John had a good job with an excellent benefits. He seemed to enjoy his work and most of his fellow employees, but as he neared the 25 year mark, the thoughts of early retirement and a huge lump sum of money got the better of him. Sarah was not for it, and hoped he would change his mind.

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The plans he had for the money was crazier than taking early retirement. He wanted to open a store for historic reenactors.  Sarah thought it was a foolish idea, but eventually she realized that she couldn’t fight John once his mind was set.

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After he retired, he wanted to go on vacation to St Augustine.  They had a good time, walking the cobblestone streets of the old city, touring the fort, and riding on a sailboat.

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When they got back, they started working on opening the store, which was located in a narrow part of a building downtown. A friend recommended a woman to be the seamstress.  Several other people told John and Sarah not to hire the woman because she was unstable.  They soon found out how unstable she was and had to let her go.  They hired another seamstress who worked out really well.

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Things were going well for a while. Their grand opening was August 18th, 2012. Sarah picked that day because it was Virginia Dare’s birthday.  She was the first child of English parents to be born in the New World.

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Sarah had ordered a restored 1881 dress form to be the mascot of the store. Raven, a talented artist, drew the logo which included a pocket watch and the dress form. Years earlier, before she was married, Sarah purchased an 1880’s  autograph book that belonged to a local girl named Nellie. Sarah named the dress form Nellie and had the autograph book on display. Later, through careful research, Sarah found out that Nellie was also born on August 18 and that she lived just a few feet away from where the store was. Sarah thought that was a good omen.

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She loved the people who came in her store.  There was Mark, who worked part time in the store. He had just lost his father. There was Delores who ran the African American salon next door. There was Joey, a flamboyant and entertaining waiter who sometimes helped the seamstress. There were cops who visited regularly and a Catholic Priest who frequently purchased items. Quiet and friendly, he was one of Sarah’s favorite customers. There were a couple of guys who worked for the city who would stop by every day.

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A few doors down, there was a restaurant run by a Greek couple. The lady was sweet and nice, but the man was quiet and a little scary. Sarah thought that if there was such a thing as the Greek Mafia, he would be their leader. Once while dining at the restaurant,  Sarah heard the man’s phone ring. The ring tone was the theme from The Godfather! 

Then there was Rah-Rah, the bicycle riding, window washing, self proclaimed evangelist, whose real name was Jesse. With a child-like mind and a cheerful heart, he always had a smile on his face. A lot of people thought he was homeless, but he actually lived with his sister.

They did get their share of homeless people around the store. Sarah tried to treat each one of them with kindness and respect.

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A friend of theirs declared that their store was part shop, part museum. It became their slogan. School groups visited the shop to learn about history.

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The city was gearing up for their big Christmas Celebration and they wanted Sarah and John to donate hats for the festival officials to wear. Sarah was elated beyond measure! She loved her hometown with a fierce passion and was happy to be a part of the celebration. She felt like the belle of the ball! The event was spectacular!  Hundreds of people came in their store that weekend.

Sarah did not know that trouble lurked right around the corner.

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