The year was 2006, EDGE Video in Brewer was going gangbusters. While the store/Internet Online combo was an almost instant success, I was a little bored. My original idea was to build a chain of stores, but not in the conventional way. One thing that bothered me working at other big chains was how every one of them is the same. No matter the location. No originality, or creativity. And I don’t care how good your metrics are: Whatever works on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills is not gonna fly on Main Street in Bangor.
One of the Brewer EDGE customers told me that the store next to his shop in Downtown Bangor, was closing down and the owner wanted to sell out. The Customer was Fast Tony and he owned a Pizza Shop right in the middle of Downtown. Apparently, according to him, everyone called him Fast Tony because he moved fast, talked fast and thought fast. He also wore a gun everywhere he went, which I never really figured out why and after a while, I really didn’t care.
The shop he was referring to was called, “Needful Things”, which aside from having a cool name was some kind of catch-all collector’s resale shop. I had never been in it before but I was aware of the owner, whom at this point, I’ll call him by his “street name”, Johnny Pockets.
I knew of Johnny Pockets because of another guy named Anthony Berry, who came into the Movie Gallery alot when I worked there. I know this is starting to sound like a bad Bangor version of Goodfellas. But thankfully, as far as I know no one ever got whacked. And again “I know of….” is the important part of that statement.
Now, I had spoken to Mr. Berry several times in the Movie Gallery where I worked because I had heard he sold things on-line. So we compared notes kinda, but mostly I was picking his brain. Many times, he mentioned his best friend, “Jonathan” with whom he was partners with. Later on, I would find out his best friend was, of course, Johnny Pockets.
So I called Mr. Pockets. He said, “Yeah. yeah, I got some stuff I want to sell. But what I really want to do is sell the whole store to someone. I would give them a GREAT deal and I’m locked into a sweet rental price. If you buy my store I’ll make sure the landlord gives you the same deal.”
So he told me the price and while I thought it ridiculously high, I took the cash with me. I did that because, you never know. There could be 50k or 60k in liquidable products there. So I took the asking purchase price with me. But I should have known since Johnny Pockets sold stuff online the chances were slim that he was sitting on a lot of valuable stuff to sell.
Right upon walking in, I fell in love with the location, large display windows in the front, uber-high ceilings and a cool little loft-like nook at the back of the store. The place reeked of Bangor History. I could feel the spirits of generations of shopkeepers and my mind was spinning with the types of businesses that had come before Needful Things. That name definitely fits this location… But that was ruined when I met the current Shopkeeper… Johnny Pockets. After 5 minutes of talking to him I knew 2 things: We were probably never going to do a deal and his street name definitely fit him better than Needful Things fit the location.
Right out of Central Casting for the Sopranos, a gold chain, probably expensive clothes, even the mobster way of talking. The shop had a little bit of everything, a very little bit. Records, clothes, sports memorabilia, comics, signed Stephen King books (which I found out later Johnny probably signed himself), and...wait for it, Star Wars stuff. In fact, the only thing I really wanted was a huge Millennium Falcon hanging from the ceiling. It was like 10 x times bigger than the one sold as a toy to kids across America in the 1970s. Apparently it was from one of the local movie premieres of the prequels that had been released years earlier.
As I’m standing there listening to Johnny’s pitch of what a great deal this would be for me, and wondering if he had actually ever broken anyone’s kneecaps, I notice that the little shop had tons of walk-in traffic. Now most people just came in, looked around and walked back out. Because the place was as well-stocked as a week-old yard sale. But the traffic flow was impressive.
I was still a little on the fence on making an actual offer when I said this, “I don’t know if I would keep the Millennium Falcon here or move it to Brewer. Cause I was thinking of having a Star Wars section over there.”
Johnny Pockets looked up at it and back to me and said, “Oh, that’s not part of the deal. The falcon is coming with me.”
Well, say no more. I thanked Johnny for his time and told him I would be in touch. Which I never did.
After Johnny closed down and moved , I called the landlord of 32 Main St and told him I was interested in the location. Edge Video 2 The Downtown Store was up and running the next week-end.
I had always felt like the Millennium Falcon had saved me that day just like it saved Luke at the end of the Original Star Wars. Nearly 10 years later, I started to realize that the ship had set my life on a path towards the battle with the Dark Side. But that is another story….