 

Once she was back inside the house, she opened the box the man had given her.  “Lovely.”  She commented as she looked the miniature version of the statue over.  “I know just the spot for this.”  She said to herself as she crossed the room and went up the first flight of the stairs across from the entry door to the landing where the stairs split off left and right.

 

She cleared a spot on the table in front of the window on the midway landing of the stairs and placed the statue.  “And that’s as far north as you can get in this house.”  She stated as she looked it over and where she’d placed it.

 

Satisfied with both the large statue in the center of the garden that formed the center of the circle drive and the smaller version now displayed in her house, that would be a focal point when people entered the foyer, she walked away humming happily to herself.

 

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It was the Friday before the Memorial Day weekend when they would have their official kickoff to the summer when Barron Oddheim paid them a visit.  He was all smiles when he first walked in, that is until he saw the stone display near the checkout counter with the large letters H G engraved in the top.

 

Shelly was smiling herself as she walked up and greeted him.  “Barron, good to see you.  How do you like the store now that it’s open?”  She asked, sales had been going good.

 

He looked to her with a worried face and pointed to the display from his competitor.   “I see you’re doing business with Horace Goat.”  He replied bluntly and with a cold and disappointed edge in his voice.

 

Shelly became rather reserved now as her expression dropped.  Did he honestly think they wouldn’t do business with other vendors?  And they were making good money with his products.  “Yes.  And his products have been selling well, better than what we have from you actually.  I’m sure you don’t like hearing that, but it’s the truth.  What can I do for you mister Oddheim?”

 

He looked to her with  a face of boding.  “Horace Goat isn’t a man honest business people want to be doing business with, missus London.  The man’s bad news.”

 

Shelly scoffed as Wanda walked up to where her and Barron Oddheim were standing.  “Hey, Barron, good to see you.”  She greeted him.  Her face quickly dropped once he looked at her.

 

Barron looked back to Shelly when she spoke again.  “And just how is Horace Goat bad news?  Aside from his stuff outselling yours?  I take it the two of you know each other?”

 

His head started moving side to side.  “Never met the man myself; just know him by reputation.  He’s also had some of his ‘relics’ turn up as being stolen goods missus London.  I can’t tell you how to run your business, won’t pretend to.  But I will give you some free advice.  Get Horace Goat out of your lives.  Bad things follow him wherever he goes.”

 

“Yeah, like your sales drop you mean.”  Wanda interjected.  “We make a lot more money from what we sell from him then we do yours; he wholesales to us a lot lower than you do, and to be honest mister Oddheim, people are more interested in what he offers than what you’re peddling.  His stuff flies out the door.  Maybe you’re just jealous he has a better line of goods.”

 

“Is there some reason you’re here mister Oddheim besides berating your competition?  Because if that’s all you’re here for, I don’t have time.  Our summer kickoff sale is this weekend, it’s the Memorial Day weekend, and we have a lot to get ready for.”  Shelly stated, returning the topic to business.

 

Barron looked at the Horace Goat display once more then back to Shelly.  “Yes missus London, I’m here to change up my displays some.  We have some new items that we just released.  I wanted to have them displayed for your sale this weekend.” 

 

Shelly smiled professionally.  “Good.  Maybe we’ll actually be able to sell some of them.  What you currently have, simply hasn’t been moving well.”

 

“Excuse me,” an older gentleman said, he’d been standing nearby the trio as they talked, “I hope I’m not interrupting, I’m interested in that crusaders cross you have in your window.”  He inquired.

 

“Oh, I can help you with that sir.”  Wanda said, leaving Shelly to deal with Barron Oddheim.

 

Barron smiled.  “Ah, the crusaders cross, one of my pieces, looks like my sales are improving.”  He commented.

 

Shelly smiled back.  “Actually, mister Oddheim, the one in the window is one that Horace brought in yesterday.”

 

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“Denver!”  Shelly called out up the stairs to the apartment they were using as an office.  “Hey Denver London, get down here!  I need you!”

