That's when we had a terrible shock. The owner of the pet stores, John, had simply dropped dead over the weekend. We were absolutely stunned.
John was the third owner of the stores that Gregg has seen in his 20+ years as the "fish guy" at the Florence store. He was mid 50s, divorced, no kids. He apparently had a girlfriend who lives an hour or two away, and a brother in Louisiana. As far as we know, that's all the family he had.
This morning we got a little extra information but not much. John felt bad and called himself an ambulance and died as soon as he got to the hospital. There's some speculation that it may have been an aneurism that killed him, but we don't know for sure.
Now we have no idea what's going to happen. Gregg is meeting with the manager this morning (and Jessie, the old manager who's driving up from Charleston to help) to try to figure out what to do about the live animals for the moment. Of course, the stores won't (can't) open under the circumstances. We have no idea how this is going to be handled, but what a mess. Hopefully John had some sort of will and an executor named in case of an event like this, but Gregg thinks it's unlikely given the sort of guy John was. What a mess!
And of course, we're worried that Gregg's job there (which is half his income) is now a thing of the past. He got in touch this morning with one of their vendors (based in Atlanta) who said she knows someone who might be interested in buying the stores, but who knows when or if that will ever happen. So many things are simply up in the air at this point.
If this is truly the end of the stores (and that's more likely than not) Gregg will have some tough decisions to make. He just turned 64 last week--old enough to draw Social Security, but not old enough to collect his full benefit from it. Thank goodness that he'll still be able to earn money from his aquarium maintenance jobs (up to a point) while drawing SS if that's what he chooses to do, and that well may be his best option. There are, of course, other local pet stores that would probably be thrilled to have him as an employee, but I'm not sure he wants to start over somewhere else at his age. Also, it's hard to look for a new job when you have a small business on the side that needs to be accommodated, time-wise. At the very least, I suppose he can draw unemployment while he decides what to do.
I know he's really sad that all the years he's invested in this job is probably going to end this way, and sad about what happened to John, too. What an awful situation.