What do you do for a living?
Retail sales, sporting goods
How would you describe what you do?
We sell climbing and camping equipment, canoes and kayaks, and related clothing and accessories. My job is the owner, so I’m the Chief Supervisor.
What does your work entail?
I largely supervise everything that goes on here, I have managers that do a lot of the work, and I supervise them more than I actually participate in everything that’s involved. We’re basically a toy store for adults, but not in a bad way.
I don’t work nearly as much as I used to. Until recently, I used to put in 50, 60 hours a week. Now, I’m down to 25 or 30 hours per week. I’m gradually weaning myself away from it and giving it over to my managers to do everything.
How did you get started?
Well, about 35 years ago, I was in college to get my degree in chemistry and realized that I was having too many problems with my allergies to the chemicals that I worked with and that I had to do something else. But I liked the area and wanted to stay, so I looked around to find something to do to support myself that I could stay in this area. I’ve always liked the outdoors, I was raised that way as a kid.
What do you like about what you do?
The interaction with people. We’re basically a toy store for adults, but not in a bad way. We used to advertise it as an adult toy store and people thought we sold sex toys. I would encourage anybody that has the potential and ability to do something like this, to do it because it is a lot more fun than working for somebody.
Like I said, we sell outdoor equipment, camping equipment, canoes and kayaks, and gear for outdoor sports. And that’s largely a toy store for adults.
What do you dislike?
The hassle and paperwork.
How do you make money/or how are you compensated?
We purchase stuff from vendors all across the country and then resell it.
How much money do you make?
I get a salary of about $26,000, plus I get a bonus depending on how well we do which is usually about about eight percent of my salary. But also, as chief stockholder, I get all income from the corporation. Last year, we netted $96,000 on $1.956 million in sales.
What education or skills are needed to do this?
Apparently, none, because I had my degree in Chemistry and I got into business without any real hassle. I’m sure having a degree in Business gives you an upper edge in learning since you would know you marketing and accounting and stuff like that. But I managed it fine by without having those things.
What is most challenging about what you do?
Dealing with the mail order places that I compete with that are discount-oriented. I also find it challenging testing the quality of my products. I often use mattress blacklights for quality-checking of my goods. It is so time consuming, but is worth it.
What is most rewarding?
The interaction with customers. When you help someone when they have a problem.
What advice would you offer someone considering this career?
I’d say, if they’ve got the opportunity then to do it. There is a lot to be said for running a business yourself. If you do well, you get all benefit and if you screw up, it’s all your fault. But there’s an awful lot to be said for working for yourself because you don’t have to deal with other people telling you what to do.
How much time off do you get/take?
It varies, about two to four weeks.
What is a common misconception people have about what you do?
That I just come in at nine o’clock and go home at six o’clock and sell stuff. They have no idea how much earlier I come in sometimes, and how late we stay at times, and how many times we worked on Sundays or Saturday nights to get things done. People think we have banker’s hours.
What are your goals/dreams for the future?
My goals are to get out of working day to day and begin traveling, sightseeing, and hiking more. And to let my employees finish running the business until I die and give it to them.
What else would you like people to know about what you do?
I would encourage anybody that has the potential and ability to do something like this, to do it. Because it is a lot more fun than working for somebody else.