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Toxic Town USA - Part Six


Success did not come easy for the Russells. Thirteen years working together, Harley and Annabelle kept an open mind as each business endeavor they tried failed. Antiques store, health food store, music shop all flopped. And with each failure their budget to try something else shrank drastically. It must have been both frightening and frustrating for them but they never gave up on each other and never stopped thinking and trying different things together to make their way in the world as conventional merchants.

Serendipity rewarded their tenacity and unwavering love for one another when they were discovered by an emerging phalanx of tourists and tour guides traveling Route 66 just as the new century began. Travelers seeking a taste of what road travel must have been like during the functional lifespan of the Mother Road were blessed with rapidly emerging technologies which allowed them to chronicle and share their road tripping experiences on the World Wide Web with increasing ease. Within a few months, a buzz on the web about the Russells inexorably bubbled up from deep recesses of its ever-growing mass of vibrant new online content to the surface where it spread like wildfire.

Photos and videos of the Mediocre Music Makers were posted to personal blogs and web sites of Route 66 enthusiasts and as YouTube matured, videos of the pair were uploaded there as well. Visitors to the Sandhills Curiosity Shop delighted in sharing their experience there with the world and many were intrigued and entertained by what they saw and heard in those shared bits of content. Both old-school word-of-mouth recommendations and digital content sharing on the World Wide Web were Harley and Annabelle's boon.

It was a perfect storm of events for the Russells and because they were open minded about it all—even though they didn't know very much about the internet and all of the mobile digital device tech utilizing it—they carefully watched, learned and adapted to ride the biggest wave of the storm to success with skill and finesse. Constantly adjusting their internal practices, their performance venue and enhancing their show to meet the desires and needs of their visitors. Tourists and tour guide managers were delighted with the results and word spread that the Sandhills Curiosity Shop was a must-see stop on Route 66.

Harley and Annabelle paid their dues for that success as they faced each failure and yet kept an open mind, paid close attention to trends and nimbly responded to those trends every time they subtly shifted, as most truly successful people do. Having known them during the hard decade before they achieved success, it was one of my greatest joys watching it all unfold as the perfect storm hit and they ramped up to the challenge. They deserved it and I was happy for them.

But as their success brought joy for the Russells, for me and for thousands of travelers visiting the Sandhills Curiosity Shop, it attracted attention in town which deeply angered others. Another storm began brewing around the periphery of the still-churning, still-growing perfect storm. A slow-witted yet dark, malevolent storm bent on destruction.

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