Chaz Antonelli (mc4bbs) wrote,
Chaz Antonelli

How should I feel?

I've been working on creating a time line of my life in the event that I should choose to write a book. While researching specific dates, locations and people, I discovered that a former employee of mine, Eusebio Alfaraz had died without my knowledge in 2013 -- nearly six years ago. I don't know how I should feel about this, as in opposition to what his obituary reads, Mr Alfaraz did not open the first gay operated retail store in the Rochester area -- I did!, it was Rochester Custom Leathers and Eusebio worked for me as my night manager.

Rochester Custom Leathers was opened on 29 July 1989 and was located at Village Gate Square, a retail mall at 274 N Goodman Street. At the same time Eusebio was my night manager, Ed Bremner was my day manager. We had nearly 50 employees over the ten years we operated as Rochester Custom Leathers, and sold the business in 1999 to Paul Pape, and then again in 2001 to Russ Shaner and Richard Schroedel.

We grew rapidly since the day we opened and in the summer of 1994 I held a staff meeting that our next expansion would involve advertising on radio and television and the sexual activity that both Ed B and Ed A were partaking in the workroom needed to come to a halt, as our store was getting a bad reputation. Apparently, they both did not like this announcement, and behind my back and whilst they were employees of mine, filed a DBA to open a directly-competing store, named at the time "RSVP Video" and was to be located about one block from my store! They worked on this venture in secret all the time whilst working for me, copying my business methods, suppliers, wholesalers and all the time looking me in the face and smiling at me. Talk about back-stabbing! Customers were coming into my store and were congratulating Ed, yet I didn't know why... Sometimes I'm so fucking thick.

On a positive side, the location they were looking at was stolen from underneath them by my friend Larry Warnow's roommate, who opened a restaurant in that location called "Edibles" -- they opened on South Ave in a rented house. Shortly after they opened, there was a legal challenge to their name "RSVP Video", as they didn't do a proper name search at the County Clerk's office. The had to rename and re-brand. Their new name was "The Pride Connection", it was about six months into their operation when they decided to stab me and my business once again and started selling leather products using the name "Pride Leathers". They failed to file a DBA for Pride Leathers, so I did instead and then issued them a cease and desist notice. They had to waste money on an attorney to show prior use and got to keep the name, but it cost them plenty to do so. Then, to make matters more interesting, just as I was involved with the Rochester Rams, a gay leather club, they became involved with someone in the leather community and created "Rochester Leather Folk" to create a customer base, as they perceived that the Rochester Rams were my customer base. Funny thing is, being involved with the Rochester Rams really made no major discernable difference with my sales.

With both my managers having left and making attempts to crush my business, I hired a new manager to help us succeed. Sadly, this proved to be the demise of my business. Whether intentional or not, the new manager made some very bad business decisions (like opening a connected bookstore and coffee shop) costing us thousands all the time inventory and cash was vanishing from my business. By the time I woke up and smelled the coffee, I estimate about $1.4 million dollars was lost in cash and inventory. I lost all trust in people and backed away from the store and after some time, ended up selling it to Paul Pape (my night manager, who replaced Eusebio). Since the name Rochester Custom Leathers was harmed beyond repair (the new manager nearly bankrupted two other businesses in addition to mine, one of them being Rubio Leather in New York City), Paul renamed the business "Outlandish Video & Gifts", repainted the store, added some lighting and did a great job carrying on in the traditions I had originally established RCL to be: Not a business focused on making a huge profit, a business to help our community during the AIDS crisis.

Paul was doing great with the business until one day, on his way in to the store he was t-boned at the intersection of Alexander St and University Ave and subsequently died three days later. The store went into escrow until it could be all sorted out -- he was on an installation payment plan, plus a small percentage of sales with me; but having died, the assets needed to be sorted out by his brother John. The dust settled in 2001 and Rich and Russ re-opened Outlandish Video & Gifts. Rich bought out Russ around 2014 and it continued to operate until August 2016 when Rich died and his relatives did not want to operate it.

Now knowing that Eusebio is deceased, and God knows where Ed is -- I can come out and tell people what really happened to Rochester Custom Leathers. There is a lot more and other people were involved, but this is the main cast of characters. Eusebio and Ed really, really hurt me and I hated them for a very long time, but in hindsight, look at how well things turned out for me and how awful is was for them. I guess there really is karma.
Tags: outlandish videos & gifts, pride connection, pride leathers, rcl, rochester custom leathers, rochester rams, rsvp video

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