For over the past two years I have been working part time at my local WoodCraft store. I was there helping to stock and merchandising the store before their opening day. This was what I told customers was my "fun job", as opposed to my full time job which pays the bills.
Two weeks ago after one of my pen classes, the owners told me that they were going to have to close the store. There were a number of factors that lead to the closing. The poor economy, people buying online (to dodge the local sales tax), just to name a few. In all honesty It wasn't a surprise when they told me that. It was just something that I was hoping wasn't going to happen. Our sales have been poor, and this has been impacting the ability to order in more products. Thus the cycle begins, low inventory=low sales....low sales=can't afford to buy more inventory...... eventually you can't pay the operating costs anymore.
Anyways when they told me they were going to close, they said it would likely be at some point next week, but they didn't have any dates yet. I had a pen class scheduled for Thursday, which was sold out , so I decided to stop in after work to see what the state of things were. Thats when the owner greeted me with the news that today was going to be the last day of operation. When they closed the doors, it was the end. The owner had left a message on my machine at home, asking me to call her, but seeing as I went to the store straight from the other job I never got the message.
While working there, I learned a tremendous amount about woodworking and turning. I went from not knowing anything about making pens to becoming a fairly experienced pen turner, and even on to be an instructor there for 3 different pen turning classes (introductory slimline in wood, introductory Wall St.II in acrylic, and a more advanced cigar pen in wood). The introductory slim line pen class was the most popular of any class held at the store.
I think the thing I take the most pride in, was having someone with no prior turning (or pen turning) experience take the basic class, and then come in a week or two later showing off pens that he was now making on his own.
Also there were several father/son and father/daughter pairs that took my classes. I enjoyed giving them a ability to start a hobby together and carry the craft on to the next generation.
One other memorable pen turning student was a Major in a local US Army reserve unit. He was going to be deploying to Iraq, and he wanted to learn how to make pens, so in his free time over there, he would have something to do. He walked out of the class with a new hobby (and his first pen in hand), which would hopefully help relieve some of the stress he would be under during his deployment.
All in all, I only worked a few hours a week so it wasn't like it made a big difference to our finances. It was more the joy of doing something that you like and getting payed for it... and the employee discount wasn't a bad perk either. I worked with some great people. The owners, Bruce & Sally were great to work for, and I wouldn't hesitate to work for them again if they were to ever call me.