As I was writing, gathering and sourcing a series of real-life retirement case stories across the globe, I considered the most important ones at this material time in order to influence and impact your life. The case-stories included here are only those researched and are absolutely necessary to create immediate trigger and thought about transition and retirement.
Let’s just dive into the series of real-life case stories:
01. The Birth of Florida Opportunity Bulletin
This is one of my favourite examples showing how a young couple, with very limited capital, made a breakthrough. They started a project that in a short time places them in a very nice income bracket to enjoy living in one of the premium spots of the United States: climate, recreation, companionship and the other attributes of "paradise" here on earth.
Their names are Arthur and Phyllis. A few years ago, their business, which they had developed in New York, underwent bad times in spite of the fact that they had worked so hard to avoid collapse, bankruptcy. So, they left the north and went to Florida where Arthur had to desperately look for any job to sustain them. In fact, at one time he washed dishes in a second-rated restaurant. But neither Arthur nor Phyllis was the type to wash dishes to earn a living: they did so to create a starting point. While at the restaurant, Arthur saw an opportunity which enabled him to save some of his meager earnings so as to get started.
And thus, the Florida Opportunity Bulletin was born.
Arthur and Phyllis estimated that there had to be millions of people in the United States who liked either to retire or to get jobs in Florida. Many of these had probably been dreaming of it, or even semi-planning it, for years. Arthur figured that they would pay to be shown the way to achieve their goal. He advertised a $1 subscription to the Florida Opportunity Bulletin for six months in several northern newspapers in the classified sections. The advert went something like this:
“Would you like to retire in Florida? Six-month-trial-subscription to FLORIDA OPPORTUNITY BULLETIN, drawing your attention to: job and investment opportunities, and articles giving you basic information on how to retire in glamorous Florida.”
To come up with the first few editions, Arthur and Phyllis mimeographed the Bulletin: getting their information from releases from the U.S. Employment Bureau, the Florida newspapers, the library as well as every book and magazine that they could find with pertinent information on the subject.
The Bulletin was a success from the outset. The subscriptions that came in more than balanced all the classified ad costs and the cost of mimeographing and mailing. The subscription list grew bigger and bigger.
And suddenly Arthur realised that he had a saleable thing here for Floridians. He went around canvassing real estate agents and other people who were interested in these thousands of northerners who wanted to retire in the South-land.
And the ads that these dealers ran (especially at first) really pooled. Some of them claimed the Bulletin was the best medium they had. By now the Florida Opportunity Bulletin was being printed in magazine form and on slick paper. A local printer in Coral Gables (near Miami) did the job for them, supplied them with the necessary "cuts" to use as illustrations for the adverts.
Arthur and Phyllis thus took to running larger ads, and considerably more of them, in the northern papers using even such mediums as the Wall Street Journal. And, as the subscription list grew, so did the advertising value—and Arthur gradually increased the advertising rates. At first, Arthur and Phyllis found they were interestingly attracting a devoted following. Persons who had originally taken the trial subscription found they liked the breezy, newsy Florida Opportunity Bulletin and sent in requests for renewals of their one- and two-year subscriptions.
The project was getting too big for Arthur and Phyllis to manage by themselves. Phyllis was taken up almost full-time by the circulation department; and Arthur concentrated on gathering ads. So, Arthur began to have articles done for him by professional free-lance writers. Sometimes cities such as Daytona Beach, Sarasota, Orlando or Key West—towns big enough to have publicity departments— would supply them with free articles and photographs.
They later stumbled on another angle that netted them a pleasant additional income. They began advertising, in their pages, the various recently published books dealing with Florida. Through the publishing company they would get the usual distributor's discount, forty to fifty percent, and sometimes even more if they placed orders in very large quantities. An amazing number of their subscribers would order these books at $14 or $15.
By the time the publication made three years, Arthur and Phyllis decided it was just too much work for a two-person team. Besides, Arthur had another project in mind. The magazine was at its peak, so they sold out at a very comfortable sum indeed, switched off for a time to catch their breaths and relax and then took off towards new worlds to conquer.
Lessons learnt and follow up-actions
- Always remain positive despite the difficult circumstances you are in.
- Never under-rate a job or task, provided it will give you a living.
- You can start small and grow over time, so long as you are consistent and passionate about what you are doing.
- Discuss with your colleague(s), mentor or friend, what you learnt from this case study and how you can apply it in your current situation.
02.The old newspapers that changed someone’s life- Blake.
James as he narrated the story wished he knew more of the details on this one, too: he simply could not remember them all. He was quite young at the time, but even then, he was impressed by the manner in which he obtained a good livelihood with a minimum effort. As a matter of fact, he had this little business back during the years of depression and did very well indeed at a time when some many millions of people were unemployed and wondering about the source of the next meal.
