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Monday, September 28, 2009

What to do...What to do?

Yesterday I called my sister. I'd had a dream, or a thought, or something. All I know is I needed to run it by her. The last time I had a decent night's sleep was at her house two weekends ago, and that was drug-induced. I haven't slept well in a month or two. My system is all messed up. For the first time in my life, I'm not stress-eating. As a matter of fact, I find that I'm NOT eating because when I do eat, my stomach gets sick. I'm honestly a mess.

Ever since Wes left last week to go to Washington to check on his mother, I walk around the shop, and in between customers, I cry. It's been a rough couple of weeks. I keep wondering if there's a way to save my "baby". I know House of Tiki doesn't belong to me. But I feel like for the last five years, I've treated it as my own. I've poured so much of me into helping Wes run this little place. Each time someone walks in the door to tell us how sorry they are that we're closing, they say.."I don't know where I'll get my 'fix' of Aloha now. There's nothing else like House of Tiki around here." It's true. There IS nothing like it around here.

When I came to House of Tiki, I was a broken person. I'd just left a very nice "career" position as a payroll accountant in the corporate offices of a very well-known national restaurant chain. I thought I'd be there until I retired. It didn't work out that way though because people lied and other people believed those lies. Apparantly, the lies had been flowing around for quite some time before I knew it, and I found out only during my yearly evaluation. When I told my supervisor that those were lies, she didn't believe me, put me on suspension and asked me to sign the eval. I refused and resigned. I left that day. For the next two months, I curled up into a ball and cried.

A year later, I walked into this little island-style store where I bought my Christmas cards every year, to try to sell them my sister's candied pecans. I walked out with a job offer to do the books part-time, and a new friend in the owner; Wes. For the first time in a long time, I started to feel like a worthwhile human again. That grew, over these years into practically running the show. Of course, Wes was still the Big Kahuna. House of Tiki was his, he wrote the checks, and he made the decisions. But he put a lot of trust in me, and there weren't a whole lot of decisions he made with regard to the store without asking for my input. Over the last few years, with other projects in the works, he began stepping further and further back. After his little venture into the adjoining coffeeshop, Hot Lava Java closed, his spirit took a beating and his heart just wasn't in it anymore. IT was completely understandable. But it was in my heart to stay with him. As long as he was willing to hold on, I would hold on with him. I moved with him when he moved the shop. I moved with him again when he moved the shop. We kept trying, but I could see that his joy and his interests were revolving less and less around House of Tiki. Again, understandable.

The truth is, I WANTED to offer to take over the business. I had ideas. I definitely had ideas. But I had no capital to make that happen. Charlie and I were/are in no position to offer to buy the business from Wes. So now, here we are, within a month's time, he decides to close for good. Whatever doesn't sell by the 30th, goes into storage or on Craig's List. Of course, I feel a sense of loss, but I will do whatever he wants to do. That's what family does.

Back to my dream. I dreamt I took over. That I approached Wes with a plan. Everything is already in place. It's all there. If I let him shut it down and put everything in storage, well then, it would kinda be over. But this way, stuff's still there. The entire store is already decorated. The rent in the unit is on a month-to-month basis, it's not like I have to sign a lease. This is my Hail Mary play. Ask Wes to do an inventory of what's left, put a value on it, and let me continue to run the store and make payments to him on the leftover inventory as I can. If stuff's in storage, who will see it? What does he have to lose? I will take out a very small loan, enough to pay the rent on the unit for a couple months, the utilities, and not take a salary. I will advertise like crazy, something we didn't do enough of. I know all the vendors and I know all the customers. I know what sells and what doesn't sell and now that everything is pretty much gone, I have a clean slate to only put what sells in there. I know what Wes did that worked, and I know what I might try to do a little differently.

For the last three years I have jokingly told Wes when he left for extended amounts of time that if he wasn't careful, when he returned he would find I'd changed the name of the business to "Pua's Polynesian Emporium." Now, I tell Lokelani, maybe I can do this. Maybe I will. Maybe, just maybe, I can make it work. Maybe, he'll let me give it a whirl. I've only got this one chance. I'm scared shitless, but I've been terrified before and lived. I've got no money and only a couple of weeks to come up with some. I've had no sleep, but I'm kinda getting used to that. Maybe I'm putting too much on a dream. But I don't want to live with regrets if I don't even try. What to do? What to do?