It always seemed like a good idea to him, to open a store.

He’d always liked to surf the Internet looking for bargains. It didn’t matter what it was: computers, cars, kitchen tools, pet collars or anything else. He just liked to find bargains. He found it thrilling. When he was in elementary school, it was better than beating someone at chess. When he was in high school, finding a great bargain was better than getting a date with the prettiest girl in school. When he was in college, finding something at an irresistible price was better… well maybe not better, but almost… than spending a night in bed with that prettiest girl.

So, it only made sense that he find a way to make a living doing what he liked most to do. First, he started a web site listing the deals he found. That was okay, but it wasn’t as much fun as finding the bargains. So, he started buying some of the bargains he found. Having a package delivered, then opening it was like undressing someone. It wasn’t long before his house was filled with things: toasters, TVs, small statues, butter dishes, and so on.

He hired a friend to run the web site. Then he decided to open a store to sell off the things he bought. He found a suitable space, 1800 square feet, in a mall next to a large department store. He called it “The Niks and the Naks Store.” He wanted something clever, but not cute. The location was perfect. The department store attracted a lot of foot traffic. Many of those people stopped at his store on their way to or from the department store. Business was good.

The Internet site was also doing well. About six months after he opened the store the department store went out of business. Instead of being the cute little with all the stuff next to the big department store his store became the little store that nobody noticed because it was at the end of a dead-end hallway where the kids hung out. Business was not as good.

The kids liked to wander his store, trying to shoplift. He usually caught them, but he felt sorry for them and never called the cops. They stopped trying to shoplift. Instead, they just looked at the stuff in his store and mostly sat on one of the big sofas he had at the front of the store and drank soda and talked. Gradually he became a counselor, a mentor, an adult the kids trusted and turned to when they had problems. He liked his new role. Rather than the excitement of finding deals, he found comfort in making friends and being trusted.

Two years went by like this. The kids often wondered how he managed to stay in business since they hardly ever so anyone buying anything. They didn’t know about his Internet business. They didn’t know that whenever they saw him surfing the Internet he was looking for deals to list on the website. They didn’t know that he was a multi-millionaire. He never talked about his Internet business. Instead, he talked with them about his store and said when business was good before the big department store closed it had been so good that he was able to keep going, but he hoped things would get better so the day wouldn’t come when he’d have to close.

One day a couple of them stopped by, just to say hello. He asked where they all hung out now. They said they were still in the Mall, that one of the other big department stores had closed down awhile ago, so they were all over there.

That day, after he closed up for the day he walked over to where the kids now hung out. He spent about an hour talking with them. He also noticed there was an empty spaced at the end of the hall. The next day he called the Mall management to ask about the space. It was available, so he made the necessary arrangements and moved.

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