Keeping my small business afloat

I operate a one-person computer repair business called Macon Computer Repair in Macon, Missouri. I don't have much imagination when it comes to naming things. I just wanted the name to say what it was, no more, no less.

I'm the last computer repair business left in the area. I also take in UPS packages so that people don't have to pay for a pickup from their homes. It's always been a marginal income. A lot of the time, I just make enough to pay the bills and stay open for another month.

My Christmas present at the end of 2020 was being told by my landlord that the office I'd been in for 11 years had been sold and I had to be out by the end of December. That caused many a sleepless night as I desperately searched for another place. I found one, and have been there for a year.

Now I'm back to sleepless nights because the year end holiday season is always a time when I don't get a lot of work. Couple that with unexpected expenses, and I was late with my December rent. I made that up. But paying that and this month's rent wiped out my reserves. So now automatic deductions are driving me into overdrafts and the bank fees are killing me. Now I'm stuck wondering how I'll scrape up the money for the next round of bills. My bank account is in negative numbers which means digging out of that hole will leave me with nothing for future bills.

I'm not the kind that normally asks for charity, but I'm at my wit's end. I perform valuable services for my community and have a very loyal customer base. But computers don't break down every day, so I normally only see them once a year at best. I take a craftman's pride in fixing their computers so well that they don't need to come back for a long time.

So here I am, on my knees asking for help to keep my doors open... again, since moving into my current office did much the same thing last year. I'm looking for enough money to make it through a few bad months, and I hope that enough people will be sympathetic enough to contribute a few dollars and #helpasmallguy who does his best for his little town and the rural area around it to keep his head above water.

Much of this is repeated from last year, but it's still true.

It's hard to ask for charity. I'm a proud man even though I'm poor. I've never been in this business to earn a lot of money -- in fact, I charge much less than most computer repair businesses. My average price to fix a computer is just $60 even though it often takes many hours of work. I mostly want to keep seeing the happiness of my customers when I give them their computers back working like new.

Let me give you an idea of how I work. Last January, a customer came in who wanted to ship a check overnight via UPS. I can't do that; I only have the ability to make labels for UPS ground shipments.

But while talking to her, she told me that the sizable check was for a technical support service contract for her Quickbook software. That raised a red flag in my mind. If she had a valid software license for her software, then the technical support should have been free, and the fact that the people she'd talked to were insisting overnight shipment of a check was another red flag.

I advised her to not try to send the check. Instead, I told her to check the phone number she had called and verify that it was a line to Intuit, the company that makes Quickbooks. She left, and that was the end of it from my standpoint. I never charged her a penny.

A few weeks later, that woman came back. She wanted to thank me in person and brought a bag of chocolates she'd purchased. It had turned out that I was right and she'd been in contact with scammers looking to steal money from her.

She isn't the only one. I've had happy customers bring me chocolates, bottles of homemade honey, cookies, muffins or jelly, and in one case, cans of a brand of chili that can't be purchased locally. To me, those moments are worth more than the money I earn.

That, dear reader, is the kind of business I like to run. I hope you'll help me continue doing it and thank you from the bottom of my heart if you will. Even if you don't, please consider sharing this fundraiser in your social media accounts to bring attention to it. Every little bit helps.
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Larry Fontenot
Macon, MO

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