Over the last few weeks, I’ve attended two retirement ceremonies. In July, I rode my motorcycle down to Ft. Campbell in Tennessee for the celebration for Debbie Henson. I just returned this week from a trip to Ft. Hood TX by way of Houston, TX to attend a party for Susan Brooks. Both of these women were great managers with a strong passion for getting things done in the retail world. They will be sorely missed by us here at Raine and by other vendors as well I’m sure.
Both of these bases are too far away to travel for just a party, so I try to accomplish other tasks as well. At Campbell, I met up with one of our advisers, Cliff Vaughan and his wife Sherry. We jointly met with SFC Tom Kerr of the 5th Special Forces Group to discuss product ideas. That meeting was very productive and we came away with some good ideas. I also stopped by one of our civilian stores to meet with Albert Goulet at his store, Eagles of War. He does great business in patches and WWll items. He has more stuff in his warehouse than could be sold in two lifetimes.
I took some extra time on my trip to Hood and Houston to visit with my children who live in the Houston area. My daughter lives on the Northeast side of the city and my son on the far west side. As luck would have it, my son’s 40th birthday fell a couple of days before I needed to be at Hood. This was the first time in many years I had been able to be with him on his special day. We had a nice time with him, and his wife threw a surprise party for him on the Saturday afternoon that I had to take off for Hood. He was very surprised and appreciative for all his friends that showed up to be with him. I also visited some of our dealer friends in the Houston area. I was especially pleased to see the new store that was opened by the Rousey’s of Top Brass Military. I told Bill Rousey that his store was probably the nicest I was ever in. He said they had about 11,000 sq. ft. of space and it was all laid out neat as a pin. It’s nothing like a traditional army/navy store. No musty canvas smell and no piles of surplus. Just neat racks and fixtures full of new merchandise. I had expected to see his son Lance at the store, but he has moved to San Antonio to open a new store. I’m sure it will do as well as this one and I look forward to shipping a large order of our products there very soon.
I started this by talking about retirements. It seems like my old friends are leaving for greener pastures. Susan put in thirty seven years and Debbie had worked with AAFES for thirty four. I hate to see these great people move on, but we wish them well. I know there are more to come. Maria Bustamonte at Ft. Bliss is leaving in November. Watching these old friends move on makes me nostalgic for the old days of doing business with AAFES. The days before Retek and SBR and EDI ordering. I miss calling a manager and reviewing sales and having them place an order over the phone. The difference between those times and current practices reminds me of the old Steely Dan song “Hey Nineteen”. In that song an older guy is talking to a young girl about old times and realizes she isn’t getting it, they sing “she thinks I’m crazy but I’m just growing old”. I can identify with that; my time is coming. I can see a light at the end of the tunnel. I just hope it’s not a train.