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I remember our first Thanksgiving at Money Mart in Edmonton.
Our first store had been open about 3 months and Mark and I already knew – we had a “hit”. Customers were lining up to cash cheques with big plans for their long weekend.

Banks back then, just like they do today, would put a “hold on funds” if you weren’t a long term, well known customer with a reasonable average balance in your account. If you weren’t, you could expect a 3 to 5 day hold on your funds till the cheque cleared. We knew there was a large population out there that lived paycheck to paycheck and couldn’t afford that additional 3 to 5 days. Sound familiar? It did to us. Mark and I had experienced that first hand when we owned and worked in the real estate industry.

You might be a little young to remember the 80’s where interest rates reached a whopping 19% but times were tough. Most months I had no idea if I had enough to make my mortgage payment let alone provide for my wife and family. Consistently waiting an extra 3 to 5 days wasn’t working. It didn’t take much for us to bail on the shaky real estate industry and jump on the Money Mart idea and by Thanksgiving weekend, we had line ups of customers who were grateful we made that leap of faith.

There was just one problem; we were running out of money to cash customer’s cheques. Our banker liked us so let us deposit the endorsed cheques and take cash out of the account. We would do this half way through the day, every day, often while customers waited. I would make a run to the bank, find my favorite teller and deposit $3-5,000.00 in second party cheques, then write a cheque off our company account for the full amount $3-5,000.00 payable for cash. It was a crazy time. We were lucky since it sure isn’t something banks would do today. When the banks were closed(and remember, back then, they closed at 3 pm) we would be out of cash.

At that time we relied heavily on the f&f bank (otherwise known as friends and family) for needed cash. As business continued to grow there never seemed to be enough and we certainly weren’t in a position to get funding from our bank. Hell we didn’t even have financials and if we did they would show we were losing money! We couldn’t afford to pay an accountant to prepare financials or a business plan of our future (which still wouldn’t have helped our cause). Without friends and family we were “SOL”. That Thanksgiving, we worked so we didn’t have to face the friends and family who, we learned later, never thought we’d be able to pay them back (if you’re in a similar boat, I recommend Swanson’s frozen Turkey Dinner).

So, whatever your plans are this Thanksgiving, enjoy the long weekend!

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