 

Shelly called his name again when he appeared behind her.  “Hey, yeah, what do you need.”  He said to her back getting her attention.

 

With a squeal Shelly jumped then turned to face her husband with a hand held over her heart.  “Shit!  Denver, you scared the shit out of me!  I thought you were upstairs still.”

 

“No babe, I was in the workshop in the basement.  Almost done with that sparkplug sign we picked up, you know the one from 1952.  It cleaned up really nice, have the second coat of sealer on it now.  It’s looking really good; think we should be able to get around two fifty for it.  Not bad considering we paid twenty bucks for it.”  Denver informed her.

 

With a sigh Shelly smiled at him.  “That’s another thing we need to discuss.  After you help me move some things to make room for more displays.”

 

She started walking off with Denver following.  “Discuss what?  And what displays are we making room for?”

 

“Horace’s displays, I’ve asked him to set two more up since his stuff is selling more than anything else.”  She informed him.

 

“Oh.  Yeah, that’s a good idea.  Better profit margin too; maybe we should cut back on what we display from Barron too.”

 

“Well, I’d like to, but we have a contract.  We may have to keep the displays we have, but nothing says we have to have them upfront, so I’m moving those more to the back.”  She explained.

 

Denver nodded acceptingly.  “Is that all there was to discuss?”  He asked.

 

“No.  Like the sign you want to put up.  The things we’ve been restoring…” she sighed as she rasped her throat, “they just aren’t selling.  We’ve sold one sign so far, and we had to haggle that price down to sell that.  We only made about fifty bucks on that.  I think we need to take some of our stuff out and make more room for Horace’s stuff.  Maybe you can sell them online.”  Shelly rationalized.

 

Now it was Denver’s turn to sigh as they reached the front of the store.  “I really wanted the majority of the stuff in the store stuff we refurbished.  But the other stuff is selling better; that is what is making us our money.”  His face said he hated admitting she was right.

 

Shelly pointed to a floor display of Barron Oddheim’s, indicating that’s what they were moving.  “I know, me too, but we have to go with what the customers want.  So, our stuff goes out, and Horace’s goes in.  We need to make what we can this summer you know.  I just sold a nice piece to Nora and William Henderson, they’re on the east end of town.  Lisa Miller actually referred them to us, you know, the woman that said she’d never shop here, then spent over five thousand dollars here in a week.  They’re working with Molly on redoing their house.”

 

“Great.  They buying stuff from our store?  Or just the one piece?”  He inquired.

 

“Pick that end up, I’ll move the rug then we can carry this back.”  Shelly instructed as Denver lifted the end of the display for her.  “They’re getting some of the Ashley furniture from us, and some more pieces they want to work into their new layout from us.  I don’t know if they’re getting stuff from other stores, probably.  We don’t sell kitchen cabinets, Molly is guiding them to her husbands company though, so that’s good.  Keeps her here, and she’s been moving stuff for us, so that’s good.  Seems to be working out well.”  Shelly told him.

 

They were just about to pickup the end of the display to move it when the door chimed.  “Wanda can get that.”  Shelly stated.

 

“Ah, she’s at the bank, I’ll go.”  Denver replied.

 

They both loosed their grip on the display and Shelly followed Denver to the sales area.  A man was there in a sports coat and nice shirt, dress shoes, he smiled as they came up to him.

 

“Hello, Denver and Shelly London?”  He asked.

 

“Yeah, that’s us.  If you’re selling something, we’re not interested, thanks.”  Denver told the man.

 

He silently chuckled as he looked down his front with a smile before returning to them.  “Actually, I’m here to see if you’ll sell something.  I’m Obediah Elfman, I represent Jamian Bird, I’m his property manager.”

 

Denver looked to his neck and pointed as he spoke.  “So, you’re another Jew.”  He commented seeing the star of David hung high on his neck.

