ReInventing Retirement:

"In Your Own Words"

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Compass & Clock would like to invite RETIREES to share your Retirement Story with us. 

We want to hear, "in your own words," what your new chapter is like.

 

Maybe you started writing a book, painting landscapes, brewing beer, volunteering for a local non-profit, or you're a door greeter at Home Depot.

 

Whatever your story is, we invite you to share it, "In Your Own Words."

 

This will be an on-going feature in our Monthly E-Newsletter AND it will be an on-going Article in our Compass & Clock magazine, starting with the Spring/Summer 2021 issue, where David Pratt tells us how his life-long passion became a Small Business after he retired.

 

This is Human-Interest driven and allows you to interact with us and others.

 

In addition to sharing your words in writing, for those of you that are interested, you can share your story with our listeners on our new "Compass & Clock Info-Tainment Podcast," series that launches on Thursday March 4th.

 

I'm looking forward to hearing from you, and reading & sharing your stories.

 

Try to keep your submissions to 1000 words or less. Please remit your story via email to:

compassandclockmc@gmail.com

ReImagining Retirement, "In My Own Words"

By David Pratt, owner HVA-Specialty, Tritrophy LLC, April 2021

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Retirement was easy.  After 30 years of vigorous business travel, the scales tipped.  The rewards of Business Analysis for Software Application were outstripped by “Enough Already”.  Preparation for Retirement was a bit more challenging.  

In 2008, about 2 years before retiring, I decided to make my last Off-road Race Motorcycle look like new again.  My 1987 Husqvarna 430XC model was then the best motorcycle for Off-road Competition.  My bike was well maintained and looked pretty good, but was well used.

The shop that had supported me was still in business, but no longer a Husky (Husqvarna) dealer.  The up and coming KTM model had replaced Husky; of course I knew that because I had recently purchased a new KTM “play bike” from that same shop.  

The Dealer had been hugely successful with Husky and was one of the most well-stocked dealerships in the country.   I stopped in and handed Steve my shopping list.   “Sorry Dave, all the Husky Inventory and remaining bikes and tools and more is all packed away in a warehouse.  I can’t get to these individual parts.”  He paused for a count of 10-“Why don’t you just buy it all for $$big number.” And we both laughed heartily, shook hands and both expected “that-was-that”.

First the idea languished in the back of my mind like a dormant seed.  Then I began to catch myself searching for Husky Parts on the internet.  With years of experience as racer and mechanic I knew what to look for.  I had been riding, racing, building, and loving off-road motorcycles since my 15th year.

At 60 miles an hour, in the desert I had my most spectacular crash.  It didn’t really hurt me or knock me out but it was dramatic.  Realizing the business opportunity that Steve and I shared as a joke hit me just as suddenly and nearly as dramatically.  I was going to be a “go to” source for Vintage Husqvarna, 1966 to 1988.

“You’re not kidding?” was Steve’s initial response.  From that moment on He Was Great.  Of course I had to see what was being offered.  It far exceeded my expectations.  About 12,000 pounds of parts, mostly NOS (New Old Stock).   About 10 motorcycles.  Tools, Clothing, Manuals, Vintage Memorabilia etc, etc ,etc.  I paid 100 percent upfront and moved everything, looking like the Circus was Leaving Town.

The large building I had erected on our property was designed to contain a collection of cars.  It was quickly filled with the unsorted load after load from Steve.  Heavy duty shelving went up, parts were sorted and put away by their original factory part numbers and before long my shop looked like the back room of a large Husqvarna Dealership.

Swedish Husqvarna hit the racing scene in 1969 with Steve McQueen’s favorite 400MX.  The rest was history until “Darkness Fell”.  In 1986, Husqvarna sold the business to an Italian conglomerate.  By 1988 nearly every model was of a new Italian design.  The bikes weren’t awful, but management was and by 1990 nearly all Husqvarna Dealers had either moved to new makes or had plans to do so.

Inventories large and small were moved out or discarded as these dealership’s buildings were repurposed for KTM, Honda, Yamaha etc.  Many of these inventories languished.  Steve included a valuable gift along with all the manuals and brochures etc.  He gave me a list of every Husky Dealer in North America as of about 1990.  We have been ferreting out the inventories that survived and even today we are still finding the most obscure, most recently in Anchorage AK.

We became a business, registered in 2010.  Our initial sales outlet was eBay and it proved to be hugely successful.  We had continued to uncover treasure after treasure in the old inventories and found a hungry market for Vintage Race (Old guys on old bikes), Fix-Up the Husky I’ve had for years and Full Serious Restoration undertakings.  We offered parts that had not been available for decades.  

Business settled in and both clear and changing patterns emerged.  We had been the first, but not the only similarly chartered company.  Many items we sold week after week stopped selling and others gained traction as our customer demands moved from rare and restoration toward more vintage racing.  With that swing, wear parts came more in demand and we began to manufacture exhausted stock and even began to design new things.

In 2019 we quietly opened our own website and by the end of 2020 we closed what had been a shrinking presence on eBay.  At the same time we embraced Facebook.  The synergy between website and Social Media is essential, irrefutable and darn frustrating.  My advice; don’t be intimidated by a new paradigm, this one can be handled by just about any 9 year old.

I am fond of saying “I am wound a little tight”.   I am energetic and optimistic.   When I began my business career at one of the International Big Eight CPA firms I was accosted by a Garden Gnome.  Actually it was my elderly first grade teacher, who looked about 2 feet shorter than I.   Her harsh delivery while she thumped my chest, “I never thought you’d amount to anything-you never would sit still”.  Well Mrs. Seth you are still right-at least on the last point.

