Not too many people have $18,000 to give as a gift to a stranger. One very gracious shoe giant’s wife, right here in little ole’ Aloha, Oregon, gave $18,000 to my friend to save her business.
This kind act of generosity happened a little over a month ago. I have known the recipient of this gift for about 13 years now.
I first met my friend when I worked for Key Event Services. She was married at the time and solicited me for potential clients who I might possibly refer to her and her husband’s limousine service. She ended up divorcing her husband, and it was a few years before we ran into each other again.
My friend and I both were experiencing negative issues with our children and it was because of those issues that we bonded. We have both been able to share ideas over the years of how to make it through all the turmoil in our lives surrounding these children, who were the same in age range, without collapsing.
My friend and I were always able to take comfort in the fact that we were not alone with our troubled kids. My friend had daughters and I had sons that were mirroring each other in their negative behavior.
Several years ago, I walked into a local business that I frequented, and lo and behold there was my friend. It had been awhile since we last saw each other. We hugged and chatted about our children, and caught up on each other’s lives. My friend was on the opposite side of the counter from where I stood because she had just purchased the franchise.
I was elated for her; she is a single mother who now owned her own business. My friend was grinning from ear to ear with excitement and pride that she was making it on her own and living the American dream. She purchased her own home and a franchise that she scraped and saved for after her divorce, and it seemed finally she was truly happy.
I told my friend I would frequent her business and suggest to others in our small community to also support her. Local small businesses are an important part of the economy. I personally would much rather support small business and pay a bit more than to support the big box stores. I receive better customer service in a locally owned small business.
Unfortunately most members of the community would rather save a couple dollars and take their business to the giant box companys that purchase overseas. After a couple years my friends business declined and she was in the red, barely making ends meet and having to let go of some of her part time employees. She was working long hours and falling deeper into debt. An employee of hers contributed to her debt by stealing from the business.
My friend had tried everything to keep her doors open. She sold her jewelery and collectables, and gave up her home and moved into a one bedroom apartment. She attempted to secure a loan from the bank, but was denied. It was not for herself that she wanted to keep the business open, but for her dedicated employees who needed a paycheck.
After many sleepless nights and begging lenders for a mere $15,000, my friend made the decision that she would have to close the doors of her business. She would have to walk away from her American dream. To make matters worse, issues with her children again began to escalate, ironically at the same time my children made an attempt to make me miserable.
On the day my friend drafted a letter to her employees and customers stating, with a heavy heart, that she was going to close the doors of the business, one of her devoted customers walked in the door. After her customer’s purchase, my friend asked the customer if she could talk to her outside. They walked out to the customer’s car. My friend, with tears in her eyes and sadness in her heart, told her customer that she was giving up her franchise and thanked her loyal customer for all her support.
The customer asked my friend how much it would take to keep her business afloat and the doors open. My friend told her she would need $18,000. The customer asked her if she was sure that was all it would take financially. My friend told her yes, that was what it would take. The customer asked, “so if I write you a check for $18,000.00, will you be able to get back on your feet and continue business?” My friend told the customer there was absolutely no way she could pay her back. The customer said, “that is not what I asked, I asked you, if I write you a check for $18,000 will you be able to get back on your feet and continue business?” My friend said “yes.”
The customer walked with my friend back into the business and handed her a check for $18,000. The customer said, “this is a gift.”
There are not many people who are able to, or if able, would, extend such a gift to a virtual stranger without an ulterior motive. I have met this customer, once in her home when I was a vendor for an event she sponsored and once at a private event for her son’s motion picture premiere. He is a successful Producer, CEO, and Head Animator in Portland. This customer is a billionaire, and one of the most down-to-earth, kind-hearted people who I have ever had the pleasure of meeting and working with.
I have worked with the rich and famous during my career, and most of them will make a point to let you know they are superior. There are very few that would ever even acknowledge my existence. But this customer of my friend’s always made conversation and has been very kind to me, and the same can be said about her, “shoe giant” husband, at least with my experience.
I am thankful my friend was able to keep her doors open. She is thriving. During the past five weeks the corporation that holds the name of her franchise cut her rent space in half. She won some awards during the annual corporate trade show along with monetary gift cards.
My friend is a strong woman with a heart of gold and I am thankful to have met her. Her story should be an inspiration to all that you never know when your angel will show up.