In 1988, just after retiring, I was out in my garage looking for something, or another. Otherwise I wouldn’t have been out there. In my search I came across of a box of ‘Dear Ole Dad’s’ military stuff. “What a way to collect a career of military memorabilia,” I thought to myself. Then I thought, “I wonder why someone doesn’t design a ‘scrapbook’ specifically for military guys – instead of those ‘cutesy’ books with the green frogs and pink bunnies on them in the Base Exchange (BX)?”
“Well hell,” I continued thinking, “I’ve had SOS, by correspondence, and I’m not doing anything, why not design a book myself?” I have always been good at having great ideas. And so, I grabbed 2 beers and headed out to Walmart. Why 2? One for the trip over; and 1 for the way back. In those days it was legal to drink and drive in Texas – as long as you weren’t drunk!
So, I get to Walmart and head to the scrapbook aisle. I then find a half-way decent looking scrapbook and grab the company’s info off the back cover… and I was off!
Sparing you the details, it took 3-4 weeks and about $10,000 before I had “product.” That was in October 1989.
From the very beginning, I knew I had a “good” product. My next challenge was to get it to the market.
I thought it would be a “natural” in the BX system. Stupid me! I fought those bastards – and there is really no better term for those bastards – ever since I first presented my books to them. I kept my first “rejection letter” that says, While we think you have a fine product, we consider them a specialty item, with limited demand.” YGBSM! And so it began, RESISTANCE. What I learned is while the BX touts itself on doing business with “small businesses,” in reality, they want nothing to do with folks like me. It’s just the way it is…
That was just the beginning of the RESISTANCE I encountered. I “had issues” with the Post Office. They didn’t consider my scrapbooks ‘books,’ until I wrote an 8-page ‘history’ for inclusion. Personal from Bob to the Post Office bureaucratic MFWIC: You dumb shit – you had me add weight to my books, so I could ship at a lower rate! And you wonder why the Post Office continues to lose money!).
I also learned if you are a ‘successful, educated white guy,’ forget about any Federal financial assistance. Just the way it is!
And I could go on, but that’s not my purpose here. Suffice to say, as I encountered RESISTANCE at every juncture, my books were selling! Through my personal web site, the Army Times and Amazon.com.
But finally, in September 2012, it just became “too hard,” and I began to shut it down. I harbor no regrets; for either beginning the business, or shutting it down. Aside from the ‘frustrations’ I encountered, I learned a great deal, and met some interesting people. I don’t consider my venture here a “failure,” by any means. I did sell a lot of books! But it just became apparent it was time to close up shop, so now I’m off to something else – whatever that might be…
Oh, the name “ORF?” ‘Ole Retired Fellow, of course…