ABC’s Christmas of 1973 was quite eventful. Mitch, who had co-founded ABC the year before, went back to Baltimore for the holidays and left me in charge while we were renovating. He and the landlord, Jacob Kroonenberg, had agreed to level out the ground floor, which had been split-level, and to add a circular staircase to make more sales space accessible on the upper floor while adding offices way upstairs. The contractor was busy hacking out old tiles and bricks in the basement in mid-December. Avo and I were getting married on January 2nd, and my family was coming over from Minnesota during the Christmas vacation.
Meanwhile, Avo had just gotten his Master’s degree and started his first job. We bought our first apartment and moved in on December 15th. The apartment had one bedroom with no door. Luckily, my family was able to sleep upstairs in the neighbor’s attic space, gracefully slumming it on the floor and on couches.
This all took place during high retail season. We weren’t set up to do anything special for Christmas; no Christmas decorations or anything really. We had about 12 people working in the store at that time because we were open seven days a week from 9 in the morning till 11 at night, which took a lot of shifts.
Suddenly, a flu epidemic hit the store between Christmas and New Year’s Day! Literally, everyone but me was out sick or on vacation. Could we open the store at all?
I asked my brother Paul, who was 14-years-old at the time, if he’d be willing to help. He was, so we went downtown in the morning and I showed him how to work the cash register. We walked around straightening stock, greeting customers and helping out as needed. I think we closed at 6pm—a lovely and memorable day spent with my brother.
The next day, other staff members returned to work so I could take a couple days off before my wedding. Avo and the rest of the family were preparing food. My brothers and father hung us a bedroom door as a wedding gift.