From state-owned business to private business

Coming back to our muttons, those who dared won! I saw traveling to foreign countries first as an opportunity to visit those places. I never went abroad without including in my schedule a few days when I was nothing but a tourist getting familiar with the place. My 18year old daughter joined me in one of these trips. She visited Beijing and the Great Chinese Wall. Both she and I saw this as a personal achievement. The other day I watched a TV traveling documentary showing wonderful places in India, Thailand, and China ? I had been to all those places, I visited them all and it wasn?t without great satisfaction that I remembered having been there.

Regarding the commercial part, I would buy things there, first one or two packs, which I brought back by cargo plains. Later I developed my business because it was already going well. But I lacked experience in the field. I would borrow the money I needed. At the time there were loads of people interested in lending me as much as I wanted. They had already accumulated a significant capital. It was usury, obviously ? getting profit from money lending. 5 % a month was a huge sum if you compare it to the percentage banks change you nowadays!

But I took my chances and began doing business. The wholesale stores in Bucharest and around the city were getting bigger. It was a very complicated activity: you were up on your toes all day long. You had to have a car to travel, people to help you with the transport, the unloading and the distribution of the goods to different locations, and with the arrangement of various stores. I had stores in Herăstrău, Europa, Flora, Prisma ? But we weren?t very familiar with book keeping ? Especially me, an engineer ? Book keeping, annual balance sheets, monthly balance sheets, all that was foreign languages to me ? I was over the moon with my prosperous business but I also had to pay the money back. Sometimes I couldn?t do that, and I had to borrow more money to go abroad again. I was somewhat at peace with the fact that I had a lot of merchandise in my stores, which I would sell sooner or later. That was the biggest mistake many of us made, especially those who paid for their journeys abroad with borrowed money! One couldn?t understand that our trade would soon disappear ? It took me personally five years to come to this realization and it wasn?t until 1998 that I began to make an assessment of things and to start paying my debts. I had no experience of customs procedures that I could speak of, seeing that my methods of bringing goods into the country hadn?t involved going through customs. There were people who had less trouble buying goods. They bought more for less. I bought less for higher prices. When I got back with my merchandise, I had to include everything in the final price: the higher acquisition price, the customs, the shipping etc ? and the final price I ended up asking for my stuff was considerably higher than those of my competition. In time I began closing my stores and I had to re-evaluate the situation. I had to sell what I had managed to acquire up to that point, meaning a thousand square metres of land near Lake Băneasa, in order to pay the 25 000 dollars I owed. And of course I was left with a lot of unsold merchandise ? My trading days were then officially over! I wasn?t earning anything and my personal satisfaction was long gone too.

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