Born in Caldwell, New Jersey, Stan Fitzgerald got an early start in his career when he began working for the Essex County Sheriff’s Department in Newark, New Jersey. Over the course of his thirteen year career, he worked on various task forces in narcotics investigations, made hundreds of arrests, and was involved on dozens of search warrants. Stan also worked with the prosecutor’s task force to get agreeable verdicts, worked with the county bureau for narcotics, and was even promoted to the Federal Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) task force. His years of service earned him numerous commendations for valor.
Unfortunately, after being hit by a car, Stan was forced to retire from law enforcement on a disability pension. However, he was able to rebound and start his own successful retail business with his wife, Something Special, LLC, in 1999. After building that business to the point where they were comfortable dividing their attention between multiple projects, the couple made the decision to work in conjunction with a private organization that provides support for veterans and first responders. For the past fifteen years, he and his wife Donna have been living in Georgia, where they both work for Veterans For America First, a grassroots civil liberties organization. Stan Fitzgerald serves as a chief political adviser, while his wife works as an ambassador for the organization. They currently oversee the operations of the Georgia branch, while also vetting candidates from across the country for endorsement. In addition, Stan and Donna work on the advisory board for BlakPAC, and Stan works on the Christian Patriots United board.
Where did the idea for your career come from?
When I was about twelve years old, I started working for my father who had a chain of photo finishing stores. This was way back in the 80s, before digital film processing was a thing, and people would come to us and drop off rolls of film to be developed. He then branched out into video rental stores before Blockbuster came along and ended that.
I come from a background in the entertainment industry. Specifically, I have a lot of experience selling physical products that come from the entertainment industry, which makes a lot of sense, considering the business we’ve been operating for the past fifteen years. We make, produce, and distribute DVDs, Blu Rays, and so on. Although it seems like it’s a dying medium in retail stores, the demand has actually increased in recent years thanks to internet sales. Business is going strong and hasn’t slowed down—and it all came from working at a video store as a child.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I start my day at about 5 am. I do about three hours of internet work related to the three national groups we work with: Veterans for America First, BlakPAC, and Christian Patriots United. Then my wife and I head down to the warehouse that we own, which is set up to do almost anything we need. At the moment, we’re concentrating on the distribution of movies. Once we’re done with our tasks there, it’s back to work with the national groups and charitable organizations I’ve already mentioned. It’s about a fifty-fifty split as far as our time goes.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Very aggressively. If we come up with a solid idea, we use our network to try and make it happen in political terms. We’ve cultivated an extensive network of movers and shakers—people that can make things really happen—in Georgia and across the country. So, if we have something we want to accomplish, we can reach out to those people and bring our ideas to life.
What’s one trend that excites you?
Along political lines, it looks like we’re going to take back congress, at least if the polling is accurate. And if you’re a Republican, that’s a very good thing, because obviously, Republicans are not happy with a Democratic administration.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I drink lots of coffee.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Thinking about it, my wife and I wouldn’t change a thing. We’re happily married, we have a successful business, and we’re doing good for veterans and first responders across the country.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
I believe the Atlanta Falcons will win the Super Bowl in the next three or four years. Not many people would agree with that, but I stand by it.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Don’t be afraid to make investments for the betterment of your business. Not all of them are going to succeed, but you have to take the jump and spend some money. As the old saying goes, it takes money to make money. If you’re starting out as a new entrepreneur, it’s a little different, but if you’re on a roll and your bottom line is healthy, you have to try different avenues of inventory, marketing, and so on and so forth. You have to sink some money into the business.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Being inventory heavy. A lot of people think that you should drop ship or not put money into inventory, but when you’re in a liquidation-type of business, such as we are, you need to be opportunistic. So, you might be able to buy a lot of inventory one year, but the next year things might change and the chances to stock up might be cut in half. And in the year after that, you may not even be able to keep up with the inventory that’s available. It’s a bit unpredictable. So, in the liquidation industry, I believe the proper mindset is to be inventory heavy, and to have warehouses to store your inventory, so you don’t even have a problem in that respect. I will add that in our industry, maintaining inventory levels is very different from buying wholesale—that you can do anytime. With liquidation, you may only have one chance to obtain a shipment of a certain item.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
When we were looking at things to sell in retail or mail order, we tried to find something that was close to our hearts rather than something that made sense from a business perspective. We tried something called ‘Blessed Pets’ because we liked animals and wanted to sell things associated with pets—even from a religious angle. That didn’t work. Yes, that particular venture was a waste of time, but the underlying thought is sound. It’s great to be passionate about something you’re involved in. However, you also have to take a hard look at the marketability and various business-related realities of what you’re trying to do. A lot of people think they’re going to get rich selling Mary Kay or having Tupperware parties at their house, but that’s just not realistic. So, to avoid that, always do your research.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I would recommend a political consultation business. After a few years of hard work, you get the name recognition, the experience, and understanding of the politics in the country. You could very well be the next big campaign manager, if you wanted to do that.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
So, Easter was a few days ago. My wife and I took my mother out to eat, and it was about a hundred dollars per person because it was a really nice restaurant. You can’t put a price on memories, so spending a hundred dollars per person on Easter was a good investment for the memories.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Ebay. It’s great for marketing. We no longer actually do any of that ourselves—we farm it out to others. But if someone is looking to sell something, Ebay is a great tool.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I’m a Christian, so, I would obviously say the Bible. For the religious skeptics out there, I would recommend The New Evidence That Demands A Verdict by Josh McDowell. It’s written by an investigator, which I can relate to, who went on a journey to prove Christianity was true.
What is your favorite quote?
I’m going to go with the obvious: “Let’s Make America Great Again.”
- Don’t be afraid to try something new.
- Hard work pays off.
- Memories last longer than things.
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.