THOMPSONVILLE — The shelves in Paul T. Henry’s quaint little store tucked away in a corner of Benzie County offer chips, pop, chili, cigarettes, laundry soap, beer and liquor.
There’s more at Paul’s Party & Tackle Store than merchandise, though. There are business and life lessons, too, if you take the time to listen.
“It’s not all about the money,” snapped Henry, 68, known to locals as “grumpy.”
“You keep asking me about money,” Henry said. “It’s not about the money. My main motive is to solve the puzzle.”
Henry’s enigma is the blue, tin and steel-walled party store on Michigan Avenue. He bought the conundrum a decade ago and, on paper, making a buck here might seem like solving a Rubik’s Cube blindfolded with a hand tied behind the back. Vehicle traffic is light, and foot traffic lighter.
A glance down adjacent Beecher Street reveals a big blue water tower that hovers over several vacant, rundown storefronts, but Henry has secured a comfortable living here.
The first key, he said, is working harder than everyone else. His first job was at age 10 in Traverse City and he’s worked ever since.
“Work has always been the one thing in my life that’s very important,” Henry said. “If you put the proper amount of work in, you will get a return. Relationships? I’m kind of lousy at those. You can work real hard at a relationship and still be out of it. Done for whatever reason. People grow different ways and have different ideas. But if you stay consistent with your work, and you have a long-range goal, and you work towards it, work will reward a person. You can’t help but succeed if your thinking is right and your goals are proper.”