Let's call him Blake (his name was something like that). He lived in Kingston which is about a hundred miles up the Hudson River from New York City; and at that time was comprised of a community of about 100,000 persons. Blake's father before him had been a job printer and Blake was taught the trade as a boy. Job printing at that time was as depressed as any other field and Blake could not look forward to an easy life by any means.
But after completing high school, he could not think of anything else to do in particular. So, he scraped together whatever amount of money he could find, bought himself a couple of used job presses and went into business.
He did not know whether the idea came to him all at once or not, but Blake began to collect old type papers more as a hobby than anything else. On weekends, or at whatever other time he found any opportunity, he would drive through some of the smaller and older towns that are nestled in the Catskill Mountains and dig around in the weekly newspaper shops, and the job printing shops, for old fonts of type.
For the reader's information, type-faces come and go out of style just as do women's clothes, automobiles, and practically everything else in modern society. With advertising too, developing the way it has in the past twenty-five years, tremendous changes have been made in typography.
So, Blake went about collecting old type-faces: the older the better. He was sometimes amazed at the faces he would find, often the little newspaper shops he visited would have, stashed away in some back room, types that went back as far as the "Gay Nineties" and once or twice even back to the Civil War. Blake picked them up for a pittance. In fact, they were sometimes given to him: the owners glad to be rid of the junk.
After a time, he began to use some of them in his job printing— just for gags. For instance, if the local branch of the American Legion wanted a flyer advertising a banquet or picnic, Blake would do it up in the same style as printing was done before the first world war.
Such flyers were successful right from the beginning. The type-faces were so corny that everybody was amused by them. Blake's business began to blossom. Soon local salesmen wanted visiting cards done up in the style of the Civil War and businessmen would have their stationery done in the antique types. Without thinking about it, Blake had become a specialist in a field that was otherwise so depressed that it was practically impossible to use it to earn a living.
And then he hit the jackpot.
Only ten miles away, up into the mountains, was the art colony of Woodstock which at that time teamed with commercial artists, who worked down in the advertising agencies of New York, but had summer homes in the Catskills.
One of them stumbled upon some of Blake's work and it gave him some ideas. He looked for Blake and gave him an order. Before the printer knew it, he had become the one printer, evidently, in the United States who had a wide variety of antique types. If an advertiser wanted to do an authentic ad involving, say, the wild west of 1875 or so, he had to come to Blake to get authentic type faces.
Blake stopped doing his regular small jobs and devoted his time to exploiting his antique type. And overnight he was making considerably more money with considerably less effort than ever before in his life. There might have been a depression in the United States, but not in Blake's print shop.
Could you do this? Probably not, certainly not unless you're a printer. The only reason this case was used here is to show that it is necessary to keep your eyes open and to reach for your opportunity when you see it. Each one of us has his own abilities, his own opportunities, to change his or her life and to free himself or herself from the pressures that confront the majority today. It is necessary to utilise these. These opportunities are still available for all ages today and will continue to be available in the future.
Lessons learnt and follow up-actions
- Keep awake and very aware of your surroundings
- Grab each of your chances as they raise their ugly heads out of the surroundings.
03.Beef-The Monsters of Friendship
Bob begins by confessing that he is not a farmer and probably in this case story, he may make mistakes in terminology, but I hope those who are more knowledgeable in this field will forgive me because I want to give this one example of a small farmer who rebelled against the way the world is running and found his own peace, leisure and enjoyment in life while refusing to give up his small farm; which he loved.
Small farm it was. Lon Wooley of Friendship, Indiana, had only 40 acres which is not adequate for ordinary farming. The greater part of farming today is done in tremendous "expanse fields" and the average farmer has become a driver of gigantic farm tools that cost thousands of dollars.
So, with few exceptions, the small farm is gone.
But Lon Wooley, who was already an elderly man, did not want it to go. He loved his fields, his orchard, his few acres in woods. He loved the spring, the fall and even the white cleanness of winter.
He did not want to move to the city. But at the same time, he rebelled against turning his fields into a truck farm with the back-breaking toil involved in that type of farm work. Instead, he turned to hand feeding cattle. And that is exactly what I mean. He bred a few cattle for beef and for all practical purposes raised them as though they were children. He dealt with each one individually, carefully bred them, and above all, carefully fed them.
They grew to be monsters in size, some of them the largest beef cattle in modern times. (An article was run on Lon Wooley's cattle in the Farm Quarterly entitled "The Monsters of Friend-ship"). But besides sheer size, they were absolutely ‘tops’ as beef.
