Michael Greene (Grandpa Mike-e-e at 90)
Note from Grandpa Mike-e-e: This is the last installment in my short series of articles on the diifferent life stages we furniture merchants go through. Together, our lives form a whole pizza with four slices. these are: Slice One: 1 -25 Quadrant of Older Dreams by the Young; Slice Two: 26-54 Quadrant of Promissory Handshakes; Slice Three: 55-80 Quadrant of Younger Dreams by the Old; Slice Four: 81-?? Quadrant of Your Footprints in the Sands of Time.
Check out my article from last week "Furniture Retail Tip #17 From Grandpa Mike-e-e! at 90 - "Younger Dreams By The Old!" by clicking here.... and from two weeks ago titled Furniture Retail Tip #15 From Grandpa Mike-e-e! at 90 - Life At Retail Pizza With Slices - Part 1 by clicking here.
Quality retailers are strange birds and are born that way... dedicated.
Dedicated? Yes. They are dedicated to the challenge of choosing values and then convincing others to buy them at a fair markup. It's an inherent (non-catching) disease passed down by generations who might have turned out to be dice-rollers or honest, dedicated religious representatives. One never knows.
A-n-d now I'd like to introduce you to a sweet, dedicated guy. Isaac was his name.
Isaac ran all the way from the shores of Odessa, Russia to the hills and dales of bordering Poland to seek out a dream. He was only eighteen years old, loved to sing, designed exquisite boots for women and had heard about a young, sweet dream girl, called Rebecca. A traveling, leather salesman had told him she had "the singing voice of an angel."
Isaac breathlessly, found her in the province of Galicia, Poland in the village of Brezany, singing and working in her father's vineyard a-n-d, believe it or not, she was pretty, too.
It was love (and value) at first sight. Isaac and Rebecca, right out of the "Good Book." They married.. .and one-two-three went into business: Isaac cutting and sewing unbelievable boots to order and Rebecca baking delectable, bridal cakes and pastries. And as history would later report, she became the only woman Isaac ever "knew" and he was to be the only man Rebecca ever "knew." Beautiful!
One evening Isaac came home from a study session at his synagogue and asked Rebecca: "Love of my life how would you like to go to America? My cousin, Benjamin, in big New York, just wrote me and volunteered to sponsor us. He writes, that he'll risk sponsoring us because he knows I'm an experienced boot designer and can surely make a living for us and our little guy, Nathan. Especially with all the immigrants piling into America from all over the world. It's a land of opportunity. A land of life, liberty, freedom and the Almighty, our Pal, above.
Rebecca jumped up, hugged her Isaac and yelled "Let's go! They'll love my bridal cakes and pastries!"
And that's how another young family had the guts to leave security and strike out to join up with American values and talents. Ready to welcome the next batch of families arriving on the next boat.
Now, 65 years later, there are seventeen members, three generations strong and happy living in Minneapolis, specializing in designing "greening" schools that children can breath in... and learn about their great grandfather Isaac's Pal who he taught to love and not to fear.
Isaac never lectured his kids or his employees. Instead he set an example of telling the truth and keeping a promise, especially in business transactions. Isaac also taught them that it's a heaven-given gift to be an American citizen. A gift that comes with the responsibility to study, and to vote.
So what am I getting at here with all this talk of Isaac and Poland and pizza slices?
Well, it doesn't matter if you are in the business of making shoes, creating green spaces in children's schools, for designing beautiful living spaces for families with your furniture offerings. Yes, it is nice nice to have your last pizza sliced piled high with lots of sauce and some cheese stuffed in your crust when you get to the last Pizza Slice, the Quadrant of Your Footprints in the Sands of Time. The cheese and sauce I'm speaking of are of course those material things that people feel are important, but really aren't. What matters much more in advanced old age is that you lived the right kind of business and personal life.
So if you are in Pizza Slice #2 or #3 or #4, turn your head around and see what kind of footsteps you left for the next generation to remember you by. And that doesn't only include those kids who have some of your genetic material. It includes everyone you touched including employees, suppliers and even the guy who comes in to sweep the floors. And if you see that your footsteps haven't always been that skillful, that's too bad... but it's never too late to make your last steps perfect!
Thanks, again, for listening.
Grandpa Mike-e-e! at 90
Got a question? Got a comment? Great!! E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
PS. See the new YouTube music video staring me, Grandpa Mike-e-e! with my granddaughter Becca in a supporting role at http://bitly.com/qALkrX
About Michael Greene (Grandpa Mike-e-e!)
Retailer, author, columnist, lecturer, composer and lyricist.
Came to US with immigrant parents in 1924 at the age of three.
Graduated high school at 16.
Managed a small bedding retail and manufacturing company at 18 in 1939.
Hired as Assistant to the VP of Purchasing (Sweets Corp. of America... approximately 500 employees) in 1940 at 19.
Drafted into US Army Signal Corp - Communications Personnel Div., Fort Monmouth.Tested and selected for Army Specialized Training Program, Rutgers University. Qualified for O.C.S. - Officer Candidate School and graduated as Second Lieutenant, Inventory/ Personnel Division in 1944 at 23.
Married his sweetheart, Anita, and he gives thanks to the Almighty that they are still sweethearts... after 73 years.
Rejoined Sweets Corp as Director of Personnel in 1945 at 24.
Joined his suddenly widowed sister as President of a small retail/ manufacturing company in 1946. Stayed on for 46 years managing the custom designing of over 20,000 childrens rooms and master bedroom beds.
Attended Hofstra University (evening program), and graduated in 1968 at age 47. Two of his kids followed right along at two other college campuses.
Applied for 30 day temporary columnist opening offered by the Reed Business Newspapers in NC and stayed on for 27 years. His retail columns were distributed everywhere from Brooklyn to Bangladesh, to Belgium to Beijing.
Traveled the US and visited with 3rd/ 4th generation retail owners.
He was admitted to the Writers Hall of Fame for, "Conspicuous Excellence In reports and appraisals of the furniture industry."
Retired from retail management at age 70.
BOOKS: (1) At age 72: published first book "Where's The Green Pea?" vegetable character stories including his original music and CD.
Designed programs for primary and pre-K schools and presented them with his Anita. (2) At age 76: Gee! I Wish I Had A Bedroom All My Own," lectured in middle schools (teenage), with tech info for parents, teachers and students in Home
Science. (3) At age 80: Tzedakah - Caring And Sharing classic book with original music CD and illustrations for high school chorales and drama groups.
At 89 -- published Retail Life: How To Get In, Stay Alive a-n-d Love It! in online and printed version for business schools, industry, and entrepreneurs. Includes how-to educational section for "Wise Women Who Love A Challenge" and "Oldtimer Retailers Who've Missed Some Basic Goodies In Business Promotion. Also provides business professors and career students seeking everyday practical trade experiences and business thinking.
Invited to address Levitz Furniture retail salespersons, Furniture Designer Associate members,
IHFRA sales associations, High Point University students and F.I.T. retailer evening sessions. Also accepted as an ASID associate member.
At 90 plus... is a musical playwright, composer and lyricist with original music and thinking for very young and very old America.