6 years ago, Japan Woodworker in Alameda, CA was sold to Woodcraft. Fred retired after 30 years in business, 17 of which turned out to become a learning experience and a wealth of wisdom from Fred. He was a great mentor if not the best. I've come to respect and admire the man like no other ( well, second to my father! ). He allowed me to grow and become an integral part of his business. I've managed the entire storefront, from warehouse to the office to web orders and the catalog, worked with vendors, met a lot of interesting people, a few authors of woodworking books, some furniture makers, hobbyist, chefs and woodworkers from other places. It was an altering learning experience that has eventually developed into an understanding, love, appreciation and preference of various tools of the trade from Japan.
It was devastating, at least for me, when the doors were eventually closed.
I was left with all the experience I've gained, the know-how, a profound passion, and people I've met through those years. I was unemployed for a year after that, although it was more of a personal choice. I had to recover and pull myself together. I had to walk away. I thought that was the end of it.
In 2013, I started working for the US Coast Guard Exchange. Starting over, clean slate, work my way from the bottom in a similar retail environment. During that time, I've worked hard, put all my energy to a new job and has recently been promoted to a supervisory position. The entire time, evoking a gnawing need to revive what I know the most, to run and manage a business. This time, on my own terms. And East to West Shoppe was born, my brain child, my own business. I applied for a license, a permit to operate in Alameda, registered my domain name, design and collaborated with a college friend of mine. (Shout out to Marshall Cardenez).
The inspiration is still there, the drive is also there, the source and dedication is definitely there.
Reaching the 5 years business milestone, I've created my own online presence. In addition, I've opened a store with both Ebay and Amazon. All, while working for the Coast Guard Exchange. I look forward to 5 more years, hopefully 10 and to keep growing and become just like Fred who started his business at the garage of his home.