There are a good many wealthy people in our country today who will pay any price for the absolute tops in such items as food. ‘Gourmets’, they are called, or in less politely in-service idiom "chow-hounds." These became Lon Wooley's customers. They would come from as far as Chicago and beyond to purchase his beef, and buy any amount of it that he would sell.
Sometimes a customer would drive down and beg for a full carcass, but old Lon would shake his head and say, "That steer won't be ready for another two weeks, maybe three." Perhaps the customer would plead that he had a big dinner coming up with important guests he wished to impress and he just had to have some of this famous steak of which he had been bragging. But Lon would be adamant. "Nope, that steer isn't ready to be butchered yet. I won't sell inferior meat."
Prices for Lon Wooley's beef, needless to say, were at least twice what you would pay for the best prime beef you could find in a regular butcher shop of the highest quality. And he worked without the middlemen who usually take such a large percentage of the farm dollar. He sold his product directly to the consumer. And Lon Wooley was able to continue leading the quiet, easy-going life which he loved.
Lon is not the only example, Bob has run into, of a small farmer who saw the trend toward good eating which has developed in many parts of the United States. Many people just are not satisfied with: the adulterated foods, the poorly fed meats, as well as the green fruits and tasteless vegetables that are so prevalent today. They are not satisfied with them; and thus, will pay premium prices for better products.
Bob mentions a couple in California who got into this field without planning to; and actually, in spite of themselves. They had a very small farm and they worked in the biggest drugstore in town, about ten miles away. Sandwiches and other food were served at the fountain and there was considerable garbage left-over each night. They had bought the little farm with the intention of merely living on it, and thus beating rent; but the garbage was too good to resist and they bought some pigs to eat it up. Chickens followed and goats later. Goats breed rapidly and before they knew it they had more milk than they knew what to do with. They began feeding it to the pigs until a doctor in town found it out and protested. He had quite a few invalid patients and had been having trouble finding goat's milk. It sells for $0.75 a quart; or did at that time. Possibly it is higher now. So, they found themselves in the goat's milk business, as a side line.
When the pigs were grown, they had the hams and bacon cured by a neighbouring farmer who had a smoke house and the know-how to cure meat the old way. They had some friends in one day for dinner and such was the quality of the meat that the friends absolutely insisted on buying one of the hams. They were going to give a party and demanded it, claiming it is the best ham they had ever eaten in their lives.
To shorten this story, our Californian couple were soon in business. They found out that commercially raised pork is not by any means the best pork. Milk-fed chickens which are killed at the age of six weeks or so, are not, by any means, the best chickens for eating purposes. And they found that people were willing to pay premium prices for home cured hams and bacon, chickens raised on first range and then fattened on grain, goat's milk, eggs fresh from the farm, goat's cheese, and home churned sweet butter.
When Bob knew them, they made a darn good living; and at the same time escaped the greater part of the drudgery of the usual farm. They had possibly as many as fifty devoted customers and had no intentions of striving for more. As it was what they could use to make life easy; but if they parlayed their business up to even twice its size, they figured that they would be working under such pressure that they might as well be in an office or factory; and that they did not want.
Lessons Learnt and Follow-up actions
- You can find your own peace, comfort and leisure with what you are doing
- You can us left over food and garbage to rare quality pigs and goats.
- You can set your own standards in whatever you do.
04. "Sinning in Hollywood" Book Changes Life”
Here is a short and sweet one for you. It concerns Marcel Rodd, now of Los Angeles (L.A) but originally from England. Fleeing the pressures there, which are, as bad, or worse than those of United States, Rodd moved to L.A. in the 1940's. He had a few thousand dollars saved (no more than that) and opened a book store (The London Bookshop) on Sunset Boulevard, right around the corner from Vine.
In no time at all it seemed to be too much work, so Rodd looked about for an easier way to make money. He brought out a little booklet—Bob guessed that the “pamphlet” would be the better term—entitled "Sinning in Hollywood"; and put it on the newsstands costing 25 cents a copy. Bob was not up on current printing costs in L.A, but would estimate that each copy cost Rodd less than 15 cents.
The booklet was full of nothing more sinful than a list of theatres, night spots, bars, restaurants and other entertainment in the Hollywood area.
But it sold like hotcake principally to the tourists. Publishing seemed like such a profitable enterprise (Rodd had known nothing about it before) that he brought out some full-sized books. And began to make a good deal of money at it: what with several that became semi-best sellers.
When Bob last saw Rodd, he still had his bookstore: a hired help was largely running it. He was deep in publishing.
Lessons Learnt and Follow-up actions
- A booklet with just a list of theatres, night spots, bars, restaurants and other entertainment in the Hollywood area turned out to make a fortune.
- Simple ideas can be turned into great income sources.
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