 

Obediah chortled as he looked to his neck.  “Yes, I guess that does give it away, doesn’t it.”  He looked at Denver.  “Do you have a problem with Jewish people?”

 

Looking away rather embarrassed as his face reddened some he then looked back to Obediah as he replied, “Normally no, but my recent dealing with your people… let’s just say… hasn’t been the most positive experience.”

 

Obediah continued to smile.  “Well, I hope I can change that with the offer mister Bird is willing to make to you.”

 

Denver snorted.  “An offer Jim is making, yeah, I’m sure it’ll be amazing and something we’ll both jump at.  It’s because of him we’re landlords now.”

 

Obediah smiled large.  “Well, his investment, and my management, has been profitable for you.  Almost all of the apartments are rented, and at top dollar too.  I’d say your partnership with mister Bird has done quite well.”

 

“So what’s this offer you’re here to make mister Elfman?  We’re rather busy at the moment.  If you’d get to the reason you’re here, it’d be appreciated.”  Denver stated rather coldly.

 

Obediah’s smile faded quickly from Denver’s reaction.  “Yes, it’s rather profitable to you,” he glanced at Shelly, “and missus London.  He’d like to buy the apartments from you, the top two floors of your buildings, like in a condominium deal.  He’d own the top two floors, relieving you of any responsibility and expense, and take complete control of the apartments.”

 

“I don’t think that’s a wise choice Denver, that could cause trouble for you down the road.”  Another voice said.  Denver and Shelly looked to the source of the voice, Horace Goat had walked up with a cappuccino in hand.

 

“Horace.”  Shelly announced with a smile.  “I didn’t see you come in.”

 

He smiled politely at her.  “I slipped in with a pack of women, I wanted some of the fine coffee you serve here.”  He replied.

 

Obediah looked over at Horace.  “Hello, I’m Horace Goat, and you are?”  Horace introduced himself with as he extended his hand to Obediah.

 

He glanced at Horace’s hand then back to Denver and Shelly.  “Perhaps we can speak in private?  This really is a personal matter.”  He looked at Horace for a second.  “We probably should keep this private.”

 

Denver looked at Horace then Obediah, catching the coldness Obediah held for Horace for apparently no reason, not even shaking his hand.  “Yeah, sure.  This way, we have an office upstairs, where the apartments are.”  He explained then took the lead and led Obediah towards the back of the shop with Shelly bringing up the rear as she looked at Horace and smiled before she fully faced after the men and went with.

 

-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-London’s Treasures-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-

 

“You would be allowed to keep your office here, for a nominal rent fee; that being ten dollars a month.  Mister Bird felt that was a hospitable thing to do.  He’s offering two hundred and seventeen thousand dollars to take full ownership of the apartments.  There would also be the need to restrict your access to the rest of the apartments from the stairway you currently have, which would only allow access to your office space.  Honestly, it’s a very good deal.  You would have less to cover on your insurance and this would also lower your overall property taxes.”  Obediah explained as the positive reason for their accepting the offer Jim was making to them.

 

 “So this is his way of cutting ties with us then.”  Denver commented off the cuff as he thought.

 

Obediah cleared his throat, this was a rather uncomfortable conversation.  “Ah, yes, it would appear that way, yes.”

 

Shelly was reading the papers Obediah had provided them on the deal.  “I don’t know, this is all rather sudden.  We’d need some time to talk this over, have a lawyer look this over.  This is a lot to consider.  How long has he given us to decide?”  She questioned.

 

“He’s asked me to return in two weeks.  We both anticipated that you’d need to have the documents looked over, that would be normal.”  Obediah answered.

 

“What about if the roof leaks, an apartment floods and the water runs into our store?  How do we handle all that shit.  Stuff’s going to happen, always does.”  Denver added.

 

“Let the insurance companies hash it out.  You already share a wall with another building.  Same thing if something happened with the business on the other side of your property.  That’s really a small part of the consideration for this proposal in all honesty.  And mister Bird is making a fair offer on the property, considering what you paid for the building from tax records, a good solid offer along with the original investment.”  Obediah commented.