The golden lining are my 2 grandsons.  Geoff began recreational off-road riding with me and quickly graduated through an upward trajectory from small, underpowered junior bikes to now racing at an advanced level on a modern Apex Off-Road Competition Ride.  Tom, my younger grandson is helping Grampa with inventory and website postings, in between his educational responsibilities.  He is moving up the more power/more suspension motorcycle ladder as well.

I adamantly disagree with the contrary notion; turning a hobby into a business can be a terrific avenue.  Take something in your life’s experience that makes you smile.  Grow and nurture it in retirement.  It does not have to be a “for profit” thing.  I hope it is something that wakes you up in the morning, gives a sense of accomplishment and puts you to bed for a restful night. 

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By Bob Vahsholtz, March 2021

 

Moving to a retirement community is a big decision, and rarely easy. It has that “air of finality” that can be hard to face. Marge and I wed as teenagers, have been married 65 years and always prided ourselves on being independent. We spurned my dad’s funding of my education to do it on our own, and we did so, debt-free. We set a goal of retiring young, accomplishing that at age 45, until our old boss lured us back in the saddle with new and interesting challenges for another career. Our lives have been one adventure after another. And good health all the way. Lucky us!

 

Three years ago, entering our 80s, our beautiful Coastal California home on acreage no longer looked so inviting. We’d moved there in 1988 with Marge declaring, “They’ll take me out of here in a pine box.” Facing knee surgery, those stairs and the charms of a big garden had faded. We hired help but honestly, that didn’t solve the problem. One thing we knew for sure, we didn’t want to be a burden to our kids and surely didn’t want to wait for those dreaded words, “Mom and Dad; it’s time …”

 

Just to check out options we visited friends in a couple of nearby retirement communities and found one of them suitable. We said, “OK. That’s where we’ll go when it’s time.”

 

But when is “time”? That decision is so easy to push into the future.

 

Stalling, we decided to take one of our little trips to visit the “Washington kids,” our son and his wife. At their invitation, we decided to look around the retirement state they’d chosen. We’re very glad we did.

 

Further “stalling” the big decision, we pooled our thoughts on preferences to help evaluate the many confusing choices: Rent or own? Assisted or Independent living? Cottage or apartment? Affordable? What about the weather? We’d chosen our California home primarily for its near-perfect weather, and hated to leave that behind!

 

We spent a few months prescreening retirement communities in various states, checking brochures and websites, culling out many choices. We prefer small towns, like nice weather and wanted two bedrooms, with one as an office. Too few places provided good information on those subjects, focusing more on their entertainment options. Nice, but of little importance to us. We’re both active with our hobbies and never bored. We didn’t want a ritzy “dress for dinner” place, but we did want “friendly and helpful” and nothing grubby, please. Marge is a great cook, but it’s not her joy in life, so full food service was on our check list, along with many items of greater or lesser importance. We tried to think through everything.

 

We traveled about a thousand miles around Washington for ten days or so, getting a feel for the state; where we’d never lived. We arranged ahead for visits to ten Washington retirement communities, and tried to schedule a meal at every one, a tour and an overnight stay, if that was offered. We were always welcomed and taken good care of; maybe a bit “too good” in some cases. We sought opportunities to talk to some residents. They know the straight scoop and usually don’t mind sharing it. After each visit we took the time to sum up the pluses and minuses of that day’s visit, lest they all blur together.

 

As our scouting trip drew to a close, some conclusions became clear:

  • Washington state was our clear preference.

  • We preferred the Western parts, maximizing sun and minimizing rain and snow.

  • Though healthy for our age, we didn’t want to face another move.

Those decisions ruled out most of the places we visited, narrowing our options to two. Both were in small Washington Peninsula towns and offered both independent and assisted living. One said they’d move us free when we decided we needed assisted living and the other said they’d provide full assistance whenever needed in whichever apartment we chose.

 

It was not an easy choice, but that last factor swung the balance. We signed onto the waiting list. When our chosen apartment became available, we planned our move carefully, sold our home, kept things important to us, gave the kids whatever they wanted and had an estate sale to dispose of the rest. We scheduled our move for soon after the house sold, arriving in bad weather, but you can’t win ’em all. We quickly settled into the next adventure of our lives. I should mention, we paid a month or two extra rent to provide time for all that, but found it a small and wise investment in our future home. Our daughter noted long ago, everywhere we live always becomes “home”. We found it easy to make this apartment our home. Tight quarters? Yes, but plenty of room for two. Easy living!

 

Marge and I have always relied on each other. In our mid-eighties, it’s handy to have our son and his wife nearby for family companionship and help “when we get old”. But if (when?) one of us is incapacitated, the other might need family help. The “kids” are healthy and responsible and our son is executor of our trust. It was written long ago, updated as needed and gives him full authority. We’re hoping this facility and our neighbors and friends here will provide the community support we need, but one never knows.

 

We’ve been here a bit more than two years now, and we’re glad we made the choice carefully, and as soon as we did. The sales pitches often emphasized the importance of moving “… early while your health is good.” Yeah, right; sales pitch to fill those apartments? But no, it’s a profound truth. We’ve chosen a friendly community, small enough to meet everyone in the course of living. We soon became part of the “family,” and that’s important. The cost proved no higher than our previous home and there can be tax advantages.

 

The Covid lockdown has been a social strain, but most residents here bear up and remain happy with their lifestyle choice. Two clear marks distinguish the grouches; they waited until bad health or loss of spouse forced the choice, or finally gave in to well-meaning pressure from the family.

Don’t do that. Happy residents enter their choice of community, at a time of their choosing and make friends. A good community welcomes residents, absorbs them comfortably and life is good. Gripes? Of course; we all have them, but they’re easily offset by the help in facing our declining years. Retirement communities are in the business of making aging as comfortable as possible for for us—their customers.

 

Give them a chance!