A year or more ago, if anyone had told me that I'd be embarking on an internet retailing career, I'd have cast significant aspersions on their predictive abilities, and their familiarity with my desires in life. For the past twenty years I've been a computer programmer. Before that I was a cabinet maker (and have a badly damaged finger on my right hand to prove it). My assumption was that upon retirement, I'd focus exclusively on contract programming.
Yet here I am, one month into my retirement, eagerly setting up an online retail store, carefully choosing appropriate merchandise, and learning for the first time how e-commerce actually works at the nuts-and-bolts level.
I should back up for a second, and state that despite my long-time interest in markets and commerce, I'm very skeptical of both capitalism and its alternatives.
The U.S. economy is a swirling eddy of un-needed, often destructive, trash. The sad thing is that the economy thrives when more of this junk is manufactured and distributed. The "housing market" which is so often touted as our economy's life-blood consisted of building shoddier and shoddier houses. In the recent past the "New Urbanist" movement has resulted in the construction of houses of better quality and context, but most houses are still junk compared to the houses built prior to the Great Depression.
On the other hand countries without a thriving commercial economy stagnate, often to hellish proportions (look at the contrast between North and South Korea, or even between North Korea and nearby socialist countries which have opened their markets to entrepeneurship, like China and Vietnam).
So, economic philosophy aside, I love the market-place, and have for quite some time. No thriving culture has existed without innovating and building, sales and marketing.
For the first two weeks after my retirement I was a little adrift, despite the fact that not working under the conditions of the employer I'd left was much better than working under those conditions. In other words sitting around in boredom is better than moving around in a sour and demoralized workplace. Apologies to anyone from my past workplace who disagrees, but after fifty years of working, I know low morale when I see it, and you folks have some work to do digging out of that hole.
But, digressions aside, I had an epiphany. I have a blank slate in front of me, and while picking up short term contract programming jobs is fun, it still has two problems.
First, the person I'm contracted with is my employer in everything but name. Contract programming gives me more control over my life, but doesn't quite go the whole nine yards. I'm still working for someone, albeit short-term.
Second, contract programming doesn't integrate seamlessly with my other enthusiasms (cycling, free and open source software, trains, New Urbanism, environmentalism, healthy living, endurance sports, cooking, etc.)
So I came up with the idea of doing e-commerce which dovetails with my enthusiasms... A store which caters to environmentalists, New Urbanists, organic gardeners, simple living enthusiasts, cyclists, and other people who share aspects of the general grab bag of interests I have. The icing on the cake is that it doesn't take me out of the information technology world altogether.
My next post is going to be a description of my store, and its operational philosophy. By the third post I should have the store up and running, so it'll be the Grand Opening post.