 

“It may be a fair offer, but I don’t like the idea of not owning all of our building.  I feel it’s opening a can of worms; that in the end there’ll be a lot more problems than this solves.  Why can’t he just wait until we can buy him out?  The business is doing good.  By this time next year, we could simply pay him off, with interest even.  This…”  Denver scoffed as he dropped some of the papers on a table. “This is a rather horse shit move I think.”

 

Shelly put her hand on his shoulder.  “We’ll think about it mister Elfman, we need to talk about this; like my husband said, there is a lot to consider.”  She gave Denver a look.  “I mean, there was no warning, nothing, you just show up and make this offer to buy half of our building.  It is rather sudden.”

 

Obediah nodded.  “I understand your feelings, but I hope you can understand, mister Bird wants to separate his investment from yours.”

 

“Just what has mister Bird told you about his investment with us anyways?”  Denver probed.

 

Obediah shook his head.  “Nothing really; just that he invested money with you to get the apartments livable, now he wants the investment either bought out, which would be a hundred and fifty to a hundred and seventy five thousand dollars, or his preference, to simply buy the apartments from you.”

 

“A hundred and fifty to a hundred and seventy five?  He only invested a hundred thousand with us, how does he arrive at that?”  Denver charged with a heated voice.

 

With a shrug Obediah explained, “Equity mister London, return on investment.  When he first invested in the apartments, they weren’t livable, now they are and almost fully rented out and providing a solid return.  What he is asking for on a buyout, is rather low.  Personally, I’d be asking for closer to three fifty to four hundred thousand dollars.”

 

“Have you told him that?  Or are you going to?”  Denver questioned.

 

“I already suggested that.  He simply iterated his desire to sever ties with you and was more than willing to take a low return on investment.  Please, don’t get hostile mister London, I’m just the middleman here.  Mister Bird is the one making the offer.  I’m just the messenger presenting it.”  Obediah remarked after seeing the anger in Denver’s eyes as his face flushed.

 

“We’ll see you in two weeks then with our decision.  We have a store to run, so if you don’t mind, mister Elfman…”  Denver stated with a hand held towards the doorway out.

 

Obediah smiled tightly, nodded then made for the door and left.

 

After they saw mister Elfman out of the store, Horace came to them.

 

“Selling half of your store, not a good idea.  Selling the top floors, not like having a semi-attached building.”  He advised.

 

Denver glared at him.  “No offense Horace, but it’s really none of your business.  You’re sticking your nose where it doesn’t belong.”

 

Horace smiled.  “You are my best customers, you’re helping my business grow, I’d say I have some interest in what happens to you, limited interest, but a vested interest.”  He looked up at the ceiling.  “If you sold the floors above you, you’d have no control over what happens above you; whom was allowed to rent, they may even do things that would cause harm to your business.  Sell, and you lose any control.”

 

“Yeah, I know, but our partner wants us out of his business, and we can’t afford to buy him out right now without crippling ourselves.”  Denver told Horace.

 

With a shrug Horace offered, “Perhaps I can help.  I can loan you the money you need to take full control of your business.”

 

Denver held up a hand fast.  “No, no, we just had a nasty fallout with one investor, don’t need another one to go south.”

 

Horace smiled now.  “I wasn’t offering to become a partner and invest, a loan rather.  I could simply take a percentage of the sales; with as good as you’re doing, it shouldn’t take long, you’d have me paid off and be totally in control of your fates.”

 

Denver shot a look at Shelly before responding.  “Thanks Horace, I appreciate the offer, but Shelly and I need to deal with this on our own.  Taking money from a friend bit us in the ass hard last time; I don’t want to burn any more bridges under us.”

 

“Very well, if you change your mind, you know how to reach me.”  He said then went back to his table and his coffee.

 

 

 

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